Sunday, June 19, 2016

my guide to stockholm

First of all, welcome to Stockholm, the beautiful capital of Scandinavia!

Please note that this post was written in 2016 and it has been updated here and there, as much as possible, ever since. For the latest information, adresses and opening hours I recommend you look at the respective website.

The city consists of seven major districts; Norrmalm, Östermalm, Södermalm, Kungsholmen, Vasastan, Gamla Stan (Old Town) and Djurgården. Read more about them here but also keep in mind that the post is from 2007 so a lot has changed since...

Second of all, I really recommend you buy a travel card, they come in different variations but one thing they have in common is that they are much cheaper compared to single tickets which basically are a rip-off. You can't buy travel cards or tickets on buses and trains anymore so make sure you have your fair in order before stepping on the trains, trams or buses because the penalties can be pretty steep. Having a travel card is the cheapest and best way to get around the city and its suburbs.

And please skip the sightseeing buses, they are appallingly bad and expensive, the routes taken unimaginative and the stories told via the headphones (if they work) ridiculously obsolete.

Instead get a good guide-book (or guide) and make your own way around the city. I strongly recommend you take the Tvärbanan tram for a really lovely suburb tour with views and different architectural styles. The Nockebybanan, Saltsjöbanan, Lidingöbanan and Roslagsbanan are other nice trams/commuter train lines too. And of course, being slightly biased, I think the commuter trains are a great way to see more of Stockholm suburbs too. Just beware that a June 11 - August 8 a fair bit of its northern lines are replaced by buses which is very inconvenient and stressful (I know this too well, it's *my* part of the commuter train lines that's affected).
EDIT 2017: This applies July 4 - August 13 for the commuter trains, and the Tvärbanan and other rails are affected too alas. For more information see 
EDIT 2018: Even more extensive works this summer, inluding railways, commuter trains and subways, see for more information.

I also think hopping on and off the regular blue inner city buses 1, 2, 3 and 4 is a great way to experience the inner city.

Yes, there is a subway system in Stockholm too, I rarely use it these days, for various reasons. I prefer buses, which I find is a much nicer and convenient way to get you from A to B. And seeing lots of the city while doing it.

Don't miss the Sjövägen (Lakeway) ferryboat which takes you from Nybroplan to the Nacka suburbs and even out to Lidingö on some tours, and back. It's a really affordable (since it's part of the public transport SL it's included in the regular travel card) way to see the city from the lakeside and you can hop on and hop off where you like.

This is a very condensed list of the one in Swedish on Yelp.


Skogskyrkogården (The Woodland Cemetery) - this is my number 1 favourite place in Stockholm. A Unesco World Heritage site of immense beauty and serenity all year round. Nearby you'll find cafés such as Enskede Bakgård and Gamla Enskede Bageri.

Stockholm City Hall - one of the most beautiful buildings in Stockholm. Host to the Nobel Prize ceremonies. Wonderful city views and if you dare venture up the tower it'll be even grander. Don't miss the unpretentious cafe just outside the walls where you can enjoy a cool/warm drink, icecreams and sandwiches in beach chairs by the water. A stone's throw from the Central Station.

Gamla stan + Järnpojken - the charming medieval part of Stockholm where everything begun. The main street Västerlånggatan is basically just a sad sight full of tourist traps and shops full of junk these days. But do head up to Stortorget and meander your way down narrow alleyways, Köpmannagatan and Österlånggatan for more authentic shops, cafes and restaurants. Do not miss the little statue Järnpojken (The Little Iron Boy), tucked away in the courtyard of the Finnish church. In Gamla Stan (Old Town) you'll find the lovely animal art shop Charlotte Nicolin and cafes like Grillska Husets Brödbod (sit on the rooftop veranda!) and Under Kastanjen.

Djurgården + Djurgårdsfärjan - take the tram, bus or the lovely ferry Djurgårdsfärjan (included in your travel card) to the beautiful, lush island part of the city where you'll also find attractions like Gröna Lund amusement park, Nordiska museet, Vasamuseet, Waldemarsudde, Thielska galleriet, Junibacken and not least wonderful nursery and cafe Rosendals trädgård.

Norra begravningsplatsen - another beautiful, but more old fashioned, cemetery in the northern outskirts of the inner city, a stone's throw from Karolinska hospital and Hagaparken.

Drottningholm castle - another Unesco World Heritage Site in Stockholm, this mini-Versailles on the island of Ekerö in the suburbs is well worth a visit. A boat or bus will take you here. This is also where Sweden's monarchy lives, not in the palace in Gamla Stan. But since I'm a hard-core republican (anti-monarchist) that is most certainly not a feature I'm interested in. Don't miss the pretty little Kina slott and the nearby waffle house.

