Stockholm is one of my favorite cities – especially in summer and particularly since one of my daughters and her family live there. However, in this issue we turn to the professional travel advisors at SmartFlyer as they share their ideas for six days in the Swedish capital.
by Nicholas Leung
Welcome to Stockholm
The world looks to Scandinavia as a trendsetter in wellness, fashion, and interior. And in more ways than one, you can find Sweden leading the pack. Whether it’s their reverence for nature’s healing qualities or love for textiles and clean aesthetics, Swedish hospitality and design evoke a unique charm.
This idyllic under-the-radar destination provides not only unique wellness offerings, but an air of privacy. After exploring the islands, charter a private yacht to sail you right into the heart of Stockholm. The capital city is replete with cultural experiences, as well as a plethora of high-end shopping and restaurants.
And as always, we’ve curated a collection of vetted properties to serve as home bases for this Sweden travel guide. From the chance to do a full buyout of an entire archipelago island to a historic hotel with old-world glam, each accommodation is guaranteed to provide you with the full spectrum of plush Scandinavian style.
Day 1 – Touchdown in Sweden
Upon landing in Stockholm Arlanda or Bromma Airport, get ready to be greeted by your private driver who will usher you to the quiet waterside area of Dalarö.
This area is spread across just a few of the Swedish archipelago’s thousand islands, a region reminiscent of the Hamptons’ beachside charm.
On this ninety-minute transfer, you can watch as the urban skyline melts away into a lush greenscape blanketed with rolling hills and towering trees.
Your drive comes to a close at the doorstep to your home for the next two nights, Smådalarö Gård Hotel & Spa.
The property is proudly owned by two sisters who converted this former waterside mansion – previously owned by a captain of the royal navy – into a charming, intimate hotel. It also prides itself on a relaxed wellness experience crafted in collaboration with Swedish beauty brand Kerstin Florian.
After checking in, you can opt to enjoy a variety of massage treatments as well as take a dip in one of four pools. The outdoor springs are a true delight, especially if visiting in the fall for front-row seats to the leaves’ vibrant display of oranges and yellows over the water.
Finally, close out your evening with a five-course meal in Anna’s Parlor. This distinctly pink room, named after the formal royal naval captain’s wife, provides a cozy candlelit atmosphere for your first dinner in Sweden.
Dine on an expertly crafted meal featuring freshly caught seafood sourced from the surrounding waters, as well as an assortment of finely aged wines.
Day 2 – A day in the archipelago
Day two of your customized Sweden travel guide begins with a delicious breakfast buffet that blends both traditional Swedish flavors such as fresh herring, cured salmon, and porridge with elevated takes on classic scrambled eggs, pancakes, and pastries. Afterwards, head down to the hotel’s docks for a private boat tour of the archipelago.
Led by a local expert, your guide will walk you through Sweden’s rich maritime history, including an introduction to the country’s sunken naval ships. Due to the brackish water, these 17th-century military vessels were left almost completely intact.
They can even still be explored via a private diving tour, all arrangeable through your SmartFlyer travel advisor.
Your guide will also walk you through the country’s very first maritime museum honoring maritime scientist Anders Franzén. Here, you’ll become acquainted with this marine technician who passionately pursued the uncovering of a naval ship (one that you’ll encounter yourself in just a few days’ time!). Inside, curators have preserved the space with all original pieces belonging to Franzen, from his kitchenware to his fishing jacket.
Following your tour, enjoy lunch at Dalarö Bakery. This local favorite was established in 1901 and rebuilt following a fire in 2001. The bakery is known for its bread products such as the smörgifflar, a traditional stuffed buttered roll.
Following lunch, your guide will sail you back to Smådalarö Gård for an afternoon and evening chartered by choosing your own adventure. For some solo exploration, we recommend exploring the hotel’s many gravel footpaths that wind through the nearby forests and water. If you’re craving endorphins, then work with your SmartFlyer travel advisor to book a guided kayak tour through the islands. Your guides will sail past various private islands, ideal for sightseeing the many pastel waterfront properties. We personally recommend an evening guided meditation in the spa’s fire room, followed by one of their signature treatments. This is a truly magical experience, letting all weight roll off your shoulders while listening to the crackle of an open fire.
Day 3 – Glamping, island-style
Following breakfast and check-out, begin your day with a two-hour private yacht ride heading towards Stockholm. We highly recommend to charter a trip with Hahn Yacht Charter, headed by a nautical scientist with over 30 years of experience tailoring personal trips through the Stockholm Archipelago, Mälaren, and its surroundings.
