Stockholm Travel Tips from Lovisa Ingman, a Serial Café Hopper

Conversations with Locals

Lovisa Ingman is a Swedish art school student and a regular in the Stockholm café scene. She is a health food fanatic and loves experimenting with smoothie and vegan pancake recipes. Lovisa talks about how to enjoy fika the Swedish way, where to find the Acne Studios outlet, and the coolest cafés to land your hands on some authentic Swedish buns. 

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Photo: Felicia Gerdin

What do you feel defines Swedish cuisine?

Traditional Swedish cooking is typified by hearty and straightforward fare. It is meat or fish served with mashed potatoes, with a side of steamed root vegetables and peas with butter and cream sauce. It can also be whole corn-fed chicken cooked in the oven served with green salad, or a fish soup with saffron, creme fraiche and a slice of sourdough bread, butter and a mature cheese. Of course, there are the meatballs with mashed potatoes, gravy and lingonberries stirred together with a dash of sugar.

These traditional dishes are often seen in restaurants and fine dining places. What they often do is that they alter the dishes in a more luxurious way than what people would do at home. They change the kind of cheese used, add a different type of ham or put something else that traditionally wouldn’t be there, like truffle oil to potato mash.

What is a typical Swedish breakfast for you? 

As a kid I grew up having oatmeal with strawberry jam and milk every morning! On the weekends, my dad would go to the local bakery and buy us bread rolls that we would have with butter, cheese, orange marmalade, and salami from the market hall. I would say this is closer to what I view as a traditional Swedish breakfast today.

So I would say the typical Swedish breakfast consist of a sourdough roll with cheese, ham and lettuce, or a boiled egg with Swedish kaviar, which is really weird tasting and not the caviar that contains fish eggs only. Or a large slice of liver paté with pickled gherkin. All this accompanied with a good cup of coffee. In Sweden, coffee is important. If there isn’t a decent cup of coffee around, people get very disappointed, even upset.

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Coffee at Café Saturnus. Photo: Felicia Gerdin

 

Where are your favourite spots in Stockholm for a good cup of coffee?

Café Saturnus is located fifteen minutes’ walk from the Östermalmstorg station. They are known for their large cinnamon buns. Each are made from 400 grams of dough. They have good coffee and the atmosphere is lively, but sometimes very loud. Visitors here are either locals having a quick lunch or fika on their way home from work, or people who come from across town specially for their cinnamon buns.

Kaffebar is close to St. Eriksplan station. They are known for their great coffee, large breakfasts with all the typical Swedish things and I’ve been told that they have their cinnamon buns and sourdough bread delivered from one of Stockholm’s best bakeries, Valhallabageriet. The people who go here are the Apple-loving type of people, youngsters sipping their cappuccinos.

Speaking of Valhallabageriet, it is a small bakery in Östermalm, a ten minutes walk from Karlaplan station. They make the best cardamom buns, serve sandwiches and simple drip coffee as well. It is a bakery, and they have only six seats and a table placed outside. If you plan on visiting them, I would recommend renting a bike and taking your fika outdoors to Djurgården, which is the green area nearby.

Bakverket is in Södermalm, which is a 20-30 minutes walk from Medborgarplatsen station. It’s worth it! They serve an excellent breakfast where you get a brimming bread basket, a variety of toppings, homemade strawberry yoghurt and good coffee. They also have amazing, large cinnamon buns since they are founded by the same owner as Café Saturnus. Moreover, they have excellent lunch choices that will make you satisfied.

What is fika? 

It is not a dish, but it is definitely a Swedish thing. It’s the “fika” tradition. People take fika breaks all the time. Pre-lunch fika, post-lunch fika, early afternoon fika, you get it. The list goes on. Basically you can have it at any point during the day and it can be just a cup of coffee and a small cookie. But I would recommend that you to go to one of the more ‘nerdy’ cafés or bakeries and have a good cup of coffee and a cinnamon or cardamom bun. Traditionally, you would dip your cookie or bun into your coffee before you eat it, but not everyone like that of course.

Where are your favourite restaurants or cafés in Stockholm?

Nybrogatan 38 is located a five minutes walk from Östermalmstorg station and it is one of my favourite restaurants in the area. They have a fresh spin on traditional dishes while keeping it solid and grounded. They have an equivalent in Södermalm, which is named Nytorget 6.

