Stockholm, Sweden

Abba Museum
colorful flowers

Day 1, Saturday 

We started our day by grabbing coffee at the nearest Joe and the Juice (who knew that they are Swedish and absolutely everywhere!) on our way out.

We visited friends who live outside Stockholm and meant to take the ferry there or back, but ended up missing the ferry both ways. Interestingly, we took a Uber there and a taxi back, and the taxi was almost twice as expensive. 

Back at the hotel we hit the lounge for some snacks as we were ravenous. Then we headed out to explore the old town. Louisa had gone for early morning walks through old town and found it completely empty except for security at the palace. And, all of the stores closed. However, in the late afternoon the shops and cafes were open and people were strolling along the narrow cobblestone streets.

We started at Pharmium bar (, which was cozy and had lots of charm and character. We each enjoyed our cocktail  and enjoyed the ambiance at the bar.  It was quite busy, but overall quite enjoyable with great cocktails. During busy times in Stockholm, a reservation might be a good idea.

We wandered to find a restaurant, but we didn’t find anything that sounded good and also had gluten free options. So, we walked further on to the southern island to Sodermalm, which seems to have a hip vibe and many options. We were hungry so we stopped at almost the first restaurant we walked by, Spago (Götgatan 24, 118 46 Stockholm, Sweden). It was bustling but they had an open table for us. The menu offered many items, including gluten free options,, and we both enjoyed some good Italian food along with another cocktail. We had noticed that there was a large group in one corner, and suddenly they burst into song in Norwegian. It was incredibly festive and fun. Our best guess is that it is something like happy birthday in the US.

Overall Stockholm is easy to get around, we hopped in the nearest taxi and headed back to the hotel.

Day 2, Sunday

We started with a walk to breakfast, stopping at Starbucks in the train terminal on the way which was disappointing. We waited in line at STHLM Brunch Club (24 Dalagatan, Stockholm 113 24 Sweden) chatting with the friendly Swedish women ahead of us. It is nice to travel in Sweden where it seems that everyone also knows English and is incredibly friendly. The line looked long, but moved reasonably fast. Inside was bustling and the food was absolutely delicious, including Nutella gluten free pancakes! 

We hopped on the  metro to Bjorkhagen to do the Sormlandsleden stage 1 hike. The path was a literal walk in the park at first but then went into the woods as a trail. We crossed two bridges and made a nice loop around the lake.

Back at the metro, we got off in Gamla Stan (old town) to look for ice cream. We went to one of the few stykken places and had “trash” ice cream with popcorn, caramel, fudge, and peanuts. Super sweet. 

Next we headed to Phil’s Burger (Malmskillnadsgatan 11, 111 57 Stockholm, Sweden) for a casual bite and to wait for a friend. Phil’s was a surprise, it was clean, with good food and in a central location. We had low expectations, but Phil’s surprised us as a good spot when you want simple and easy.

Day 3, Monday

We opted for simple breakfast at the hotel. They impressively met our needs with dairy free yogurt parfaits and gluten-free granola – yum! 

We headed out with laundry bags for the 30 min walk to the Tvattomaten – basically the only laundromat in Stockholm for quick wash and fold service. After dropping 2 loads – $20 each cash only! – we walked to Greasy Spoon for a full vegan English breakfast. 100% vegan, so good, scramble, gf bread, beans, mushrooms, tomatoes, all the good stuff.

Sated, we walked an hour to the Abba museum. There were beautiful parks and buildings on the way.  We enjoyed the karaoke booths and the whole exhibit. They played lots of Abba music. Super fun. 

We took the tram back to central, then accidentally got on the commuter rail during rush hour. One crammed stop later we got off and picked up our laundry. Feeling loaded down we took a taxi back to the Sheraton. 

Then we realized the Happy Atelier – a dedicated GF bakery – closed at 5:30 so we headed right out again on the bus to get there in time. They were picked over but we got a couple almond cakes and split one on the way home. 

We crossed a bridge and saw some kayakers – that could be us tomorrow. Went back to hotel and hit the happy hour at the lounge. 

For dinner, we took the metro to Pavvi for amazing vegan gluten free pizzas. Topped it off with some vegan ice cream that tasted like butterscotch. Great ambiance with indoor and outdoor seating. Loved being in a neighborhood. 

For our constitutional, we got off at Gamla Stan to walk a little through old town on the way back to the Sheraton. 

Today we walked 20k steps, and rode the metro, tram, bus, commuter rail, and taxi. A good day!

Day 4, Tuesday

In the morning we headed to Happy Atelier again. There were more choices this morning, and we settled on a couple of cinnamon buns (a Swedish staple, made with cardamom maybe?) and a delicious focaccia. Then we hopped back on the T to the Kayakomat for self-serve kayaks.

The rental is by the hour on the hour, so we waited a few minutes until 1 to rent them, then pulled them out and climbed in at the nearby dock. We considered going around the island that Happy Atelier was on, but it was pretty windy. We started down the narrow canal, enjoying the greenery and the marinas that we passed.

One kayak pulled to the left, so we stopped at a dock to swap boats. After a while our hands started to blister so we turned around. The return was upwind so a bit tougher; we took a couple breaks, but made it back up to the dock. We covered about 3.5 miles and had a lovely time on the fresh waters of the lake.

We put away the kayaks and headed back to the T to central, where we found a Holy Greens. We devoured delicious salads, although the kombucha flavor of one of them wasn’t great.

