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The uncool person’s guide to the insanely cool city of Stockholm, Sweden.
Let me start, dear reader, by being blatantly honest – I am inherently uncool. A book nerd, frizzy haired weirdo since primary school, don’t let the pictures of my one-good-hair-day a month that you see on this blog fool you – I am 100% a dorkus malorkus.
Stockholm as a city is the exact opposite of that. As much as a city can be the opposite of a human (stay with me guys…)
Attractive nordic men abound, women seem to effortlessly throw together perfect outfits and glide around on elegant bikes, while the city itself just looks cool, in a casual, thrown together ‘oh, this old thing?’ way.
Its an accessible cool though – not like those way-too-cool-kids in High School who wouldn’t talk to anyone less than them on the social ladder.
Stockholm invites you to explore its cool side, it keeps its hipster stores easy to find so you can, as a mere wannabe tourist, get your hands on authentic Swedish style. (Even if all you can afford is a jacket from H&M!)
While we’re in confession mode, let me also state loudly and proudly – I’m a total sucker for hipster shit. Give me arty design stores, cool coffee shops with abstract indie playlists, cute bikes, street art, bearded boys – I’ll *squee* for all of it. My Melbourne hipster-heart cannot resist.
Stockholm knows this.
Stockholm keeps that good shit readily accessible for all of us suckers, who long to be as effortlessly pulled together as native Swedes.
What makes Stockholm so cool?
The city felt to me like a larger version of Amsterdam – all beautiful waterways, cute cafe’s, historic palaces and inviting parks. Luckily for us uncool kids, the old town area is very easy to navigate, dotted with views of the palace, cobbled alleys, wine bars and adorable bakeries that will offer you delicious sweet treats.
Stop by Corvina Enoteca when you’re in the old town of Gamla Stan – a fantastic wine bar, great for whiling away a sunny afternoon watching the world go by.
The hipster areas such as SoFo (short for ‘South of Folkungagatan’) are relatively easy to find. Here is where the ‘big name’ Swedish brands like Cheap Monday jeans, Stutterheim rain coats (do NOT check that website, you will be inexplicably drawn to spending ridiculous amounts of money on a raincoat), Acme Studios and even a cute traditional clogs and sandals store, ‘Hasbeens’ can get you looking authentically Swedish in under ten minutes.
Basically, if you want to burn through money but look damn fine at the end of it, SoFo is where to head. The interior design stores alone had me suckered into thinking I needed to buy every. damn. thing.
Stop by: The quirky Cafe String – nestled among all the stores in SoFo is a retro furniture and comic book inspired coffee stop to refuel.
There is also a major shopping centre in the middle of town. It’s 4 levels and has been around since the 1920’s – this is where you actually get a good overview of all the brands that you can (or can’t) afford. Well worth a wander during one of the inevitable summer showers that will hit when you visit.
I was worried Swedish food would be all meatballs and not much else. And look, I couldn’t go this far to Sweden and not have meatballs right?
But beyond the staple dish, the seafood and bakery treats were a delightful surprise. Whether it was a quick dinner in a hostel or a lush lunch break in SoFo the oysters, fish and prawns we damn delicious.
Stop by: Cafe Jäarntoget in Gamla Stan for some wacky and sweet ice cream with insane flavour combinations!
History can be cool in Stockholm, and they are swimming in it (pun on waterside city fully intended #sorrynotsorry).
There are the royal palaces and churches that have been on the islands since the 1200’s, there’s an old old wooden ship (I’m not kidding) that sunk before it left the harbour but is now a major museum display of 1700’s naval history.
There’s glorious architecture on every street corner and some regular restaurants that have been around for centuries. Stockholm makes dusty history cool again – just by being Stockholm.
Stop by: Vasaa Museum to see the gigantic ship that sunk in 1628 and was salvaged 300 years later to be turned into a museum.
What Else is there?
Everything was all very Nordic cool…until we made it to the Abba museum, where kitsch and cheese are celebrated with gay abandon (and I do mean that in every beautiful sense of the word).
In short, the coolest thing about Stockholm? How happy and inviting the entire city was. Even if you are an uncool tourist looking to nab just a taste of that Swedish ice-cool look, Stockholm helps you to do so and will welcome you with open arms.
Have you thought about visiting Stockholm? Tell me in the comments what you are most excited to visit!