Sept 9, 2022
7 min read
An Insider's Guide to Stockholm
Alec McPike is a writer, professional scuba diver, and an advocate for the mass improvement of mental health. By drawing connections between self-help philosophy, literature, travel, and the many wonders of the natural world, Alec useshis blog
to promote kindness, empathy, and mindful living.
After serving in the U.S. Coast Guard, Alec obtained a degree in journalism from Pepperdine University, then spent a number of years working in the medical field. He is a voracious reader, dedicated yoga practitioner, and drinks far too much coffee.
After leaving his job at a Los Angeles-based Organ Procurement Organization to become a full-time writer, Alec spent six months on an island off the southwest coast of Thailand, where he also trained and started working as a Master Diver.
Since then, he has split his time (about evenly) between California, Washington State, Thailand, and Southern Sweden. As a part-time local, Alec is sharing his best tips and recs for Sweden’s capital city.
Read on for Alec’s guide to Stockholm!
Where to Stay
What are your favorite hotels in Stockholm?
When it comes to spectacular, historic hotels, Stockholm is in a category all of its own. While I could turn this into a fairly cumbersome list, I’ll pick a couple of my favorites:
Established in 1893 and inspired by the Hotel de Paris in Monte Carlo, theGrand Hotel Saltsjöbaden
looks like a cross between a castle and a royal palace. Only twenty minutes from Stockholm city, this 135-room hotel is nestled within the Stockholm Archipelago, on the end of a sparkling bay, and comes with a stunning view of the Baltic Sea.
is a more intimate boutique hotel and inn with only 49 rooms. It’s very centrally located, sitting at one end ofHagaparken
, right on the edge of Brunnsviken (a 3.5 km-long lake). In the same location as the current hotel, there has been an inn of some kind since 1645, so there’s a lot of history here. The restaurant is super cozy—lots of copper, wood, and brown leather booths—and serves modern Swedish cuisine with an emphasis on organic, local food.
Grand Hotel Saltsjöbaden // Stallmästaregården Hotel
Eat & Drink in Stockholm
Where are your go-to spots to eat & drink in Stockholm?
I am, unquestionably, a breakfast person. There are few things in this world I enjoy more—whether it’s alone with a book or in good company—than a light, tasty breakfast with a fresh cup of coffee in a cozy, well-lit cafe.
Pom & Flora
is typically my first choice. I get a drip coffee (free refills) and the Toast Chermoula (an extra-tasty spin on avocado toast) or the Super Bowl (yogurt, berry compote, and roasted granola with cashews, almonds, and lemon thyme).
. Be advised: this is a very popular establishment, especially on the weekends.
is a great place for smoothies, juices, and customizable smoothie bowls. I go for an açai base with the “Yogi” topping combo: mango puree, banana, raspberry, coconut chips, and granola. I always get drip coffee—boring, I know—but my girlfriend likes their Chai and Golden Milk lattes.
For all-day breakfast joy,STHLM Brunch Club
is also a terrific place. Their Avocado Toast—my favorite—is topped with herb oil, chili flakes, pickled red onion, chives, and seeds. Also try (when they’re in season) the Summer Berry Pancakes: strawberry compote, fresh berries, and Canadian maple syrup. As a nod to the environment and the ethical treatment of animals, STHLM Brunch Club does not serve cow’s milk (a fun fact, I thought). The drip coffee here also comes with free refills…just sayin’!
For lunch or dinner, I will often get takeout fromEatnam
– super-delicious Vietnamese food with plenty of vegetarian and vegan options. You really can’t go wrong ordering, but I almost always go for the Bun Cha Gio: a heaping bowl of rice noodles, veggies, and fried spring rolls.
Is there anywhere you’d recommend for a great solo dinner in Stockholm?
is a nice spot to grab a quick burger and a beer if that’s your thing. The atmosphere is pretty relaxed and the food is great. Go for the “Los Angeles” burger (caramelized onions, jalapeños, bacon, pepper jack cheese, tomato, lettuce, and a sweet/hot dressing), and maybe an order of sweet potato fries. All their burgers are made with either 100% Swedish beef or plant-based Beyond Burger, your call.