Sated, we walked down to Gamla Stan in search of Stockholm’s narrowest street. On the way we stumbled upon a changing of the guard ceremony, and stopped to take a quick picture.

Stockholm’s narrowest alley was cute and short, and at the other end was a gelato place – very convenient. They even had gf waffle cones. We had a cone, then we walked around a bit more, stopping in the Tasty American store and then a Coop grocery. We then took the long way around back to the Sheraton for a much-needed rest.

We took the bus to Meatballs for the People to get a genuine Swedish meatball experience. We ordered the vegan meatball platter and meatball samplers, and traded the reindeer and wild boar with each other. They were all pretty good, but basic beef and chicken were pretty much the best.

On our way out we hit a larger Coop grocery for some snacks and treats, then walked to the T to return to the Sheraton. Soon we were all doing our email and chowing down on popcorn, vegan salted caramel ice cream, and the rest of the focaccia and buns.

Day 5, Wednesday

We were supposed to leave for Mahalo for breakfast at 8:30 but we woke up at 8:35. We quickly threw on some clothes and headed out.

In front of the Sheraton were a handful of taxi drivers honking and shouting at each other. We got in one of the ones that wasn’t really involved and took an expensive but quick ride to Mahalo. The smoothie bowls weren’t super sweet but were good, and we ate them quickly and then rushed back to the T. Fortunately we know the stations well by now, and we were able to make our way to Central very quickly.

We speed walked to the Prins Carl Philip boat to Drottingsholm. The line was surprisingly long, but we bought tickets on the phone while we waited and were the last ones on. There were no seats up above, but we hung out on the bow and inside next to the coffee shop.

The ride was beautiful, sunny and a little cool. There were tons of beautiful apartments and houses on the water. There were a number of docks with flags you could raise if you wanted to be picked up by the boat – we stopped at 2 on the way. After a lovely hour we arrived at the summer palace and got off.

We had also bought tickets to the palace and the theatre tour, so we headed to the theatre first. 

As we walked in we found the woman about to start the 11am tour – just us 2 and one other guy. Her English wasn’t great, but she had the spiel down, and we learned about Queen Louisa from Prussia and how she loved the arts, and how she wanted to have French actors in a real theatre. They couldn’t afford marble so they painted the stone to look like it, and also painted drapes and wallpaper to make it look fancy. The stage works, ropes, and sets had been preserved for a hundred years while the theatre was closed, and still work today. They had just put on an opera and the orchestra was set up in the pit.

After a half hour of that we headed over to the palace to walk around. There were a number of galleries with huge portraits of kings and queens. The grand staircase was pretty ornate, and the library interesting, but the rest was fairly uninspiring. Lots of old furniture and huge rooms. One cool dresser that opened into a small bed. 

We were tired so we headed to the cafe for a Coke Zero and an Americano. For her. And a cappuccino and a sandwich for me. Soon it was time to head back to the dock for the 1pm boat back. The ride home was even more beautiful, this time we were seated on the top of the boat in the sun, and really enjoyed the ride.

Next we headed downtown to Zara. We did some fairly successful shopping and then headed back to the hotel. We grabbed a snack in the lounge, then headed out for a drink.

We found a somewhat fancy bar Vau de Ville near the shopping street, where we taught them about the Part Time Lover drink. We weren’t that hungry for dinner, so we decided we had to hit our final Swedish icon, Max. Basically McDonalds, they had a surprising variety of plant-based foods including gf “chicken” nuggets. They were exactly the same as any other nuggs, deep fried chunks of something with bbq sauce.

Day 6, Thursday

Our friend had to catch the 5am train for her 6:30 flight, so we got up and walked with her to the station, and were glad we did, as the homeless population of Stockholm, while few, was in the vicinity. Nobody bothered us, and our friend got off without problem on the AirPort Express train which is a great option from central Stockholm.

For breakfast we had eggs and bad coffee again – why don’t the Nordics do decent coffee? They also don’t have Splenda, good thing we carry our own. On the plus side, everywhere seems to have vegan and gluten-free options. 

Stockholm was terrific, and we are certain to return. 

Getting There

We landed at 2am at minimums, could barely see the lights of the adjacent taxiway through the fog. Captain asked us to turn fully off all electronic devices for the precision of the landing. Happy to be on the ground.

Hopped in an expensive taxi into downtown Stockholm. Should have taken the train, would have been much cheaper and just as fast, but more on that later.

On the way out, we headed to the airport on the AirPort Express train. Much cheaper and faster, highly recommended.

Where to Stay

We stayed the first few nights at Haymarket by Scandic hotel. The hotel is centrally located on the Hötorget Square. During the day, vendors have flower stalls and it is quite picturesque and many nights you can attend a concert at the Stockholm Concert Hall ( The Haymarket by Scandic hotel is just off of great shopping street lined with coffee shops, restaurants and Vete-Katten · 4.4 ★ (6664) · Cafe (Kungsgatan 55, 111 22 Stockholm, Sweden). This is almost certainly a must go during your trip to experience a traditional Swedish bakery with a menu that includes many options, including some gluten free baked goods and salads. The dining area is charming – many rooms that meander creating a cozy atmosphere.

Then we moved to the cheaper, and still fine, Sheraton Stockholm. The Sheraton location is on the very outskirts of central Stockholm, along the road that fronts the water with docks for local ferries. It also is a short walk to the main train station. Overall, it is a standard American Sheraton hotel, complete with the concierge lounge that we visited daily. 

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