So you’ve never been to Sweden before? Well here’s a quick guide to our favourite part of its beautiful capital city.
Stockholm in summer is the place to be, especially in Pride Week which is held right at the end of July each year. The days are surprisingly warm and the light filled evenings make late night partying all the better. During Pride the city is abuzz with rainbow flags, organised gay events and good looking Nordic men wearing their tight shorts, big smiles and hot looks. We played and stayed on Södermalm which is one of the fourteen islands in Stockholm.
Södermalm, often shortened to ‘Söder’, is more the bohemian, chic part of the city, or what some people might term the ‘non touristy area’. The island has beautiful old buildings, winding narrow side streets, charming small squares, museums and the famous Rival Hotel owned by former Abba member Benny Anderson. The movie Mamma Mia had its Swedish premiere at the hotel’s cinema, with all the ABBA members and several cast members present. It is a fun place to have breakfast with dozens of photographs of famous Scandinavian celebrities displayed around the hotel walls and you just never know who might pop in while you’re there.
The island is walking distance to Gamla Stan (the central old town area) as well as being close to plenty of restaurants, coffee shops, many boutiques, designer stores and the beach (which the Stockholmers call anywhere by the water’s edge) an extremely popular place for locals in summer.
Fjällgatan street is a very interesting area of Södermalm. Here you can catch wonderful views of the city and harbour from the cliff and this street is also lined with colourful wooden houses dating from the 16th century.
We used Cocoon Apartments Stockholm (http://m.cocoonstockholm.com) to help us with our accommodation and we stopped in an apartment called Twist on 90 Hornsgartan in Södermalm. People at Cocoon were very helpful and the apartment was an excellent choice, located very near to Zinkensdamm metro station, several supermarkets and the McDonalds, almost next door, came in handy for a late snack after the bars.
There are plenty of good, reasonably priced restaurants around Södermalm and we can highly recommend a nearby vegetarian restaurant called Legumes for lunch or dinner. Suggested to us by several locals, we discovered it to be a bit of an institutionin in the area. We had the banquet which included a bowl of soup and a plate full of delicious and nutritious buffet choices for about $18 AUD.
Fabrique at 28 Rosenlundsgatan Söder is an amazing bakery and coffee shop close to our apartment and it is really something special. All the bread is made on the premises and baked in a stone oven. You might like to try the dark rye baguette infused with coffee and chocolate. The chocolate brownies we tried were heavenly. Other people in the bakery recommended the cinnamon or butterscotch buns and the coffee was also outstanding.
There is a bottle shop almost opposite Frabique and, although wine is relatively cheap in Stockolm, surprisingly bottle shops are not open on Sundays. So, if you are planning a Sunday picnic stock up beforehand and also don’t forget you cannot buy chilled wine here.
Giffee coffee shop opposite our apartment on Hornsgartan has excellent coffee, good wifi and the owner, originally from Singapore, makes overseas visitors feel very welcome in his little place which also has some really delicious, reasonably priced food choices.
On Sunday evening we walked from our apartment to Patricia, a ship now permanently moored on the waterfront, for the weekly Gay Club to have drinks and dinner. (See our full article called Summer Sunday in Stockholm with Lady Patricia).
We also found it very easy to walk to the beach which is more or less at the end of Hornsgartan. Here we took a swim in one of the freshwater lakes, very clean and safe. In summertime people are making the most of the beautiful late evening light and are out swimming until 10:00pm or later.
One evening we had a stunning 20 minute walk from the beach area along the waterfront to an outdoor cafe called Nyfikengul Gul. At this cool, casual BBQ restaurant the food is prepared for you up to a point where you can cook it yourself on a BBQ over a grill. Fun! The food is simple, the service very friendly and you feel like a real local, cooking and eating by the lake under the trees (http://nyfikengul.se). By the way, this restaurant is named after a controversial Swedish film from the late 60s.(See:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I_Am_Curious_%28Yellow%).
There are excellent boutique shops all over Södermalm and the island is well known for its vintage clothing shops. All in all, if you would like a casual and hip place to stay in Stockholm then you might want to make Södermalm your neighbourhood for your first visit to this beautiful city. You won’t be disappointed. We are already planning a return visit.