Hiking, biking, and kayaking. Sweden's capital city is a picturesque summer playground for all your favorite activities.
Photo: Henrik Trygg; courtesy of Visit Stockholm
Scandinavian countries may be known for their long, dark, and crazy-cold winters, but visiting the region in the summer is a whole different story. Sweden's capital city, Stockholm, is situated within an archipelago comprising 30,000 islands—the largest archipelago in the Baltic Sea. Its landscape is replete with wooded islands, rocky cliffs, sandy beaches, tranquil coves, and uninhabited islets, plus charming islands where locals can escape city life. In peak summer months, the sun doesn't completely set, which gives active visitors even more daylight hours to enjoy outdoor adventures, from hiking and biking to kayaking and camping. (Inspiration for your next trip: Why You Should Take a Trip to San Diego for the Ultimate SoCal Wellness Weekend)
Plan your healthy vacation by checking out some of Stockholm's most exhilarating outdoor experiences, plus picture-perfect places to eat and stay in between all that fun.
Where to Stay In Stockholm
Downtown Camper opened last September on Brunkebergstorg Square, a once uninviting area surrounded by Brutalist buildings that was revitalized last summer with the addition of lush trees and park benches. Despite its city location, the hotel has an outdoorsy theme and encourages guests to explore Stockholm's urban and natural environments. In the lobby, grab a stylish, state-of-the-art bike or longboard for rolling through the city's streets, or a kayak for a paddle around the waters—at no extra charge. Treat yourself to a sauna session or spa service; a yoga class; a dip in the infinity-edge pool overlooking the city; and a light, healthful breakfast or lunch made with local, in-season ingredients, all at the rooftop wellness center, The Nest. (Whether you eat at The Nest or in the hotel's signature restaurant, Campfire, you'll have an impressive array of vegan and vegetarian options at your disposal.) Need to calm your mind? Head to the lobby, where a length of netting hangs suspended over the area for guests to climb into and enjoy guided meditation. (Related: Traveling on a budget? Consider booking a hostel such as Af Chapman, a 100-year-old sailboat that's situated on the neighboring island of Skeppsholmen, which affords views of Stockholm's Old Town (or Gamla Stan) and its Royal Palace. Generator Stockholm, a design- and experience-driven hostel located near Central Station, offers private and shared rooms.
Where to Eat and Drink In Stockholm
Stockholm is a food lover's city with many restaurants serving fresh, locally sourced ingredients. At Downtown Camper's signature restaurant, Campfire, a big, beautifully arranged breakfast buffet includes everything from pickled herring (a Scandinavian staple) to DIY waffles and in-season, local berries.
With a location in the city's hipster-friendly Södermalm neighborhood and another in central Stockholm's Odenplan area, the Instagrammable eatery Greasy Spoon serves modern favorites (avocado toast), updated classics (Hawaiian pancakes with pineapple, ham, and chili), and comfort food (traditional English breakfast) for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Plant-based? No problem. You can opt for meat- and dairy-free versions of some items, like vegan sausage and dairy-free butter. For a healthful boost, wash down your order with a pretty, pink beetroot latte. (Make your own at home with this recipe for a pretty pink beet latte.)
For meat-free, home-cooked food that's second only to the sweeping views of Stockholm you'll get while you eat, head to Hermans, a vegetarian-buffet restaurant overlooking the entire city. With its relatively affordable menu and picturesque outdoor patio, Hermans is frequently packed with patrons. Go early or be prepared to stand in line: It can wind through the dining room, up the stairs, and out to the street.
Meatballs are Sweden's culinary darlings, and Meatballs for the People arguably serves the best in town. The restaurant, which uses organic ingredients and meat sourced from responsible purveyors, has served meatballs made from bear, reindeer, moose, wild boar, salmon, and, of course, pork. Here, you can enjoy them atop a bowl of spaghetti or a salad, or the classic way, with a side of potato purée and lingonberries. This is a popular spot, so book in advance, if possible. (Related: These Vegan Meatballs Change the Way You Think About Meatless Meals)
What to Do In Stockholm
The water surrounding Stockholm makes it a prime spot for outdoor adventures such as running, biking, kayaking, and hiking. In summer, extra-long hours of daylight mean you can extend your adventures well into to evening.
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Stockholm's archipelago is vast and sprinkled with thousands of islands. A failsafe way to find some of the prettiest and most peaceful spots to kayak is organizing a guided tour with a local outfitter. True Nature Sweden, for example, offers one-, two-, and three-day options that combine kayaking, hiking, and, in some cases, visits to traditional Swedish saunas. In addition to kayaking excursions that leave from the city center, Stockholm Outdoor offers one- and two-day sailing trips complete with visits to quiet islands, barbecue lunches, and even dips in the Baltic Sea.
Stockholm is a very bike-friendly city, and several rental companies, such as Rent-a-Bike, offer loaners for easy exploring. Once you've got your wheels, start at Skanstull station, cross through Södermalm and Gamla Stan, through the inner city, and to Hagaparken, home to Sweden's Crown Princess. Prefer to pedal in a peloton? One of the city's most popular organized rides, Sthlm Bike (September 2), leads participants among some of Stockholm's most picturesque parks and architectural highlights.
Fresh air, sunshine, and gorgeous coastal and forest scenery make hiking in Stockholm and its surrounding areas a must. Three major trails include Sörmlandsleden, Upplandsleden, and Roslagsleden. True Nature Sweden also offers hiking tours that range in duration from two to seven days and include transportation to and from the city center, as well as camping and cooking equipment. (Next up: The #BucketList Travel Destinations You Need to Visit)
Guests at Downtown Camper can head out on foot with the hotel's lifestyle concierge and resident fitness guru, Kristian Hell, who leads Run Like Hell group runs around the city several times a week. If you prefer to go on your own, head to Södermalm for a jog around Tantolunden Park. Other runner-friendly spots include Årstaviken Bay (keep an eye out for its outdoor pool), the beach promenade near Eriksdal, the canal adjacent to the Hammarby Sjöstad harbor development, and the Söder Mälarstrand Path at the water's edge. If you're feeling competitive, make sure your visit coincides with one of the city's many road races. (Related: How Giving Up Uber On Vacation Changed the Way I Travel)