Stockholm Unveiled: A Curated Guide to the Nordic Capital

Here's where to stay, eat and play in Sweden's capital.

view of sodermalm in stockholm from the water
Stockholm. Jeppe Wikström

Stockholm, a jewel chiseled by the Baltic, gracefully unfurls across an archipelago of 14 islands, composing an urban symphony of unparalleled beauty. Picture a cityscape where cobblestone labyrinths are guarded by pastel-tinged facades, where sunbeams dance through verdant canopies and where the Baltic’s ethereal glow casts a magical sheen over the city. These aren’t merely passing impressions, but rather the very soul of Stockholm’s daily enchantment.

Sign Up For Our Daily Newsletter

By clicking submit, you agree to our <a rel="nofollow noreferer" href="http://observermedia.com/terms">terms of service</a> and acknowledge we may use your information to send you emails, product samples, and promotions on this website and other properties. You can opt out anytime.

See all of our newsletters

This Scandinavian marvel has unassumingly engraved its moniker on the world’s travel charts, holding seasoned globetrotters under its spell with the magic of Northern Europe’s luminescent beauty. Yet, to call Stockholm merely visually pleasing would belittle its extraordinary allure. Beyond the photogenic panorama, Stockholm’s heartbeat is its cultural kaleidoscope, pulsating with innovation and tradition to stake its claim as one of the globe’s consummate cultural hotspots.

From the royal magnificence of Gamla Stan, where history’s weight is carried by a palace and cobblestone veins, to the urbane charm of Östermalm and the bohemian refuges of Södermalm and Kungsholmen, Stockholm unveils a timeless tableau of past and present. The Swedish capital’s globally-lauded design ethos, marked by sleek minimalism, stands in profound harmony with regal palaces and stately buildings. Yet, what will truly leave you breathless is Stockholm’s robust culinary landscape. A bustling arena of Michelin-starred restaurants and innovative eateries, it’s a gastronomic powerhouse that could make cities quadruple its size green with envy.

Despite being Scandinavia’s most populous city, Stockholm effortlessly maintains a tranquility that allows visitors to unwind, explore and savor experiences at their own pace. Consider this your personal invitation to immerse yourself in the city’s enchanting fusion of history, elegance, innovation and flair, using our expertly curated guide to uncover the best Stockholm has to offer.

Subscribe to Observer’s Lifestyle Newsletter

Where to stay

A bed in a hotel room in Stockholm.
Villa Dagmar. Villa Dagmar

Villa Dagmar

A sanctum of art and elegance, Villa Dagmar is a splendid retreat in the heart of Östermalm. A curated symphony of Swedish contemporary art, culinary brilliance and blissful spa indulgence, the Malmström family’s 70-room haven is at once regal and cutting-edge, with Östermalms Saluhall—a cornucopia of Swedish gastronomy—accessible through a private entrance. 

Inside lobby of a luxury hotel.
Ett Hem. Ett Hem

Ett Hem

Ett Hem, translating to “A Home,” metamorphoses an early 20th-century townhouse into a haven of warmth and intimacy. The 22 bespoke rooms, where modern grace waltzes with vintage charm, exude an atmosphere akin to visiting a cherished friend’s abode. Be it beside a crackling fireplace in winter or within the embrace of a sunlit garden in summer, Ett Hem’s aura heals the spirit.

A living room in a hotel room in Stockholm.
Miss Clara. Beatrice Graalheim

Miss Clara by Nobis

Where schoolgirls once mastered their ABCs, now, Miss Clara imparts lessons in the art of living well. Architect Gert Wingårdh orchestrated an opus of yesteryears, blending with contemporary panache. Savor views of Sveavägen Boulevard, Stockholm’s pulsating artery, from the restaurant ensconced beneath glimmering cut-glass lamps.

A white hotel room in Stockholm.
Hotel Diplomat. Frederik Ottoson

Hotel Diplomat

Art Nouveau grace and Swedish finesse dance a tango at Hotel Diplomat. With windows offering stolen glances at Stockholm Harbor, this establishment is where indulgence gains a whole new meaning. Engage in the affair of Scandinavian delicacies infused with Mediterranean passions—and stellar libations that glide smoothly down the throat.

A simple and elegant hotel room in Stockholm.
Yasuragi Spa Hotel. Yasuragi.

Yasuragi Spa Hotel

On Värmdö Island, Yasuragi is where Japan and Sweden share a whispered haiku. Clad in timber and minimalist in design, this former school-turned-spa is a tender embrace of two cultures. Draped in yukata robes, let katsura trees guide you to the sushi symphony at Minamo restaurant.

Where to eat

A seafood dish at a restaurant in Stockholm.
Frammat. Frammat

Främmat

Främmat is Stockholm’s très chic Francophile corner. Here, Chef Kalle Nilsson plays the maestro, orchestrating a chalkboard menu of unpretentious, soul-warming delights like gruyère gougères, crispy chicken skin with cream and trout roe, and let’s not even broach the subject of the delightful lobster rolls.

Etoile

Embark on a gastronomic journey through Asia and Africa at Etoile. This culinary gem weaves an enthralling narrative through its ingenious finger-food style set menu, which has been honored with both a Michelin Star and Michelin Green Star for its emphasis on sustainability.

An indoor food market in Stockholm.
Östermalms Saluhall. Östermalms Saluhall

Östermalms Saluhall

Östermalms Saluhall, Stockholm’s culinary heart since 1888, fuses heritage with opulence. Meander through stalls brimming with fresh seafood, meats and Swedish delicacies. Home to 17 enduring traders, the renovated hall boasts three levels and a star-shaped layout, reflecting its storied past. After extensive renovations that concluded in 2020, the hall gleams anew, with its iconic star-shaped layout, three sprawling floors and a plethora of new stores and dining establishments.

