Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Guide to Visiting Stockholm


Stockholm is one of those cities that I have always wanted to visit. I had heard such great things about how beautiful the scenery and buildings are, how clean the city is and how nice the people are. This is honestly, exactly how it is. The city is made up of 14 main islands and there are ferries that run between them during the summer months and a reduced schedule during winter. The winter is beautiful here and you get that lovely light, even if its just for a short time. We were lucky to experience some lovely snow on our first night here which added a lovely white blanket to the city which was magical.

The city is very well planned and easy to navigate on foot. There is a great public transport system both trams, buses and ferries. We actually never needed to get public transport, bar a ferry across the harbour - for novelty really! We were more than happy to ramble around the city on foot and discover all the hidden places.

Getting from the airport
We arrived late on the Thursday night, flying with the dreaded Ryanair. It honestly wasn't as bad as I thought as the airport in Stockholm is so well organised and as soon as we got out of the airport, a bus took us directly to the city centre, dropping us at Central Station, 1.5hours drive. You could choose to fly with another airline, which would take you to Arlanda airport only 30 minutes from the city centre, but that might cost you a hell of a lot more!

Our hotel
Our hotel, Hotel Tegnerlunden, was only a couple of blocks walk away. It was situated right at the top of the main shopping street looking onto a beautiful, quiet little square. It wasn't a fancy hotel but it ticked all the boxes for what we were looking for: great location, great price, good sized clean room and en-suite. We really couldn't have asked for better. 

My sister has been to Stockholm before and stayed at the Nordic Lights Hotel and she said it's fabulous so I would definitely recommend looking there too. It is a little more expensive though but serves great cocktails in the bar downstairs!

Where to eat in Stockholm

We arrived at 9.30pm to the hotel so we pretty much ran in, dropped our bags and headed straight out to grab some dinner before kitchens close at 10pm! I had done my bit of research on great foodie places before getting to Stockholm so I had us sorted for the first night. 

We ate in a lovely Italian restaurant, only a few blocks from our hotel. I had heard that it was cheap and cheerful and really tasty so this suited us perfect for what we needed. We did have a bit of trouble finding the restaurant because, apparently in Sweden, they like to have a number 48 on one side of the road, and then on the other number 48 on the other - although they were about a kilometre apart - very confusing!!

Lunguini Restaurant
This restaurant has the most beautiful setting. It is situated on a really quiet street and a really nice surprise when you get there as you don't expect it at all. 
You walk down a few steps, into a candle lit brick room with timber features. There are candles placed in every niche in the room. It is a very romantic and cosy setting with a great buzzing crowd. It is obviously a very popular place because at 9.50pm there was only one table for 2 people left. We were very lucky!

The menu had an array of delicious bruschetta's, pastas, antipasti plates and a gorgeous selection of daily desserts. The pasta was probably one of the best I have ever had. So perfectly cooked and the prawns so unbelievably fresh. We ordered a bottle of beer and a glass of wine each and we were happy out.

The currency was hard to get my head around the first night and I did get a big shock when my glass of wine nearly cost as much as my main course!! This is normal in Stockholm and the rest of Sweden I'm sure. The glass of wine, we worked out, cost approximately €15. Extortionate if you ask me. €12 - €15 minimum for a glass of wine anywhere, even a pub. This did quite annoy me at the start because we were on a tight budget, but hey we just got on with it and had a more sober time!!

Frejgatan 48,
Tel: +46 8 314915


This is a fabulous little café down in the old town called Gamla Stan. Gamla Stan is a gorgeous area to walk around and has lots of narrow cobbled streets and little shops that you can wander in and out of. In a way, it reminded me of a temple bar of Stockholm, without the rowdiness and the bars. Lots of nice buildings and steeped in culture.

Chokladkoppen, is famous for its delicious hot chocolate and so that was exactly what I ordered and of course a Swedish cinnamon bun to top it all off! The hot chocolate came in a soup bowl and was so unbelievably tasty. I'm not even a mad chocolate fan and this was honestly was good!! Taking a trip here is a must.

