A Quick Guide to Stockholm for Art and Photography Lovers

Stockholm is a city made for lovers of art and photography. From the beautiful old town, to the unique art in metro stations, Sweden’s capital is photogenic and a haven for visual creatives. There are also some great galleries to visit.

I have to be honest and say that I’ve never really been much of an art fan. I tend to avoid art galleries and the like when travelling, I’d much rather go to an interesting museum or just wander around taking in a new place.

When I was putting together my itinerary for Stockholm, I hadn’t initially planned to include any art-related activities, until I was given some recommendations by a friend from university.

Whilst on my trip, somebody staying in my hostel also recommended Fotografiska to me. In the end, my trip was filled with art and photography! Even more than that, I loved the fact that it was and it’s definitely given me a little bit of a soft spot for art after years of complete indifference.

 

Here’s my pick of the best art and photography based things to see and do in Stockholm:

Moderna Museet

 A free modern art museum, this is well worth a visit. Located in Skeppsholem, close by the Abba and Vasa museums, this gallery contains a vast array of modern and contemporary works by artists such as Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse.

The main exhibition is free and it’s open until 8pm on Friday evening. I’d recommend heading there later in the day you’re a solo traveller, it gives you something to do during the evening and there are barely any other people there.

 

 

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Metro artwork
As I wrote about in a post here, the Stockholm metro system is home to a number of different art installations, showcased across its stations. Buy a 70-minute ticket and head to as many stations as you can, you won’t be disappointed. T Centralen was my favourite, followed closely by Stadion.

 

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Fotografiska

 This was my favourite of all the arty places I visited and one of the best things I saw during my trip. I’ve been getting in to photography more recently but still wasn’t expecting to enjoy the gallery as much as I did! The exhibitions are only around for a limited time but there’s a few different ones to see at any one time.

The standout one for my by far was Paul Hansen’s “Being There”, which has sadly ended. For those of you who haven’t come across this work before (I hadn’t), Hansen is a Swedish photojournalist that has travelled all over the world photographing people and events. The exhibition was filled with amazing but also devastating photographs of people in various places such as Haiti, Syria and Ukraine. Each photograph was accompanied by a short commentary and I found myself holding back tears as I looked around. Truly incredible. You can read more about Paul Hansen here.

Fotografiska also has a gorgeous café restaurant with incredible views over the water and Stockholm. You need to have bought a ticket for the exhibition to enter. Admission costs 135 SEK (or just under £12). Factor in a few hours when visiting to ensure you have plenty of time to really immerse yourself in the exhibitions.

 

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Stockholm Public Library

Ok, so this shouldn’t necessarily be included as an arty activity but I feel like the architecture of the library is so cool that visiting is a must. It’s like an exhibition in itself and you can visit for free. Designed by Gunnar Asplund, the main part of the library is a round hall surrounded by staircases. I’m not entirely sure how members of the public using it as an actual library concentrate; not only is the building beautiful, there are a number of tourists milling around snapping photos.

 

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Get lost in the beautiful Old Town

Let’s face it, no trip to a European city is complete without visiting its Old Town.

Gamla Stan in Stockholm is one of the prettiest old towns I’ve come across in my travel and it’s a photographer’s dream, with gorgeous coloured buildings and cobbled streets.

Head there early morning to avoid the crowds and get lost in it’s winding streets, camera in hand.

 

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Other

There are a number of other art galleries and exhibitions that you could check out whilst in Stockholm that I didn’t make it to, such as:

Artipelag: an art, culture and design venue set in Varmdo in the archipelago.

Liljevalchs Konsthall: art and design exhibition.

Ark Des: national centre for archtecture and design.

31 countries and counting

2017 has been the year that I ticked off 4 new places and my total countries visited reached 31. Now, to me, this doesn’t sound that many but I remind myself that I’ve visited many different cities and towns within a lot of those countries. And clearly visiting the USA doesn’t add any new tallies to my total.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not ticking off countries purely to say that I’ve been to x number. I love visiting new places and experiencing new cultures. That said, I want to see as much of the world as I can within my lifetime and am slowly working my way through what this beautiful planet has to offer. I’m reluctant now to book trips to countries that I’ve visited before.

