I feel so excited now to finally get to write about one of my favourite cities in Europe: Stockholm!
Stockholm is the capital city of Sweden and also the most populous city in the Nordic countries. That came as no surprise to me, considering how beautiful this city is! The moment I arrived there, I gasped quite many times when I saw the breathtaking views throughout the city. So no wonder a lot of people want to live in Stockholm.
Before I begin to explain all the beauty I experienced, I’m gonna tell you how I reached Stockholm. As I was coming from Helsinki, I decided to take an overnight ferry (a more humble word to call a ‘cruise ship’). You may have read my ferry experience for my day trip to Tallinn, Estonia – which was awesome. This time, I took another company: Viking Line – M/s Mariella.
Since the journey took 17.5 hours, I booked a cabin to sleep. Teemu, my friend Reni’s boyfriend (now husband), helped me to book a ticket for 36 Euros only. This price was actually for return trips, but I didn’t use the return ticket as I was not going back to Helsinki right away. I could’ve just booked a single trip ticket, but I don’t know why, when I tried to book it by myself, the price I got was 70+ Euros for one-way trip! I guess it’s because Teemu had this membership with the ferry or booking company, so he could get a much cheaper price, even for two-way tickets!
I departed at 5.30PM from Katajanokka Port in Helsinki on 21 September 2016. I went straightly to my cabin first:
I also had Wi-Fi inside the cabin, but the connection was quite poor. I had to go to the lobby/reception area to get a stronger one, for example when I wanted to use an app to book a hostel. I wouldn’t be able to do it if I only tried to use the Wi-Fi in the cabin.
The ferry, just like the one I had for my Tallinn day trip, had restaurants, bars, game centers, duty free shops, playing rooms for children, etc. I personally spent my time mostly for sleeping (well, it was an overnight ferry anyway) and just exploring the outdoor areas. I went to the rooftop to take some photos and videos, and it was so cold up there!
The food sold in the ferry restaurants are so expensive, so I only had this for dinner:
I finally arrived in Stockholm (at Viking Line, Terminalen Stadsgården) at 10AM the next day, on 22 September 2016. Stockholm is one hour behind Helsinki. As I have booked a hostel from HostelWorld app, I went straightly to Londonviadukten stop to take bus no. 53. The price for a single trip is 36 Swedish Krona (SEK). I got off the bus at Kungsgatan stop, and from there I walked to Torsgatan 10 to find my hostel: Generator Hostel Stockholm.
The girl at the reception let me check-in even though it was only 10.30AM! How nice. I got a bed in a 6-bed mixed dorm for 255 SEK a night. My room mates were 1 girl from Hong Kong, 2 guys from Germany, and 1 girl from Bulgaria. One bed was empty. We had one bathroom to share inside our room. The hostel also has a lot of common rooms and facilities (e.g. meeting room, working space, etc.), it’s almost like a hotel.
I actually wanted to extend for another night in Stockholm, but when I checked the hostel prices for the next day, it was super expensive (something like 500 SEK a night!) – because it was Friday. So finally I decided to just stay 1 night in this city and make the most of my 24 hours!
Note: To be exact, I had 36 hours in Stockholm. But then again, I needed to cut the time for sleeping (7 hours) and working (5 hours) – remember that I was on #workation so I always had to spare some time to work during my trip when I was not on leave. So these 24 hours here are the complete 24 hours – not deducted by sleeping time 🙂
Stockholm has several neighborhoods where each of them has its own attractions. My hostel is located in one called Norrmalm. It’s a very busy and commercial area with lots of shopping crowds. In fact, the biggest shopping district in the city is here, which is Drottninggatan. The Central Station and City Terminal is also in Norrmalm, so if you are arriving by train or bus, you will for sure be in the neighborhood.
