Since 1969, restaurant, hotel, travel & other witty reviews by a handpicked, worldwide team of discerning professionals—and your views, too.

Stockholm, Sweden

Scintillating Stockholm
From Medieval to Modern

Vasamuseet at the Djurgarden
Three sailing masts poke out of the Vasa Museum (left)


Ostermalm Saluhall food court
Östermalm Saluhall

Brace yourself—there’s a busy day ahead. We suggest starting off at Robert’s Coffee in Östermalm Saluhall, and not just because it’s the first vendor just inside the door of this 19th-century food hall in east downtown. Even the most dedicated of foodies will need a jolt of java when confronted with the limitless possibilities of the eats to be had here. A cornucopia of fresh local produce supplies the area’s regionally inspired restaurants. You’ll find artisanal chocolates, baked goods and dozens of cheeses. The fresh fish selections go to seafood bistros such as Gerdas Fisk & Skaldjursrestaurang and the Lisa Elmqvist Fisk, Skaldjur, Delikatesser o. Restaurang. If you want to experience the full range of seafood and fish to be had in Scandinavia, this is the place to do so.

In addition to indigenous foodstuffs, shopping for home and design items is also an absorbing diversion in Stockholm. Options range from designer Estrid Ericson’s pewter pieces and Josef Frank textiles, available at the Swedish institution Svenskt Tenn, to Efva Attling’s hand-crafted jewelry at her shop in Birger Jarlsgatan, and hand-tooled leather goods at the 110-year-old Palmgrens. Furniture enthusiasts who admire craftsmanship along with clean and functional lines should visit Nordiska Galleriet; architect Nirvan Richter’s Norrgavel; the very Scandinavian, upmarket Posh Living; and the equally Nordic and high-end R.O.O.M.

For a preview of up-and-coming decor designers, check out DesignTorget, a wonderful marketplace concept that has a number of sites around the city. Here, the work of astonishingly inventive newbies is presented hand-in-hand—and sometimes tongue-in cheek—with artists already established in the field. Products for home, office and kitchen are displayed for about a week, and then rotated to allow others to have a shot. These whimsical items make terrific gifts that you can’t find elsewhere in the world, but that you might not be able to locate again within DesignTorget itself.

If you have specific interests in Swedish-based products, antiques or specific collectibles—say, you wish to add to your trove of globally sourced cribbage boards—you can arrange for personal shopping tours via Smart City Shopping. Simply express your desires when you call for bookings, and a guided boutique tour will be arranged with your buying goals and schedule in mind.

The eclectic shopping district of Sodermalm or SoFo
The hip SoFo neighborhood

Browsing for retro objets d’art, the work of up-and-coming designers and artists, second-hand clothing “finds” and trendy accessories is easily accomplished in the area south of Folkungagatan and east of Götgatan on Södermalm, or SoFo for short. Like other abbreviated neighborhoods in other major cities, this is where the young and young at heart hang out. The environment is urban and eclectic, with shops by the names of Sneakersnstuff, Grandpa and Twist & Tango selling a variety of limited-edition, exclusive Swedish fashions. Here there are plenty of ethnic restaurants, including the club-worthy Asian Öst 100, the beer hall Pelikan for Swedish, the tapas bar Nada and Greek hangout Dionysos. Take note, though: While many SoFo culinary spots are open for lunch, they’re most vibrant during the dinner hour.

For the rest of the afternoon, especially if you have children in need of special stimulation, take the tram, bus or ferry to the Djurgården. On this island, in addition to the open-air Skansen museum and zoo, you can visit Junibacken and the Vasamuseet.
Junibacken is essentially the fantasy-world-come-to-life of Astrid Lindgren, author of the Pippi Longstocking children’s series. Younger children thrive in this storybook environment that includes theater performances, larger-than-life characters, a story train ride, playgrounds and even a restaurant with kid-enticing goodies. It’s best to visit here in warmer months.

The amazingly intact Vasa warship was once at the bottom of Stockholm Harbor
Standing next to the Vasa

The Vasamuseet, or Vasa Museum, houses the salvaged Vasa warship, which sank on its maiden voyage in 1628—without ever leaving Stockholm harbor. Though it took 333 years to find and bring up, the ship was remarkably well-preserved by the harbor's freezing temperatures (and by the intensive efforts by the salvage and museum teams). It is the world’s only surviving ship from the 17th century and the story of its building and recovery, not to mention the entire intact warship itself, is compelling enough to command your attention for a couple of hours. Indeed, it’s possible to spend an entire day touring Djurgården—an excellent way to conclude a stay in Stockholm with impressions of the city’s remarkable and colorful past.

Don’t forget to form one final memory, though. No visit to Sweden is complete without a trip to the smörgåsbord. The one at the Grand Veranda, with eight different kinds of pickled herring along with gravlax, smoked eel, meatballs and dozens of other native delicacies, is a veritable feast. Wash it all down with shots of the 23 different types of brännvin, the clear distillate liquor (sometimes referred to as aquavit) infused with aromatics and thought to have been around since the mid-1400s. You’ll sleep like a Viking of old and leave town feeling like a thoroughly modern-day Stockholmer.


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* Östermalm Saluhall photo by AlphaMedia
Other photos courtesy of
Stockholm Visitor's Board. Vasamuseet and bottom harbor photos by Richard Ryan. SoFo photo by Mikael Sjöberg.

(Updated: 10/20/08 SG)

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