With bubbly in hand, this tour will weave you through the various channels previously used as safe harbors by the Swedish military during wartime. Today, these channels are dotted with cozy pastel private residences, as well as various waterside taverns established all the way back in the 17th century. If you’re visiting around midsummer, then keep an eye out for a chance to catch some of the Gotland Runt, the world’s largest annual off-shore race between globally renowned sailors.
Your first stop of the day is to the town of Vaxholm, located on a lovely island and home to Vaxholm Bed and Breakfast. Headed by Linda Wahlström (and accompanied by her dog, Zelda), this husband-and-wife-run property is famously known for its cinnamon bun baking classes. These personalized sessions offer visitors an in-depth look into how to make these treats from scratch, or you can even arrange a private lunch within their greenhouse or Neapolitan-style pit dining.
Cinnamon buns have a long-loved history in Sweden. Beginning in the 18th century and evolving in World War I, many Swedish families longed for a way to bring their communities together. This desire to gather led to the creation of fika, which often included the sharing of fresh teas and cinnamon buns. In 1999, the country founded its annual National Cinnamon Bun Day which Vaxholm Bed and Breakfast reveres by providing their community with their take on these famous desserts.
Following your private class, head back to the yacht and sail one more hour to Island Lodge. This exclusive locale – accessible only via boat or helicopter – provides guests unfettered access to the private island. In harmony with its surroundings, the staff here ensure comfortable lodging while also immersing guests in this lush habitat. Upon arrival for your one-night stay, you’ll be greeted and guided to your private accommodation set within the island’s forest. Afterwards, fill your afternoon with clay pigeon shooting and a dip into their sauna on the water. Close out the day with a private four-course meal by the water, featuring catches of the day freshly grilled over an open fire.
Day 4 – Welcome to Stockholm
Greet the day with a sunrise breakfast by the water before checking out of Island Lodge. Get back on board your vessel for a one-hour-long private yacht charter toward the capital city of Stockholm. Your captain will ease into the famous dock of Grand Hôtel Stockholm, a classically cushy stay situated just across from the Royal Palace.
Afterward, check into their top accommodation, the famed Flag Suite. The nearly two-thousand square foot space takes up an entire floor of the hotel and is often frequented by high-profile clientele for its epic privacy. While here, take a brief walk up your personal spiral staircase to the suite’s private terrace located on the rooftop, just behind the Grand Hôtel’s iconic neon-gold sign.
After freshening up, take a guided walking tour around Gamla Stan, the origin point of Stockholm. Otherwise known as Sweden’s old town, this local gem has existed since 1252 and now serves as a living, pedestrian-friendly museum. Its picturesque streets are worthy of a spot on your Instagram feed, filled with colorful buildings, cobblestone streets, and ivy growing up the walls across antique lamp posts.
If you want a closer look at Stockholm’s history, then take a guided tour of the nearby Nobel Peace Prize Museum which outlines the stories behind the many recipients of this prestigious award. Otherwise, your guide can take you to favorites such as Café Schweizer for small bites throughout the day, as well as a smattering of locally owned shops and galleries.
For lunch, head back to the hotel to take a brief fifteen-minute private ground transfer for your lunch reservation at Ett Hem. Set in a storied townhouse at the heart of the capital, this property provides a homey sanctuary away from the bustle of the city. The hotel is lined with gardens and cozy communal spaces adorned with soft textures, botany, and modern rustic statement pieces. The menus here change daily based on ingredients gathered from the hotel’s private garden and greenhouse. What stays consistent no matter what the menu includes that day though, is freshness. Staples like bread, butter, and ice cream are made from scratch on property.
Tonight’s dinner on this Sweden travel guide is at the Grand Hôtel’s Rutabaga, featuring a colorful array of vegetable-based dishes. This is a gastronomic experience that provides creative twists on classic Asian and Swedish dishes. If you’re hankering for local nightlife, then head over to Asian Post Office for delicious Thai-fusion cocktails and delicious small plates such as spicy cucumbers.
