City Visit: Stockholm — Where to eat, where to shop
Our top 10 favourite restaurants
Oaxen is two restaurants – one is an upscale gastronomic experience with 2 Michelin stars (Krog). The other, called Oaxen Slip, is a more relaxed version of the Oaxen Krog , with the same localvore, organic philosophy. We had dinner at the Oaxen Slip. Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately for our wallets) the Oaxen Krog was closed for the summer holidays. It was a beautiful sunny evening, we were seated at the best table on the terrace and we were with friends, so we ordered the entire gamut from snacks and wine to first course and main course, and finally dessert. If we were to label the type of food it serves it would be “upgraded and revisited Scandinavian”. Everything was outstanding, including the service! A warning: since both of these restaurants are so popular, you’ll need to reserve a table — for weekend evenings, a couple of weeks in advance. They have on-line reservations.
The Strandbryggen is a hip and friendly outdoor restaurant and bar, built upon a pontoon at one end of the Djurgårdsbron(Bridge of Djurgården). As we had non-stop sunny days in Stockholm, we had both lunch and dinner there several times. It’s a great place to have a glass of rosé in the late afternoon as well. It can be really full on Thursday and Friday evenings when they have their “after-work” parties, though. If you’re there in July, there won’t be any after work parties as everyone’s on holiday, but if the weather is sunny, it will be full, especially the bar area. The lunch menu is usually composed of 4 or 5 items as main courses. You order at the counter and are given a beeper when your dish is ready. You then fetch your lunch from the kitchen window. In the evening you can chose between the “self-service area on the left, and the table service area (slightly more expensive) on the right.
While Cultur is a “normal” restaurant at lunchtime, in the evening it really impresses with its fantastic mouth-watering tapas dishes. It has a fun, bohemian atmosphere. Order four or five tapas dishes and you’ll have had a wonderful dinner. The wine list (many wines available by the glass) is equally impressive.
This fish and seafood restaurant is part of Östermalmshallen, an upscale food market just a few tram stops and a short walk from Djurgården’s marinas. The quality is impeccable, the service is friendly and the wine list is interesting. You’re starting to understand that wine is important for us! Our favorite dishes are the typical Swedish “rimmad lax” and their version of “Toast Skagen” (open-face shrimp salad and caviar sandwich).
Restaurant at the Fotografiska (Museum of Photographic Arts)
The restaurant at the Fotografiska moves to the outdoor terrace during the summer. It’s a restaurant that puts the vegetables in center stage, not the meat or fish. When you chose your dish, you chose a couple of vegetable “creations” (we’re not talking about a helping of broccoli or spinach just dumped on your plate) and then chose a meat or fish to go with them. A nice change of pace, we thought. And it’s a festival for the eyes and palate.
Restaurant “Terassen” at the Grand Hotel
We had lunch here twice during our stay in Stockholm. If the weather is nice, meals are served on the patio with a lovely view of the old town and the Royal Castle across the water. The setting and the look of the restaurant is what attracted us to the restaurant in the first place. At quick look at the menu and we were asking for a table. I figured that if it was managed by the Grand Hotel (the Grand Dame of all of Stockholm’s hotels), it can’t be that bad. The price level at this bistro-style restaurant was far below one would pay for a meal at the Grand Hotel itself (2 Michelin Stars). Towards the late afternoon, the place turns into one of the “in” places to have a drink.
Blå Porten (next to Liljevalchs Art Museum on Djurgården)
This restaurant is possibly the most zen of all the restaurants in Stockholm. The change in vibe when you walk through the entrance is immediate. Outside, you have the noisy, crowded area around the Abba Museum with crowds of people walking towards the various attractions on Djurgården. Inside, the tranquility will almost startle you. The courtyard, with it’s huge trees provides shade on sunny, hot days and various plants and flowers placed all around the restaurant provide a lovely backdrop.
Mälarpaviljongen (outdoor floating restaurant/bar on lake Mälären)
The atmosphere at Mälarpaviljongen is similar to that of Strandbryggan – hip, fun, and on the water. The food is simple, but good. Go for the atmosphere and beautiful views of the lake and Södermalm island. Come early for lunch or dinner, as it tends to be packed on warm summer days and evenings!
Tradition – typical Swedish food in the old town
Tradition serves typical Swedish food — the sort of grandmother’s recipe food —but seriously upgraded to a gastronomic level. Most of the old swedish dishes can be labelled “comfort food” — think dairy, potatoes, cabbage, onions and other vegetables that can grown in northern climates, local varieties of fish and meat. For dessert, blueberries, strawberries, cloudberries and apples. That makes sense if you reflect on what was available here before food began to be shipped all over the world. Tradition is a wonderful experience, especially if the weather is grey or cold.
