Traveler: Kari Johnson
When: August 2016
Overall Experience: Scandinavia is often overlooked as a travel destination, but the cities are gorgeous, the food is pretty tasty (if you like fresh seafood and meatballs), and as I have always said, the air is cleaner, the water clearer, and the grass is greener. Sweden is also home to Fika, which is a verb that culturally translates to a break in the day to have coffee, treats and conversation.
Disclaimer: I met my parents in Stockholm for a once in a lifetime trip for them back to their roots. I still have family in the area and I have been to Stockholm on a couple of occasions previously, so it is safe to say I am bias towards Stockholm!
Logistics: $2000-$5000 – All of Scandinavia is expensive, so consider taking a longer vacation to see Norway and Denmark too, it might be more economical in the long run. Check out, Scandinavia (part II): Norway, too! It is also probably best to travel in summer, unless you are after a winter getaway!
Getting There: Many travel sites offer a variety of prices on airlines to Stockholm, but if you are travelling from the United States or elsewhere in Europe, be sure to check with Iceland Air and other discount airlines operated out of Reykjavik which seem to offer a cheaper option. These particular airlines do not advertise with the major travel sites so check out their individual websites. Although I have yet to take advantage, Iceland Air also allows last minute extended layovers in Iceland at no extra costs, if you are interested in seeing a bit more of Scandinavia.
Getting Around: The main airport in Stockholm, Arlanda Airport, is set about 20-30 minutes outside of the city, transportation links into the city are taxi cab, express train, or bus. The Flygbussarna is the cheapest option, which departs every 15 minutes and tickets can be purchased in the airport at an information booth or one of the electronic ticket stands, look for Flygbussarna. It will run you about $12, and will bring you to the City Terminal/Central Station.
Once in the City Center, bus links, trolley cars, and taxi cabs are great options, but walking or biking are probably preferable if you can manage. There are bike sharing stands located throughout the city and the 3 day pass is a great and affordable option for getting around. You can also take the ferries across the waterways of Stockholm.
Accommodations: There are plenty of great hotels, but if you are looking for a slightly cheaper option, there are some great hostels in Stockholm. I stayed at The Castle House Inn in Gamla Stan, which is kind of a mix of hotel and hostel, but it offers a variety of room options and history buffs might find the building interesting as the cellars of the building date back to the 1320s.
Tips: Bring a water bottle, the tap water is probably some of the best in the world and bottled water can run you around $3.00 per bottle. Plan to do a lot of walking on some old streets, so decent shoes are a must. If you are an American, be prepared to talk politics to locals, in my experience, locals have a lot of questions and most everyone speaks very good English.
Gamla Stan – Gamla Stan translates to Old Town, which is the oldest part of Stockholm and much of the foundation for the island dates back to the 13th century. In addition to being home to a number of tiny streets and cafes, the Royal Palace is also on the island. The Palace is open for tours. Be sure to Fika at one of the many cafes and try Princess Cake at least once. My favorite cafes in Gamla Stan are Café Schweizer and Under Kastanjen. Be sure to also stop by the main square called Stortorget to take in views of some iconic buildings.
Central Stockholm – The main tourist street in Stockholm is called, Drottinggatan (The Queen’s Gate/Street) which leads to Gamla Stan/Old Town, but my favorite activity was taking a food tour. My mother actually found it on Foodtour.eu when searching for non-traditional touristy things to do, and I highly recommend it. It costs about $95 (USD) because the groups are small, but a decent amount of food is included, along with beer or wine, and a history lesson. If you don’t want to spend 4 hours on a food tour, still be sure to check out Östermalms Saluhall to try some reindeer meat and Swedish cheeses, or a slightly more upscale food hall, the Oktagonen and hangout with local professionals.
Island of Djurgården – Accessible via walking, biking, bus, or ferry this Island is home to Stockholm’s most famous attraction, the Vasa Museum. It houses a 17th century ornate ship that sank on its maiden voyage. This island is also home to the ABBA museum and the Nordiska Museet (Nordic Museum) which is set in an impressive building and details the history of Nordic culture.
Island of Fjäderholmarna – This Island is just outside of the main area of the city and only accessible via boat or ferry. To get there, take the ferry from Nybroplan, kajplats 13 (Berth number 13) and pay for your ticket aboard the ferry, the ride will take about 30 minutes. Once there, you can take a walk around the island, visit a small glass blower’s studio, and eat at one of the many great restaurants. I went to Restaurang Rökeriet and had their seafood stew and local craft beer (Fjäderholmarnas Bryggeri), it was absolutely delicious!
Ska vi fika? (Shall we have coffee/treats/conversation?)
Hej, Jag heter [insert your name]. (Hello/hey, my name is __________.)
Har en fin dag. (Have a nice day)
God morgan. (Good Morning)
God natt. (Good Night)
Hej då. (Bye)
Vi ses snart. (See you soon).
Tack så mycket. (Thank you so much)