Stortorget 18,
Gamla Stan.
Tel: +46 8 203170

Berns Asiatiska
Berns is a trendy and buzzing Asian restaurant situated right down at the harbour. If you are looking for a place to go with friends or as a couple this is definitely a place to go. The room is triple height with amazing decor and lit with incredible chandeliers. Downstairs there is a nightclub which is renowned for having very talented DJ's and a great party scene. Upstairs at gallery level, there is a large outdoor bar, which would be lovely in summer and also a smaller bar where they were whipping up some fancy cocktails.

Our meal here was only divine and pretty reasonably priced (except for the drink of course!) The menu is made up of dishes mainly aimed for sharing with lots of sushi, dumplings, asian style soups, ribs etc. The dumplings, although they came as only one per portion, were honestly one of the best I have ever tasted. Bursting with flavour and so moist. I would definitely return here. 

Berns Asiatiska
Näckströmsgatan 8,
111 47 Stockholm.

Kott Baren
We walked by this place every day as it was just around the corner from our hotel and it was always jam packed so we never tried to go in. On the last day we were trying to decide on where to eat and we couldn't stop thinking bout how much we wanted to try this place. It is a restaurant in a butcher shop and everyone sits at long tables with about 10-12people. I had never seen anything like it. The bar is the butcher counter and its all very cool and quirky. The waiters even wear butchers whites!

We walked in earlier that afternoon and were told they don't take bookings so we decided we definitely had to take a chance and wait for a table that night. I am so glad we did. We had such a brilliant night here. 

The menu is short and sweet but incredible value and incredibly tasty. I had Italian veal meatballs with pasta which were mouthwateringly good and Simon had the slow cooked veal stew which was as good. Both dishes were €15 or less and a bottle of wine was very reasonable for Stockholm at €25! We had found a winner here!

A DJ came on with very cool music and we sat chilling and chatting amongst the buzzing crowd. This was our favourite place. A little hidden treasure! 

It wasn't until our bill arrived that, in actual fact, Kott Baren, is part of the famous F12 restaurant group in Stockholm. (At least on a budget, you can experience the wonderful food that the F12 restaurant group is famed for!!)

Tegnérgatan 32,
113 59 Stockholm

Tel: +46 8 50524426

Saluhallen Östermalmstorg - The Food Hall
This is the most sought after food hall in Stockholm. It is bursting with amazing fresh aromas from all the ingredients. There is a fantastic selection of meats and fishes and also cafés and restaurants where you can grab a bite while you are there. The building is beautiful in itself. It is a red brick Neo-Gothic building which was built more than a century ago. You could soak up the great atmosphere in here and you wouldn't notice the hours fly by. 

Be sure to check take note of the opening times below though, as we didn't and managed to get there and it was closed on our first day! Of course we managed to schedule it in another day as I was most certainly not leaving Stockholm without going here!

Salluhallen Östermalmstorg, 
114 39 Stockholm, 
Opening Hours:
Monday-Thursday 9.30 - 18:00
Friday 9.30 - 18:30
Saturday 9.30 - 16:00

Places to Visit
The Vasa Museum is situated on the island of Djurgarden in Stockholm. It is only about 30 minutes walk from the centre or a 10 minute bus ride. The Vasa warship sank in the harbour in Stockholm in 1628 and was salvaged in 1961 and preserved here at the Vasa Museum. There are brilliant guided tours around the museum and audio self guided tours that you can do. This is definitely worth a visit.

An open air museum that gives an insight into the Swedish culture and history. This would be much better to do in spring or summer when it's not so cold outside!! 
There is a lovely little café / bakery called Restaurant Gubbyllan, just as you enter Skansen. They do really delicious cakes, coffees and teas. You might plan to take your mid morning stop off here!

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