Compared to recent years, 4 new countries is quite a low number. However, the places I’ve visited have been absolutely awesome so I’m happy with quality if not quantity this time round! Here’s a round up of where I’ve been in 2017:

Copenhagen 

Scandinavia hasn’t really been on my radar travel- wise until this year, possibly something to do with the lack of beaches and cost of visiting. That all changed this year.

I headed off for a weekend in Copenhagen with friends in March this year and really, really liked it. You can read more about my trip here.

It was absolutely freezing and super pricey but everywhere was so pretty! And the vibe was just very laid back and cool. That trip made me eager to explore more of Scandi and what it has to offer. After all, the people in that neck of the woods are thought to be the happiest in the world!

IMG_0804.JPGThe oldest street in Copenhagen

IMG_0863Nyhavn

IMG_0886.JPGChristianshavn

IMG_0893.JPGChristianshavn

Warsaw 

Next up was a birthday trip to Poland with my other half. I know most people head to Krakow and I’d definitely like to visit, but I just felt it wasn’t the right place for a birthday weekend. I’d want to visit Auschwitz, which isn’t necessarily how I’d want to spend a birthday. I also wanted to head somewhere that wasn’t too heavy on the tourist front.

I’m so glad we booked to go to Warsaw. It was incredible; I totally fell in love with the Polish capital and would rate it as one of my favourite ever cities, particularly in Europe. The vibe was really chilled out, there was so much to see and do, and omg if you haven’t tried peroigis, do so right away! Amazing.

I wrote a little guide to the city; here if you fancy having a nosy.

IMG_1053.JPGWarsaw Old Town

IMG_1115.JPGWarsaw Barbican

 

IMG_1111.JPGWarsaw Old Town

IMG_0950.JPGWarsaw Neon Museum

Cuba 

As I wrote about in this post, all-inclusive holidays aren’t usually for me. I’m happiest with my backpack and Lonely Planet guide, living the flashpacker experience.

That being said, I loved this family trip to Cuba. The hotel was incredible and luxurious and I managed to explore a fair bit of what is an interesting, vibrant but sometimes frustrating country.

It was different to anywhere I’ve ever visited before, check out my travel tips here if you’re planning to visit. Even if not, I put together a post containing lots of pretty pictures; Cuba is by far the most photogenic place I have ever visited!

IMG_1157.JPGRoyalton Cayo Santa Maria infinity pool

IMG_1172.JPGPueblo Estrella

IMG_1507.JPGHavana

IMG_1329.JPGTrinidad

 

Stockholm 

Last but not least was my only solo trip of the year. I decided in September that I wanted to visit more of Scandinavia before the year was out and booked a flight to Stockholm, along with accommodation at City Backpackers Hostel.

I LOVED Stockholm. Although I really liked Copenhagen and had an amazing time with friends, Stockholm did steal my heart a little bit. As with Copenhagen, everything was super pretty and it had the chilled Scandi vibe. But even more than that, it had so many interesting things to see and do. I really discovered a bit of a love for art, especially when exploring the amazing installations featured in stations across the metro network.

I also went on a super cool Millenium tour (more here) of the city, which I got way too excited about given that the trilogy are some of my favourite books ever!

Also, two words: Swedish meatballs. I don’t actually think the locals eat them but oh my god they are bloody delicious. Give me all the gourmet venison meatballs and lingonberries, yum!

 

IMG_1784.JPGStockholm Old Town

IMG_1605.JPGEarly morning reflections

IMG_1809.JPGStockholm Old Town

IMG_1853.JPGArt in Stockholm metro station

2017 has definitely been a year of ups and downs and some big changes in my personal life; more about that here. But travel-wise, it’s only been positive! I’ve surpassed my goal of 30 countries before 30 four years early, so I’m upping the number to 40. Not quite the same ring to it, but it’ll do.

I can’t wait to see what 2018 has in store.

Where have you been in 2017? What’s been your favourite trip or travel moment? I’d love to hear from you! 

