Introducing the Beautiful City of Stockholm

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Dear Readers: If you come across a contest takes little effort to enter and has no repercussions afterward, there’s no reason not to enter.  Play your cards right and you could win a nice dinner out.  Or a car.

OR you could win a trip to Stockholm.

At World Travel Market last year, I dropped my business card into a fishbowl at the Visit Sweden table.  I knew there was a prize, but I didn’t look at it closely.  My card was the one picked, and to my great shock, I had won a free trip to Stockholm!

And so this October, I made it to my 34th country, setting foot in Sweden for the first time.  Though my visit was brief, I enjoyed Stockholm greatly.

Stockholm is BEAUTIFUL.

After visiting Stockholm, I can confirm that it’s one of the most beautiful cities in Europe.  The first thing that you notice about the city is just what a spectacular natural setting it has, set on hundreds of islands in a lagoon.  Stockholm’s old town, the Gamla Stan, is where you find the most beautiful architecture, characterized by its yellow buildings and cobblestones.

Though it was cold, with early October temperatures in the low 40s (around 5 degrees C), I spent as much time as I could exploring the beauty of the city.

Stockholm is SWANK.

Looking for fancy places?  You’ll do just fine in Stockholm.  There were beautiful bars all over the place — giant bars with chandeliers, crazy nightclubs with pricey cocktails, Lebanese restaurants with (quality) belly-dancing.

And it suits the city.  People tended to be tall, beautiful, and well-dressed.  (Strangely enough, there didn’t seem to be many more blonde people than usual.  It didn’t look like the Sweden in my head.)

But there is a flip side to the swankness…

Stockholm is EXPENSIVE.

How expensive?  In central Stockholm, I couldn’t find an entree in a restaurant for less than $30.  Seriously.  A margarita pizza, usually a great benchmark for telling how expensive a city is, cost about $18.  I paid $13 for a sandwich and a bottle of water; cups of coffee started at around $5.

Mind you, this was in central Stockholm, in the pricey Gamla Stan.  As in any other city, the further from the central attractions you go, the cheaper things will be.

That said, there are ways to do Stockholm on the cheap.  There are street vendors around the city with sausages and kebabs, there’s the option of renting an apartment and cooking at home, and there are lots of free attractions.

One of those free attractions was the Kulturhuset — a cultural center in the heart of Stockholm.  The place is filled with several art exhibits, most of them free.  When I was there, the exhibit was on street art from around the world.  (Fitting, as Stockholm is so clean that you don’t really see street art there!)

Overall, though, if you want to have a nice time in Stockholm, I would budget at least $150 USD per day.

Does this mean that Stockholm isn’t worth visiting?  Not at all.  Stockholm is a great city, and very worth visiting.  But make sure you realize how much it’s going to cost you before you arrive so you’re prepared in advance.

Stockholm has GREAT STREET LIFE.

I could have wandered the streets of Stockholm all day!  (In fact, that’s what I did.)  Even though it was chilly in early October, plenty of people were out and about — enjoying the many parks, playing giant chess on the sidewalk, going to markets.

I imagine that it’s even better during the summer, when concerts take over the city.


Stockholm is made for POSING.

I kept finding places all over the city to strike a pose!  The statues here do everything from Saturday Night Fever poses to I’m-Naked-And-Triumphant poses.  (You’ll find the latter on the edge of the Gamla Stan, proudly showing himself off to the world.)

To my great surprise, Stockholm’s public transportation signs, a giant black T in a circle, happen to be identical to Boston’s!  I had to get a pose there.

Cool Digs: The Victory Hotel

The hotel included with the prize was very posh — the Victory Hotel.  This traditional yet quirky hotel dialed up its nautical theme to 11, complete with a ship in a bottle mounted above the bed. It couldn’t have been in a better location, in the heart of Gamla Stan and just steps from the main shopping streets.

My British readers will probably be interested to know that the Victory Hotel has an original letter from Lord Nelson, one of the most important Brits of all time.

And most of my other readers will appreciate that they include port in the room.


Should You Visit Stockholm?

