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Non-Touristy Things to Do in Stockholm, Including Food

City Guide January 16, 2024

 

 

Hey, adventurous souls! Are you ready to explore Stockholm beyond the typical tourist attractions, much like uncovering the hidden corners of New York City? If you're eager to dive into non-touristy things to do in Stockholm and get a real taste of the city – both culturally and literally – this guide is your perfect companion.

We're venturing Stockholm off the beaten paths, delving into the less explored areas where you'll find the authentic heartbeat of the city. From hidden gems tucked away in quiet streets to the genuine flavors of Stockholm local food, we're going off the mainstream trail to uncover Stockholm’s true charm. Get ready to experience the city like a local and discover what makes Stockholm uniquely captivating!

But first, let’s sort out the logistics. If you’re arriving early or have a late departure and don’t want to lug your bags around, Nannybag offers convenient luggage storage at Stockholm airport. Drop your bags off safely by checking out luggage storage at Stockholm airport and explore the city with ease.

 

Dive into the Local Scene

Immersing yourself in Stockholm's local scene offers a fresh and authentic perspective of the city, taking you beyond the well-trodden paths of tourists. From art and architecture to outdoor adventures, Stockholm has hidden gems waiting to be discovered.

 

Explore Art Galleries Beyond Gamla Stan

Venturing beyond the historic confines of Gamla Stan opens up a world of contemporary art in Stockholm. The city's art scene thrives in its diversity and innovation, with numerous galleries scattered across various districts showcasing a mix of established and emerging talent. These galleries offer a window into the modern Swedish art scene, featuring everything from cutting-edge contemporary works to thought-provoking installations and multimedia art.

Exploring these galleries, you'll encounter a range of artistic expressions that challenge and inspire. Areas like Södermalm, known for its bohemian vibe, or the more upscale Östermalm district, are home to some of the city's most exciting art spaces. Each gallery has its own unique focus, whether it's on local Swedish artists, international art, or specific art movements.

To discover these artistic gems, a little research goes a long way. Online resources can provide up-to-date information on current exhibitions, gallery hours, and special events like vernissages (art openings), artist talks, and gallery walks. Some galleries may require appointments for visits, so it's a good idea to check in advance.

 

Visit the Stockholm Public Library

The Stockholm Public Library is an architectural masterpiece, celebrated not just for its extensive collection of books but also for its striking design. Gunnar Asplund's circular rotunda allows natural light to flood the interior, creating a serene and inviting atmosphere for reading and research. The library's unique architectural style has made it a favorite among architecture enthusiasts and photographers.

As you explore the library, you'll discover a wide range of literature, from Swedish classics to contemporary works in various languages. The library also hosts regular events, including author talks, readings, and cultural events, making it a vibrant part of Stockholm's cultural life.

Entry to the library is free, and it's a great place to spend a few quiet hours. Whether you're looking to delve into a good book, conduct some research, or simply appreciate the building's architectural beauty, the library is a welcoming space. Make sure to check the library's current opening hours and any visitor guidelines on their official website before planning your visit.

 

Discover Lake Mälaren by Kayak

For an adventurous and serene experience, consider kayaking on Lake Mälaren. Paddling through the calm waters offers a unique way to see parts of Stockholm that are less accessible by foot or public transport. The lake's numerous coves and islands provide a tranquil escape from the city's hustle and bustle, and you'll be treated to stunning views of the city from a different vantage point.

There are several places around Lake Mälaren where you can rent kayaks. It's advisable to check for rental availability in advance, especially during peak tourist seasons. Always consider the weather conditions before setting out, and if you're new to kayaking, opt for a guided tour for a safer and more informative experience.

 

Polar Plunge Like the Locals Do

Embrace the invigorating tradition of polar plunging, a favorite local activity in Stockholm during the frosty winter months. This daring dip into the icy waters is not just a test of endurance, but a cherished ritual that embodies the Swedish spirit of embracing nature and the elements. In the heart of winter, when the lakes and archipelago waters turn ice-cold, locals gather at popular spots, donned in swimwear and buoyed by camaraderie, to take the plunge.

It's a practice said to boost circulation, invigorate the senses, and even improve well-being. After the initial shock and exhilaration, participants often warm up in traditional Swedish saunas, turning the whole experience into a rejuvenating ritual. Whether you're a seasoned cold-water swimmer or a curious traveler seeking a uniquely Swedish experience, polar plunging in Stockholm is a thrilling and unforgettable adventure.

 

 

Indulge in Authentic Swedish Food

Embarking on a culinary journey through Stockholm is a delightful way to experience authentic Swedish cuisine. From traditional dishes to sweet treats, the city offers a range of flavors that cater to all tastes.