A Weekend in Stockholm

Back in October, I went on a short but sweet solo weekend trip to Stockholm. Whilst I wasn’t there long enough to put together a huge, comprehensive travel guide, I wanted to share some tips and recommendations from what was an amazing trip.

Getting there

There are four international airports in or nearby Stockholm; Arlanda, Skavsta, Vasteras and Bromma. Arlanda is the main airport and is located 40km north of Stockholm. It’s really straightforward to get from Arlanda to the city by train, bus or taxi. The bus is the cheapest option; book ahead on the Flybussarna website. Tickets are valid for 3 months from date of purchase and a return costs 198 SEK (£17.50). The buses are regular, with one leaving every 12 minutes.

Accommodation 

I stayed at the cool and well-located City Backpackers Hostel, check out my full review here. 

 

img_0229City Backpackers Hostel

 

Things to see and do 

  • Check out some cool modern art at Moderna Museet. (Main collection free)
  • Wander around the beautiful Gamla Stan (Old Town). Head there early morning to beat the crowds (free). 
  • Stop for Fika, a Swedish ritual where you take the time to enjoy a coffee and perhaps a sweet treat (Swedish cinnamon buns are highly recommended!) with friends. Travelling alone? Grab a book and relax with your coffee instead.
  • Head to photography museum Fotografiska to check out some beautiful and thought-provoking exhibitions.
  • Fan of the Millennium trilogy by Stieg Larsson? Head on the tour which will take you around the Sodermalm neighbourhood where much of the books and films are based. Book your place here here. (Please note that tours only run on Saturdays). 
  • Visit Stockholm Public Library and marvel at the incredible architecture by Gunnar Asplund (free)
  • Go on a boat trip. Stockholm is an archipelago made up of 3000 islands, skerries and rocks, so there’s plenty to see.
  • Tour the metro to see the art installations in the stations. The network is known as the world’s longest art exhibition. Check out my post for more info here.
  • Get lost in Sodermalm. Across the water from Gamla Stan, this is undoubtedly the coolest neighbourhood in the city.
  • Explore indoor food market Ostermalms Saluhall.

 

Stortorget, Gamla Stan

 

Gamla Stan, Old Town

 

img_0660-1Gamla Stan, Old Town

 

img_0182-1Fika

 

img_0667Stockholm Public Library

 

6243761712_img_2012Stockholm Public Library

 

6174602096_img_1857T Centralen Metro Station

 

Places to eat and drink 

  • My favourite meal of the whole trip was Meatballs for the People in Sodemalm, a cool and laid back restaurant. I had, you guessed it, Swedish meatballs and they were amazing. Head there during a weekday lunch if you can, the prices are much cheaper.
  • Although not quite as tasty as Meatballs for the People, Nomad is worth checking out for meatballs and beer. There’s a hefty discount on both for those staying at City Backpackers.
  • Giro Pizzeria is also worth visiting if you’re a fan of proper, wood-fired Neapolitan in pizza. I ate here alone but would say the vibe is quite romantic and cosy. Grab a seat at the bar if you’re dining solo.
  • Hotdogs are a cheap and tasty option if you’re looking to save some money in a very expensive city. Head to Gunters Korvar in Vasastan for hotdogs with a twist; they offer over 140 types of sausageon freshly baked bread.
  • La Neta is a backpacker-orientated restaurant, offering cheap but tasty tacos in a no-frills environment.
  • Espresso House and Wayne’s Coffee are decent chain coffee shops, dotted around the city. Perfect for grabbing a quick drink between exploring. Try the yummy coconut latte at Wayne’s Coffee.

 

Meatballs for the People

 

img_0136Meatballs for the People

 

Other tips 

  • Explore the city by foot. Public transport is expensive and the city is relatively compact, so you might as well take it all in above ground.
  • Pack a refillable water bottle, particularly in the summer. Bottled water (as with everything else) is on the pricey side and the tap water is perfectly safe to drink.
  • Be aware that a lot of places don’t allow you to pay with cash (weird I know!). Card is king in Stockholm.
  • Buy alcohol at the airport in duty-free if you plan on drinking a lot. Yup, you guessed it… alcohol is expensive, particularly if you’re drinking in bars and restaurants.
  • Tipping is expected in restaurants, usually 5-10% of the bill is fine.