Does this city call to you?  Then absolutely, you should!  I think that Scandinavia in general is a great place if you’re new to European travel — while it may be an expensive region, everyone speaks English, there’s excellent tourism infrastructure, the destinations are generally quite safe, public transportation is great, and their cities are beautiful.

Do your research on Stockholm and plan ahead — just know that it’s going to cost you more than you would pay in London or Paris or Rome.  But what a lovely, lovely destination it is.

Many thanks to Visit Sweden for offering this kickass prize — as well as the Victory Hotel and British Airways for throwing in two business class tickets from London.  I had a great time!

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37 thoughts on “Introducing the Beautiful City of Stockholm”

  1. I went to Stockholm a few years ago with my mom and was surprised by how much I loved it. I actually thought the food was great as well, shocker. And I actually did notice a lot of blondes. Especially the kids – their hair was so blond it was basically white!

  2. I absolutely LOVE Stockholm! It’s one of two places I’ve gone to twice (and the other doesn’t count as it was just to get a flight). And I cannot wait to visit again!

    PS 5 degrees isn’t cold! It was -14 when I was there! That was a good way to the insides of a lot of different places as you just couldn’t stay outside too long!

    1. haha…coming from South Africa 5degrees is like the end of the world…But after experiencing minus 8 degrees celsius in March – I must agree 5 degrees is a Swedish heat wave…! Apart from that I think Sweden has the most polite people that I have met ! Definitely a must-see! This year I will be visiting the south of Sweden- Falsterbo! Can’t wait! Hejdaaa;)) xx

  3. I completely agree with your review – gorgeous, swanky, cold and expensive! I traveled there last Spring for about a week on business and was so thankful my employer was picking up some of my crazy-expensive meals.

    I really enjoyed the people – everyone was incredibly friendly and welcoming.

  4. I went to Stockholm this summer and loved every minute of it! Ok, probably besides for the minute in which I saw the bill of a great dinner we had… but food was just so amazing that this thought washed away pretty quick 🙂

  5. You’ve been to Stockholm! Our beloved hometown! Oh, if I only knew about it! We would have enjoyed meeting up with you for a drink and to show you around too!!!

    Stockholm is best to visit during May-August, the weather can be awful at other seasons and besides that: people cheer up during summer – and perhaps the most important: the archipelago is a must to visit during summertime!!!!

  6. Scandinavia has a lot of great history that gets over looked as well. Though, after reading Nomadic Matt’s post about Stockholm it might be difficult to rent an apartment.

    1. I’ve read that post of him, too bad something like that should stop him from exploring Stockholm more than he did 🙁

      Many want to live in Stockholm City, others are forced to go there to find any job at all and the government have not been foreseeing enough to build enough apartments in time for the young people that is growing up too. It really is a mess.

      (I myself is born here and has been around 34 years in a queue for a special housing association, so I have an apartment, but even I can have problems when changing homes!!!!!!)

  7. We were in Stockholm only for one day on a cruise ship stop this summer, and it left me hungry for more. We only had time to visit the Vasa Museum (which was AMAZING!), walk around the old town a little and visit the Ice Bar (I know, touristy, but we hadn’t been to one yet.)

    Stockholm is a city that I hope I can afford to spend more time in someday 🙂

  8. I’ve been to Stockholm twice and absolutely loved it. Great post! I’m going to be totally vain though and tell you how much I love your outfit- the black and white dress, leather jacket, and mary jane’s are so cute together. ;-0

  9. pardon me but isnt that the statue of August Strindberg? it looks like the very one I sat under when I visited there a few years back – on top of hill adjacent to a park? surely, even a WOMAN literati as yourself can love the misogynist Swede genius Strindberg…. or are you a Ibsenian?

  10. Stockholm is a place we would love to visit, but the expense has always made it a place we say we’ll visit later. This post made me want to go now! Loved the swank bar scene and you’re right you can always walk around and explore for free.

  11. I’m glad you like Stockholm. I have been working and living in Stockholm for over a year now, and I agree that it is a fantastic city.

