If I have to pick my favorite Sweden, it's Sweden during summertime. Interspersed between the expected rainy/cold days (which I love honestly, even if my hair doesn't), you get these days that are so warm and so lovely. All you want to do on those days is walk around, and fortunately Sweden is a very walkable country. Very fortunate for me, because I hate taking any and all metros and subways - except for the one that takes you directly to the Louvre in Paris.
I'm admittedly not the kind of traveler who strives to "live like a local", but I'm more open now after my last month in Sweden. I love a big, beautiful capital city, a modern boutique hotel, and doing undeniably touristy things like going to museums and royal palaces so I can look a antique sapphire crowns and vintage ball gowns. For that I had Stockholm, but I really lived in Norrköping, this really cool little city with hidden waterfalls around a lot of corners and rushing rivers tucked under bridges. Armed with my exactly 10 words of Svenska (that's one of the 10) I went to a small art museum (like, I REALLY like museums), ordered fresh lemonade with mint, and exchanged pleasantries with cute elderly Swedish men spending their afternoon in the park as well. I don't have a list of must-do/must-see things to do there. You need to see it all, and the best way is the walk until you here the growing sound of cascading water and then of course make you friend/parent/spouse take many, many pictures of you. Then have fika for me because I'm allergic - a Swedish slowdown with a side of coffee and cookies is the perfect time to rest your feet and edit pictures for the gram.
The best city in Sweden is Söderköping. Actually, I don't even if it's a city - it's just this idyllic little wonderland filled with winding canals and amazing ice cream. Ice cream so amazing, in fact, that I didn't even get to try it because the line at Smultronstället was at least 50 people long during Midsommer. I 100% want to live the quiet life in Söderköping in one of the colorful houses perched on cobblestone streets. My 20s were all about being a struggling creative in metropolitan cities, I want my 30s to be about quiet daytime naps in towns with more ducks that people. Again, it's a place to just see and do, without specifically having to see or do anything. Just enjoying seeing the kind of place you have to go all the way to Scandinavia to experience.
Stockholm is everything I expected, except better. Better, as previously mentioned, because you can easily walk from Humlegården to Gamla Stan to Södermalm and back in half a day. Not that it matters because Nordic days go from like 4am to 10pm with all the sunlight you have at your disposal. So yeah, it was super fun waking up at 4:30am every day my first week in Sweden because along with jet lag, my body was all suns up, buns up.
Stockholm is situated all on islands and the all feel a bit different when you cross over their bridges. I, of course, stan Gamla Stan because it's old town and old school. Colorful, cobbled, full of archaic architecture and one very beautiful royal residence Kungliga Slottet -it's so my scene. It's also a little tourist trap-y but you have to buy souvenirs somewhere! My other favorite neighborhood is Södermalm which is like the cool kid sister of Gamla Stan. Still ripe with beautiful old buildings and river views, it feels more authentic and lived in than the old town. It's the more local experience for all you people of the people out there. It's also the home of Kvarnen and homemade traditional Swedish food. If you're looking for meatballs (and I know you are) get in there.
A trip to Stockholm within a trip to Norrköping was 100% made possible thanks to the ultra cool Elite Eden Park Hotel! Right on (literally) Humlegården and by Stureplan (a square where everyone is in the best outfits you've ever seen aka the perfect place for a fika and a good gawking) - it is so cozy yet so modern. Something I've fallen in love with is this European style of sleeping where each person has their own set-up in the bed. I'm not a good bed sharer - I want all the blanket and all the pillows, and this style makes me more tolerable to my bed-mate. Sleep and food are pretty much the most important things in my life so between the very comfortable bed situation and breakfast that was provided every morning - this is my forever go-to hotel in Stockholm. The breakfast! Okay - for my American readers you know how continental breakfast in America is like one waffle maker and some single serving boxes of cereal? Not here, honey. The spread was everything. I had been dying to try gravlax since I got to Sweden, and not only was it there - but it was even more tasty than I could have imagined. Salmon cured in salt, sugar, and dill is everything to me. Fresh fruit, fresh cheese, fresh bread, and the best fresh juice of my life are all served at Miss Voon - which is worth a look and a drink just to take in the dazzling and moody atmosphere of this sophisticate spot. Beet is not one of my 10 words of Swedish I know, but I'm pretty sure the juice I was most obsessed with and had every morning was apple, lemon, and beet so just look for the red one - you'll know it when you see it. I'm actually surprised I saw so much of Stockholm considering how much I wanted to stay in bed and order room service. I actually did take a nap after breakfast every morning - I can only do so much. I also took the world's longest showers because I cannot resist a rainfall shower-head or plush towels that you can practically wrap around yourself twice. I know you may be tempted to stay in Gamla Stan, but listen to me. In the quieter streets surrounding the lush and open Humlegården, there's so many gems from restaurants to galleries to salons and everything you ever need plus the feeling of escaping a crowded city center. 10/10 will definitely be staying there again - I hope they stock up on gravlax.
There's about 1,000 more things I want to share about Sweden, but I'll save that for my next trip in a few months! Between now and then, I'll be looking for the Swedish equivalent of Drybar and praying for dry weather.