The Perfect Week in Sweden

Take in museums, cool districts, and upcoming neighborhoods in Sweden’s photogenic capital Stockholm; head into the archipelago; and explore laid-back Gothenburg, touted as the country’s culinary capital and with access to the best fish and shellfish.

Kungsgatan 55, 111 22 Stockholm, Sweden
There’s a strong coffee culture in Stockholm coupled with a tradition called “fika,” where one shares multiple daily coffee-and-pastry breaks with family, friends, and colleagues. Head over to award-winning Vete-Katten on Kungsgatan to dig into Swedish pastries such as kanelbullar (cinnamon buns), appelkaka (light apple pie) served with vaniljsås (vanilla sauce), and kladdkaka (rich chocolate brownie-like cake). During the winter months of December through March, bakeries offer semlor, oval buns filled with marzipan and whipped cream.
Bellmansgatan 1, 118 20 Stockholm, Sweden
If you’re a fan of late Swedish author Stieg Larsson’s award-winning Millennium trilogy, or have read his book selections on long-haul flights, you might be interested in exploring the backdrops and settings of this suspenseful crime drama series. Take a guided tour (group or individual) that walks you through Stockholm’s edgier bohemian neighborhood of Södermalm, and visit spots like Mellqvists Kaffebar (which both fictional journalist Mikael Blomkvist and real-life author Stieg Larsson frequented) and Fiskargatan 9—an expensive address with stunning views over Djurgården and Gamla stan (Old Town) where protagonist Lisbeth Salander buys her 21-room apartment.
Explore the extensive collection of Nordic art including the dark works of Edvard Munch, Bruno Liljefors’ wildlife paintings and the so-called “golden age” of Danish painters from the 19th century. International artists are represented with works by Monet, Picasso and Rembrandt, while the local history of Gothenburg’s Colorists is also explored. Check the gift shop for photography and architecture books. The small entrance fee also gives you access to the Röhsska Museum, Gothenburg City Museum, the Maritime Museum and the Museum of Natural History.
Fisktorget 4, 411 20 Göteborg, Sweden
Feskekörka means “the fish church” and is a fitting name for the indoor fish market, built in 1874, that houses all the glimmering delicacies of the sea. (The name is also an example of typical Gothenburg humor—playing with words and with lighthearted disrespect towards authority.) Inside you’ll find stalls packed with fresh fish and seafood, as well as stalls for lunch. Visit the restaurant Gabriel up on the balcony. The owner, Johan Malm, is a multiple-time oyster opening champion, so he can tell you everything you need to know about the briny bivalve.
2 Sköldungagatan
Twelve distinctive rooms in a restored 1910 brick town-house mix sophisticated touches (marble bathtubs) with comforts such as sheep-skin throws and Scandinavian antiques. Guests have all-hours access to a kitchen with a fridge full of cheeses, meats, produce, and wine. A house chef is on call 24 hours to satisfy cravings. Guests can read a novel (in book form or on the complimentary iPads) in the sitting room or on a chaise longue in the walled garden. There is also a sauna downstairs. From $550. 46/(0) 8-20-0590. This appeared in the March/April 2013 issue.
Trädgårdsgatan 6, 411 08 Göteborg, Sweden
So where are we now? Could this be Vienna in central Europe in the early 20th century? Or maybe Paris in the same era? No, this is a small Gothenburg hotel, restaurant, and bar that fulfills the dreams of owner Thomas Peterson. Coming from a well-renowned family in the restaurant business, Peterson wanted to create his personal vision of an extraordinary restaurant and hotel that paid homage to childhood memories of his grandfather hosting celebrities and artists at home and in his restaurant. Try the afternoon tea, or have a drink on the roof terrace. No matter what you eat or drink, the ambiance is a large part of the experience.
Karl XII:s torg, Stockholm, Sweden
The name translates as “Back Pocket,” an apt description for this one-room restaurant tucked into the side of the Royal Opera House. The tiled room is decorated with opera memorabilia, and sometimes you’ll find yourself dining next to tuxedo-clad members of the orchestra between performances. Diners perch at the counter at little tables affixed to the walls or, during the summer, outside in the sun. The food is traditional Swedish cuisine—husmanskost, as it’s known—with particularly good seafood, and best enjoyed with a Swedish beer.
Rådmansgatan 16, 114 25 Stockholm, Sweden
Modern Swedish food using locally produced ingredients and emphasizing simple, unfussy dishes is all the rage in Stockholm—and few places can beat this 50-seat restaurant opened by Adam Dahlberg and Albin Wessman in 2016. The pair previously worked with Mathias Dahlgren, one of Sweden’s most respected chefs. The five-course dinner will cost you just over $100 (wine pairing extra), or you can perch at the bar and order dishes one by one. The chefs also run a lunchtime-only restaurant next door called Tvätteriet, which is known for its delicious noodles.
Kungstorget, 411 17 Göteborg, Sweden
The city’s most historic food hall is housed in a grand old building with a distinctive arched roof of copper and glass that lets light flood into the bustling interior. Come here to browse the 40 or so stalls and buy cakes, cheese, fish, meat, and vegetables to take away, or better yet, perch at a counter and eat right there amid all the hubbub of the market. The building was completed in 1889 and was landmarked as one of the country’s important buildings in 1985.
14 Galärvarvsvägen
Located on the island of Djurgården, this purpose-built maritime museum is an extraordinary sight: It houses the massive warship Vasa, which sank just minutes after launching on its maiden voyage in 1628. Raised from the harbor in 1961, it was painstakingly reassembled to its original glory. Head straight to the auditorium to watch a documentary about the salvage, and then slowly meander through the rest of the fascinating exhibits.

