Book a flight to Stockholm, the capital of Scandi-cool which blurs the boundaries between sea and land, ancient and modern, urban and wild.
Spread over fourteen islands, with architecture spanning from the medieval to the ultra-modern, Stockholm is one of the most beautiful capital cities in the world. If you catch it during the endless summer days, or bathed in golden autumn light, it’s difficult to imagine the cobbled streets covered in snow. But even in the darkest months the city shines with life. Christmas markets turn the lovely old town of Gamla Stan into a fairy-tale warren of twinkling lights and ‘glögg’ stalls. At Skansen, the world’s oldest open-air museum, you can try your hand at candle-making or feast on ‘julboard’, the traditional festive buffet.
Food trends come and go in Stockholm – recently fancy fried chicken has made way for dumplings – but some institutions are above fashion. This is certainly the case for Högshallen food hall, the central, no-frills establishment where local workers crowd the high stools, enjoying ‘smörgasbord’ or the local cheese pie - washed down with a crisp glass of white wine. If your tastes are a little more high-end, seek out the nighteenth-century Östermalm market in the elegant neighbourhood of the same name. Further south, hipsters congregate in Söldermalm’s tiny cafés and bars, where some of the city’s best vegetarian food can be found.
To see all the different sides of Stockholm – the beautiful old churches and the latest vintage stores, the boats bobbing in tiny harbours and the vast civic gardens – you really need to make like a local and get on your bike. With two wheels you’re ready for all sorts of adventures: morning coffee under the shade of an ancient tree in the old town, an afternoon swim off the shores of Längholmen, a spin on Djurgården’s vintage fairground rides. But always the real attraction is the city itself: a compact collection of tiny worlds, each one crying out to be explored.