adventures of an american housewife in the south of france

Stockholm City Guide: Dos, Don’ts, Eats

For Stéphanie and Simon's final farewell in October, the four us took a quick trip to Stockholm.  Why Stockholm?  Well, why not!  It's a beautiful city made up of 14 islands connected by 57 bridges.  The food is hearty and the drinks are strong.  We still had some time before the sun went away for the winter and the off-season fares were too good to pass up.  We rented an apartment in the central area of Norrmalm and settled in for one last hurrah in the land of dragon tattoos.  We had a great time, spending much of trip exploring the islands of Gamla Stan (Old Town), Södermalm (where the cool kids hang) and Djurgården (for some outdoorsy time).

the main square of Gamla Stan

the streets of Södermalm

gorgeous scenery of Djurgården

Here's how to plan your trip: DO: - Listen to the locals.  The first night we were there, we went to this awesome bar Köttbaren (more on that later), and our friendly bartenders told us everywhere to go for the rest of the trip.  Good thing we listened to them, because all of their suggestions were perfect for us!  You can read about them in the Eats/Drinks section below.  +1 for the people of Stockholm, they are so nice and friendly! - Visit in the Fall.  We knew that going to Stockholm in October could be hit or miss, but we really lucked out with fantastic weather.  It was chilly - we wore coats, gloves, and hats - but by no means was it bone-chilling cold.  We were able to spend most of our days outside comfortably and were treated to some of the most brilliantly colored leaves I've seen since I lived on the East Coast.

lovely trees

golden colors of Djurgårten

yellow and houndstooth

- Take the "Under the Bridges" Boat Tour.  Because it's almost 2 hours long, that's why!  Two epic hours of Boat Tour shenanigans.  What's better than that?  BYOB and snuggle in for some knowledge as you travel under 15 bridges, through 2 sets of locks, and out into the Baltic Sea.  I rank this one very high on my list of Boat Tours.

headset on and ready for the tour!

every good boat tour starts with wine


love the red brick

Stéph and Simon

one of the bridges

can't get enough of those colors!

doing what we do best

- Explore Djurgården by Bike.  This island of Royal land was turned into a recreation area in the 1970s.  There's a huge park, a lake, museums, a residential area and more.  It would be pretty difficult to see the whole thing by foot and not knock out a huge chunk of your day.  You could spend an entire day there, but if you're looking to squeeze in Djurgården between Boat Tours and Ice Bars like we were, then renting a bike is the perfect way to explore.  There's a little stand at the entrance of the island, and for only about $1 you're good to go for a whole hour!  We had a blast riding through the picaresque park and admiring the beautiful colors.

ready to ride!

magical riding

beautiful views

steph riding along the river

hanging after the ride

- Be preapared for typical European shower situations.  If you're not familiar with the standard European shower set up, make sure to read this first.  I shouldn't have been too surprised by what we encountered at the otherwise amazing apartment we rented in Stockholm, but this one was a doozy so I had to share it with you.

this is not a joke

We were given instructions to wipe down the cabinets by the sink after each shower so that the wood wouldn't get damaged.  Umm, how about putting up a freaking curtain instead?? DON'T: - Forget to Stock up on Booze.  Because it's really hard to buy in Stockholm.  We arrived in the city at 4:00pm on Saturday and were greeting with the harsh news that we couldn't buy any alcohol other than 4.5% beers until MONDAY MORNING.  Wha???  But it's true.  Sweden has some strict laws about buying alcohol and we learned the hard way.  All wine, liqour, and beer more than 4.5% must be purchased at state run stores called Systembolaget, which are only open Monday - Friday from 9am - 6pm and Saturday from 10am - 3pm.  So by the time we arrived on Saturday, we were screwed until Monday, which was our last full day in the city.  We were pretty annoyed until we discovered all the amazing cocktail bars around Stockholm.  In true "mixology" style, these whiskey focused cocktails are serious business.

inside a Systembolaget. some of the shops don't even let you touch the alcohol!

take that liquor laws!

