The Stockholm Guide
First settled in the Stone Age, Stockholm wears its ancient history well, deftly blending it with all the innovations of a modern city, from New Nordic cuisine to one of the most exquisite hotels, ever. Sprawling over fourteen islands in the Scandinavian archipelago—it sits where Lake Mälaren flows into the Baltic Sea, making it a strategic harbor back in the day—it’s actually shockingly easy to navigate, whether by train, boat, car, or bike. There are ample opportunities to make use of all modes, though in warm months, we prefer getting around by bike, as there’s a city rental program with plenty of drop racks (you can buy cards at all 7-11’s). If you hail cabs, keep in mind that there is no standard fare, so check the car’s window before hopping in.
While Stockholm is the perfect destination for aimless wandering, it is dotted with must-sees to punctuate the days, including Moderna Museet, the Vasa Museum, Rosendals Garden, and a world famous amusement park and ABBA museum if so inclined.
Taverna BrilloSturegatan 6, Östermalm | +46.851.977.800
One of a few hybrid bar/restaurant/market spots in Stockholm, Taverna Brillo's menu might be described as Italian with strong Nordic influences. Favorite items include grilled bread topped with crab, mayonnaise, and roasted garlic; pizza with vendace roe, crème fraîche, Swedish cheese, and lemon; and a yellow beet dish that comes with spinach, ricotta, roasted almonds, pickled beets, and deep-fried black cabbage. There's a really good wine list, too, so this is a great spot for casual drinks and snacks after work or a long day of sightseeing.
Café NizzaÅsögatan 171, Södermalm | +46.086.409.950
Café Nizza (Italian for French Riviera city Nice), serves Mediterranean food cooked with the best of Swedish ingredients. Standout dishes are the seabass with the classic Scandi flavors of cucumber and preserved fruit, or the simply sauteéd cavolo nero. While the food at this neighborhood joint is undeniably good, we love to pop in for a casual drink. The wine list changes almost daily so there's always something new from small producers to try—the best accompaniment to any glass of wine at Café Nizza is a basket of their freshly baked rye sourdough bread, slathered in their salty, homemade, butter.
Katarina ÖlkafeKatarina Bangata 27, Södermalm | +46.731.446.922
Two Swedes and an American founded Katarina Ölkafe—unsurprisingly, an American-inflected, Swedish deli serving up the best of both worlds. This small, cozy bar makes a mean pastrami sandwich (pickles are mandatory), with beers from Stockholm's best microbreweries on tap.
LjungrensGötgatan 36, Södermalm | +46.086.407.565
A very casual bar in Stockholm's trendiest district, Södermalm, the outdoor terrace fills up early. The kitchen serves up all manner of Asian food from sushi and Vietnamese noodles to Thai street food, and the cocktails are particularly good. The lunch service can be a little slow—we recommend taking a seat at the outdoor bar for a drink and a few pieces of their excellent sushi, rather than committing to a full sit-down meal.
PharmariumStortorget 7, Gamla Stan | +46.082.008.10
With an apothecary-meets-opium-den aesthetic, Pharmarium is a seriously atmospheric spot for a cocktail in picturesque Old Town. Inspired by Stockholm's first pharmacy (which opened in the same spot in 1575, no less) the antique-accented space is scented with herbs and spices to further the apothecary feel. This bar specializes in pairing food with drinks (some of the resulting flavor combinations are very interesting, like sweetbreads with chutney paired with a whiskey-based drink), but really it's the infused craft cocktails that are especially unusual, with many of the vegetables and herbs used grown in Pharmarium's own organic garden.
TweedLilla Nygatan 5, Galma Stan | +46.850.640.082
Stockholm loves a themed bar and Tweed is the perfect example. The space is intended to be a sort of anglophile gastropub with old British gentleman's club touches, like leather armchairs, tartan-papered walls, and a full cigar menu. In short, it's an incredibly cozy but classic spot in Stockholm's Old City to hunker down in for an intimate drink with a friend/lover.
Lilla Baren and RicheBirger Jarlsgatan 4, Östermalm | +46.854.503.560
A beautifully ornate space in a city that favors more rustic and minimalist aesthetics, Lilla Baren and Riche is a Parisian-style bar that's a favorite with the post-work professional crowd. The mirrored walls, chandeliers, and white stucco cornicing make for a ridiculously pretty setting that also hosts regular art exhibits and serves up some of Stockholm's best meatballs.
GastonMälartorget 15, Gamla Stan | +46.820.858.3
All bars in Sweden are obliged to serve food, which makes a true wine-centric bar a real find. Gaston is arguably the best in Stockholm, with over 400 labels by small Old and New World producers on the menu. The interior is a modern interpretation of Scandinavian design—textural, wood-slatted walls, tall marble-topped tables, and copper accents. While this is primarily a wine bar (with no less than four sommeliers on staff) the bar snacks and small plates come from the incredible Flying Elk next door; the parmesan popcorn, in particular, is hard to resist.