Stockholm has always been on my list of places visit, yet it never quite made it to the top of the list- that is until one of my best friends decided to do an exchange semester there.
My expectations for the 4-day 3-night trip were pretty high. The nordics are always being praised for having exceptionally great… well everything! The only negative things that come to mind are the brutal winters, and the government alcohol monopoly known as the Systembolaget.
I arrived in early November and was warmly, or rather coldly, welcomed by record breaking snowfall with over 30 centimeters coming down in one day. Winter wonderland trip checked off my list for 2016.
Despite all of the snowfall the day before I arrived, getting to Stockholm from Berlin was quite easy. I flew with AirBerlin from Berlin Tegel to Stockholm Arlanda, which only took 1.5 hours. Once I arrived at the airport, I bought an Arlanda express ticket, which gets you from the airport to the central station in 20 minutes.
The central train station is beautiful and huge! My friend and I were waiting for each other in front of different Burger Kings IN THE STATION! We took a bus to go see the Stockholm University campus, which is located in Lappkärrsberget (aka Lappis). To my surprise, our bus driver had to let us out early, because he simply couldn’t drive over all the snow. Having the most snowfall in over 111 years even caught the Swedes off guard- who I assume are normally seasoned pros at just carrying on everyday life with loads of snow.
Sight seeing or even just getting around was a bit challenging at times, because the snow wasn’t plowed. Luckily, traditional Swedish cuisine lends itself well to the cold weather. Check out Meatballs for the People for traditional Swedish meatballs known as köttbullar. (You might have seen them at Ikea before.) Alternatively, if you are on a tight budget buy some at the supermarket and heat them up in your hostel.
Another Swedish treat you should definitely partake in while there is having fika. Fika is having a coffee and pastry around 4PM, but a Swede would probably tell you there is much more to it. Something along the lines of… fika is time to socialize and set aside a moment of joy in your day. It is similar, at least according to me, to the German Kaffee Kuchen tradition, where someone in the family bakes a cake on Sunday and you all sit together and there’s coffee. If you’re looking for a cool place to enjoy your fika I recommend Café String, located in the trendy Södermalm district. They sell oreo muffins- so enough said!
After consuming all of those calories, go for a lovely walk in nature. Stockholm is a great place to be for those who want to live in a city and at the same time be able to escape the city life. Venture off into the in wild in the Royal National City Park. Part of the park is located behind the Lappis Stockholm University dormitories, making it a must-see for all exchange students.
Too cold to be outside? Wander into one of the many lovely museums the city has to offer. I recommend going to the Fotografiska if you’re into photography and are looking to buy some artsy souveniers. Alternatively, go to the Vasa Museum if you are interested in seeing the only preserved 17th century viking ship. For travelers on a budget aim to only go to free museums!
When it comes to planning your trip keep in mind that the city isn’t too big, yet is spread across 14 islands. If the weather allows I recommend doing a kayaking tour of the city as fun way to learn about the layout of the city.
Don’t forget to plan a trip to Stockholm if you are close by viewing the Northern Lights! It is certainly worth your while.