    It is an expensive city, especially for alcohol, but food isn’t expensive when you know where to look. I found a meatball lunch right in the heart of Gamla Stan for 75 SEK ( $11) and a lovely pizza restaurant called ‘Vapiano’, also in Gamla Stan serves a Margherita pizza for $10, and a beef fillet pizza for $16. If you go to a fancy Italian restaurant then pizza will be expensive, but the local pizzerias are just as good and will not cost more than $10. I personally found New York to be much more expensive than anything I pay for here.

    You can also find cheap alcohol if you look hard enough. You can find beer for $4 and you can go to the student places for less than that. Of course, if you only go to the fancy bars you will pay much more than this 🙂

  12. Stockholm is possibly my favourite city in Europe for the reasons you state – and we live in Norway so it’s actually (cringe) quite cheap…my best tip is to rent a city bike in the summer and zip around, it’s a fab way to see the city and cover big distances. Make sure you visit the woodland cemetery and cycle round Djurgården – you’ll think you’re way out in the Swedish countryside…

  13. “Gamla stan” is pretty, but is one HUGE touristtrap!! Everything is expensive within its borders – go a bit outside “Gamla stan” and a pizza is 10 dollars or so 🙂

  14. A friend is going to Stockholm before year’s end and having difficulty finding a somewhat moderately priced hotel. I’m guessing that with the high costs in the city, he may not have much luck. It is unfortunate that it’s an expensive city. It looks lovely, though. I can’t wait to finally make it there. My first trip to Sweden was only as far as Gotheburg. Unless the pricey pizza and sandwiches are really good, I’ll probably eat more street food. Good thing I like street food 🙂
    Thanks for the info. I’ll share it with my friend.

  15. I’d love to go to Stockholm! The more I read about it, the more it rises up on my ‘to visit’ list. However, the prices still keep it from getting all the way up there.

  16. There are undoubtedly expensive items and activities that you can partake of in central Stockholm, but having lived there for 6 years, there are many possibilities off the beaten track which won’t break the bank. A favourite free activity would have to be open water swimming, for example but there are many others out there. I won’t try to deny the expensiveness of alcohol, but one of the main joys of Stockholm has to be its almost limitless potential for outdoor activities, most of which are free or very cheap.

  17. Great post! Any plans to visit other parts of Sweden anytime soon? I can really recommend almost anywhere, but the northernmost parts can be stunning sometimes.

  18. Hey Kate, first I would love to say congrats on your site being one of the best blogs for travelers.I believe you came on the first 10 and that’s pretty awesome. Congrats on the hard work. Im starting myself a blog, I love to travel and I love even more taking photos of the places I have the opportunity to visit. I’ve been to more than 33 countries and our planet is just amazing.
    I’m booked to go to Iceland and Sweden in November so was great to read you blog, and once more congrats on winning the trip to Stockholm.

  19. You’re right Kate! I’ve recently been to Stockholm and it is really expensive. However I was lucky to save on accommodation as I stayed in quite a cheap hostel. I would highly recommend it to anyone travelling on a budget. It’s Acco Hostel –

  20. Glad to see that you where happy with your visit to Sweden and Stockholm. Even if it’s really nice in October, Stockholm in the summertime is just amazing and even if Stockholm doesn’t have midnight sun, the days never ends ☺

    Anyway, they say that you aren’t a visitor in your own hometown. As a native Swede living in Stockholm for ages, I was asked by a friend from France for what to do over a weekend… which ended up in “seven thrilings thing to do”.

  21. I loved Stockholm though I had only a few hours to explore. And you can definitely visit it on a limited budget, too – I didn´t exceed 50€/day and still had a great time there. However, I didn´t visit paid attractions (except for the City Hall Tower) – there is plenty to see for free 🙂 So do not get discouraged by its reputation of an expensive destination. Even if you spend more in the end, I´m sure it´s worth it 🙂

  22. I went to Stockholm with my wife and adult children in July. I agree – it is a beautiful city and the people are very good looking and all looked so young! It is expensive but we saved a bit of money by walking everywhere and also using the 7 – 11 mini-supermarkets which were everywhere. It’s one of the few places I’d love to go again. The waterfront area is particularly enchanting.

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