There are million ways to see a big city. Before heading to Stockholm on our trip with Princess Cruises, I already knew there was no way we'd do it all. The food, the museums, the hidden gems, the destinations, even the subway art! But it's fun seeing travel through different people's eyes and experiences, don't you think? After reading my friend Bri's recap from her trip earlier this year, I had a lot of beautiful places on my list, but a surprise snowstorm and a reminder to slow down ended up making for the best kind of day trip instead: the (mostly) unplanned kind.
STOCKHOLM TRAVEL TIPS
For me, Södermalm was an area that was high up on my list of neighborhoods to wander through. We ordered a delicious, healthy breakfast at Pom & Flora and then headed out to wind through the streets. I loved this neighborhood because it wasn't too built up, but had a lot of smaller, locally shops to explore. Grandpa is one of the more infamous stores in the area, but when I walked in I felt immediately like I was back in Seattle. There were even hats for sale from one of my favorite local companies, Ebbets Field Flannels. If you find yourself in that area here are a few more suggestions:
- Kalf & Hansen
- Meatballs for the People (if you suddenly realize you're in Sweden and haven't had a meatball yet but have to go catch a bus back to your cruise ship, this place comes in real handy.)
- Behagligt (purchased some beautiful linens here!)
- Herr Judit Brandstationen (I'm so mad I missed this one! They also have a sister store for fashion)
- Swedish Hasbeens (clogs!)
- Fotografiska (the photography museum which is supposed to be amazing, and also has cafe and beautiful views.)
To say I never wanted to leave this store was a massive understatement. I could have moved in, slept in those beds, dined in their cafe, and died happy. The Josef Frank textiles were everywhere: on lampshades, trays, furniture, wallpaper, fabric, sofas, you name it. But the furniture and accessories were also just perfection. I bought an insanely expensive table runner that I can't wait to use in a photo shoot, so you'll see it soon, I promise.
Upstairs there was a little cafe (yes, there were multiple levels to the store) and all I wanted to do was curl up on that rattan sofa and let the ship leave me behind. But. There was more to do and so little time to do it in! So off we went...
My new most favorite thing in the world to explore abroad are food markets. A mix between meat and fish markets, provisions, restaurants, and sometimes even dessert, if I find one on a map I'm there. So, we headed off to the Ostermalm Saluhall.
Obviously covered markets are essential in Scandinavia, and I was thankful this one was indoors. With snow falling, my bestie and faithful cruise partner in crime, Christy, and I sidled up to the bar at this fish joint called Lisa Elmqvist, and decided to indulge in a little afternoon delight.
In case you're wondering, their fresh fish stall was right across the way from here. I ordered caviar. She ordered the salmon tartar. Of course there was champagne.
This food was so amazingly fresh. In fact, all the food we ate throughout Scandinavia was amazing, when it came to fish especially. That comes as a shock to no one I'm sure, but just sitting here thinking about the food is making me wish I were back there. A few more places to add to the list here...
Alas, our brief time in this amazing city came to an end in late afternoon, which was perfect timing because...
This was the view from our ship once we had safely arrived back onboard. And that little lifeboat? They had to shuttle us from the shore to the ship in one of those because the weather had made it too hard for the boat to dock. It was actually quite the adventure, and kind of fun to see what these look like in the inside, under these circumstances. It's kind of lovely to return 'home' after a long day like this to your cozy room with a view!
Now about that whole planning part of this post...
When tackling a large city, I start by researching all the places I might want to go, and marking them in Google Maps. You can even create a whole separate map that you can refer back to and share by going to the Google Maps menu and:
- Click on Your Places
- Click on Maps
- Click 'Create Map'
- Start inputting places you might like to visit as you come across them in your research.
If you feel like getting super Type A, you can organize places in layers. I do mine in layers that indicate shopping, dining, museums, sightseeing, etc. Then you can color code them, give them icons, the whole bit. Then the best part of this is you can share the map. I made one just for Stockholm to show you, and you can click over to it right here. You can also add others so if you're planning a trip with a group, others can add to it. I'd love to start doing this more often for our travel roundups because they're so helpful! Plus, you can always add to them the next time you visit!
As for prioritizing when you only have a limited amount of time in a city that's rather large, I think your best shot at seeing the most things is to take a look at the places on your list, organize them by neighborhood (this is where the map comes in handy!), and then choose one or two areas that will be easy to see. Also, obviously, you've got to set priorities. Is there one place you want to spend the majority of the time in? Definitely start there first or you may regret it later when you're running short on time.
If museums are on the list, make sure you've acquired tickets ahead of time to avoid lines or disappointment (life lesson learned from the Hockney exhibit I missed in London!). Same goes for restaurants. If they take reservations, make them! You can always cancel, and having something to keep you on schedule like that is good motivation.
One of the harder decisions we made in Stockholm was to not go to Rosendals Trädgård - an adorable garden and cafe that was right up my alley. But, it was pretty far out of the way and I didn't want to spend all my time in a cab. Luckily, my friend Eden of Sugar & Charm went so we can all live vicariously through her post! My point is - not everything is going to make the cut. But the tradeoff was that we had more time just to wander and linger, which I always account for when outlining days like these, and it's so worth it.
What other Stockholm travel tips do you have? Any other planning strategies for those times you have a quick day in a city? Would love to hear!