With its arresting architecture, winding cobblestone streets and lush greenery, Stockholm is like a scene from a fairytale. The natural beauty of this city is best appreciated in the warm summer months but, even on the dark, wintry days when daylight peeks through the sky for a teasing few hours, Stockholm is a city which excites and entices. Museums and trendy art galleries abound, and you already know about the stylishly attired Swedish men with their skinny jeans and tailored jackets.
But what I love about Stockholm is the food scene. From the comforting classics of cinnamon buns and meatballs with gravy, to more daring dishes such as blood pudding with spiced apples and lingonberry cream, the Swedish dining experience is both familiar and adventurous.
Stockholm is home to my brother-in-law and his little Viking family. Our previous visits were often short and sweet, often confined to a quick family visit with a stolen afternoon here and there to explore the city on our own. But our recent visit took a more leisurely tone; a week-long sojourn where we indulged in exquisite food at nearly every meal, and surprisingly enjoyed in the company of our two tiny tots.
Wherever I travel, I always have a long list of places to visit and things to eat, usually prepared a few months in advance and often always with lunch and dinner reservations already confirmed. Below are my favourite addresses in Stockholm, a mix of places we have frequented over the years, plus a few establishments which we discovered on our recent trip.
? Throughout this article, I have tried to include some tips and information for parents travelling with small children. We are lucky to live in a country where most restaurants tend to be family-friendly with baby-changing facilities on-site and sometimes even a play area. However, we are ever mindful that this may not always be the case whenever we travel abroad. When reading restaurant reviews online, it is not always specified whether that location is family-friendly. So I hope the information below will be useful to some. If you have any suggestions for family-friendly places to eat in Stockholm, please leave a comment below!
Nestled on the corner of a quaint street in a residential area, overlooking a picturesque park, Nytorget 6 (which is both the name and address of the restaurant) is wowing the locals with their modern Swedish and mediterranean menu. Their Potato Cakes with Caviar & Sour Cream were a great starter to share, and their version of the classic meatballs with gravy, mashed potatoes and lingonberries did not disappoint. Perhaps what I enjoyed most was their pilsnerkavring, or beer bread, which was sweet and tender, and incredibly moreish once spread with the housemade whipped butter. The restaurant is often fully booked so it is best to reserve a table in advance, but they also do takeaway, which was a fantastic option for us one evening when our kids were far too moody for any public outing.
? The restaurant is happy to accommodate families with small children. The seating outside can easily accommodate prams and strollers, although the space inside the restaurant is a bit tight. There are no baby changing facilities on-site.
We frequented this deli most mornings for breakfast and enjoyed their modest buffet offerings. The Swedes love to eat open-faced sandwiches, and on offer are a selection of breads with cured meats, cheese and salad toppings. Their freshly baked pastries are flakey and buttery, and their coffee is served in Marimekko mugs – I can only approve of any business which shares my fondness for this Finnish design brand.
? The place is popular with families with children. There is ample seating outside which can easily accommodate prams and strollers. There are also a few tables inside where you can fit a pram or stroller next to the table. Unfortunately, there are no baby-changing facilities on site and the staff sometimes like to play the music at high volume.
Meatballs for the People
You can’t visit Stockholm without sampling proper meatballs with mashed potatoes and lingonberries. The Ikea version might be a grateful reward after you have spent an entire Saturday navigating their warehouse just to buy a bulk packet of tea lights, but few things are more comforting than a plate of well-made meatballs accompanied by a dark and savoury gravy, with creamy mashed potatoes and fresh lingonberries on the side. At Meatballs for the People, the meatballs are made from ecologically sourced meat, and there is something for everyone; on offer are also salmon meatballs and a vegetarian option. We opted for takeaway one evening to eat in the comfort of our hotel apartment and we were pleasantly relieved to eat such great quality food out of a plastic container. If the food could taste this good once wrapped up, I can only imagine that dining in-house would have been exceptional.
This is my brother-in-law’s favourite hangout; he will probably tell you that the food is good, the wine is good, and he gets to chill while the kids can run amok in the casual garden setting. But I think he secretly enjoys its location next door to the Abba Museum. We caught the ferry from Slussen to Djurgårdsvägen – a short cruise but long enough to keep the kids excited – but the area is also accessible by foot from downtown. The restaurant has a decent menu with Viking-sized portions, but it was the dessert buffet that caught my eye. Definitely keep this place in mind for Fika, the Swedish afternoon tea.
? If the weather is nice, this is a good restaurant to visit where the kids can roam in the garden without disturbing the other diners too much. There is room for prams and strollers, but there are no baby-changing facilities.
Johan & Nyström
I have a cousin who runs a coffee shop and roastery in Australia, and I always like to seek his advice on where to find a good cuppa when abroad. High on his list were Johan & Nyström and Drop Coffee (see next entry). This café gets bonus points for serving decaf coffee, as well as a babycino for our trendy toddler. You can also enjoy a nice selection of pastries from Bageri Petrus with your brew.
? There is room for prams and strollers inside and outside the café, but there are no baby-changing facilities.
If you see employees from Johan & Nyström taking their break at Drop Coffee, the coffee must be pretty good. The café has a nice and relatively spacious seating area inside, and on offer are also a small selection of freshly baked cakes and sandwiches. Over the years, I have formed the impression that most serious coffee shops do not take decaffeinated coffee seriously. So if you are in the decaf camp (maybe you are a breastfeeding mother), you might have to settle for a cup of tea instead.