Stockholms stadsbibliotek - our beautiful city library, full of not only books but also ambiance and quirky architectural features galore. Nearby you'll find Café Himlavalvet and vegetarian/vegan restaurants Lao Wai, Organic Green and Kokyo. Edit 2018: Lovely Mahalo has opened up its second place nearby too,


Monteliusvägen - near Mariatorget you'll find this gem of a walking path with outstanding views over the city. If you're lucky you can find a spot to sit down and have your picnic lunch/fika here too.

Katarinahissen + Fjällgatan - the elevator itself is no longer in use with the extensive construction works at Slussen, but you can walk out on it from Mosebacke torg and have a grand view over Stockholm and also walk/take the bus up on nearby Fjällgatan street,

Norr Mälarstrand - this is on the opposite side of the lake Mälaren from Monteliusvägen and Södermalm, at the Kungsholmen side you'll see Söder and at the end of Norr Mälarstrand you'll find Stadshuset.

Västerbron - if you are a really keen walker you can actually walk all in a long circle from Monteliusvägen, Gamla Stan, Stadshuset, Norr Mälarstrand and up on the large Västerbron bridge and continue down to Hornstull and then up Hornsgatan back to Mariatorget.

Högalidskyrkan - in my old childhood hoods of Hornstull you'll find this spectacular church which its twin towers that can be seen near and far over Stockholm. Some days they have guided tours up into the towers and that's well worth your time. A bit scary, endlessly interesting and the views at the very top is spectacular.


Needless to say, all these are all vegetarian/vegan or vegetarian/vegan friendly.

Falafelbaren - (Söder) best falafel in town? They have two locations now, but the original one is the only one I've visited so far, near Mariatorget.

Greasy spoon - (Söder and Vasastan) breakfast and brunch alla day, every day. And a few brilliant vegan options too, like delicious buckwheat pancakes, full English vegan and smashed avocado sandwich. Lovely food, not cheap though.

Green Peas - (Kungsholmen), great vegetarian and vegan food, open both for lunch and dinner. Don't miss their fresh springrolls with tofu, delicious! EDIT 2017 - this restaurant is permanently closed alas.

Gro - two creative chefs in a minimalistic restaurant with about 20 seats serving organic food pretty as a picture. It used to be a popular lunch restaurant, with at least one vegetarian option on the menu, but now they only serve dinner Tues-Sat. One omnivore and one vegivore tasting menu are the only options, but you will not be disappointed. If you ask well ahead they can make a vegan option. Edit 2018 - sadly permanently closed.

Indian Street food & Co. - (Vasastan) foodtruck turned lunch restaurant. One gem I found at my latest gig in the hoods and quite probably the best Indian food I've had in Stockholm, brimming with flavours. The menu is short, only four dishes, where one is vegetarian, one is vegan and two are for non-vegetarians. EDIT 2017: They now have a restaurant in the city centre too, at Drottninggatan 73B.

Lao Wai - (Vasastan) Near Stadsbiblioteket you'll find this miniscule, popular restaurant that serve Asian, vegan food making their own soy and tofu dishes. Open for lunch and dinner, booking a table for dinner is essential. Don't miss their fantastic soymilk cappuccino and amazing ice cream.

Légumes - (Söder) situated at Bysistorget square near Monteliusgången and Falafelbaren, this is a classic vegetarian/vegan buffet restaurant. I only discovered it a few years ago because I've always shyed away from it due to the shabby interior. The food is very affordable and flavoursome. Always fresh since you point and they ladle your plate with all you can eat and refills. (Imho much better food and value for money than Herman's at Fjällgatan, minus the views.)

Kalf & Hansen - (Söder) at corner Mariatorget/Hornsgatan you'll find this little organic, healthy fastfood restaurant with many vegan options. Award-winning place run by wellknown Danish chef father and son duo. Great picnic food too.

Kokyo - (Vasastan, near Stadsbiblioteket) Chinese restaurant with a generous vegan menu. They make their own tofu and it's delicious. Open both for lunch and dinner.

Mahalo Hälsocafét - (Söder) Wonderful and very popular healthy, colourful now all vegan cafe. They make amazing smoothie bowls, noodle salads, wraps, sandwiches, smoothies, juices and raw desserts. Don't miss their amazing burger plate, with a delicious vegan burger (sans bread) and sweet potato fries, or the Knivsöder noodle salad! Edit 2018 - They have opened up a second place in Vasastan too.