Day 5 – Tour the capital of Scandinavia
This morning, familiarize yourself with Stockholm’s history with the help of a private guided tour of Gustav III’s Museum of Antiquities during pre-opening hours. This museum is one of the oldest in all of Europe, first opening its doors in 1794 and continuing to feature original paintings, frames, and sculptures. A highlight of this Sweden travel guide stop is the museum’s prized stone gallery, featuring a collection of Greek and Italian marble statues depicting various ancient gods and deities of the west. This includes a rare, marvelously preserved statue depicting the myth of Endymion, who fell into a deep slumber under the spell of the moon goddess Selene.
For the afternoon, take some time to fully unwind in the Grand Hôtel’s Nordic Spa & Fitness. Here, you can indulge in a wide variety of massage treatments as well as a dip into their indoor Yggdrasil pool. You can also book a private tour of City Hall where your guide can walk you through Blue Hall, home of the annual Nobel banquet. City Hall also offers incredible panoramic views of the city atop its 106-meter tall tower. Alternatively for families, we’d be remiss to not mention the city’s action-packed Gröna Lund amusement park that is guaranteed to provide high-flying thrills above the skyline. Paired with a private tour of the nearby Abba Museum, this afternoon is sure to provide fun for all ages.
This evening, head over to the Lydmar Hotel nearby for a pre-dinner drink. Choose between a front patio table or a seat at their bar, decorated with stunning rotating photography galleries such as a collection featuring the late David Bowie. Afterwards, head over for your reservation at Frantzén for a night of Michelin-starred dining. This Japanese-style restaurant seats just twenty-three guests across three floors, providing highly personalized service and exclusivity. If you’re seeking more casual fare, then book a table at Strandbryggan, an on-the-water bistro serving a delicious variety of shellfish and rosés.
Day 6 – Östermalm + Biblioteksstan shopping tour
For your final full day on this Sweden travel guide, immerse yourself in the capital’s vibrant shopping scene with a guided interior design and fashion tour. Begin with a pre-opening hours private tour of the famed Svenskt Tenn, just walking distance from the Grand Hôtel. Visitors are immediately greeted with a colorful array of jewelry, furnishings, textiles, and more. This renowned store was founded by Josef Frank and Estrid Ericsons Arbestrum, a husband-and-wife team with a love for textiles.
This love began when Frank – a Jewish man – escaped to New York from Sweden during World War II. There, he began designing vibrant patterns that can be found on pieces sold today. It was only when he met Arbestrum back in Stockholm though that the two were able to convert her store into the vibrant establishment it is today.
You can even tour Estrid Ericsons Arbestrum’s original office, as well as shop to your heart’s content before the post-opening rush. For an easy gift to bring home, we recommend one of their original throw pillows. And for those interested in sustainable shopping, Svenskt Tenn makes sure to source materials from ethical sources that protect workers. They also fund various arts programs across the globe via the company’s foundation.
Another design shop we love is Asplund. This store was founded three decades ago by two brothers with a love for minimalist design. In comparison to Svenskt Tenn’s color-saturated and highly textured showrooms, Asplund’s are filled with a clean, monochrome palette. After picking up some statement pieces, head over to Östermalms saluhall food market for a wide range of lunch options like Swedish chimichurri. For dessert, head to Besty Sangburg Choklad & Glass – a 19th-century confectionery – and pick up some passion chili and champagne chocolate truffles. After exiting the saluhall, you’ll be guided to esteemed flagships such as the provocative feminist Carin Rodebjer, cutting-edge TOTEME, and of course, Acne Studios. There’s also the sprawling NK Stockholm department store to serve as your one-stop shop for high-end Swedish and international luxury brands.
Begin your last evening in Stockholm with post-closing hours drinks at Vasa Museum. This museum is home to one of the most breathtaking manmade pieces in existence: a near-perfect 17th-century warship 69 meters long and over 50 meters tall constructed from one thousand oak trees. Originally constructed for Sweden’s king, the ship infamously sank just minutes into its maiden voyage a mile out from the shoreline. It wasn’t until the summer of 1956, over three hundred years after its demise, that Anders Franzén – the man whose home you visited back in Dolarö – discovered it perfectly preserved at the bottom of the sea. Today, your private tour guide will walk you through its many facets from its sails to the ship itself, now preserved in 98% of its original form.
Fun fact: there’s now a guest book onboard the ship only open for signing by recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize. Close out the evening with an exclusive reservation at the electric Brasserie Astoria – usually bookable only months in advance, but possible through your SmartFlyer travel advisor – followed by a nightcap at Le Hibou rooftop bar at Bank Hotel.