I'M EXHAUSTED. Haven't been able to just catch a break any time in the last several weeks, from catching up on all my work for my masters, to traveling, getting Christmas gifts, and getting everything together before I head back to Chicago for a few weeks on Saturday, I need a damn deep breath. So sorry for the minor hiatus as I sort my shambly life out, I swear it'll be over soon.
So I visited Sofia, Bulgaria a few weeks back, followed by an anticipated trip to Amsterdam that got cancelled, and then spent this past weekend soaking up the (not)sun in Stockholm with bae. Stockholm was one of my first major European cities and my first Scandinavian city, and I FELL IN LOVE WITH IT. I'm not sure if it was the group of friends that I traveled with, or the city in general, but I always felt a certain pull to go back. So when I found a cheap flight a few months back, I couldn't resist. In hindsight, I probably should have resisted because I'm currently stressing out about everything in life, but traveling tho >>>>>>>>>>>>>. Bae came with, mostly because I dragged him along, but it ended up being a perfectly banterous time, with a lot of it spent huddling together to avoid the cold and watching the sunset at 2pm.
Stockholm is a city that I believe you need a few weeks to truly enjoy and get to know. The city itself is pretty spread out, with the "center" spreading over quite a few islands that need seeing. It's not the most easy to navigate by walking, but can be done, and the subway and buses are fairly simple to figure out. But if you only had 48 hours, like we did, there's a lot to crank out. So here ya go!
Eat Swedish Meatballs
I know I exaggerate a lot and get really pumped about stuff, but dead serious, Sweden has some of the best food I've ever had while traveling. Mostly because Swedish meatballs, yo. We ate at Tranan in Norrmalm, which the internet boasted had the best Swedish meatballs in the city. Obviously, everything on the internet is right, so we went there. The meatballs are so savory and delicious that the restaurant doesn't even put them on the menu, otherwise they wouldn't sell anything else! When the meal was over, I almost cried because I didn't want the meal to be over. RT if you crie every tiem.
Explore the Old Town (Gamla Stan)
As in any city, the Old Town is usually the most popular tourist destination and is often pimped out with various kitschy souvenir shops. While the old town of Stockholm had it's fair share of fridge magnet stores, I feel like it's quite authentic in the grand scheme. It's full of small little alley ways and windy roads so you don't feel like you're just walking down one long street. Plus, if you're there during the holidays, Christmas markets are always a plus!
Stockholm is actually a bunch of islands grouped together, so taking a tour on a boat around the islands is ideal for seeing the city in a short amount of time. You can learn a little bit of Scandinavian history too!
Stockholm has one of the biggest operating palaces in Europe. While the Swedish royal family no longer lives there, the palace still is in use for official events. You can tour the palace, which is lovely, and wander around the grounds, and watch the changing of the guards.
In both of my trips to Stockholm, we didn't make time for the Vasa Museum, which is Stockholm's most famous museum. The Vasa was an old ship who sank on her maiden voyage just 20 minutes into the ride. Hundreds of years later (or something like that) they fished her out of the water, reconstructed her, and put her in the Vasa Museum. It's supposed to be really cool!
WALK. (or rent a bike!)
Stockholm is a wonderful city for wandering, mostly because it's so spread out. You can get a lot of exploring done if you simply walk from place to place, cross over the bridges, and meander into the parks and shopping district by nixxing public transportation. Although public transport will save you time if you're in a time crunch, if you're not trying to cross a bunch of things off of your list, then there's no need to rush around.
Wander around Östermalm
This neighborhood is home to some of the most famous Swedes and is one of the most coveted areas to live in Stockholm. You'll find a lot of bars, clubs, and the main shopping district here.
Things to Note
- Stores don't sell alcohol after 3pm on Saturdays! I remember this from my first visit, when my friends and I wandered around for ages trying to find a bottle of wine. Then we fell victim again during my second visit, where we went on a quest for cider and no one would sell it to us. Plan ahead.
- Sweden is EXPENSIVE AF. Like so expensive. Look at AirBnB for accommodation options, as you'll likely spend just as much for a hostel as you would to rent an apartment.
Overall, Stockholm is beautiful, and remains one of my favorite places I've visited, and most definitely the most beautiful Scandinavian country (total opinion).