One of my favourite ways to dine out in Stockholm is at one of the capital’s numerous ‘bakfickan’ restaurants. Literally translated as the ‘back-pocket’, many fine-dining restaurants will have a ‘bakfickan’, which offers cuisine cooked in the same kitchen but served up in more modest surroundings (and at a more affordable price tag). Speceriet is a great example of this kind of eating out experience. It doesn’t take reservations and there’s always a bit of a wait for a seat at one of the communal dining tables, but it’s well worth it for the atmosphere and delicious food.
The Swedes have this great little tradition called ‘fika’ where they break in the middle of the day to enjoy a coffee with a cinnamon bun. The best fika in town is served at Il Caffé, wrap yourself in a blanket and sit outside by the cute florist with the hip-folk of Sodermalm.
If you want to eat like a local you cannot miss PA&Co, it’s a cosy little restaurant known for its fantastic Swedish food and it’s always busy and bustling. Just up the road is another favourite hangout of mine Nyrbogatan 38. Here, you will find a vibrant crowd eating and drinking until late in the evening; hands down the best meatballs in Stockholm – and I’ve tried a few!
If you want to drink with the locals head to Riche on a Friday night where a rather fashionable set descend for ‘after-work’ (drinks). Rather than drink in the restaurant bar, sneak past the toilets into the next-door bar with the same Parisian inspired décor but a livelier crowd.
Housed in the oldest pharmacy in Stockholm, Pharmarium is a cosy cocktail bar in Gamla Stan (the city’s historic centre). The bar menu consists of innovative cocktail concoctions and it’s a great little spot for a chilled out drink without feeling too touristy.
Bistro Barbro, is a bit in the middle of nowhere but it’s an awesome little find where you can enjoy cocktails and sushi if you’re feeling peckish. Head downstairs where they have DJs and a cinema style set-up on the weekends.
Kaken is the closest I’ve found in Stockholm to a secret or speakeasy style bar. Located through a door at the back of Niklas restaurant it’s a cool hangout on a Saturday night and is where the trendy-types of Stockholm frequent, just make sure you flash your best smile to the doorman as it can be hard to get in.
Rival Hotel is situated in one of my favourite squares in Stockholm and in the hipster heart of Sodermalm. It’s owned by Benny Andersson from ABBA so there is a music and film themed decor throughout. The café is always busy, particularly on the weekends for brunch where people come to enjoy the bread sourced from Riddarbageriet, hands down the best bakers in Stockholm. If you want to be central but removed from the tourist trail this is the spot for you.
Berns Hotel is a boutique hotel in the heart of Stockholm with an elaborate cocktail bar and one of the city’s popular club and gig venues. Its rooms are minimalist and traditionally Scandinavian in contrast to the far fancier public areas, which are adorned in chandeliers and gold. It’s worth checking who is playing at Berns if you’re booking as you get a VIP wristband and entrance to the club included in your hotel price.
If you want to shop the coolest of Scandinavian brands, head over to Grandpa store in Sodermalm (its next to Il Café so you can combine a visit to both!). Selling menswear and womenswear, the store curates a fantastic collection of local designers and is known to fashion the Stockholm-hipster. Make sure you pop downstairs too as there’s an awesome little second hand antique store in the basement.
IKEA put Swedish design on the map, but for smaller items of equally innovative proportion swing by one of the Designtorget stores. They’re stocked full of quirky items and random well-designed pieces you never knew you needed.
If you have time to spare hop on a ferry and head out to the archipelago. In 30 minutes you will reach Fjaderholmarna, a small island with an incredible seafood restaurant and little else. The fish is second to none, and the setting even more so. Grab a table on the restaurant’s spacious deck overlooking the strait where sailing boats and ferries travel to and from Stockholm.
Stockholm has no shortage of museums, but the Fotografiska museum (the Photography Museum) is a stand out spot for culture. It’s right on the sea front so affords beautiful views of the city, and its bar often hosts low-key gigs from local acts, as well as serving up a fantastic brunch on the weekends.
If you’ve done the obligatory boat trip around Stockholm and explored Gamla Stan by foot, rent a bicycle at the entrance to Djurgarden and cycle around the island. Once the hunting grounds of the royal family, but today where Stockholmers come for their daily bout of cardio, the island has cycling paths throughout and beautiful scenery particularly at the waters edge.
Read more in our My Secret series and look out for Sophia in up-coming guest blogs.