? There is room for prams and strollers inside and outside the café, but there are no baby-changing facilities.
If Johan & Nyström happens to be closed, don’t despair. Head down the road to this delightful bakery where you can find their coffee served with the tastiest breads and pastries outside of France. Ok, maybe an overstatement, but being a daily consumer of croissants and brioches at breakfast, I feel I have reasonable authority to declare that this bakery is a mandatory stop if you are a fan of French pâtisserie. I was equally surprised and thrilled to find Kouign Amann on offer; this extremely high butter content pastry originates from Brittany in France, and I delighted in every crispy, caramelised bite.
Whilst most cafés and restaurants in Stockholm exude modern Scandinavian design with their minimalist décor and sleek furnishings, Sturekatten will transport you back to grandma’s era with their mismatched vintage crockery and collection of homely upholstery. Set in an antiquated building, the café operates over several floors where you can sit back and enjoy your coffee and cake in cosy little living rooms. On offer are a selection of traditional cakes and pastries, but my favourite is always the Princess Cake. Whenever I am in Stockholm, I order a slice of this cake everywhere I go.
? The café is situated in an old building with access only via narrow, winding stairs. You could carry a pram or stroller up the stairs, but the space in the sitting area can be a bit tight. There are no baby-changing facilities on site, but you can fit a pram or stroller in the bathroom if you are prepared to use that to change a nappy.
If you are short on time but still want to do a short ferry excursion, the picturesque island of Fjäderholmarna is about 30 minutes from Stockholm city and worth a visit to explore the national parks and to also sample the local fare. There are several restaurants to choose from on the island and we were particularly happy to find ourselves a table at Rökeriet. Seafood features heavily on the menu, and we particularly enjoyed our pan-fried herring with mashed potatoes and lingonberries. In summer, it’s hard to go pass a bowl of smoked prawns with aoili to share.
? There is ample space for prams and strollers, and high chairs are available for your little ones. There are no baby changing facilities on-site, but the bathrooms are quite spacious if you don’t mind changing your child in the pram or stroller.
Prior to boarding our ferry at Slussen to Fjäderholmarna, we stopped at this little coffee bar and I was instantly delighted to see flat whites on the menu. This is often a welcome sight to any travelling Australian or New Zealander, but we were merely grateful that there was a coffee shop open early on a Sunday morning (the area was otherwise a ghost town). The coffee was pretty good too.
Gustavsberg Porcelain Factory
I have a terrible habit of buying fragile porcelain whenever I travel and lugging them back home in my carry-on luggage, and travelling with two tiny tots has not reversed this impulsion of mine. As a fan of mid-century design, as well as Nordic design, it was hard for me to resist purchasing a few items from Gustavsberg Porcelain and designed by Stig Lindberg. The outlet at the Gustavsberg Porcelain Factory is worth visiting if you happen to be a local and want to kit out your kitchen with quality crockery at discount prices. A large part of the stock are factory seconds, meaning that they have flaws which render them unable to be sold at full price. You can also buy discounted pieces from the Stig Lindberg collection, but I found most items to be scratched to the extent that you are better off spending your money on the undamaged stock at full-price (which can be found at large department stores like NK – see below).
Gustavsberg Porcelain Museum
If you happen to be in the area visiting the Gustavsberg Porcelain Factory, then, chances are, you are probably interested in porcelain and ceramics. In which case, a short visit to the Gustavsbery Porcelain Museum is an interesting way to see the social history of Sweden through its tableware (as well as its toilets!). It’s a rare occasion that I find myself in a museum (I prefer to get my cultural fix by visiting the local supermarket), but this particular museum was like going through a grandmother’s collection of fine dinnerware and tea sets – I loved it.
Fans of Danish design need to look no further than this one-stop shop for popular brands such as Hay, Ferm Living and Muuto. Items from other cool designers, such as Marimekko and Vitra are also on display. Whether you are looking for something for the kitchen, living room or nursery, this store has will have you covered. The only problem is how you will lug everything back home …
I often shy away from large department stores, but if there is a comprehensive kitchenware department with a posh food hall, I might just be able to brave the crowds. Like most foodies, I love to buy odd pieces of kitchenware whenever I travel, and my favourite pieces have always come from NK. On this visit, I picked up a few cute wooden cheese boards, as well as some teacups from the Stig Lindberg collection. Upstairs, shoppers can find most of the big designer clothing labels, but I love to wander around the homewares and furniture department and daydream about what I would buy if I could furnish our apartment again from scratch.
This little shop is a gem for cute, but good quality, toys, books and games. I love buying toys for our kids whenever we travel so that they can also build travel memories for themselves. Of course, what I do buy is often restricted to card games or similarly small items. My son currently loves playing with the box of memory cards with pictures of Swedish cars and trucks.
Le Cordon Bleu
Moving to Stockholm has not abated my French brother-in-law’s voracious appetite for cheese, and he can be found slicing Västerbotten cheese at nearly every meal with a nifty cheese slicer. Of course, it’s not a French kitchen implement, but I wanted one as a souvenir one year and managed to drag the entire family downtown to visit the Le Cordon Bleu store under the guise of sightseeing. Well, it’s my kind of sightseeing! The store has a comprehensive selection of Mauviel copper pots and Le Creuset cast-iron cookware, as well an enviable range of bakeware and tableware.