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Stockholm Combines Eco-Friendly Innovation With Scandinavian Charm

Author:
August 22, 2022
mbg Beauty Director
By Alexandra Engler
mbg Beauty Director
Alexandra Engler is the beauty director at mindbodygreen and host of the beauty podcast Clean Beauty School. Previously, she's held beauty roles at Harper's Bazaar, Marie Claire, SELF, and Cosmopolitan; her byline has appeared in Esquire, Sports Illustrated, and Allure.com.
Well Traveled hero Image: Stockholm
Image by Lior + Lone / Stocksy
August 22, 2022
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Welcome to Stockholm, Sweden's capital city made up of 14 islands, stunning parks, miles of bike lanes, and countless architectural feasts. The Scandinavian destination has become the darling of urban eco tourists thanks to the city's blend of history (it has one of Europe's best preserved medieval city centers) and green innovation (it was the first city to receive the title of Green Capital by the EU).

For those in search of a place that will leave them inspired for a more eco-friendly future, without leaving historic landmarks behind, there's no better place than this Baltic Sea city.

Where To Stay In Stockholm
Image by mbg Creative

Given that Sweden is known for art and interior design, it should come as no surprise that its offerings are awe-inspiring. The thing that we love about them in particular? Many have eco-friendly features.

Hobo Hotel

This boutique hotel offers the best of modern Scandinavian living: minimalist and industrial aesthetic, a sustainable approach to living, and trendy events and offerings. They have four room types to pick from (to accommodate a wider budget variety), from modernist suites to smaller, compact bedrooms. Don't miss the lobby bar or rooftop restaurant, both of which blend together local fare and global inspiration taken through the lens of well-being and sustainability. Meaning? You'll see plant-based Mediterranean offerings alongside local beers.

  • Price point: $$
  • Area: Brunkebergstorg, central Stockholm 
  • Amenities: Bar specializing in natural wines and local beers, restaurant, breakfast included in most rates, event space, gym, curated city guides
  • Book now: https://hobo.se/

Stallmästaregården

A historic 59-room inn located near the bay of Brunnsviken, this hotel is perfect for those who want a little slice of Old World charm amid lush, natural scenery. The top-rated hotel boasts exquisitely designed rooms, a restaurant that serves organic and local fare, and a garden patio to take in the calm waters of the bay. Take a five-minute walk northwest, and you'll find yourself at the forests and gardens of Royal Haga Park. 

Ett Hem

A one-of-a-kind destination, Ett Hem literally means "at home." You'll understand why once you enter its doors. Built within the walls of a 20th-century townhouse mansion, this 12-room guest house feels like you're inhabiting a friend's home (albeit, a very stylish friend). The rooms are warm and welcoming, using antique furnishings, natural fabrics, and woods. Between your excursions, take a moment—or several—to enjoy the hotel's peaceful garden, well-stocked library, and kitchen-style restaurant to break (homemade) bread with the other guests. 

  • Price point: $$$$
  • Area: Östermalm
  • Amenities: gym, Swedish sauna, restaurant, lounge and bar, library 
  • Book now: https://www.etthem.se/
What To Do In Stockholm
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There's much to see and experience in and around Stockholm that can satisfy many interests: 

1.

Pedal around.

The city is extremely bike-friendly—thousands of locals use it as their primary means of transportation. Stockholm Adventures offers small group guided bike tours so you can see the sights and get your bearings. In the standard tour, Stockholm At A Glance, you'll see the medieval Gamla Stan (Old Town), Kungliga Slottet (the Royal Palace), Swedish Parliament, and the Royal Dramatic Theatre. For a more eclectic and art-field tour, opt for the SoFo tour that takes you around the island of Södermalm to marvel at the modern and historical architecture, artisan shops, trendy cafes, and more. 

2.

Stroll through Hagaparken.

The city's most famous park, Haga, is an area of the Royal National City Park and should make your list. But for smaller, localish spots, Humlegården and Ivar Los Park won't disappoint. In Sweden they also have what's called "Freedom to Roam," which basically just means a right to access land (exceptions being small, private gardens and the like). This means the natural wonders are open to all. Please just be mindful of their unofficial rule: "Don't disturb—don't destroy." 