For one of the best views of the city, combined with excellent food (Erik Lallerstedt has a Michelin star under his belt) and great wine, you can’t miss with Gondolen. The restaurant is suspended high above the ground on the north side of Södermalm, next to Slussen (the locks between the sea and the lake). The menu is a blend of traditional swedish and “new nordic” gastronomy
Our Top 10 shops
Nordiska Kompaniet (NK) on Hamngatan
This is Stockholms best and possible biggest department store. We found lots of small things “for the boat” – mostly for the galley. Here are some of them: some Eva Solo thermos coffee mugs, a gorgeous Holmegaard candle lantern, a few kitchen utensils. Clothing was on sale, and Jacques found a great pair of sailing pants from Pelle P. Note that the sales in Stockholm run during July and August. It’s a great place to find small “typically swedish” gifts for family and friends.
Illums Bolighus on Hamngatan
This is a smaller version of the Illums Bolighus in Copenhagen. We found two Muuto baskets that fit perfectly in the boat, behind the sofa. I found a wonderful pair of black mesh slip-on sneakers by Ilse Jacobsen, one of Denmark’s most well-known fashion designers. An on sale for 50% off! Have you seen those granite “ice” cubes for drinks? Bought those here as well. The advantage of putting granite “ice” cubes in your drink is that it doesn’t melt and water down your drink. You keep them in your freezer and when introduced into your glass of white wine, it keeps the drink cold for about 20 minutes.
Sail Racing Flagship Store on Hamngatan
We love the Swedish brand Sail Racing! The problem is that it’s expensive. Solution: visit Sweden in late July-early August and everything’s on sale. Including Sail Racing. It also helps to suggest an “early birthday gift”. We both walked out with a SR down jacket, bought on sale for 40% off, both as late and early birthday gifts.
Gamla Stans Cykel
This is a bicycle shop for those of us who cycle for transportation, not for competition. It has a vintage, hip and cosy atmosphere. Best of all — for us — it has a Brompton department! Jacques had a slow puncture in his front tire and had it repaired during our afternoon stroll through the Old Town. We also picked up a few Brompton accessories like rain covers for our shopping baskets. It’s amazing how many other cruisers we’ve met so far who have Bromptons. They do fit into very small places.
Lisa Elmqvist (Östermalmshallen)
We bought tons of Skagen Röra here (a Swedish shrimp salad) during our month-long stay. As you may know, everyone make their own version of this, and Lisa Elmqvist takes the silver medal in the Skagen Röra competition ( in our humble opinion). Larsson’s Fisk in Mollösund takes the Gold. Also warmly recommended: their quiches (especially the chanterelle and the shrimp), the smoked eel, the flounder and all of the variations of salmon (gravad, rimmad, smoked).
Husmans Deli (Östermalmshallen)
Hand-churned butter anyone? How about some good Parma ham or even Pata Negra from Spain? This deli has so many mouth-watering foods it’s difficult to chose. We bought some balsamic vinegar, olive oil, sauces, and Swedish reindeer and Elk sausages.
M Seger Meat and Cheese (Östermalmshallen)
We bought some well-aged steaks here for each time we had visitors. So delicious! And they almost melt in your mouth. The service is fantastic!
This is a wonderful place to buy some unique, inexpensive, yet not at all kitchy gifts for family and friends at home. They have a range of hand-woven and hand-sewn textiles. We picked up some table mats and table runners for future Christmas gifts for friends.
This is the closest chandlery to both marinas. They have two stories of boat supplies, parts, charts and clothing. The service is excellent! We had to order part of a bow ladder that we lost to the sea. It arrived in just 2 days.
Bonus 1: grocery shops for your daily needs
- ICA Esplanaden on Karlavägen – not far from the marinas if you have a bicycle – they have a great selection.
- ICA Quantum Värtahamnen – this is a really big ICA. You have the biggest selection here, but it’s a 5-kilometer bicycle ride away. It’s really only for those with a bike or who are willing to take a taxi/Über to get groceries. We were groaning under the load of backpacks and overfilled bicycle baskets.
- ICA in the basement level of NK – this ICA has an excellent of selection of gourmet food, but doesn’t have a great choice of some ordinary things like toilet paper and cleaning products. The advantage is that the tram stops right in front of the store — so you won’t have to lug your heavy grocery bags too far.
- Hemköp in the basement level at Åhléns. The Hemköp chain of grocery stores is just as good as the ICA, its just not as easy to find. The one at Åhléns has a good selection of just about everything you’d need.
Bonus 2: Wine, beer and other alcoholic beverages
As you may know, Sweden, like Norway and Finland has a monopoly on the sale of alcoholic drinks. You need to go the “System Bolaget” (green sign with yellow lettering). There are many retail outlets in Stockholm but the one closest to the marinas is at Karlavägen 100. If you have a bike with a large basket, it’s perhaps a 10 minute ride. If you don’t have a bike, a better alternative is the System Bolaget next to the NK, since the tram will take you door-to-door — something you’ll want if you’ve purchased a case of wine or beer!
You can’t taste anything at the System Bolaget, but there are written descriptions (at least on the wine — but only in Swedish). When in doubt, ask the personnel — they seem to love giving advice (at least about the wines).