STHLM Brunch Club // Pom & Flora
What’s your favorite coffee shop in Stockholm?
. The environment is relaxed and friendly, and the owners and staff are all wonderfully kind people. I typically go for their
aka brewed coffee, but their teas and chais are great, too. As terrific as all their drinks are, though, their baked goods are on another level. I lean toward their Gruyère and strawberry jam sandwich or their yogurt with baked apples and granola, but you really can’t miss.
If you’re working out in Stockholm, what does that look like?
I do a lot of yoga and kettlebell work, both of which can be done at home or in one of Stockholm’s many parks. There are also plenty of yoga studios to choose from, andSATS
(a popular gym chain) offers classes free with membership.
If we’re going for a full spa experience, where’s the place?
is a phenomenal hotel and spa modeled after a traditional Japanese bath. It’s a little outside of the city, but still accessible by public transportation. Going in winter when there was lots of snow on the ground adds a whole other element to the outdoor jacuzzis and cold tanks.
They offer a variety of spa treatments, yoga and meditation classes, saunas, steam rooms, and baths. My favorites (for obvious reasons) are the Cave Room Bath and the Sleeping Sauna. They also give you a robe and a bathing suit when you arrive, and that’s what you wear the entire time, even in the restaurant.
If you have a full day at the laptop ahead, where’s the place to get your best work done?
Typically, I will set up shop at the Stockholm Public Library. It’s always quiet and there are plenty of desks, comfy chairs, and outlets. You can print documents there, too (for a small fee).
also has a pleasant working environment, with unlimited access to coffee and treats. No laptops allowed during peak hours (11 a.m. – 3 p.m.) or on the weekends, though.
Is there anything cool happening with a nod to the environment here?
Absolutely. Here are a few fun facts I’ve learned since coming here:
- The City of Stockholm powers its own operations using 100% renewable energy.
- 99% of Stockholm’s solid waste is recycled.
- Stockholm is made up of 1/3 green spaces, 1/3 water, and 1/3 infrastructure.
- Around 80% of all hotels in Stockholm are sustainability accredited by a third-party certifying body.
- Stockholm’s tap water is arguably the cleanest and tastiest in the world.
- Stockholm is on pace to be a fossil-fuel free city by 2040.
Where is the best place to enjoy nature in Stockholm?
With designated bike lanes, wide sidewalks, and
public parks, Stockholm is a fantastic walking or biking city. Set out in any direction and you will eventually run into a sprawling, immaculately maintained patch of nature.
has expansive, green lawns, dense woods, and beautiful gardens, all surrounding the long and swimmable Brunnsviken lake.Vasaparken
also has large lawns that surround a football pitch during the summer months, which is converted to an ice-skating rink in the winter.Vanadislunden
, one of Stockholm’s “mountain parks,” has plenty of large trees and rolling lawns, and because of its elevation, you get a spectacular view of the city. This makes it a terrific picnic spot!
Tips & Extras
What have we missed?
Nearly everyone in Sweden speaks conversational English, which makes visiting or settling here much easier. That being said, the vast majority of signage is in Swedish only, this means credit card readers and products at the grocery store, too.
Using a credit or debit card from a foreign back (in my case an American one) can also be tricky. It’s rare but sometimes it just won’t run, and no matter what I’m buying, I always have to show ID and sign the receipt.
What’s the tip you tell everyone?
Not a tip, really, but something I try to keep in mind: A commonly used expression in Sweden is “
” which translates as “in moderation” or “just the right amount.”
though, is far more than just a way to describe ideal weather conditions or a deeply satisfying meal; it is also a cultural anchorpoint, a way of living, that applies to all aspects of Swedish life. Here (and anywhere) there is a way to eat, drink, explore, and enjoy yourself in such a way that is healthy, sustainable, satisfying to you, and unobtrusive to others. That’s
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