Minh Mat - (Vasastan) Popular Vietnamese restaurant with lots of delicous vegan options. Open both for lunch and dinner, one vegan dish on the lunch menu, more in the evenings. My favourite is the dishes with the (organic) tofu, noodles and their fantastic soy sauce. Bookings for dinner is essential. Edit 2017: Closed in July, will open again in August.

Organic Green - (Vasastan/Norrmalm, near Stadsbiblioteket) Affordable, generous, no fuss, tasty vegan/vegetarian food.

Stockholm Brunch Club - probably the most Instagram-friendly place in town. Breakfast, brunch, lunch all day and they have some lovely vegan options too.

Wagamama - (Norrmalm, adjacent to Centralstationen). British chain-restaurant with a lovely array of vegetarian (and vegan if you ask) dishes on the menu. My favourite is the Pad Thai Yasai. They used to have a divine seaweed salad starter, but alas no more. Their freshly made juices are great too, ask for more ginger in the carrot ginger one.


Älskade traditioner - (Söder) currently my number one cafe crush in Stockholm, this retro cafe should not be missed. Very popular and not only amongst the hipsters who roam the area. Their speciality is wraffles, filled food waffles (my favourite is the one with hummus, beetroot and coleslaw) and dessert waffles. There are vegan options for both food and fika. Their breakfast (small, medium, large) is lovely and don't miss the yummy cinnamon buns.

Systrarna Andersson (previously Borgs Café & Brödbod) - (Vasastan) Cute cafe with an interior made up with missmatched thrifted furniture. Fika, sandwiches and salads.

Chic - (Söder/Mariatorget) Very unpretentious, liberatingly non-hipster cafe with good fika, salads and sandwiches.

Espresso House Vasagatan + Sheraton - (Norrmalm) You will find the Swedish coffee chain Espresso House all over Stockholm, but their coffee is so much better than all the other chains (and Starbuck's, really, their coffee quality is so poor compared to most any other coffee chain in Sweden). Usually very friendly staff and cosy interior, free Wi-Fi so good for working (when not *everyone* is connected, which can happen).

And they make the best soy latte, to go or to sit down, your choice. The vegan spinach wrap is really good and filling. The chocolate balls are vegan too. My two favourite EH cafes are the big one at Vasagatan - sit in the armchairs sofas in the window and enjoy people watching galore. Be very aware of pickpockets though, it was here my iPhone got stolen a few years back - and the little one situated a short stroll down the street at Sheraton hotel. It's small, kind of intimate and cosy. And the toilets are the ones in the hotel lobby so they're very fresh (and have Molton Brown toiletries).

Sturekatten - (Östermalm) Classic Stockholm cafe (used to hang here often when I was in high-school) with a very cosy granny flat-interior in different little rooms on two stories (thus the infamous pram mob shy away from this place). Tea and apple pie with custard is my favourite here.

Johan & Nyström - (Söder, Mariatorget) Very popular hipster cafe - the staff can be either very friendly or ignoring you because you're not hip enough, beware. Since Johan & Nyström started out as a coffee- and tea-merchant (excellent quality) you can also buy their coffee and teas here. Great oat latte, iced latte or a fruit rooibos tea are my usual choices here. Enjoy their vegetarian sandwiches a lot too. Edit 2018 - They have more cafes and shops in the city now, find the locations on their website.

Stikki Nikki - (Söder, Mariatorget) Swedish icecream chain which sell their own organic gelato in tiny shops all over the city. Half of their gelatos are vegan, sorbets and creamy gelatos. The change flavours all the time, but hopefully they'll have some of my übertasty plantbased favourites when you stop by: sunflowerseed, peanut butter and pumpkinseed. Edit 2018 - ALL their icecreams are vegan at their Mariatorget shop.

Kafé Himlavalvet - (Norrmalm/Vasastan, near Stadsbiblioteket). Situated on top of the Observatorielunden and its observatory, this cafe is rather a little secret in the middle of the city. Lovely summer cafe with both lunches, food, sandwiches, fika and not least waffles. Plus homemade elderflower cordial not to be missed.

Vete-Katten - (Norrmalm) Not far from the central station you'll find another classic cat-related cafe (katten = the cat). Award-winning pastry bakery with lots of nice things to chose from and light lunches. The old parts of the cafe and the inner couryard is much much nicer than the rebuilt part which you step into from the street, so venture further back please. Also remember that a lot of those delicous looking pastries does contain animal gelatine, but they have other vegan options too if you ask. They serve a great, affordable afternoon tea (August - mid June) and their vanilla buns are de-lovely.