130 39 Sandhamn, Sweden
The thousands of islands that make up the Stockholm archipelago have something for everyone. Many are tiny and uninhabited. Some, like Sandhamn, are crowded all summer long and attract hundreds of private sailboats. You can find great food and great places to swim or stroll, and also hotels, hostels, and wooden cabins in which to overnight. You need half a day at the bare minimum to experience the archipelago proper, but if time is short take a ferry to Fjäderholmarna, which is very close to the center. There you can enjoy a waterside meal and get a taste of archipelago living.
Djurgårdsvägen 68, 115 21 Stockholm, Sweden
Abba, the most successful Swedish group of all time, enjoyed a global return to fame with the success of the musical and the film Mamma Mia! In its home country, however, its popularity never dimmed. The museum allows visitors to guest star in an Abba video and marvel at the gloriously over-the-top stage costumes. For hard-core fans, you can also go to the nearby Abba: The Party, where diners are “transported” to a Greek island for a rambunctious evening of food and sing-along entertainment.
178 02 Drottningholm, Sweden
While the enormous Royal Palace in Stockholm’s Old Town is the king’s official residence, the family lives outside the center at Drottningholm. And this being Sweden, everyone is allowed to stop by. You can visit the interior, excluding the royal family’s private wing, and then roam around the extensive grounds. The estate is also famed for its theater, which still uses the original stage equipment from the 18th century. UNESCO lists Drottningholm as a World Heritage Site: “With its palace, perfectly preserved theatre (built in 1766), Chinese pavilion and gardens, it is the finest example of an 18th-century northern European royal residence inspired by the Palace of Versailles.”
Take the Älvsnabben ferry from Stenpiren to Klippan and walk along the shore to Röda Sten Art Hall, an industrial building turned art center with graffitied walls and skate lanes outside. Röda Sten focuses on contemporary art with a vibrant, progressive attitude and has a special section for younger artists. The setting in itself is well worth a visit with its rough, industrial charm and location directly under the large Älvsborgsbron bridge. Have a bite to eat on the terrace of the museum café and watch the ships enter the port. Afterwards, take a walk along the shore. Röda sten means “red stone,” and the name comes from the large stone next to the water that by tradition is painted red. Why? Nobody knows for sure.
1 Slussgatan
The impressive Palmhuset greenhouse in the middle of Trädgårdsföreningen park hosts a large number of tropical plants and butterflies. It was built in 1878 with the famous Crystal Palace in London as its inspiration. It’s named after the middle area of the building, where palm trees (the tallest one is 14 meters!) and ferns grow.
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