I wish we could have at least some of the fresh Scandinavian atmosphere in Finnish cities as well, and I just cannot help myself comparing Stockholm to Helsinki. Even though I think Helsinki is a nice capital of Finland, I find its atmosphere a bit cold. I usually get the feeling that everyone is in a hurry and very organized and don´t have time to sit down and have a glass of wine with a friend. Those kind of small and casual things like a coffee with friends need to be organized well in advance. Why? In Stockholm the overall atmosphere is more casual, even though I know people have their hustles there as well. For example, after work events (either as planned or sudden ideas) are popular and people want to spend time with each other.
What would I recommend to do and see in Stockholm?
Gamla Stan (old town). I have been there both in summer time and in November, just in time for Christmas Market. Mulled wine has never tasted better! The architecture takes you back to the 17th century. The royal castle, royal palace, several churches and museums together with various cafés and restaurants attract many tourists.
Shopping. My favourite is NK. Near by located Gallerian offers multiple shops as well. Åhlens department store is a Swedish reply to Stockmann and Sokos. They have several stores in Stockholm, and the biggest is located few blocks from NK. In addition, various brands have their own stores around Norrmalm and Östermalm.
Wine and dine (and some more wine). I love the variety of restaurants, bars and cafés in Stockholm. One of the best (and surprisingly delicious for a meat lover like me) meals I have had at Hermans vegetarian buffet restaurant at Fjällgatan 23B. It is located near Fotografiska museum and Viking Line´s terminal.
Stureplan has several bars and restaurants, and I can warmly recommend East in case of sushi cravings. Many Stockholm´s hotels, such as Scandic Anglais, offer stylish bars for drinks.
I have spent much time in Kungsholmen, and based on my knowledge Mälarpaviljongen is definitely the place to enjoy sunny days. It is a café/bar where you can stop by to have coffee, beer or skagen. Mälarpaviljongen is open from April to the last warm autumn days. Orangeriet is a great place to have a glass (or two, or three) of wine. If you want to show your moves, Lemon Bar is the right place to release your inner dancing queen in Kungsholmen area.
Parks and seashore. There are many nice parks around Stockholm and my favourite one is Kungsträdgården. It may not be as green as parks usually appear to be, but the cherry trees are enough to capture my attention. Unfortunately they bloom only in spring time. There are many lovely cafés around the garden. In the summer time you can find terrace docks with bars and restaurants near Kungsträdgården (ok, basically everywhere you can see water and boats). Swedish people really know how to enjoy summer!
Culture. Stockholm has several big concert venues (Tele2 Arena, Friends Arena, Gröna Lund) and many great artists visit them on their European/world tours. I have been to Tele2 Arena to see Red Hot Chili Peppers, and that was an amazing experience. Besides concerts, Stockholm offers countless theatres, exhibitions, museums etc. Not to mention various events such as The Color Run I have attended few times.
Next time (which will be in few weeks!) I´m looking forward exploring new restaurants and encountering some culture. Maybe Fotografiska museum or search for a good band playing somewhere? Gröna Lund is a must-see if I ever get to travel to Stockholm during summer. There is so much more to see and experience that I´m sure I ain´t seen nothing yet... anyway, see you soon K & A!