18 smaker - (Söder, Mariatorget) Stockholm's best icecream? Lots of vegan options, 18 Swedish flavours every day so you're never really sure what's on offer except that it's delicious. My favourites are usually the vegan liquorice, dark chocolate and raspberry sorbet. And saffron. Free wi-fi. Edit 2017 - closed alas.

Fru Marias Bak - (Älvsjö) Very cosy and cute cafe/bakery situated in the suburb Älvsjö. Lighter dishes, vegetarian options and lots of tasty buns and fika. The proprietor Maria is very friendly and so is her young staff. My favourites are the baguettes and vanilla buns. Free wi-fi.

Konditori Lyran - (Bredäng/Mälarhöjden) This cafe is situated in my second childhood-home hoods. A beautiful turn of the century villa overlooking lake Mälaren (you simply must sit on the outdoor veranda with a view!). Classic fika, sandwiches and lighter dishes.

Ulriksdals Slottsträdgårdscafé - (Solna) In the suburb of Solna, near Ulriksdal castle, you'll find this lovely, dog-friendly nursery and garden cafe with lots of vegetarian options. They have a vegetarian lunch buffet on weekdays and they've written a few vegetarian cookbooks (of which one is my favourite). A little lush, friendly oasis with its own garden-cat.


Free entrance to public owned museums now, but apart from Hallwylska not to these which are privately owned.

Thielska galleriet - (Djurgården) My favourite museum, still I don't visit it all that often since it's tucked away a fair distance out on Djurgården. Beautiful building which hosts different art exhibitions and also has its own permanent exhibitions. As well as a beautiful tower room with a mural. The cafe in a bathroom is very cute too.

Fotografiska - (Söder) Fantastic photo museum with a great, award-winning restaurant with a view. It's a rather unpleasant walk to and from the nearest subway/bus station and it's still a mystery why they haven't their own bus station, since it's a popular destination. That said, well worth a visit with lots of interesting exhibitions (my favourite still being Nick Brandt's).

Carl Eldhs ateljémuseum + Cafe Bellevue - (Vasastan) Tucked away in the park Bellevueparken in the northern outskirts of the city, this little beautiful sculpture museum/home/garden of artist Carl Eldh is a well kept secret. Guided tours only. Nearby you'll find the Cafe Bellevue which is a little gem for fika and lunch.

Millesgården - (Lidingö, suburb) Beautiful sculpture garden and the former home of Carl Milles built on the cliffs overlooking one of the inlets of Stockholm. The modern building hosts different art exhibitions and the museum shop is really nice. Unfortunately the adjacent cafe that used to be lovely changed owners some years ago and is now a very animal flesh oriented cafe/meat shop.

Hallwylska Muséet - (Norrmalm/Östermalm) Lovely inner city museum/palace which is the former home of countess Hallwyl and family. Over the years it has hosted interesting and unusual exhibitions like the story of perfume, House of Elliott costumes, Downton Abbey costumes and flower artist Tage Andersen's camelia show. Recently they opened up an evening bar in the inner courtyard.


For hipster overload I recommend the shopping around Hornstull and Nytorget/SoFo with lots of independent stores in all price ranges. And many second hand shops of course. Slightly less pretentious it is around Mariatorget/Hornsgatan (my favourite part of Södermalm), where you'll find one of my fav shops

and many more.

Charlotte Nicolin - (Gamla stan) Fantastic animal art, both original paintings, prints, postcards and souvenirs. Don't miss!

Goodstore - (Söder) vegan, organic food store (one at Nytorget, one at Hornstull where they also recently opened a vegan cafe, Delivore).

House of Rym - (Söder) A lovely little shop with adorable pottery, home fabrics, prints and selected things like tea and chocolate.

Iris Hantverk - (Norrmalm) Great Scandinavian craft and home shop, with both own design and other selected designers.

Kaolin - (Söder/Mariatorget) Cute coop pottery shop with Stockholm designers only.

Krabat - (Norrmalm, Kungsgatan 53) Quirky, colourful interior and gift shop for all playful ages. It has a special Moomin selection corner too.

Marimekko - (Östermalm) The flagship store for the famous, colourful Finnish brand that design colourful, inspiring clothes, fabrics, bags and ceramics with a 60ies vibes.

NK - (Norrmalm/Östermalm) One of Stockholm's two department stores. This one is the posh one, but I usually prefer the other one.

ReMake - Stadsmissionen's (City Mission) upcycling projects shop where they sell remade clothes, toys and clever gifts. The shop can be found in different places but the original one is situated inside Kulturhuset at Sergels torg.