Where are your favourite shopping areas in Stockholm?

Acne Archive is sort of an Acne Studios outlet in Vasastan near St. Eriksplan station. Here you can find a mix of women’s and men’s clothing, jackets and shoes at a slightly lower price compared to their main stores around town. The people working there are very helpful.

Humana Second Hand is located in Södermalm and is near to Mariatorget station. In the area you will find good coffee shops and bakeries as well. They have everything from college shirts and Levis jeans to dresses and shoes. You can easily spend three hours in there. What is even better is that it is charity shopping!

What beauty products do you use to keep your skin in tip-top condition in Sweden’s cold weather?

I use Calendula Face Cream and Skin Balancing Face Oil from Jurlique. Also, Aloe Vera 99.9% Coldpresse for moisturising.

Name your favourite swimming spots in Stockholm?

It was long time ago since I did this, but I remember going to Smedsuddsbadet with my friends once before. I know a lot of people go there during the summer, but it is still possible to find your own, more secluded spot.

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Photo: Felicia Gerdin

 

As a local, what would you recommend travellers do to get the true Stockholm experience?

Since Stockholm is a small city at least in comparison to other European capitals, to walk from one part to another doesn’t take too long. To walk along Strandvägen on an early autumn’s morning when the sun is soft and the air is fresh, and to watch the city change as you work your way through is something that I find very relaxing and meditative. You can give yourself a goal even – a good café that will greet you with a wonderful cup of coffee when you arrive.

Where can we go to see your favourite view in Stockholm?

It is definitely Waldemarsudde out on Djurgården, where you can see across the water to Södermalm and Nacka. It is really beautiful on summer evenings and after you have watched the sunset, you can work your way back, strolling alongside the water.

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Photo: Felicia Gerdin

 

WHERE TO EAT IN STOCKHOLM


Café Saturnus
Where: Eriksbergsgatan 6, 114 30 Stockholm, Sweden
For: Large cinnamon buns

Kaffebar
Where: Bysistorget 6, Stockholm, Sweden
For: Coffee and large breakfasts

Valhallabageriet
Where: Valhallavägen 174, 115 27 Stockholm, Sweden
For: Cardamom buns

Bakverket
Where: Bondegatan 59, 116 36 Stockholm, Sweden
For: Homemade yogurt and bread

Nybrogatan 38
Where: Nybrogatan 38, 114 40 Stockholm, Sweden
For: Traditional dishes with a modern twist

Nytorget 6
Where: Nytorget 6, 116 40 Stockholm, Sweden
For: Eggs and meatballs

 

WHERE TO GO IN STOCKHOLM


Acne Archive
Where: Torsgatan 53, 113 37 Stockholm, Sweden
For: Acne Studios outlet

Humana Second Hand
Where: Timmermansgatan 23, 118 55 Stockholm, Sweden
For: Charity shopping

Smedsuddsbadet
Where: Smedsudden, Rålambshov, Stoccolma, Sweden
For: Swimming

Waldemarsudde
Where: Prins Eugens Väg 6, 115 21 Stockholm, Sweden
For: A view of Södermalm and Nacka

The Eating Guide to Stockholm, Sweden

Sweden

The Scandinavian region up north has always seem a little separated from the rest of Europe. The temperature drops to an unfamiliar low, snow is a common sight, and this is also where the mysterious Northern Lights can be seen. Having not been to this part of the world before, I have always identified Stockholm with icy blue frozen lakes, and snow topped palaces and castles characteristic of illustrations in fairy tale books. The Stockholm of today is a city that marries the charms of the old city and the modernity of its flourishing design scene.

Design seems to be an innate thing in the Swedish capital. Every café looks designed with that recognisable Scandinavian aesthetic of allowing light to flow into its interiors, planting indoors to add a touch of airiness, and perfectly matching wood overlays with every piece of cream coloured furniture.

The café culture is strong in Stockholm, much due to the practice of having fika. Pastries are readily available anywhere. Even the 7-Eleven stores are well stocked with readymade sweets such as caramel pastries and brownies. This fondness for all things sweet is evident in Swedish cuisine, where you can find savoury foods complimenting fruity sauces or sides.

