You never think a 6:00AM flight is a bad idea until you set your alarm to wake up at 2AM, or not go to bed at all. So, here we were, in our PJs, jamming out to old Disney musicals and downing another mug of coffee, waiting to head out to Stockholm…
A little bit of a rewind – how did we even pick Stockholm? Well, the initial plan me and friend Simona had in mind was to go to Morocco, as we had found some really good flights. Moments before we bought our tickets, we realized the dates don’t work. We had to find another destination. Although we originally planned to soak up some sun, it seemed that plan was going to cost us dearly. Then Stockholm popped up, setting us back only 20 quid for the return trip. Sold.
Visiting in early March meant around -2 degrees Celsius, wearing 3 layers of leggings and the ability to see your breath all day long. The cold didn’t hold us back to explore the charming streets and unique neighborhoods in the city, but I do believe it will be far more pleasant when you can actually feel your hands and feet. Having said that, I also feel like there is a certain beauty that Scandinavia posses during winter times – seeing the city covered in snow is something really special and worth sacrificing the sausage finger or two.
So, there we were, shivering our bums out at Skavsta airport, ready to take on the land of IKEA, Swedish meatballs and minimalist design.
WHERE WE STAYED
We got fortunate enough to spend 3 nights in City Backpackers Hostel, just minutes away from the old town. To be completely honest, I don’t stay at hostels often, but I just couldn’t resist the the quirky style & unique art and decoration pieces, as well as the rich selection of board games available.
We checked in really quickly and got to our room. We chose to stay in a 8-bed female dorm – I was surprised that it was actually super spacious, as the beds were all located against the walls. There was also an ensuite bathroom provided, meaning the chances of me just being me and slipping/dropping my towel in the corridor in front of other people was minimized. The dorm provided us a great opportunity to connect with people from all over the world – we had girls from USA, UK, Netherlands and Germany; heck – one was even from UAL! On the second night we also got to meet a lovely German couple and play some board games with them!
One thing about CBP that really stood out to me were the many amenities it offers – a fully equipped kitchen (WITH FREE PASTA GUYS), a lounge with Mac-s you can use, a spa/sauna space, a breakfast bar(FREE TEA AND COFFEE) and the lobby. There’s also a laundry room, a luggage room and a restaurant literally next door. It makes the whole experience feel much nicer than just walking into a random building with bare rooms. The free WiFi is also great, as it made it really easy for us to sit down in the lobby area during the evenings and catch up a bit on work.
The breakfast there can easily get its own post – if you know me, you know how much I love good food and I definitely say that CBP have hit the spot. You get SO.MUCH.FOOD – yoghurt & granola, jams, cinnamon buns, fresh fruit and a mini sandwich bar. I’m still dreaming about that yoghurt with jam and the cinnamon roll! I would literally not be hungry until the late afternoon after devouring everything.
All in all, I would definitely recommend CBP to anyone searching for a budget friendly place to stay, where they can also meet people, have fun and unwind after a long day of exploring. I’m super thankful that I got this opportunity to work with them and show you what an amazing place they have!
EXPLORING THE CITY
The old town of Stockholm named Gamla Stan was founded way back in the 13 century, making it one of the largest and best preserved medieval urban centers on the continent. Its’ narrow, cobblestoned streets, filled with colour and character were one of my favourite parts to explore – without a set direction or a map. In Gamla Stan lies Stortorget( the town’s oldest square), as well as Stockholm Cathedral, the Nobel Museum and the Royal Palace. And whenever you get cold, you can easily get tucked away in a cozy, intimate cafe or restaurant to grab a coffee and some cake. The Swedish call it fika.
Speaking of fika, during our stay, we learned about another Swedish concept – lagom *laghum*. It’s a philosophy that revolves around the “less is more” mentality and can be applied to everything from personal habits to decorations. Lagom gives us the opportunity to see the beauty in minimalism and balance.
Stockholm is also just great for walking around – although we knew how amazing the Stockholm transport system was, we decided to be brave and walk as much as possible. There are more than 14 small islands to be seen, so we spent a big chunk of our days just going up and down the streets, crossing bridges, exploring local shops and gazing at the views.
Riddarholmen is very close to Gamla Stan and there you can find the only medieval abbey (built in the 1200s!) in Stockholm. The island is quite small, but it has some amazing sights + an even more amazing view of the sunset. We were lucky enough to be around for 2 sunsets there and it was magical.
During our stay, we also explored the hipster island Södermalm, walked around Djurgården, Moteluisvägen, City Hall and so much more.
As far museums, Stockholm has plenty to offer. I generally am not the biggest traditional museums fan, but if I find something truly unique, I definitely make time to visit it. During our stay, we managed to get to 3 museums – Vasa, Skansen and Fotografiska. There were a few more we wanted to visit, but we definitely needed more time (and funds).
Vasa Museum is probably one of the most unique places I’ve been to – it’s a museum about a war ship which sunk on the day it sailed – much like the iconic Titanic. It stayed underwater for over 300 years, until it got lifted and displayed in the museum. As soon as we walked in, I though “Holy schnitzel, this is one big ass ship!”
Skansen is an open air museum about the Swedish culture, traditions and heritage. Once you enter, it’s like you’ve gone back a couple of hundred years ago and transported into an old Swedish town. As you go through the museum, you can go into different little huts which tell you more about the Swedish life. There’s also a mini Zoo with all kinds of Nordic animals in it! I loved how open it is and that you can explore it any way you like – there’s something hidden away in every corner and every path, leading you to interesting discoveries about Scandinavia and its culture.
The last museum which we visited was Fotografiska. Having a background in photography, this was actually one of my favorite places to go. The exhibitions are always changing, but we got to see 3 amazingly talented artists – Ellen von Unwerth, Christian Tagliavini and Zanele Muholi. They were are all so different from one another, but incredible artists and it was a pleasure to see their work in real life.
Our 3 days in Stockholm were certainly not enough, but I’m sure one day I’ll be back to explore the city in the spring/summer!