Stockholm, Sweden: Eat lots of meatballs & sing with ABBA

Dates: April 23rd & 24th

Distance walked: 20.58km

Steps: 30,283

Temperature high: 12°C

A meagre 8°C, coupled with grey skies and gusts of wind is all that Sweden mustered on our arrival at Skavsta Airport, it was almost like being back in Scotland. However it was a welcome change of pace from the mini heatwave we had enjoyed on mainland Europe for the previous few weeks.

After a few hours travel from the airport to our hotel in Stockholm, we had developed an appetite for some local cuisine. Not quite hungry enough to take on a smörgåsbord, we opted instead to have another of Sweden’s traditional dishes for dinner, meatballs. Thankfully we already had a table booked at the popular restaurant Meatballs For The People, only a ten minute walk from our accommodation in Södermalm.

The best meatballs in town

This establishment takes a quirky approach to the Swedish classic by offering a selection of meats to choose from for your meatballs, generally whatever is in season and all sourced within the country. We had the option of lamb, wild boar, pork or beef and diners can pick from a variety of styles including a typical Swedish dish with the meatballs served in a light and creamy gravy (or brown sauce as it is known here), pickled cucumber, velvety potato purée and lingonberries or Italian style with spaghetti and ‘grandma’s tomato sauce’.

I took on the Swedish version with wild boar meatballs whilst Kirsty ordered spaghetti with beef meatballs. The service was friendly and efficient and included complementary tunnbröd, a flatbread accompanied with a dip for a light snack before our mains arrived. The food was cooked to perfection and I can safely say that these were the best meatballs I have ever tasted. The meal beloved by all of Sweden has well and truly earned a place in my heart.

Which is best: Swedish (above) or Italian (below)?

Unfortunately poor weather and painful blisters, accumulated over the hundreds of thousands of steps we’ve walked over the past few weeks, confined us to our hotel room for the evening. However, there are far worse ways to spend a cold, rainy evening than in a cosy room in Stockholm with a stomach full of delicious meatballs.

There is no better way to shake off any lingering sleepiness in the morning than a trip to the all singing, all dancing ABBA museum. After waking on our last day we made our way to the greenest island in the city, Djurgården where the museum is located. The quickest and most pleasant way to journey there is by ferry.

As Stockholm consists of fourteen different islands, there’s no way we could see it all in our two day stay. However ambling our way across the area where the Mälaren meets the Baltic Sea, to the scenic island aboard the Djurgården ferry was a great way to capture a terrific view of many of the nearby, surrounding islands.

A view from aboard the Djurgårdsfärjan

The museum itself is mecca for ABBA fans and great fun for anyone with a passing interest in Sweden’s greatest musical export. We were taken on an interactive journey through each of the members early years and how the group was formed, their rise to stardom despite opposition from the popular, left-wing Progg movement and the struggles of the groups later years as the massive fame of ABBA led to the breakdown of their marriages.

The entrance to the museum sets a glittery tone

Along the way you can rehearse dance routines backstage, record your own version of their hits in a mock studio and even perform live on stage as the fifth member off ABBA. Chock-full of intimate pictures, memorabilia and interactive activities it’s one of the most fun museums you could ever go to.

Get your picture with an eerily lifelike recreation of the foursome

We walked our way back from Djurgården along the waterfront of the Strandvägen boulevard, an expensive but picturesque promenade dotted with cafes and floating restaurants, past the Royal Palace and into the old town, Gamla Stan. Here we did some window shopping in the quaint and hilly streets before heating ourselves up with a bowl of soup in the main square, Stortorget at the cosy cafe, Chokladkoppen.

Our second, and unfortunately last, evening in Stockholm was spent walking around the Södermalm district to the south of the city. We visited a local park Vitabergsparken, getting an excellent calf workout in the process by climbing the steep hills, and thereafter stopped in at one of the many hipster coffee shops in the region to chill out and chat about the highlights of our stay and thoughts on Stockholm.

The Sofia Kyrka church sits atop the scenic park

Definitely not somewhere that you should go on a whim with a tight budget as just about everything is far more expensive here than most European cities. It’s also probably best to plan a visit during the summer time in a few years from now. At the moment spring hasn’t quite sprung in Sweden which leaves many of the parks and greener areas left looking barren which would no doubt create a much warmer environment for visitors when in full bloom during summer. Also there are a lot of construction projects ongoing throughout the city and at many of the major buildings and tourists sights. Whilst this a credit to Sweden for taking pride in maintaining one of it’s iconic cities, for travellers it feels like you aren’t experiencing the place at it’s best with the skyline currently littered with cranes, scaffolding and large scale construction projects.

However, if you are flush with a bit of extra cash and maximise your spending money by booking up activities in advance then you’ll have a brilliant time. Also make sure you eat the meatballs, in case I haven’t already stressed it enough, they are rather good.

Up next, Düsseldorf!

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