Only 6 months in to 2017 and me and the husband had already done a lot of travelling around. Whilst I’m no travel blogger, I’d like to share the experiences through my eyes of places we’ve seen, food we’ve eaten and coffee we drank. So I bring you — Stockholm!

Scandinavia has long been the epitome of minimal, contemporary design that just oozes cool. Stockholm is known for its pared back style with clean lines. They just know what they’re doing. Period. Sweden to me brings images of snowy treetops, oversize scarves and all black ensembles. Stockholm in May however was completely different — but still amazing. Its down to earth and well designed as you’d imagine, just with better coffee and amazing architecture. But here’s lowdown of what we got up to…

To See
Fotografiska — Photography exhibition space that’s known for having some high profile names exhibit there. We caught two exhibitions on our visit; One about the role of Horses through history, their symbolism and importance. Followed by work from artists Cooper and Gorfer, who blur the lines between photography and painting with their ethereal portraits. Using actual people they meet as their muses, they tell their stories in the most unique ways.

Moderna Museet — As the name suggests, museum of contemporary art. The biggest exhibition was on artist and designer, Josef Frank. A retrospective look at his work throughout his career from architecture and furniture design to textile design and paintings. A great place to enjoy the space as well as grab a snack in the outdoor garden.

Artipelag — This was a random find and is accessed by bus just outside the main city. But it was so worth it! Whilst this is a contemporary cultural centre that showcases all kinds of design, we mainly went for the building itself and its surroundings. The clean lines and angles with floor to ceiling windows and brightness we a stark contrast to its surroundings of lush woodland. We just had to go and explore so had a little hike around the entire area before settling on an area right next to the water. It was pure bliss.

Kulturhuset Stadsteatern— The best way to explain this is that it’s the equivalent of the Southbank Centre but with more art. You can find the latest in Art, Design, Dance and Literature to peruse at your leisure. Plus there’s a shopping centre kind of attached to it so you can always go shopping. We caught a small exhibition on the ‘dark side’ of nature — death, symbolism, war. It was different take on things with a mix of fashion, video and art.

To Eat and Drink

Hermans — A great Vegan/Vegetarian buffet place that came highly rated, so we rocked up in the peak of lunchtime and it was pretty packed but we braved it anyway. After climbing some rocky steps we made it to a canteen style area with a load of outdoor seating a few steps down (a load of school benches in rows) and a small buffet room with everything from salads and pastas to noodles and curries. With an ‘All you can eat’ policy, what’s not to love?

Johan and Nyström — This is basically the Starbucks of Sweden but with WAY better coffee. Specialist and artisan but commercial at the same time. There’s lots of these shops around but the one went to had indoor seating all based in the windowsills with cushions and lots of light. The blends have quirky names and sold in beans or can be ground — I bought Bourbon Jungle, dark roasted and a blend of African and South American beans ‘cos I like mine stroooong. Plus they’re all about the Fair trade and sustainability so all round a good’un.

AtSix — I originally booked in advance after doing some searching around whilst planning our trip and we had no idea until we got there, that this hotel had just recently been inaugurated! ‘Tipsy Tea’ is a boozy take on the traditional Afternoon Tea that serves up cocktails infused with tea, with all your usual trimmings. But — even the nibbles are inventive. A milky, coconut rum shot in a ‘glass’ made of chocolate biscuit, blue (literally) raspberry macaroons and homemade nutella.

Hobo Hotel — This is right next door to AtSix and couldn’t be more different. Sustainability and looking after the environment is a key ideal in Sweden and Hobo uphold this at every level. There’s even an urban garden in the lobby that grows herbs that are used in the dishes and cocktails. Plus a seriously good RnB selection.

Aifur — Now whilst we try not to have meat in our diet daily, we do allow ourselves if some dishes come highly recommended. Plus, YOLO right? Aifur is one of the only restaurants that cook up meals from the Viking era. They really set the scene from low candle lighting and faux hide covering the seats, to the staff wearing traditional attire and a horn blown to indicate your arrival to the rest of the restaurant. Yes — it got announced to everyone that we had arrived and where we’d come from with a round of applause. Meat heavy menu but some seriously good stuff — Honey roasted dwarf chicken, Rack of Lamb ribs and the Charcuterie style tasting board are a must!

SMAK — With SMAK translating to ‘Taste’, the menu is unique in that they don’t go by start, main and dessert. Instead they go by flavour — Chilli, Hazelnut, Garlic, Coriander with those flavours being dominant in each but paired with other things. ‘Elderflower’ for example, was grilled chicken and pointed cabbage with a herby, elderflower soup and elderflower jelly. You choose between 3–7 small plates both savoury and sweet — definitely worth it.

Meatballs for the People — In the trendy SoFo area (Southern area of Södermalm) we popped in for a quick lunch with a Swedish classic. Far from the IKEA offering, Meatballs for the People use organic meats and aim to use local produce as much as possible. There’s even a map telling you where everything is sourced from across Sweden. In true hipster style, everything is repurposed and relaxed with cutlery on tables and free crispbread and butter. We went for the classic meatballs with mash and gravy plus a meatball salad for good measure and it was YUM. Great place to walk in for a quick but filling lunch.

Chokladkoppen — In the old town, this little place overlooked the square, nestled between other equally small and cute cafés and restaurants. I saw raving reviews about their Hot Chocolate so naturally, had to try. The classic hot chocolate came in a massive cup the size of a small bowl — a lot of hot chocolate but oh so good! But this is in keeping with the Swedish tradition of ‘Fika’ (explained below). This will easily serve as a dessert or afternoon snack in itself, you don’t even need the vast amount of pastries they also serve there!

General tips and experiences

Fika — This is a Swedish tradition to go for coffee and cake, definitely my kind of vibe! So it’s more to explain the act of going than a physical object of that makes sense.

People — We naturally interacted with lots of people everywhere we went and found the city to be more divers than we thought and saw there’s a few different cultures residing in Stockholm. We spoke to a few that aren’t native to Sweden and one point that kept coming up is how the Swedes aren’t the most friendly or open and so they’ve found it difficult to make friends, find work or generally meet people.

Mosebacke Design district — All things art and design can be found in the western side of Södermalm. This was recently named and founded as part of Stockholm Design week and you’ll find lots of local designers and makers with studios or shops here. Everything from vintage records and furniture design, to a trendy pizza and beer spot and product design can be found here — true Swedish design.

Sustainability — This is something that seems to be ingrained in society and practised through everything the Swedes do. Nothing is wasted, everything is about looking after the environment and is instilled from a young age. Anything recyclable, sustainable and eco-friendly is a thumbs up here.

So there you have it — all the best highlights from our trip to Stockholm!