A year after So Sweden: Living Differently, British linguist and former expat ALISON ALLFREY has teamed up with Swedish tour guide JESSICA DÖLLING GRIPBERG to write a guide to Stockholm for tourists and residents alike. They share their top five tips for the city…
- Immerse yourself in how Swedes do things. The cold weather, snow, ice and short days in winter may seem daunting, but there’s a reason why Swedes embrace the cold so wholeheartedly, taking to frozen lakes, snowed over golf courses and forest trails on skates and skis, and lighting their way through the winter with candles, hot chocolate and the fabulous festival of light: Lucia.
- Finding somewhere which makes your soul happy is essential. For me this was Prins Eugens Waldemarsudde, my favourite gallery on Stockholm’s Djurgården. It has sensational views over the water in summer, stunning colours in autumn and superb exhibitions, often featuring my top Swedish artist and master of bird painting: Bruno Liljefors.
- Stockholm has some wonderful musical secrets too. A fabulous place to spend a cold winter’s lunchtime is the Golden Foyer at the Opera House, where they have concerts accompanied by a delicious lunch. Or try Christmas concerts in the glorious Hedvig Eleonora church in Östermalm.
- With summer here, the archipelago is irresistible in its simplicity and beauty. Take a boat from Stockholm or Vaxholm, or rent your own, to get a sense of the escapism afforded by pure water, gorgeous reflections, a spot of fishing and a myriad of islands seemingly untouched by the modern world.
- For flower lovers, take off to Ängsö, Europe’s first national park and the most pristine place to admire wild flowers. Picnic away from it all; take in the old world charm of lunching under the apple trees at Rosendals Trädgård on Djurgården or enjoy a trip to Ulriksdal to revel in the wonderful garden centre after a mouth-watering lunch.
Jessica Dölling Gripberg
- I just love experiencing local cuisine when I’m travelling. But finding the places locals go isn’t always easy. I do have a soft spot for the sweet stuff. So, a great tip in the book is where you can get the best fika. I would suggest Grillska huset in Gamla Stan and their little bakery facing the big square. While you indulge in a delicious cardamom bun, you will also be supporting a good cause, as it is run by Stadsmissionen (Stockholm City Mission).
- Learning the language is always tricky and I always recommend that if you happen to have children, sit together with them and watch Swedish children’s programmes on television. A great way to learn the language, as it is simple and usually quite repetitive. Otherwise, Swedish for Professionals have plenty of different courses if you want to learn Swedish. Don’t forget to download the app Duolingo on your phone: it’s readily available whenever you have some spare time.
- Back to the culinary. Once you have got used to the Swedish food then you might like to try your hand at some of the recipes that we have included in the book.
- As for eating out. Two favourite restaurants would be Sturehof for dinner and Ulla Winbladh for lunch. They serve typical Swedish food and is where many locals go. Sturehof is bang in the middle of the city and Ulla Winbladh is amongst the greenery on Djurgården.
- Last but not least, don’t leave Sweden without tasting the salty liquorice. Who knows, you might just get the taste for it!
ALISON ALLFREY is an author and linguist.
JESSICA DÖLLING GRIPBERG runs tours of Stockholm.
Stockholm: Sweden at Your Fingertips is out now.
This article is a Fika Online exclusive.