Dining table in a sparse restaurant in Stockholm.
Prospero. Prospero

Prospero 

Snag a table at this minimalist hideaway in the charming Vasastan neighborhood. At Prospero, chef David Arvidsson conjures a seasonal tasting menu, a harmonious blend of colors and flavors that captivates with its refreshing simplicity. Book with a wine pairing for the total experience.

Lilla Ego 

This hotspot seamlessly blends a relaxed vibe with award-winning cuisine, featuring rustic interiors and a lively atmosphere. The counter seats are the best in the house, offering a kitchen-view dining experience of chefs Tom Sjöstedt’s and Daniel Räms’ contemporized Swedish classics.

Where to drink

People enjoying an outdoor beer garden.
Omnipollos Flora. Omnipollos Flora

Omnipollos Flora

An offshoot of the renowned Omnipollo, this alfresco beer garden breathes life into the tranquil Humlegården with its eclectic craft beers. Here, you can savor tropical pale ales and laid-back summertime fare, including burgers, fries and the tantalizing beer-infused ice cream.

A restaurant with floor to ceiling windows with views of Stockholm.
Tak. Tak

Tak

Boasting a minimalist Nordic-Japanese interior, eclectic Eurasian cocktails crafted by award-winning mixologist Charlotte Halsius and the city’s largest terrace, adorned with lush greenery and bold soft furnishings, Tak has been a crowd favorite since it first opened in summer 2017. The panoramic views of the city are breathtaking, best enjoyed with an Aperol spritz or the house martini, composed of a unique blend of vodka, sake and a touch of sherry. 

Martinis in a dark bar space in Stockholm.
Röda Huset. Röda Huset

Röda Huset

Step into Röda Huset and immerse yourself in a Swedish fable. This iconic red abode serves cocktails that hint at the secrets of the Swedish landscapes. Their drink roster is a curated playlist of local flavors, featuring ingredients like red rowan berries and tart plums that translate the essence of Sweden’s natural atmosphere into a glass.

Inside of a vintage-feeling cocktail bar with checkered floor.
Pharmarium. Fredrik Rollman

Pharmarium

Nestled in Stortorget Square in Gamla Stan, Pharmarium offers an alchemic adventure, as mixologists concoct imaginative potions within a space reminiscent of an ancient apothecary. The cocktail list is inspired by Sweden’s first pharmacy—which opened in the same spot in 1575—showcasing the romance between ingredients and sensations.

Where to shop

A colorful, whimsical furniture store.
Svenskt Tenn. Svenskt Tenn

Svenskt Tenn

Svenskt Tenn is not just a store; it’s a timeline of impeccable Swedish design. Estrid Ericson’s brainchild, born in 1924, blossomed under the genius of Josef Frank. Their textiles and furniture form a symphony of colors and patterns, bridging the gap between history and innovation. 

Inside of a sleek and minimalist store in Stockholm.
Our Legacy. Our Legacy

Our Legacy

Exemplifying Scandinavian cool, Stockholm-based Our Legacy captivates a worldwide following with its influential blend of custom fabrics, sleek tailoring and tactile textures with mostly gender-fluid styling.

Inside of a store with a sleek, minimalist design.
Chimi. Chimi

Chimi

Chimi, the Swedish eyewear sensation, is set to make a statement rooted in eternal style. Housed in a stark 1920s building, Chimi’s minimalist interiors, thoughtfully designed by Guise, draw inspiration from the raw beauty of Brutalist architecture. The spectacles crafted by Chimi expertly balance form and function, becoming an extension of individuality.

Grandpa

Grandpa is more than a store; it’s a curator of style and substance with a smattering of locations around the city. Unearth an array of home essentials, artisanal stationery and avant-garde Swedish fashion, all meticulously curated. 

A home goods store brimming with products.
Svensk Hemslöjd. Svensk Hemslöjd

Svensk Hemslöjd

Svensk Hemslöjd (Swedish Homework) is a treasure trove for gift seekers, brimming with traditional handicrafts and quality linens. With a keen focus on natural materials and preserving artisanal traditions, Svensk Hemslöjd offers products that bring one-of-a-kind character to both creators and their homes. Whether you’re looking to try your hand at embroidery, rya knots, whittling, knitting or weaving, Svensk Hemslöjd is a one-stop shop for turning creative visions into reality.

A historic, minimalistic store with bags on display.
Acne Studios. Acne Studios

Acne Studios

When in Stockholm, a pilgrimage to Acne Studios is essential for the fashion-forward traveler. With its roots deeply embedded in Swedish design, this international sensation is known for its avant-garde aesthetic and attention to detail. Acne Studios’ new flagship store is situated in a former banking office that gained notoriety in 1973, due to an armed heist that led to the coining of the term “Stockholm Syndrome.” Acne masterfully restored the neoclassical architecture, reviving the solid Ekeberg marble tile flooring and accentuating the Doric columns—the perfect setting for a Scandi-style splurge. 

AB Småland

For lovers of sustainability and Scandinavian minimalism, AB Småland is a must-visit. This lifestyle store and café in central Stockholm combines the concept of slow living with stylish design. Explore a collection of sustainable fashion, home décor, and organic beauty products, and take a break with a fika (coffee break) at their in-store café.

Stockholm Unveiled: A Curated Guide to the Nordic Capital