“Tell me, what’s your favourite place in the world?” is a question I get asked more often than I can count. And I completely get why. As a travel writer, people are intrigued by my seemingly worldly lifestyle and are curious to get the dirt on certain iconic destinations (yes, Venice smells like sh*t, and in fact, so does Paris!).
Without missing a beat, I immediately answer that my favourite place in the world is, actually, Scandinavia. And that is in large part due to beautiful Stockholm, the capital city of Sweden and a picture-perfect archipelago dotted with coffee shops, indulgent bakeries, stylish blonde models and an insatiable appetite for life.
Not one… but two royal palaces!
As it spreads over 14 different islands and islets, Stockholm is, consequently, literally surrounded by water —in fact, over 30% of the city area is made up of waterways— even more so considering that the capital city is effectively wedged between the mouth of Lake Mälaren to the west and the Baltic Sea to the east.
Why yes, that is someone fishing in downtown Stockholm, NBD. The water is *that* clean!
One of the many quaint Swedish cottages scattered along the archipelago’s waterfront
One of the many quaint waterfront towns near Stockholm
Stockholm City Hall in all its splendour
Looking onto Strömkajen, Stockholm’s main harbour
Stunning Gamla Stan
Gamla Stan is Swedish for “old town” and is, arguably, the most popular and best-looking part of Stockholm. Founded in 1252 and having changed very little since, it’s one of the largest and best preserved medieval city centres in Europe; it’s filled with narrow cobblestone streets, colourful facades and impossibly Instagrammable angles.
The longest art gallery in the world: Stockholm’s subway
Although Stockholm has no shortage of things to do on the ground level, it does have an underestimated masterpiece hidden deep beneath the 14 islands that make up the famous archipelago. Only the Swedes could make an otherwise rather dull public transit system so riveting; indeed the Stockholm metro has been deemed the world’s longest art gallery numerous times, at 100 kilometres long and stretching over 90 stations.
* Additional reading: Inside the Stockholm Metro – The Longest Art Gallery in the World
An amazing food & coffee scene
There’s a certain art to (the altogether quite popular) fika, I found out.
It’s not simply about engulfing as much cake as possible within a 15-minute timeframe; it’s about finding a cosy space, perhaps even with a friend or a coworker, where you will indulge in Sweden’s love for everything sweet, take the time to appreciate the good things in life, laugh a little, and wash it all down with a cup of coffee that’ll keep you going for the remainder of the workday. That, ladies and gentlemen, is fika. One of the most cherished customs in Sweden. One that tourists are quite fond of, and, understandably, are quite quick to adopt.
Who in their right mind would willfully argue against having baked goods every day?
* Additional reading: Treat Yo’Self to Fika in Stockholm
Fresh shrimp smørrebrød at Fotografiska
My favourite café, Snickarbacken