Weekend in Stockholm
Get your New Nordic on for some avant-garde bites and cutting-edge sights
The islet of Gamla Stan has changed little since the 18th century. Photograph: Rob Schoenbaum/New York Times
Gamla Stan, better known for its quaint, cobbled streets, has seen a number of quality places to eat and drink open last year. Photograph: Rob Schoenbaum /New York Times
Pickled salmon with capers, potatoes and mayonnaise on crispbread at Speceriet. Photograph: Rob Schoenbaum/New York Times
Sven-Harrys Konstmuseum, a five-level structure with a gleaming brass exterior. Photograph: Rob Schoenbaum/New York Times
Tradgarden, an open-air summertime club where you can sip beers on wooden risers, play ping-pong and dance til dawn. Photograph: Rob Schoenbaum/New York Times
If Stockholm’s residents seem particularly smug these days, it’s for good reason. The Swedish capital has long ranked among the loveliest in Europe, with an inner-city beauty characterised by stately architecture and graceful waterways. But openings in outlying neighbourhoods – galleries in the north, boutiques in the south, a craft brewery in the suburbs, art in the archipelago – are expanding the limits of the city worth exploring. Add to that Stockholm’s exciting restaurant scene, born from the popular New Nordic food movement, and the hometown pride is perfectly understandable.
Sip and shop
Cafes abound in Stockholm, but none are as interesting as Snickarbacken 7. In a former stable down a dead-end lane, the multifaceted cafe features an adjoining concept store and revolving exhibitions from area artists. Sip a fresh-pressed juice – the apple with ginger and mint is spicy yet refreshing – and then browse the spacious shop in the rear, where vintage Balenciaga blazers hang beside Swedish labels like Tuss (soft children’s T-shirts) and Stutterheim (supremely stylish raincoats). Among the ever-changing wares might be cute animal masks, antique Arne Jacobsen chairs or records from the independent Pet Sounds music shop.
With the sun still high in the sky, spend the afternoon hopping among art galleries northwest of the city centre, an area rarely explored by visitors. Begin around the former industrial complex on Hudiksvallsgatan, where a cluster of cutting-edge galleries has taken root. The contemporary Christian Larsen gallery has recently shown new works from the hometown artist Charlotte Gyllenhammar and the nearby Elastic Gallery has featured a range of emerging artists since opening in February. Then continue south to the new Sven-Harrys Konstmuseum, a five-level structure with a gleaming brass exterior with galleries that host thought-provoking temporary exhibitions, like a recent show of haunting photographs from Astrid Kruse Jensen (admission, 100 Swedish kronor €10.78.
Last year, two of Stockholm’s top chefs, Daniel Rams and Tom Sjostedt, teamed up to open Lilla Ego, a small restaurant serving modern Swedish cuisine in residential Vasastan. The unusual name references a song by the popular Swedish rock band Kent, whose melancholy melodies fill the casual space. Daily specials are scribbled on paper and taped slapdash to the wall, but the artful plates are prepared with care. Recent offerings included fried rooster thigh with kohlrabi (235 kronor/€25.30) and a spectacular reindeer steak with roasted hazelnuts and frozen butter (295 kronor/€31.77).
North to south
Sprinkled with laid-back bars and unpretentious clubs, Sodermalm is the inner-city island with the best night life. Start on the north end of the island at Vanster, a discreet speakeasy beside the restaurant Haktet. The shabby-chic bar serves cocktails like Rocco’s Valentine (bourbon, Campari, honey, lime and rosewater – 138 kronor/€14.86), but only to those who can find their way inside. Hint: look for an unmarked brown door and ring the buzzer; knowing that the bar’s name means “left” also helps. Then continue to Skanstullsbron, the bridge over Sodermalm’s southern tip. At midnight, the party will just be getting underway at Tradgarden, an open-air summertime club under the bridge where you can play ping-pong, sip beers on wooden risers and dance til dawn.