An Afternoon in Stockholm
After a 3-Day Icelandic Stopover, my friend, Frances, and I flew into Stockholm around noon. We were very limited with time on this trip and planned to be in Sweden for only three days as well. One day in Stockholm and two in Abisko. You can’t travel to Sweden and not check out Stockholm. So, we did the most we could in the short time we were there.
We grabbed our bags, took the metro to just outside Gamla Stan and then walked to the hotel. You can get tickets for the train inside the airport. It's nice because the train actually picks up and drops off inside the airport.
Where to Stay
We checked into Scandic in Gamla Stan. This hotel is small and cute. The interior design is very traditional - with thick doors, crown molding and wallpaper. Even though the room was smaller, it was adorable and actually very nice. There were two windows with views of the street as well. We wanted a hotel in Gamla Stan because of the short amount of time we knew we would have in Stockholm. Gamla Stan is close to so many of the historical sites, so we were able to walk to everything.
After checking in and changing, we went out to explore. First stop was the famous square - Stortorget. Hopefully if you visit - 1) you will have more daylight than we did. It was the end of November, so the sun began setting around 2-3PM. And 2) Stortorget will not be under construction. I was disappointed to see this, but it didn't ruin the experience. If you visit during the end of November or in December - a Christmas market is also held in the square. We were not able to experience this because day one of the market was the next day - the way we were leaving!
Even though the main sites are walkable - you will have to pick and choose which ones you want to actually go inside to tour. Most things close around 5 or 6PM, so getting there in the afternoon limits activities a bit. Decide which sites you would be happy with having just a peek of the outside and which sites you really would like to go inside and spend more time at.
A Peek at the Royal Palace
From the square we made the short walk to the Royal Palace. After seeing the outside of the Palace and then realizing we didn't have time to the take the Palace tour, City Hall tour and visit the Nobel Museum (the last two pair well together) - we decided to pass on the Palace tour and head straight to City Hall.
Stockholm City Hall
The walk to Stockholm City Hall was nice and quiet. We walked along the water to get views of the building from the other side of the bridge. Upon arrival we were able to jump into the last tour of the day which had just started. The City Hall is an active City Hall building where people work. It is also the location of the prestigious Nobel Banquet - which is why I said it pairs well with a trip to the Nobel Museum right after. The tour is quick and nice if you're really just trying to see some historical sites during your short Stockholm visit.
The Nobel Museum is located Stortorget square. So, we traveled back that way. What sold us on the Nobel Museum was the Martin Luther King Jr exhibit that they were having at the time. That mixed with the small fact that Frances loves science. It was really cool to read about the history of the Nobel Prize and see some of the artifacts of the Nobel Prize winners. *TIP - we arrived about 30-35 minutes before the museum was closing, so they let us look around for free. This was plenty of time.
Where to Shop
We stumbled upon Fartygsmagasinet on the way to dinner. They sell nautical antiques and maritime interiors. I love antique stores to begin with, but this one was way different. I felt like Ariel in The Little Mermaid looking at all of the odds and ends that had once been a part of ships. The owner worked there long ago before owning it. He actually used to work on dismantling the ships whose interiors would end up in the shop. The store is so wild and full. Things are hanging everywhere - above and around. There’s even a doorway that appears to be a mirror. Like an optical illusion. We had to do a double take before stepping through lol. I ended up buying a really cool compass. Note: They only accept cash.
Where to Eat
While at City Hall, we asked a local where we could get some authentic Swedish food. We wanted a real local spot - nothing touristy. They suggested Bakfickan. Bakfickan is very small, seating only 28. Some chairs at the bar and some at smaller tables around the bar. The vibe is chill with a dash of sophistication. It was a local spot, but they knew we weren't locals (lol). We sat down and our waiter says, "You want the meatballs?" HAHA! And we did get the meatballs - along with two glasses of wine and some other amazing dishes on the menu.
Dinner consisted of:
Swedish meatballs in cream sauce with potato purée, lingonberries and pickled cucumber
Lightly smoked marrow bone with mushrooms, gremolata and trout roe
Deep-fried lamb sweetbreads ouef au cocotte
Rosehip soup with vanilla ice cream and almond cookies
This was some of the best food I had ever had in my life. Some of the dishes were firsts for me too! To top the night off, our waiter finally warmed up to us. We ended up having an amazing conversation with him, and with what I can only assume was a manager, about life. These are some of my favorite moments while traveling. Those “soul touching moments”as I always say.
It was a short walk back to our hotel. We accomplished a lot in a half a day I think. There are a lot of things I didn’t get to see that I would have loved to. Such as the street art and hip area of Södermalm. If you have more time in Stockholm - spend it.
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