Stockholm is a hive of activity for the Eurovision Song Contest this year. The flags are up, the volunteers are in abundance, the weather is exceptional, and there’s plenty for the tourist to do.
The big ticket items are there: ferry rides, the Royal Palace, and the ABBA museum but any true travel adventure should always start with the words “hidden gems” in the search engine.
It’s a near 30-hour trip to visit Stockholm, and most Aussies want some value in the experience - to make up for the lack of it with the dollar. Thankfully last year’s Song Contest winner has all the insider info.
Mans, let’s start from the top. What is this ‘fika’ we are doing? And the coffee. It’s different.
First of all we need a lot of coffee – we have maybe 10-15 cups a day. It’s really strong. We really are coffee nerds and we want to know everything about our coffee and want it to be grown the exact right way...
...So like the rest of Sweden, it needs to be perfect...
It does, yeah, especially when it comes to fika which is our thing. Fika is like a small brunch. Something sweet and a coffee, that’s what you do in Sweden.
You know how much Australians love a weekend breakfast. Where’s the best?
Well there are a couple of great places. Elverket (Brasserie Elverket Linnégatan 69, 112 12 Stockholm) is one of the best. They have the usual stuff like salmon, and bacon and eggs. But they also serve you liquor, or what we call ‘Återställare’. So if you’ve been out the night before you can have a Bloody Mary for breakfast.
Oh, hair of the dog?
Hair of the dog?...(pause)... Sounds great.
What about the smorgasbord restaurant? Is that really a thing?
We don’t really have a smörgåsbord, even if it is our word. We wouldn’t eat that, we are way too healthy. It’s just too much bread.
When the long weekend comes around, can you get out of town for a day or two?
Yes. You definitely take a boat into the archipelago. It is unique and beautiful. There are so many nice places where you can go swimming. Two of my favourites are Grinda Sandhamn and Möja, you can go swimming. Maybe a bit too cold for you Australians. I’d say when it’s really summer, it could pass 20 degrees but not more!
What about for that nice night out?
You’d probably go to theatre or musicals, we have really good musicals in Stockholm. Göta Lejon (Göta Lejon, Götgatan 55, 116 21) is a nice theatre, it has a restaurant, we do the big plays and musicals there. Oscarsteatern (Oscarsteatern Kungsgatan 63, 111 22) is a really cool, intimate venue.
Is Stockholm great for a foodie?
We have a couple of top level Michelin star restaurants, but one of my favourite nice restaurants to go to is Ag (Restaurang AG, Kronobergsgatan 37, 112 33). It’s the best meat restaurant in all of Stockholm. They’re really nerdy about their meat, they have a tapas bar for after work, but a fancy restaurant as well.
Is there a part of town everyone hates, but you secretly love?
Stockholm is really divided up because of the water. Södermalm is where you find all the hipsters. Do you know what hipsters are? I don’t know if you have the word hipster...
...yeah they think they’re really cool. There’s Östermalm where the posh people live. Gamla Stan where the tourists, and business people are. Kungsholmen is really neutral; many people think it’s really boring. I think it’s the best. It’s like a city in a city.
What’s the one thing you always tell your friends to do, when they come here?
Well I have a ‘paddle-centre’. Do you know what paddle is? They just built a centre in Sydney.
No, it’s a Spanish sport. It’s like a combination between tennis and squash. You play tennis with glass walls. Me and Jonas Bjorkman (yes, Jonas Bjorkman, former world number 1 and Wimbledon doubles champion is his best mate) we have like this industrial centre, and we have 5 courts there.
I see what you did there, you’re giving it a plug...
Yes! Go there!! (PDL Padel Center, Palermogatan 34, Magasin 7, Frihamnen)
Where’s the best cafe to just chill?
There’s one in Kungsholmen called ‘Newt’ (Newt, Polhemsgatan 15, 112 36). It’s really ecological, they have healthy food, the coffee is great. It’s not fancy at all. It’s really down to Earth. I’ll order an Americano which is a double espresso with extra water.
What about the nightlife. It’s not summer yet, but it’s still dusk at midnight! Does more light mean less partying?
No, definitely not. We Swedes love to party, and we love to drink, and yes it is expensive. But there are a couple of places where you can drink quite cheap. In Fridhemsplan there are four bars offering a beer for 29 SEK ($5.50 AUD), which is really cheap. Really, really cheap. I have this place I go to, it’s definitely not posh, it’s this pub called Copperfield‘s (Copperfields English Pub, Sankt Eriksgatan 36, 112 34) and they offer a beer for 35SEK ($6.50AUD). I also go working out next door and go there with my friends for an ‘after work out’.