By Jeff Game
Stockholm is a city of tradition and change – living side by side in perfect harmony on my piano, why don’t we? Ok, the city may not be a Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder song, however Stockholm is a cool city, with so much to explore and get lost. Along with a couple of locals, I found 9 cool things to do in Stockholm; some I have been, and some will be checking out the next time I am in town.
After visiting Stockholm, the “Capital City of Scandinavia,” several times before, one word and a vibe always permeate my view of Swedes – lagom (pronounced: law-gum). This uniquely Swedish word means just the right amount and sums up how Swedes live their lives and view the country that they value so much. After all, Sweden is usually ranks high on list of best the places to live in the world and Swedes are very proud of this honor, but also shake it off and never come across as bragging or boasting about their country or heritage.
The term lagom can also be taken to have the meaning that everything is all right, we have the essentials of life, great health care, no wars in over five hundred years, almost two months of vacation time, ABBA, Spotify and of course IKEA. With an almost laid back and passive approach to life, it may be surprising how much creativity, culture and design is sprung all over the world from Sweden. Probably has something to do with all those vacation days.
Stockholm is the design and cultural hub of Sweden, in one of the most creative and progressive cities in all of Europe. Stockholm is not only filled with Amazonian blonde women and dudes that all look like Dolph Lundgren; the city is filled with Africans, Asians, Middle-Eastern, Europeans and a large number of Americans. The diversity in the city seems to influence design and creativity all over Stockholm and seeps into its gastronomy, commerce and lifestyle.
As result, Stockholm is one giant meatball of hipsters, geeks, yuppies, preppies and foodies all colliding into one center point of cultural change and maybe even becoming a model on how to live a lifestyle and not just surviving in our modern world. The feeling that they have a lot of quality living and maybe that is all they need, it’s all “lagom”.
Take a Chance on Me – 9 Cool Things To Do In Stockholm
Benny and His Jets
Sing a new song Chiquitita at one of the hippest hotels in all of Stockholm and owned by one of the ABBA. Come on, it does not get any cooler than ABBA; they are God’s in Sweden. Billed as the very first boutique hotel back in 2003, this swank 99 room cozy has built a reputation of great service, great cocktails, great rooms and breakfast served in your room around the clock. The Hotel Rival, once the Rival Theatre, was renovated by owner Benny Andersen of the Swedish super group, still houses a 700-theater space which hosts name acts several nights a week. Check out how awesome the staff is at Hotel Rival in this video with lyrics Benny and Bjorn of ABBA. Why would you not want to stay here?!
In The City
Hipsters visiting Stockholm don’t use those tired old travel guides when there is better technology. The Stockholm Sounds app, developed by the folks at Spotify, Stockholm Business Region, the ABBA Museum and Swedish Music Hall of Fame. Stockholm Sounds is an innovative app gives you a tour of Stockholm, while playing a game and listening to great music provided by Spotify. This app could be a game changing blueprint in the city guides all around the world.
Straight Outta Brooklyn
One of the new kid’s on the block in 2014 to the Stockholm scene is the brew crew at Nya Carnegie Byrggartian, located in Hammarby Sjöstad, a self-sustainable area of the city. Not only do they brew their beer, this brewery believes in beer and food harmony, offering the perfect beer and food combinations. Nya Carnegie Byrggartian is a must to check out next time I am in Stockholm.
It’s a Gastro World
Located in the hip Östermalm neighborhood of Stockholm, Michelin starred Gastrologik is a true farm-to-table experience and the culinary workshop Chef Anton Bjuhr and Chef Jacob Holmstrom. Grabbing a seat at one of Gastrologik’s communal tables is one great way to submerse into the Swedish food culture and eat amongst the Swedes.
Eating here may just change how you view food, some dishes even being prepared at the table. Chef Bjuhr and Chef Holmstrom are paving their way in the world of Swedish cuisine, yet still staying close to roots of just making great food.
When in Sweden, you must have fika. You may have fika possibly several times a day. What the what? To me, fika was always a strange, yet cool ritual that every single Swede does every single day, again maybe twice a day. Basically, in between say breakfast and lunch or even between lunch and dinner, you meet with friends, co-workers, family, whomever and have coffee, pastries, maybe a snack.
My musician friend from Uppsala, Simon Östman, told me that the best place for fika is Fåfängan, which has some of the best views of Stockholm. Having fika is truly a must when in Stockholm.
Ice, Ice Baby
Make sure you don’t stick your tongue to the bar or barstools! Whether it is summer or the dead of a Swedish winter, the Ice Bar in downtown Stockholm in the Nordic C Hotel is always cold and always flowing great Swedish vodka. Yes, I’ll say it…a very cool thing to experience in Stockholm!
Home Swede Home
Design Tortget blends Swedish design, functionality and fun at one of my favorite places in Stockholm to grab chotchkies I can’t find in Los Angeles. I think you have to discover that one place in whatever part of the world you visit and find a unique and different souvenir. Design Torget is the best place to buy cool and exclusive Swedish designed items for the kitchen, bedroom, games and more. We all need a toast mold of Jesus’ face or a pot to keep in the car in case you have to stop in the middle of nowhere and have to say, “let it go.”
Once upon a time there were record stores kids. Our modern digital downloading world may have killed off the herds of record stores that once dotted music landscape – Pet Sounds Music Shop has been keeping the dream alive for over 30 years now. I love browsing the vinyl and CD’s see what Swedes are listing to these days. Hop across the street to the Pet Sounds Bar where they spin classic cuts from this vintage gem of a record store.
How did I ever miss this place that has great beer, great food and the likes of Tom Waits to Tupac have roamed the heralded stage. Tranan is the place where people have been meeting over beers, herring and listening to some great jams in the downstairs club for now 80 plus years. Fredrik Carlström, the Swedish Founder of Austere, gave me the lowdown. “Tranan is an old, classic Swedish “beer cafe” with great food in a cozy, relaxed setting with good people watching. Great meatballs (that are not listed on the menu). You can go downstairs to the basement for a drink – hangout and listen to some great music.”
My Mixed Tape – Stockholm
I love traveling and discovering music I have never heard before and maybe hear a song that reminds me of that trip. Check out my Stockholm playlist!
Living in America – The Sounds
Lovefool – The Cardigans
Straight Outta Hollis – Run DMC
Shout -Ida Redig