How to visit Stockholm without leaving your couch

How to visit Stockholm without leaving your couch
Holidays to Stockholm won't be possible for some time, but you can experience the essence of the city wherever in the world you are. Here's how. Photo: Ola Ericson/
Travel this year will look very different, with restrictions in place globally. Even within Sweden, the summer won't feature any of the usual large events and festivals, and trips between regions could be limited. So with the help of our readers, here's how you can experience the best of Stockholm from home.

If you've had to put your trip to the Swedish capital on hold, or are looking for some escapism wherever in the world you are, here are some ways to bring Stockholm to you (at a safe distance).

The taste of Stockholm

You can often smell cinnamon on Stockholm's streets, wafting out from the cafes and bakeries that spill onto pavements in the warmer months, something that The Local reader Alessa Rogers said was one of her favourite things about the city.

Try making your own kanelbullar (cinnamon buns) using this classic recipe, or simply add a generous sprinkle of cinnamon to any of your own favourite bakes, or your morning coffee.

A lot has been said, written and discussed about the Swedish tradition of fika, the break for coffee and cake that many people here indulge in both at work and weekends. You don't need to be in Sweden to partake; just take 15 minutes out of your day to switch off from the day-to-day and focus on something sweet and a hot drink. For Swedish-style coffee, just make it strong, and consider adding oat milk to replicate the many vegan and plant-based cafes in the capital.

For something more filling than a pastry break, classic meatballs are a great recipe that's not too tricky and even children can get involved with preparing – Ikea has its own recipe, or check out this similar version from The Local's own archives.

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To get the Swedish eating experience, we suggest al fresco dining if possible. Can you make use of a balcony or garden? If it's cool weather where you are, don't let that stop you, just do as the Swedes do and tuck up with a blanket outside while you sip your drink or tuck into your meal.

Step into Stockholm through a book

A book can transport you to a place, and there's no shortage of stories about the Swedish capital. For a journey through both space and time, get lost in Swedish classic The Serious Game which tells a love story set in the Stockholm of the start of the 20th century.

Here's what reader Suzette Ehrlich said about the novel when The Local's book club read it: “The book's time period has been very fun to experience, I keep going to Wikipedia and getting lost in the historical references that are so commonplace in this book. I'm having trouble putting this book down!”

There are plenty of contemporary books that allow you to explore Stockholm too, including the sides of a city that you might not notice on a tourist trip.

Sandhamn. Photo: Anna Hållams/

Live vicariously through the gang of runaway pensioners in The Little Old Lady Who Broke All the Rules, or experience the city's suburbs through the magical realism lens of vampire novel Let the Right One In.

Explore the sinister Stockholm of Nordic Noir writers like Camilla Grebe, Kristina Ohlsson, or Viveca Sten. Sten's Sandhamn Murders series will take you to the idyllic setting of Stockholm's vast archipelago, even if the events she describes are not quite idyllic.

Why not use Google Maps and Street View to look at the locations that feature in the novels, or add them to your list for your next trip to Stockholm?

Saturday sweets

Did you know that the people of Sweden are among the biggest candy consumers in the world? Still, the philosophy of 'everything in moderation' is key, and many stick to the tradition of indulging in sweets once a week on Saturdays, adults and children alike. 

This tradition of lördagsgodis (Saturday candy) actually has a slightly gruesome background. In the late 1950s, a series of unethical experiments were carried out on patients at mental health hospitals, including one in which patients were encouraged to eat huge amounts of sugary sweets in a deliberate attempt to get cavities in their teeth.

The researchers discovered that there was indeed a clear link between high sugar consumption and teeth cavities, and as a result the Medicines Agency recommended that Swedes limit their candy-eating to once a week.

Despite these grim origins, today the weekend tradition is popular across the country. If you're spending most of your time at home and your usual activities look different, it can be a good way to keep weekends feeling special and have something small to build a routine around and look forward to. As you tuck into your Saturday sweets, it might feel like a small connection to Stockholm, where many people will doubtless be doing the same. If you really want the Swedish taste, make sure your stash includes some salty liquorice.


For Brazilian Stockholmer Helio Loureiro, the best thing about the city is its museums, particularly the Vasa Museum, Nordic Museum, and Fotografiska.

All these three are currently closed, but you can explore their collections and extra material digitally; try watching films about the Vasa warship, explore the Nordic Museum through Google Arts & Culture, or make sure you're following Fotografiska on Instagram.






A post shared by The Museum of Photography (@fotografiska) on May 3, 2020 at 1:07pm PDT

The sound of Stockholm

“Take in some culture from Kungliga Opera! There are free online performances of ballet and opera, concerts, and artist interviews. It's a great way to get to know one of the world's great opera houses (and my workplace!) from the comfort of your own home!” advises Alessa Rogers, who moved to Stockholm in 2018 to work as a dancer for the opera.

“Kungliga Operan was founded in 1773 which makes it older than my own country, the USA! You can buy gift cards for a future performance when it is safe to once again spend an evening at the ballet. We aim to have our first post-corona performance in September though of course that is subject to change,” she says.

The Local reader Lisa Lundstrom recommends listening to Swedish band Kent, from Eskilstuna not far from Stockholm. Other Stockholm artists include First Aid Kit, Robyn, Niki & The Dove, Zara Larsson, Tove Lo, LÉON, Icona Pop, all of which make for a fun Friday night playlist.

Nature and light

Few capital cities in the world can claim so many green spaces as Stockholm, which has plenty of sprawling parks and is surrounded by nature reserves, forests, and secluded islands.

“Stockholm is simply a beautiful city, from the reflection of light on the abundant water, the access to nature, the gorgeous sunsets,” says Alessa Rogers.

“Out near Haninge, Tyresö, and Nynäshamn, Sweden, where nature is firmly in control of large swathes of land, ancient forests still exist. Walking around in the woods is one of the things our children loved most when we returned to Sweden for a family trip,” says reader Lisa Lundholm, who used to work near Stockholm's leafy Djurgården island.

“Nothing here has ever come close to reminding me of those sun-filled city days. Where you can stand in the middle of a city of more than a million, and still feel like you are alone (if you want to be), discovering new things.” Now back in her native Minnesota, Lisa says you can still experience the essence of this wherever you are. “Discover the great outdoors, anywhere! The earth is beautiful, and wherever you are, you can find nature and beauty. Get outside! Go for a (Nordic) walk!”

On a bright day in the capital, you'll often find Stockholmers standing along the sunlit side of the pavement, often with eyes closed and faces tilted towards the sun. After a long Nordic winter, it's crucial to appreciate the summer days when they arrive, and that attitude can be embraced wherever you are. If you're able to, you could go for a walk in the fresh air; if you're indoors, see if you can rearrange your furniture slightly to allow you to linger in the sunlight for longer. 

Thanks to everyone who shared their tips on experiencing Stockholm from home. If you live in a different Swedish region, or know it well, please fill out the form below to share tips on how to travel there virtually. Maybe you have a story about your neighbourhood, or a recommendation for a local book, film, or recipe? Perhaps there's a local business people can support? We'd love to hear it.



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