Åhléns City - (Norrmalm) The largest one of the two department stores and my favourite. Great beauty department with Dermalogica, Bare Minerals, Kiehl's and alike.

For tea (and coffee) -

Johan & Nyström - (Söder/Mariatorget) The above mentioned cafe.

Stockholm Tea Centre - (Söder/Mariatorget) The first specialist shop dedicated to tea. They have their own blend, Söderblandning. Nice, but I prefer their cherry tea.

Thehuset Danielsson - (Norrmalm) Really nice tea shop in the inner city with a selection of teas and coffees, sweets, pottery, tins and gifts.

Sibyllans Kaffe & Tehandel - (Östermalm) Founded in 1916 it's a posh tea- and coffee shop with delightful teas, coffees and biscuits. My favourite tea blends are the black Änglate (Angel's tea) and Svenska frukter (Swedish fruits) rooibos. The window display and the interior is a feast for the eyes (and nose).

Tehuset Java - (Vasastan/Östermalm) - Apart from their own tea blends - that come in cute packagings - they sell a full range of Kusmi tea (but alas not the sister brand, my favourite organic Löv tea), coffee and a lot of pretty pottery, pots, chocolate and luxurious gift baskets. My favourite teas of theirs are the Fredagsmys and rooibos with orange/cactus.

Chaikhana Teahouse - (Gamla Stan) This is also a posh tearoom, but to be honest the quality of that (if you're vegetarian) has declined over the years so I only buy tea here. Quite expensive tea, so it's not a regular thing.

For books -

Akademibokhandeln - Bookstore chain that can be found all over Sweden and Stockholm. My favourite is the large one at Mäster Samuelsgatan/Regeringsgatan, great selection of Swedish and English books. The store has a cafe too.

Bok & Bild (Norrmalm) Friendly family-owned bookstore at Drottninggatan with really great prices.

Bokslukaren - (Söder/Mariatorget) Sweet children's bookstore with a little cafe that serves miniature pastries.

Bysis Bok- & Pappershandel - (Söder)  cute bookshop with cafe and an unusual selection of books.

S:t Pauls Bokhandel - (Söder/Mariatorget) Small, friendly bookshop with an unusual selection of books, postcards and stationary. 

Well worth a visit outside Stockholm:

Drömkåken cafe - (Norrtälje) Lovely garden cafe and shop situated in an old countryside missionary house with a vast garden. Painted and decorated as if Barbie and Pippi Longstocking met and bought a house together. Lovely fika and light dishes like pies and sandwiches. My favourite is the vegetarian foccacia, but it's very filling so you might want to share if you want a dessert to (and you do). Edit 2018 - new owners, might be very different. More information on their Facebook page.

Sigtuna - Sweden's oldest town, adorable and picturesque town which is actually more a suburb to Stockholm within reasonably easy access by public transport.

Skokloster castle - Beautiful 17th century castle well worth a visit and guided tour.

Vaxholm - beautiful little archipelago town, perfect little day trip within reach by car, bus and boat. Independent craft shops, picturesque architecture and lots of restaurants and cafes. Near the harbour you find the excellent organic restaurant Sva Marga that has a wonderful vegan Hälsotallrik (Health plate) with tofu on the menu. For fika I suggest the adorable Vaxholms hembygdsgård by the water with a mouthwatering pastry table. It's very popular and the queues are often long. The garden seating is lovely and the best seats are on the deck with sunchairs.

Växplats Nybyn - (Norrtälje) My favourite garden cafe. Organic nursery and pick your own flowers field. The fika is only vegan and vegetarian, fairtrade and organic. So are the nice things in the gift shop. A haven of kindness.

Wenngarn castle + Dammstugan Vedugn - (Sigtuna) Recently renovated castle, hotel and park with conference facilities, restaurant, cafe etc. But my favourite thing is the adorable pizzeria in the pond cottage - supertasty gourmet pizzas made from organic, locally produced ingredients. You will love it. And the interior.

Äppelfabriken & Wiksunds trädgård - (Ekerö) Supersweet organic summer garden cafe with an apple factory situated far out on the island of Ekerö. The fika is great, the ambiance too but it does take a long time to get here by bus from the city and there's a long walk to and from the bus stop.

PS Apart from my When in Stockholm-list on Yelp I have several others for different cities like Berlin, Copenhagen, Gdansk, Krakow and Helsinki and more. You'll find them here DS.

1 comment:

Poppy Q said...

Thanks Miss Pia. I will get my bestie to read your recommendations. Lovely picture - hope you are getting lots of sunshine and soaking up the suns rays.

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