 

Try Traditional Swedish Foods

To truly immerse yourself in the Swedish culinary scene, venture beyond the touristy restaurants and explore where the locals dine. Traditional Swedish dishes offer a comforting and hearty experience. A classic choice is Swedish meatballs (köttbullar), typically served with mashed potatoes, creamy sauce, and lingonberry jam.

Another must-try is pickled herring (sill), a staple in Swedish cuisine, often enjoyed as part of a smörgåsbord. Each dish tells a story of Sweden's culture and culinary heritage.

To find the best spots for traditional Swedish food, don't hesitate to ask locals for their recommendations. They can direct you to hidden gems where the authenticity of the food is matched by a warm and inviting atmosphere.

 

Sample Famous Swedish Cinnamon Buns

A trip to Stockholm wouldn't be complete without indulging in a Swedish cinnamon bun (kanelbulle). These aromatic, sweet pastries are a staple in Swedish coffee breaks, known as fika. Find a cozy café, preferably in one of the city's residential areas, where you can enjoy a cinnamon bun paired with a strong cup of coffee. This combination is central to the fika experience, which is as much about savoring the moment as it is about the food.

Cafes in residential neighborhoods often offer a more authentic and relaxed setting compared to those in busy tourist areas. They are perfect spots to observe local life and enjoy a quieter atmosphere.

 

Explore Stockholm’s Street Food Scene

For a more casual and diverse culinary experience, delve into Stockholm's street food scene. The city's food trucks and market stalls offers Swedish and international dishes, reflecting the multicultural vibrancy of Stockholm. Street food is not only affordable but also provides a fun way to taste different flavors while exploring the city.

You can typically find food trucks and street food markets in busy public squares, along major shopping streets, or near transit hubs. These spots are great for grabbing a quick and tasty meal while on the move. From classic Swedish hot dogs to innovative fusion dishes, the street food scene in Stockholm is sure to delight your taste buds.

 

Unique Experiences in Stockholm

Stockholm, with its rich history and vibrant culture, offers unique experiences that go beyond the usual tourist attractions. These activities provide a deeper understanding of Swedish traditions and an opportunity to engage with the local way of life.

 

Visit the Open Air Museum

The Skansen Open Air Museum is not just a museum but a journey into the heart of Swedish history and culture. Located on the island of Djurgården, it is the world's oldest open-air museum and showcases a variety of historical buildings and dwellings from different parts of Sweden. You can witness traditional crafts, explore historical homes, and learn about Sweden's way of life in bygone eras. Unlike the more frequented Royal Palace, Skansen offers a more relaxed and authentic glimpse into Swedish heritage.

Plan to spend a few hours at Skansen to fully immerse yourself in the experience. The museum is vast and has a lot to offer, including a zoo featuring Nordic animals. Check the museum's schedule as there are often seasonal events and demonstrations.

 

Join a Local Cooking Class

Participating in a local cooking class is a delightful way to dive into Swedish cuisine. These classes not only teach you how to prepare traditional Swedish dishes but also provide insights into the ingredients and culinary history of the region. From learning to make the perfect meatballs to baking classic Swedish pastries, these classes are both educational and enjoyable.

It's advisable to book a cooking class in advance, especially during peak tourist seasons. These classes are not only a great way to learn a new skill but also an opportunity to interact with locals and fellow travelers.

 

 

Set Sail

Set sail on a maritime adventure around the breathtaking archipelago of Stockholm, where the sea meets the sky in a serene dance of natural beauty. Sailing around Stockholm is not just a journey; it's an experience that captures the essence of the Swedish love for the sea.

Glide through the gentle waters, navigating around a tapestry of over 30,000 islands, islets, and rocks, each with its own unique charm. From the deck of your boat, witness the stunning scenery of rugged cliffs, lush greenery, and traditional red cottages dotting the coastline.

Feel the gentle breeze and taste the salty air as you traverse the tranquil waters, offering a perfect escape from the bustle of city life. Whether you're an experienced sailor or a newcomer to the joys of boating, sailing around Stockholm is a peaceful yet exhilarating way to explore the city's magnificent surroundings and discover hidden coves, quaint harbors, and unspoiled natural beauty. It's an adventure that promises both relaxation and the thrill of exploration, an opportunity to connect with nature and create unforgettable memories on the water.

 

Nightlife Beyond the Tourist Zones

To truly experience Stockholm's nightlife, venture beyond the tourist zones into areas where locals go. Neighborhoods like Södermalm or Vasastan are known for their vibrant local bars and clubs, offering a more authentic night scene. These spots often feature live music, unique cocktails, and a relaxed atmosphere that's quite different from the more tourist-centric areas.

For the best local nightlife spots, consult local guides or ask the staff at your accommodation for recommendations. They can direct you to places that match your preferences, whether you're looking for a laid-back bar or a lively club. Remember that nightlife in Stockholm can start late and go on until the early hours, so plan your evening accordingly.

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