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Swede Dreams: 48 hours in Stockholm

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A city formed of 14 islands linked by bridges and an exceptional transport system, Stockholm is the ideal destination for a weekend break. With the cobbled streets of Gamla Stan and a stunning waterfront near the Swedish house of Parliament, the Riksdag, the Scandinavian city is simply a must-visit.

Image credit: Pedro Szekely, via Flickr

Arrival

You will most likely fly into Arlanda, the closest airport to Stockholm.

The airport is well-connected to the city centre by the Arlanda Express trains. Finding the train after arriving at the airport is pretty straightforward and, if like me, your level of Swedish is poor to non-existent, it is conveniently signposted in English too. In fact, pretty much everyone I spoke to during my time in Stockholm spoke English to some extent.

Image credit: Mariamichelle, via Pixabay 

The cost of a return ticket is around 570 SEK for over 25s or 165 SEK each way if you are aged 17-25. This translates to around £45 for an adult ticket and £30 for a reduced rate ticket.

It is important to stress from the outset that Stockholm is fast-approaching becoming a cashless city, which means that many shops, restaurants, and train ticket machines do not accept cash. Most places accept major credit card brands, but it might be worth looking into a travel card to avoid unwanted transaction fees.

Day 1

Espresso galore

Once you arrive in Stockholm's city centre, you will be hard-pressed to not encounter an Espresso House. This is the dominant coffee house in Sweden and it is absolutely superb. So, grab a coffee and a cinnamon bun to re-energise after your journey.

Image credit: Lucy Stretch

The walk from Norrmalm, the airport bus shuttle stop, to Gamla Stan is both beautiful and short, with views of the Houses of Parliament and the spectacular rivers that run through the city.

Image credit: Lucy Stretch

Gamla Stan

With cobbled streets and colourful 17th Century houses, Gamla Stan is the best place to immerse yourself in the history of Stockholm, including the Royal Palace, which is the King's official residence.

The streets are lined with quirky cafes and quaint shops, which are the perfect places to buy souvenirs or have a hot drink to escape the chilly winds. Hilda Hilda is a haberdashery shop in Gamla Stan where all the items, such as handmade pencil cases and table runners, are made in-store. The owners sit in front of sewing machines whilst you wander around.

Image credit: Lucy Stretch

Not far from Hilda Hilda is the cosy Trädkojan, the perfect place to Fika (the Swedish art of taking a coffee or cake break). With cute nooks and crannies, Trädkojan is an ideal place to grab lunch or a drink. I recommend their hot chocolate.

Day 2

Breaking the fast

No matter what time of year you are travelling to Stockholm, chances are that it is going to be much colder than the UK, so you will want to fuel your day with warm food. The answer is Greasy Spoon.

Image credit: Lucy Stretch

There are two of these restaurants either side of Gamla Stan, one in Södermalm and the other in Odenplan, meaning that you are likely to be near one wherever you are staying. The restaurant has a laidback interior and offers breakfast classics such as a full English or eggs benedict, but I would recommend the blueberry pancakes with mascarpone, which are just heavenly.

ABBA The Museum

ABBA The Museum is probably the most important place in the whole of Stockholm. Yes, it really does exist! Entry costs around 150 SEK (£14), but you can get a discount with a student card, so make sure you always carry ID with you.

To reach ABBA The Museum, take a ferry from Slussen near Gamla Stan to the Allmänna Gränd ferry stop across the water (this is how many people travel around the islands). This also gives you a great view of Stockholm and the tickets only cost around 36 SEK (£3.50), around the same price as the metro system. 

Image credit: Lucy Stretch

The ABBA Museum is great for fans of the ABBA classics or even if you have only seen the Mamma Mia films. The museum is interactive, giving you the chance to record your favourite ABBA songs and even perform with a hologram of the group.

Swedish meatballs

Can you really go to Sweden and not sample the Swedish meatballs? The answer is no. You will find this delicacy in many restaurants across the city.

Nomad Swedish Food & Bar provides delicious food (Swedish meatballs included) and local beer, as well as live music. The restaurant is located in Norrmalm. There are some really cool bars in this area but it is important to remember the drinking age in Stockholm is 18 in bars but 20 for purchasing alcohol, which is only sold in Systembolaget stores. These food and alcohol bars are ideally situated for a quick dinner before you head back to the airport via the Arlanda Express.

Lead image credit: Pedro Szekely, via Flickr




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