What caught my intention the most was this sculpture:
The fox sculpture looked so real when I walked passed by! It is located at the street corner where Drottninggatan and Strömgatan meet. It’s called Rag and Bone with Blanket, which is an artwork by Laura Ford. This sculpture was placed there back in 2009, and from what I’ve read in some articles, it’s meant as a reminder of homeless people in Sweden and that there are still improvements to make in the Swedish welfare society.
The weird thing about some countries in Europe (including Sweden), the government gives monthly allowance and shelters for jobless or homeless people, but still there are people living in the streets. From what my European friends told me, most of the time, it’s those people themselves that “chose” to live in such condition. Many also have drinking or drug issues… so yeah.
Moving on to the next neighborhood: Gamla Stan (Old Town)! Similar to the Old Town of Tallinn which I have previously reviewed, Gamla Stan is also one of the preserved medieval city centers in Europe. The Royal Palace, Royal Armoury, and museums are located in this neighborhood. You can also find a lot of antique shops, souvenir shops, and expensive hotels in this area. Gamla Stan is known to be the most popular attraction in Stockholm.
Even if you don’t enter any of the museums or try one of the restaurants/cafés in Gamla Stan, it’s still great to just walk around the area. If you are into Instagram, this neighborhood is definitely perfect for your feed. If you are into architecture, well, what more can I say? You’ve seen the pictures, right?
Going more to the south of the city, you’ll arrive in Södermalm. It’s the most populated district in Stockholm, and it’s also a hot spot for young people, artists, and musicians. Oh, don’t forget that Sweden is one of biggest international singer/band/DJ producers in Europe, or even in the world. Remember ABBA, The Cardigans, Avicii, Tove Lo, and Zara Larsson? Those are just a few of so many big names in music from Sweden.
You can also find a lot of funky shops and unorthodox restaurants in Södermalm. However, if you’re looking for a coffee shop where you can stay quite long and use Wi-Fi, they also have Starbucks there (haha). It’s not that common, though, to see Starbucks shops in Sweden, as they have a local coffee shop chain: Espresso House, which is more popular there. In Starbucks Södermalm, I saw a lot of students hanging out there for hours, busy with their laptops. So really, you don’t have to feel guilty if you want to do the same. The place is big anyway, with a lot of tables and sofas.
To be honest, I didn’t take photos in Södermalm as many as I did in the previous neighborhoods. This is because I only visited this area on my first day, and most of the time I was resting in this Starbucks, and then later met a friend for dinner.
I was a little bit shocked when I noticed a big difference in the streets after 6PM. In many cities in Europe, shops close at 6PM, and Stockholm is no exception. Only restaurants and bars would still be open. It left the streets suddenly almost empty and much more quiet. During the day, Stockholm is much more lively than Helsinki for example, but during the night they’re more or less the same.
As someone who grew up in Asia where shops and malls normally open until 9-10PM, this felt pretty weird for me. I was thinking, how do people find time to do their shopping then? People normally work on weekdays, and these shops will close on weekends. Ha. That’s still an unanswered question for me. I haven’t really asked it to any of my friends in Europe.
Now let’s talk about FOOD!
I actually wanted to try the famous Swedish meatballs when I was in Stockholm, but damn – in the end I didn’t have enough time to do so. There was this restaurant in Södermalm called Meatballs for The People that I was seriously aiming for, but then somehow I didn’t go there. I certainly have to give it a visit next time! Oh, and just FYI, IKEA is also well-known for the Swedish meatballs they sell in their restaurant/bistro inside their stores.
Even though I failed to try the Swedish meatballs, I can give you recommendation for 2 other nice places to eat/drink if you want to visit Stockholm, too:
Address: Blecktornsgränd 9, 118 24 Stockholm, Sweden
Recommended for: Dinner
I was pleasantly surprised to learn that this restaurant offered Asian fusion cuisine! They had options for bao and dishes with rice – and for my dinner I chose Paul, which was pork with hoisin and rice. It was super delicious! I paid 145 SEK for a big portion.
