Guest Post: Stockholm – The City Of “Swede” Dreams
About the Guest Author - Alexis
My name is Alexis and I’m from the Philadelphia area! However, I recently moved to Italy. I went to college in the least-known state in the US (Delaware), and after graduation I lived in Charlotte, NC for about a year.
I love traveling, exploring, and drinking coffee. I met everyone’s favorite Caffeinated Wanderer through work and he so graciously let me write a guest post on his great blog.
a great thing happens in August. Everyone takes vacation and when I say everyone, I mean everyone. My company closed for two weeks in August which gave me the opportunity to do a bit of traveling and visit some friends. I have a friend who lives in Sweden, so we met in Berlin for the weekend then I followed her back to Stockholm for the following week. After that, I spent the next weekend in Helsinki. Stockholm was definitely my favorite city on this trip, which is what this post will focus on!
Stockholm's Vibrant Coffee Culture
Swedes. Love. Coffee. There is no question about it! From the second I met up with my friend, she kept mentioning “fika” and after the first couple times I had to ask her to explain. Coming from Italy, I thought I had learned everything I needed to know about coffee breaks, but I was wrong. She explained that fika means to slow down and enjoy time with friends. There is usually a pastry or sweet of some sort consumed, and time is taken to relax. She informed me that fika occurs at work and coworkers take turns providing the sweets. Personally, I love coffee, so I couldn’t have been more excited about this concept. Also, I was a little espresso’ed out and ready for some other types of coffee.
The word fika comes from the old Swedish slang word for coffee (kaffi). It all came about when coffee was temporarily banned in Sweden and everyone had to broker some black market deals to get their caffeine fix.
Armed with this new knowledge, I embraced the Swedish culture and stopped for fika whenever possible. Two of my favorite places were Drop Coffee Roasters and Mr. Cake.
Drop Coffee Roasters
At Drop Coffee Roasters, I had the large pot of their regular coffee and it was delicious. Apparently the rest of the world agrees, because they have placed in the top 5 in the World Roasting Championships five times. If regular coffee isn’t your thing, there were many other things on the menu I was dying to try! The staff is also incredibly knowledgeable. At breakfast, I had a piece of toast with a hard-boiled egg and an avocado mayo on it. It was good, but nothing special. The coffee is great and definitely worth a visit. They are located in Mariatorget on the island of Södermalm.
If you’re looking for a great pastry for fika or breakfast, head to Mr. Cake. This place is what dreams are made of! I got a latte and salted caramel popcorn pancakes to eat there as well as a red velvet croissant and rose lemonade to go. If you prefer, they have some savory dishes, but once you walk in, the sweets will be hard to resist. The pancakes come topped with vanilla ice cream, and they were amazing.
The indoor section of the cafe had a great atmosphere, but I sat on their large outdoor patio because the weather was so nice.
International Dining Options
While I can’t say I ate a lot of “Swedish” food in Stockholm, the great thing about the city was that there were so many different places to eat with different types of food.
My favorite place was Hermans, a vegetarian buffet overlooking the water. The buffet is about $13 for the weekday lunch. It’s all you can eat and includes coffee (of course!), tea, and water. There was lasagna, salads, soups, and all kinds of other dishes. They had the most delicious homemade bread with sun-dried tomato butter. Everything was amazing! I bought a beer as well (a cotton candy popcorn sour) because they had so many interesting ones.
A big selling point of this place is the view, so try to sit outside if possible. There is quite a large outdoor seating area so this should be easy. There are also some nice hammocks to hang out in. I decided to stick around with a cup of coffee and a book just to relax. Be aware that this place can be easy to miss. There is a smaller sign out front, then follow the stairs down to find it.
La Neta for Tacos, StikkiNikki for Ice Cream, and Omnipollos Hatt for Beer & Pizza
Stockholm can get a little expensive, so if you’re looking for something a bit cheaper and a little different head to La Neta. Tip: Menus are located at the register and there is an English version. This way you don’t need to spend fifteen minutes like my friend and I did trying to translate the Swedish menu. We both got tacos and we split an order of guacamole. We were so full when we left and the food was great! The line was a bit long, but it went quickly and was worth it.
After our taco trip we headed to StikkiNikki for some homemade organic ice cream. I had the lavender chocolate and it was amazing. My last food recommendation would be Omnipollos Hatt. This is a beer and pizza place. They have tons of fun and interesting beers on tap and the pizza was pretty good too.
Shop Till You Drop
I was surprised to find that Stockholm is a pretty great place for some second-hand and vintage shopping. Everywhere I walked there seemed to be another store to check out. I ended up with 4 dresses and a skirt and each piece was under $40.
My favorite by far was Beyond Retro located on Drottninggatan. I know they have another location in the city, but I only went to this one. It has a mix of its own clothes and some second-hand and vintage things. It was huge and there were tons of dresses I wanted to try on. Luckily some things didn’t fit or I would’ve been in financial trouble! The people working there were also ridiculously nice. I got stuck in a dress and a very helpful employee helped me get out. I ended up walking out with two dresses.
The other three stores I enjoyed were Ritz Vintage, Emmaus, and POP; all were located in the SoFo area of Södermalm. Ritz is on the smaller side but had some fun stuff. POP also has a mix of their own clothing and second hand/vintage stuff. I can honestly say I wanted to buy everything in the store. If nothing else you have to go to Emmaus just for the Instagram pic.
Of course, something everyone always wants to buy in Sweden is clogs. I bought mine from Swedish Hasbeens. While there are a couple shops in the city, the place to buy them is the outlet on Gamla Stan. The sizes of each style are a bit limited but the discount is worth it if you can find a style you like. I got mine here and saw them for twice the price at the other store. These run small, so don’t hesitate to go up a size.
There are some great sights to see in Stockholm as well. My first day in the city I decided to go into the Museum of Photography (Fotografiska) on Södermalm and I was not disappointed. There were awesome exhibits and the cafe inside has the most beautiful view of the water. There is also an outdoor cafe that overlooks the water if you prefer. It’s about $14 to enter, but I definitely recommend it!
Another sight to see on Södermalm is the Mariaberget walk. It’s a bit higher up all along the water with some great views. It’s a fairly easy walk and if the weather is nice, grab a snack or a bottle of wine and just hang out up there.
The island of Galma Stan is also known as Old City. This is where the the royal palace is located along with a few other museums and churches. I happened to walk up to the palace during the changing of the guard and it was quite an interesting (and free!) sight. I spent my day walking around there and then I grabbed a drink at one of the many places on the water. It was a nice way to spend the afternoon.
Return to Italy
Before I returned to Italy, I spent a quick weekend in Helsinki to visit another friend, but I can still say Stockholm was my favorite city on this trip. I could see why my friend enjoyed Stockholm so much and why she wanted to stay. Unfortunately, she had to go back to the USA shortly after my visit and I had to go back to drinking espresso in Italy. However, Milan opens their first Starbucks in September so maybe I can get my pumpkin spice fix after all!
Europe has so many great cities to visit, so it’s hard to say I’d want to return to the same place twice, but given the opportunity, I would totally go back to Stockholm to visit or even live. It’s easy to navigate and has lots of water (including free water in restaurants)! I hope these suggestions make your trip just a bit better and help you enjoy the city as much as I did!