Look forward to: Seasonal greens and pastries

Nybrogatan 38 

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Where: Nybrogatan 38, 114 40 Stockholm, Sweden
What: Meatballs and mac & cheese
For: A trendy bistro 

The Swedish working crowd finds refuge in this trendy bistro perched along Nybrogatan street in Östermalm. Nybrogatan 38 is filled to its capacity at almost any time of the day. In the afternoons, you will find locals grabbing a quick lunch during work breaks. In the evenings, dinners will last through the night with drinks. Don’t just pop by hoping to get a seat. Make a reservation if you don’t want to get disappointed.

The food is an eclectic mix of local Swedish fare and other European food. If you’re expecting a typical meal of Swedish meatballs, you will get that with a smooth puree of mashed potatoes and a side of lingonberry jam. If you’re looking for something Italian, there is always the osso bucco with saffron risotto.

Speceriet 

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Where: Artillerigatan 14, 114 51 Stockholm, Sweden
What: Rotisserie grilled chicken
For: Date nights

Speceriet is the sister restaurant to the Michelin starred Gastrologik, located just adjacent to each other. Although priced lower than Gastrologik, Speceriet does not scrimp on quality ingredients, and the elaborate menu is fit for any gourmet. The intimate setting also makes it a popular date spot for couples.

The grilled char is a perfect dish of fish baked in a light buttery sauce with an assortment of juicy vegetables. But the real star of the evening is the bread and butter served upon ordering. The fresh bread and the natural taste of the butter makes this simple starter a standout on its own.

Magasinet 

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Where: Fiskaregatan 1, 185 32 Vaxholm, Sweden
What: Baked goods
For: A bright and sunny meal

Magasinet is located in Vaxholm, the capital of the Stockholm Archipelago – one of the closest region from the city where you can immerse yourself in nature. This quirky café is a combination of a bistro, yoga studio and a shop selling handicrafts and kitchenware. The stacks of pastries and crumbly homemade pies sitting on the countertop are enough to tempt you. The side salads of mixed berries and greens reflect the flavours of the Swedish countryside.

The Eating Guide to Gothenburg, Sweden

Sweden

To many, Gothenburg isn’t much to talk about and is often passed over as a sleepy unexciting city. But even sleepy cities have a certain appeal to tourists looking for a laid back holiday. With its quiet sprawling gardens, old school charm of the Haga District and benches overlooking sea views coaxing you to just sit back and relax, you might just feel like you’re selling short of Sweden’s second largest city.

Look forward to: Fish and seafood

Café Husaren

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Where: Haga Nygata 28, 411 22 Gothenburg
What: Fika
For: Breakfast

There is one thing every tourist must do when they go to Sweden – get a fika. Fika is a Swedish culture where people grab a coffee and some pastries. What better place to grab a fika than Café Husaren. The largest cinnamon buns in the world can be found in this classic cafe with roots in the 1800s. You can’t miss it when you walk along Haga District, with its window display of tempting pastries, cookies and cakes.

Trattoria La Strega

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Where: Aschebergsgatan 23B, 41125 Gothenburg
What: Risotto with breaded pike-perch fillet and sage butter
For: A treat

People who have been to Gothenburg must have heard of Trattoria La Strega. Garnering rave reviews on Tripadvisor, this restaurant went right on top of my list to visit. I even went as far as to make a reservation a few weeks in advance just to secure a spot. The rustic interiors and dark wooden tables resemble an Italian wine cellar. For starters, the Självinporterat meats is a good selection of cured meats. For the mains, I went straight for the owner’s recommended dishes, which was the pasta with king crab and risotto with breaded pike-perch fillet and sage butter.

Sjöbaren

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Where: Haga Nygata 25, 413 01 Gothenburg
What: Cod fish
For: Cheap Swedish food

Located in the heart of Haga District, Sjöbaren prides itself on serving fresh fish and seafood from the Gothenburg harbour. Their lunch sets are a steal, which changes daily. The menu is small but expect quality food due to their careful sourcing of ingredients.

Mellow Cafe & Bistro

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Where: Östra Klevgatan 4, 452 30 Strömstad
What: American Breakfast
For: A charming cafe 

Sweden is no lack of charming cafes that serve gorgeous breakfasts, and Mellow Cafe & Bistro is just one of them. The cafe is in Strömstad, a small town two hours away from Gothenburg. Think American style breakfasts with a Swedish twist. The menu is all in Swedish, but the friendly staff are more than happy to translate it for you.