Swedes have mastered the art of effortless sophistication. It’s common to see people pedal to work clad in sleek separates and Chuck Taylors. This casual coolness affects everything from interior design to food and wine. Stockholm’s denizens also harbor an innate respect for nature, palpable in the city’s bountiful parks and the unspoiled islands scattered beyond. If it were sunny year-round, we might all move there.
Stockholm’s sommeliers are engaged and forward-looking. They’ve helped this city of beer drinkers blossom into one of the world’s best wine scenes. Escape the tourists in the medieval quarter of Gamla Stan and slip into diminutive Gaston Vinbar, a sleek space that emphasizes education. Test your palate on a flight-of-the-night, or simply peruse the 400 bottles offered. Nearby, cozy 19 Glas courts consumers with its roster of organic and biodynamic producers. Hornstulls Bodega, located in the hip zone of Södermalm, offers a low-pressure vibe to dabble in wines from the Jura and Hungary, as well as Sherry. In the same district, relative newcomer Folii delivers a no-nonsense experience where vinyl spins and pours come from one of the biggest lists in the country. Support underdogs over at Tyge & Sessil, where natural wines are highlighted from overlooked regions or unloved grapes.
Act local and borrow a bike from one of 140 sites around the city. On the rare chance it’s not raining, Stockholm dazzles with its green parks and historic buildings. Weave independently across 14 islands and more than 50 bridges, or book a half-day tour with Bike Sweden. If you’ve had your fill of city streets, jump on a boat, the second-favorite mode of transport for Swedes. An easy day-trip via ferry to idyllic Vaxholm gives a taste of seaside life in the Archipelago, where sailboats and pastel-hued wooden houses still rule.
While retail wine sales are controlled by the state, beverage directors can buy from 200 specialty importers. This freedom drives the city’s evolving restaurant wine scene. At Rolfs Kök, owners go deep on classics from Burgundy and Bordeaux, paired with meat-centric dishes. Pizza-and-vegetable joint Babette lures industry folks after hours with its rotating list of small producers like California’s Arnot-Roberts. Book a date night in the intimate dining room of Adam/Albin to sample a five- or 10-course tasting menu with wine pairings. Or you can do as the locals do: enjoy a bottle of crisp white wine at brunch alongside a shellfish plateau and prawn salad at Sturehof. You can give your wallet a break at Nook, where the focus is on Asian-influenced Nordic flavors at friendly prices.
From vintage to contemporary design, the only downside to home goods shopping in Stockholm is figuring out how to get it all home. Instead, find inspiration at Asplund, known for archetypal Scandi minimalism. At Modernity, daydream about how pricey midcentury modern pieces might look in your living room.
For suitcase stuffers, beeline to one of 11 Designtorget locations, which brings up-and-coming designers to market. If you’re in need of colorful textiles and pillowcases, Svenskt Tenn, founded in 1924, has something for every budget. Finally, grab a coffee, snack and a Turkish towel at Snickarbacken 7, a café, gallery and concept shop.
4 Hour Getaway
Reach the Baltic Sea island of Gotland by a 40-minute flight or three-hour ferry. The main town of Visby, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, transports visitors back to medieval times, albeit with great food and local craft beer. Grab a bike or rent a car to explore sandy beaches, a traditional midsummer festival or one of 94 medieval parish churches that dot the pastoral landscape. Don’t miss a trip to beautiful Fårö Island, once home to legendary filmmaker Ingmar Bergman.