Review of City Backpackers Hostel, Stockholm

My trip to Stockholm was supposed to be relatively low budget, and given the high prices there, I didn’t have a great deal of choice accommodation wise.

After coming across City Backpackers hostel on Booking.com and reading great reviews, I was quick to book myself in to their female dorm.

Here’s my honest review and some star ratings out of five for different aspects of the hostel: 

Cost (***) 

I paid £103 for three nights accommodation, plus bedding, towels and breakfast. In Stockholm terms, this offered pretty good value for money.

Check-in (****)

After taking a bus from Arlanda airport, I arrived at the hostel late afternoon. Check-in was quick and easy. Access to the hostel is via security codes, which you’ll be provided with.

 

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The reception area

 

The dorm (****)

I opted for the 8-bed female dorm, as I felt I’d be more comfortable. I’ve only ever stayed in hostels with friends before, so I wanted to be eased in gently.

The dorm was downstairs in the basement, meaning no windows but that wasn’t really a problem. It was very spacious and clean, with plenty of space between beds. 

It had a bathroom with two showers and a toilet. There were plenty more showers and toilets just outside the room. 

aabf63_f06f7dcf3a174369a3fb3eb50ba8cefaFemale dorm (photo credit: City Backpackers) 

 

Communal areas (*****)

The communal areas were much better than in any other hostel I’ve stayed in. There was a relaxing area upstairs near the reception, plus a courtyard outside, a kitchen and two more lounge areas.

The upstairs area had a cool vibe but downstairs was a little odd- basically just people sat on the hostel iMacs or on their laptops in silence. Obviously this isn’t the hostel’s fault but some music or something down there would have been good.

 

img_0067Upstairs communal area

 

Security (*****)

The hostel felt very safe and secure, with different codes for the main entrance and the dorms. 

There’s lockers in the dorm, as well as plenty more in the corridors. Remember to pack a padlock.

 

Location (****)

City Backpackers is located in the Norrmalm area of Stockholm, which is the main shopping district. You can walk to the Old Town (Gamla Stan) in about 20-25 mins and most other attractions are within a reasonable distance.

It’s around a 5-10 minute walk from the main station in Stockholm.

There’s a couple of cool, backpacker/budget friendly restaurants near by, as well as plenty of shops and a 7eleven convenience store.

 

Breakfast (****)

Breakfast isn’t included in the room rate but is well worth buying.

It includes tea and coffee, a glass of orange juice, either a crossiant, sandwich or cinnamon bun, fruit, a large pot of yogurt and muesli. It’s all super tasty and will keep you full until the afternoon.

 


City Backpackers breakfast

 

Nomad restaurant (****)

There is a restaurant next door to the hostel that offers a couple of great deals for guests.

Upon check-in, you’ll get a voucher for two 29SEK (around £2.60) beers. You can get a plate of traditional Swedish meatballs for 99SEK (approx. £9) between 7-9pm every day. Both of these are great value based on usual Stockholm prices.

Although I did eat better meatballs during my trip, the Nomad ones were tasty and a fraction of the price of other places.


Swedish meatballs @ Nomad

 

Tours and extras 

Although I didn’t take part, the hostel offers things to do like bike tours and pub crawls throughout the week.

 

Freebies (*****)

The hostel offers loads of freebies for those on a really tight budget. You get free pasta in the kitchen and unlimited free tea and coffee all day from 11am. They also offer movie screenings, iMacs and a sauna that can be used during the evenings. It’s also worth mentioning that there’s free wifi throughout the property. 

Overall, I’d give the hostel 4.5 out of 5 stars. Although good value for money in Stockholm terms, comparing to other cities, it’s still pretty expensive. Still, the location, facilities and freebies were excellent. I’d highly recommend the hostel and would definitely stay there again if I visited Stockholm.