If you were to ask me which cities I visited that seemed the most liveable, Stockholm really made a case for itself as both a wonderful place to travel and also to live. There was something restful about Stockholm as a city, despite the existence of the usual skyscrapers: a certain sense of calmness and 'cosiness' that made me feel like I could easily walk everywhere that I needed to be and also forget how much I was actually walking. This was also a city full of boutique stores with gorgeous designer ware, 30 different soy milk selections in the supermarkets and an abundance of unfairly tall, blonde and fashionably dressed Swedes with cheekbones and expensive sunglasses, but if you can afford the rent and cost of living (which is no joke), you could do much much worse than building a life in Stockholm.
One of my key techniques when planning a travel itinerary is always to split days and half days into geographic areas and create a list on Google Maps of landmarks I've researched in advance and want to hit. This helps me visualise the locations in relation to each other and I can plan a walking route or a public transport strategy and minimise retracing my steps. With that in mind, here's how I divided up Stockholm and what I recommend in each area.
Gamla Stan, Norrmalm, Östermalm
- SF Bookstore - cute science fiction and comic book/manga paraphernalia
- Bröd & Salt bakery - looked really cute and full of interesting baked goods
- Boutique designer store down Västerlånggatan that I can't remember and isn't on Google Maps - But you might know what I'm talking about when you see it. Start at Bröd & Salt and walk down the long road.
- Drottninggatan is a long strip of shopping street that houses all of your reliable brands: H&M, Zara, supermarkets and souvenir shops. Among these, I really recommend visiting Afound, which has a really tasteful selection of clothing and homewares and features a lot of Scandinavian brands
- Hötorgshallen - A bunch of restaurants on the top floor and then a variety of market stalls selling everything from nuts to cheese to cured meats, often with small restaurants right at the counter for you to taste their produce
- Östermalm's Market Hall - Really beautiful food hall with lots of butcher, cheesemonger and fishmonger stalls.
- Kungsträdgården - Beautiful spacious park in the middle of the city - great for a lunch picnic.
- Greasy Spoon Cafe - Recommended by a friend but no time to visit ourselves. Looks very nice as a brunch place.
- Skeppsholmen, Kastellholmen, Moderna Museet - There's a wing of free exhibitions and a permanent exhibition at Moderna Museet, it's worth a quick browse. These islands would have been a great place to cycle even though it was also possible to walk around. Definitely look into renting a city bike - I think you need to download an app or something so we didn't bother but I'd recommend it.
- Vasamuseet - It's great if you like life-size viking ships but other than taking you through the history of the ship and the likely lifestyle of those on it, it's a little underwhelming for its price point. I'd probably go to the Nordiska Museet next time.
Hornsgaten and surrounds
This area is more residential but houses a lot of secondhand and vintage stores, which is perfect if you're like me and really into doing that stuff.
- Mariahissen - Beautiful residential buildings area and elevated walkway, worth the photos
- Serieslussen Comicstrip - Vintage comic book store with lots of old records and merchandise
- Book store Poesilhörnan - Lovely bookstore with a selection of posters and papercraft
- Stadsmissionen - Secondhand thrift store
- Mama Wolf - Swedish interpretation of Japanese cuisine but pretty decent (also the first okonomiyaki I had this year)
- HUMANA Second Hand - Hip thrift store with some pretty outlandish but cutting edge pieces
- Lakritsroten - Heaven for those who enjoy liquorice. I hate liquorice but you must go here to get the salmiakki in fudge form because it is the one liquorice I absolutely fell in love with. It's like an incredibly concentrated salted caramel and only available in winter and colder months. Please give it a chance for my sake.
- Judits - Beautifully curated vintage store. Not cheap but a place to score some designer labels at discount prices.
- Beyond Retro - Huge branch of this UK-originating second hand store. Not particularly cheap (all their clothes have been relabelled) but some really interesting styles in here
- Climb the hill to Skinnarviksberget for a panoramic view of Stockholm and for dramatic windswept photos ; )
Fotografiska and surrounds
I can definitively say this is one of my favourite art galleries in the entire world - the perfect size for a gallery to not overwhelm you, the space is beautiful, clean and modern and the bathrooms are better than a hotel's, honestly. I was lucky to catch exhibitions on fashion photographer Cathleen Naundorf, nature photographer Simen Johan and Evelyn Bencicova.
- Do explore the neighbourhood around Katarina Kyrka because the streets are absolutely gorgeous. The little lookout point at Per Anders Fogelströms will give you a great view of the city on the other side of Gamla Stan.
- Hermans is a vegetarian all-you-can-eat buffet that will let you fill your plate with a huge selection of vegetarian pastas, curries, salads and rice for about 120kr which is honestly great value and the dining spaces are surrounded by gardens and greenery. I'm still dreaming of their sundried tomato margarine because I could've eaten that by the spoonful.