- Worry About the Language.  It seems like everyone speaks English, and well.  We didn't run into any language barriers or communication difficulties.  They barely even had accents! - Think you're too cool for the Ice Bar.  You're not.  Literally.  The Stockholm Absolut Vodka Ice Bar is 23°F of brain freezing cheesiness that is worth the trip for the silly pictures alone.  We went and had a great 30 minutes of boozy fun.  If you missed it, you can read about it here.

our goofy group picture

EATS/DRINKS: After the near disaster of Stockholm's booze buying system, we were excited to discover some really great bars and restaurants.  We ate and drank well and I highly recommend you check out all of these places during your trip.  You can read about most of the restaurants and see pictures here, but here's a quick recap in case you missed the last post.
  • Abyssinia:  This Ethiopian restaurant was a little off the beaten path, but I'm so glad we made the trek.  We went here on our first night and had a delicious, authentic meal of various injera and wat.  The restaurant is underground and looks like it was designed by David Lynch, which I mean in the best way possible.  It was Stéph and Simon's first time eating Ethiopian food and they absolutely loved it!

look for this sign!

  • Herman's:  Our friend Jonathan recommended we check out this vegetarian buffet for lunch.  Herman's is set among beautiful trees on Södermalm Island and overlooks the river.  We loaded up on some tasty salads, pasta, lentils, veggies, and fruit.

view from Herman's

Hub at the buffet

first plate :)

  • Bern's Asia:  Another friend, Brian, had recently been to Stockholm on business and told us to go here for some amazing sushi.  Well, you can go ahead and add this to my favorite sushi places in Europe (along with this place) because they had the most variety I've seen so far, including hamachi - Hub's favorite!  We sushi'd it up for our appetizers (along with dumplings and garlic fried green beans) and moved on to some really scrumptious main dishes of Red Curry Meatballs, Korean BBQ Flank Steak, Chicken Skewers, and Hoisin Glazed Ribs.  Don't worry, the four of us shared everything and it was all deeeelish.  And just as good as the food was the atmosphere - so opulent and gorgeous!

view from our table - love those chandeliers.

  • Köttbaren: if you go anywhere in Stockholm, make sure you go here.   We stumbled upon this relatively new Norrmalm haunt our first night in Stockholm and it was the best thing to happen to us!  Their cocktail menu was incredible (and just what we were looking for!) and the staff was insanely friendly, not to mention prompt.  Everyone came up to say hi to us and offer suggestions of things to go/places to eat in Stockholm.  My only regret is that we never got a chance to grab a bite here because their food looked great!

saturday night saving grace

cool interior

between the 4 of us, i think we tried every drink on here. my favorite was the Kingston Swizzle

they even had Sierra Nevada, i was in heaven!

  • Rolfs Kök:  this was one of the restaurants the bartenders at Köttbaren told us to check out.  Since it was right by our apartment, we decided to go for dinner on Sunday night.  We had our fill of delicious bread with pork butter, Beef Carpaccio, Veal Terrine, Ox Cheeks, and Swedish Meatballs. Not to mention some bold California wine - now you can't get that in France!

table with a view

  • Marie Laveau:  Thanks again to the kind folks over at Köttbaren, we got to have a real SUNDAY BRUNCH!  That is a true rarity for us here in France, so we were really excited to our fill of Bloody Marys, Mimosas, Egg Sandwiches, and French Toast (ironically not served anywhere in France).  I wish I could go here every weekend.

i love those things too

boys and their bloodies

  • Svartengrens:  The ladies who run this bar are friends with the guys over at Köttbaren and they have something very special in common, they make a mean cocktail!  The decor is clean and simple but the drink menu is long and extensive.  It was one of the only bars still open late on a Sunday night, so Stéph and I went for after dinner drinks while the boys went back to the apartment to watch the Packer game.  I'd like to think that us girls made the better choice.

love the look of this place

Stockholm was a memorable sendoff for Stéph and Simon:  beautiful weather, bikes, boats, yummy food, and great drinks.  A perfect, final trip of the four of least for the time being.

crimson reds with friends

One Response to “Stockholm City Guide: Dos, Don’ts, Eats”

  1. Stéphanie says:

    Absolutely love it!

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