I’ve always had a thing for Scandinavia. Mighty pine forests; glacial lakes; roaming elks; northern lights and a healthy dose of Stieg Larrson, had all assimilated in my mind to create an enchanting land of handsome people and stylish knitwear.
Pickled herring aside, this was the sort of place I wanted to live. My hopes were therefore high when visiting Stockholm, Sweden.
Södermalm: the Shoreditch of Stockholm
Arriving on a cold crisp Saturday, we immediately hotfooted across the city to Södermalm – the Shoreditch of Stockholm. Filled with vintage stores, fashion boutiques, coffee labs and achingly cool Swedes, it’s a fun and relaxed place to spend a Saturday morning. Also known as SoFo (named after London’s SoHo), we spent hours strolling these pretty streets, before heading to Stockholm’s jewel in the crown: Gamla Stan (the old town).
The old town sits on a small island of its own, surrounded by the dark waters of the Baltic Sea, and the contrast with Södermalm was immediate. This island was one of winding cobbled streets; tall, slanting buildings of warm reds and oranges; pink palaces; churches; and medieval squares. We immediately walked into one such square: Stortorget. Stockholm’s oldest square, it is one brimming with iconic buildings, including the famous ‘Number 18’ and ‘Number 22’ buildings. It was here that we had our first taste of the infamous Swedish tradition of ‘Fika’. A social institution in Sweden, Fika means to take a coffee break with friends, colleagues and family. With many swedes enjoying up to 8 Fika a day, it’s safe to say there were plenty of cafes to get stuck into this Swedish pastime.
Djurgården: Stockholm’s ‘garden’ island
After a dose of Medieval Stockholm, we took headed to Djurgården: Stockholm’s ‘garden’ island. Officially ‘royal land’, this green isle is replete with picturesque walks and museums. The air was crisp as we began our walk and people walked quietly past, clutching their steaming coffees. I was living the Scandinavian dream.
No trip to Djurgårdenn is complete without a trip to Skansen - a vast open air museum. Founded in 1891, the museum is a microcosm of Sweden throughout the ages. Filled with a dizzying range of traditional Swedish buildings, it boasts a bakers; a traditional Skåne farm; a Sami settlement; glass blowing workshop and a Scandinavian zoo. Rather than feeling contrived, this is a beautiful place to experience.
After a hearty walk, we began to think of food. And what’s a trip to Sweden without some meatballs, washed down with Aquavit? We headed straight to one of Stockholm’s traditional restaurants: Pelikan, established in 1733. Serving up delicious traditional Swedish food, Pelikan prides itself on its ability to serve ‘plain food’ at its very best. Here you can gorge on meatballs and gravy, pickled fish, roasted reindeer and salted bacon, to your heart’s content.
Stomachs filled and with lungs full of clear Scandanavian air, our Saturday in Stockholm was complete.
A small city, crammed full of natural beauty, history and surprises, Stockholm was every bit the Scandi dream I had hoped.
Travel diary shared by Twins that Travel