Magnolia is a nice place to take your date to, as it has this romantic yet casual ambience, plus the staff are friendly! Good news for dog lover, you can even bring your dog into the restaurant. I saw a group of friends eating together and there was a dog sitting next to their table.
Address: Kungsgatan 55, 111 22 Stockholm, Sweden
Recommended for: Afternoon Tea
My friend, Albin (from Uppsala, a city in the north of Stockholm), was the one who took me to this local patisserie on Friday. The location is not far from the Central Station – definitely within walking distance. This place serves breakfast, lunch, and afternoon tea with tempting options of pastries and coffee.
As Albin suggested, I ordered their local coffee, which is simply called ‘Kaffe‘ in the menu. This cost 28 SEK – not bad at all! The most amazing thing about is that it was for unlimited refill! So basically I just needed to pay first at the cashier, then I could just go back to the coffee table area and do self-service.
Beside the great taste of the coffee, I was just wowed by the fact that everyone really went to the cashier to pay first before taking anything from the coffee table. The cashier area is actually quite hidden, it’s in the back area of the café. So you actually reach the coffee table first after you enter the café, and you have to go further to another room to see the cashier.
I can imagine if we have this kind of house plan or sequence in a restaurant in Indonesia, I’m sure there would be some people taking advantage of it, LOL! Well, of course not only in Indonesia, though – in many other countries, too. Some people will just directly go to the coffee table, drink the coffee, and then leave. I mean, who would know they haven’t paid yet if the restaurant is pretty crowded and you don’t even have any staff ‘standing by’ at the coffee table area? There you go. Albin said that the human trust in Sweden is high for this kind of things.
Useful TIPS for Stockholm!
- Money Exchange
As you have noticed, Sweden has its own curreny, which is Swedish Krona (SEK). Even though the country is part of Schengen, they’re not using Euros.
By the time I was there, I changed my Euros to SEK in the ferry. I didn’t get the best currency conversion there. The actual rate was 1 Euro = 9.5 SEK, but I only got 8.9 SEK for every 1 Euro.
Forex seems to be the best bet to exchange money in Stockholm. One of the places where you can find its counter/bank branch is in the Central Station. You can also just withdraw some cash from the famous Bankomat blue ATMs.
Personally, I didn’t use any public transportation while I was in Stockholm, except that one time when I took the bus from the port to my hostel (cause I didn’t want to walk a few kilometers carrying my 10-kg backpack). I just explored the 3 neighborhoods on foot. The distance between Norrmalm and Södermalm (with Gamla Stan in between) is only 3-4 kilometers. So if you don’t mind walking for 6-8 kilometers a day, you can save your money by not taking public transportation.
However, if you’re not much of a ‘walker’ type, you may want to get the 24-hour / 72-hour / 7-day pass. This pass already includes all means of transportation in Stockholm: buses, underground trains, commuter trains, trams, and certain ferry lines. For further information, please check the official page of SL, Stockholm Public Transport.
If you have more than 24 hours in Stockholm, I recommend you to visit the other neighborhoods as well: Vasastaden, Kungsholmen, Östermalm, Djurgården, and Skeppsholmen. You can read more about these areas here.
There’s so much more in Stockholm to see and if you have ever visited these other neighborhoods and found interesting stuff as well, please let me know by leaving a comment on this post! I’m really looking forward to visit Stockholm again someday and it would be nice if you could give me some personal recommendation about where to go and what to do there – or what to EAT!
After only a short time, this city that people call ‘Venice of The North’ has definitely given me the Stockholm syndrome! Okay, let me clarify it: I’m NOT talking about this Stockholm syndrome – where it means the feelings of trust or affection towards a kidnapper. Haha, definitely not – though I’m glad if you learned a new psychological term here. What I mean is: Stockholm gave me this syndrome which made me keep on comparing all the other cities I visited in Europe to Stockholm, and think about this city all the time after I left as if no other place could beat its charm. Oh well, Stockholm has probably kidnapped my heart then – and made me fall in love deeply. Aaawww! xxx