A new year is a perfect time for new beginnings – for reinvention. And what better place to do that than with a trip to Stockholm, a city continuing to reinvent itself time and time again?
View of Vasa Museum's façade.
Sweden may be a peaceful place now, but here’s a secret from the past: a few centuries ago, this was not the case.
After all, this is where the Vikings came from. At one point, Sweden even built one of the largest warships in the world … which promptly sank a few minutes into its maiden voyage.
Today you can see the ship at the Vasa Museum (“Vasamuseet” in Swedish). The Vasa’s “rebirth” is also a metaphor for Stockholm as a whole – a city percect for visitors to embark on their own new beginnings.
One of the best places to experience this rebirth is Södermalm. It’s perhaps the most hip and happening place in Scandinavia, oozing with creative energy. If you’re a literature or film fan, you also might recognise the area as where much of the action of “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” takes place.
Being such a cool place, it only makes sense to pop into one of the area’s many cafes. One of the best to visit is Cykelcafé Le Mond. The real appeal is the menu. As the café’s website says: “We serve anything we feel like eating or drinking ourselves.” Another advantage is the price: while Stockholm can be notoriously expensive, a drink or bite to eat here will only set you back about 70 Swedish kronor ($7.25) for many dishes.
Suitably energised and warmed, it’s high time to walk the streets. And to start a new year, what better way than to also spend some time reflecting on the past? To that end, it’s highly recommended to stroll through the narrow streets and check out the cute shops and restaurants in the Gamla stan (“Old town”) area.
At the very heart of Stockholm, this is the oldest part of the city, and where you’ll see things like the Royal Palace and be able to traverse the cobblestones and squeeze down the Mårten Trotzigs Gränd, the narrowest street in the city that’s under a metre wide.
From the old to the new: after a visit to the Gamla Stan, options could include going ice-skating outdoors in Kungsträdgården or Hellasgården parks or a visit to the Museum of Modern Art (“Moderna Museet”). If opting for the latter, be sure to check out the works on display from Picasso, Salvador Dali, and more. Even better: most of the museum is free.
A good meal is always a great way to start a new year off right. So why not have a bite at Frantzén, the first restaurant in Sweden to receive three Michelin stars? Nearly every review of the set menu is a variation of “the best meal I’ve ever had.”
Chef Björn Frantzén plating liquorice-glazed sweetbreads, anise herbs, lemon, caramelised onion in roasted onion velouté with toasted almond milk.
Belly full, there are still more options. You can retire for a cosy night in at your hotel (the Långholmen is recommended), or continue walking the brightly-lit (and very safe) streets under the twinkling stars – hopefully with flour-soft snow sprinkling down, too. What could be a better way to start the year than that?
THAI operates daily direct flights from Bangkok to Stockholm.