Local tip:

Enjoy a "fika" with your friends. A fika is a Swedish custom in which you take a break over coffee, sweets, or other snacks. "Visit one of the many skilled bakeries, buy a 'kanelbulle' (cinnamon roll), a good coffee, and enjoy it together with a good friend," says Anna Wikner, co-founder of Stockholms Bränneri. "Bring it to Ivar Los Park just before sunset to enjoy the beautiful views over Stockholm." 
3.

Boat ride or kayak through the city's waters.

The city is located where Lake Mälar and the Baltic Sea meet and is made up of several islands, making a water-led excursion one of the most beautiful ways to experience Stockholm. Solar Boats Stockholm uses a (totally silent!) solar-powered catamaran and is available for group or private tours. If you're looking for something more active, the waters are famously clean and perfect for kayaking (check out Stockholm Adventures for options). For some outside-the-city scenery, take a ferry trip into the Stockholm Archipelago—the islands of Fjäderholmarna, Grinda, and Värmdö are all perfect for a short trip.

4.

Take a distillery tour.

For those who partake in spirits, Stockholms Bränneri is the city's first and only gin distillery, which offers tastings, classes, and tours of the campus where they produce the liquor by hand (and it's housed in an old Jaguar workshop). They make organic gin inspired by the Nordic environment—with unique flavor profiles such as Oak Gin (distilled with orange peel in bourbon barrels), Pink Gin (made with rose petals and rhubarb, it's inspired by the Scandinavian summer night sky), and Navy Strength Gin (their classic dry gin, just with a stronger flavor). Stop by for a gin & tonic master class or to sample their craft cocktails

5.

Have a spa day.

Spa culture in Sweden is no joke. For those staying in the city, the Centralbadet is a century-old bathhouse that offers pools, a rooftop terrace, yoga classes, and classic massages. Or head to the island Värmdö to visit Yasuragi, a spa that has gained international recognition for its lush, zen scenery and atmosphere. 

Local tip:

For a truly local experience, "Visit Hellasgården to take a real Swedish sauna and a cold swim, followed by something to eat at the fireplace at Storstugan," says Wikner. 
Where to eat in Stockholm
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Enjoy nordic cuisine with a fresh twist. 

Ekstedt

Often considered the best restaurant in Stockholm, this is the epitome of innovative nordic cuisine. Everything is cooked without gas or electricity—fire, charcoal, and smoke are the chefs' only tools—and made with seasonal ingredients. All of this has earned it a Michelin star. 

  • Price point: $$$
  • Dietary consideration options: seasonal menu, can accommodate vegan and all allergies if alerted prior, sustainably sourced ingredients 
  • Setting: Upscale casual
  • Menu & info: https://ekstedt.nu/

Växthuset

Translated to "The Greenhouse," this vegan restaurant offers a small, curated menu that changes depending on the season offerings (they note that depending on the raw materials they are able to receive on a daily basis, the menu can change on short notice). The food is served in a stunning home-like setting. 

  • Price point: $$
  • Dietary consideration options: plant-based and vegan, natural wines, sustainably sourced ingredients
  • Setting: Casual 
  • Menu & info: https://www.restaurangvaxthuset.se/

Meatballs for the People

If Swedish meatballs feel too on-the-nose for a discerning traveler, trust us, that option will still surprise and delight. They serve a variety of meatballs—both animal meat and vegan options—with nordic sides. But what sets them apart is the high degree of traceability: Each ingredient has precise sourcing down to the local farm. 

  • Price point: $
  • Dietary consideration options: organic meats, vegan and vegetarian options, sustainably sourced ingredients 
  • Setting: Very casual 
  • Menu & info: http://meatball.se/
What To Pack In Stockholm
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Opt for basics that embody that coveted Scandinavian minimalism.

L:A Bruket Hand Cream in Spruce

L:A Bruket Hand Cream in Spruce
VIEW ON L:A Bruket | $18

Pros

  • At 30 mL, this will fit in your carry-on
  • Spruce has a grounding woodsy, citrusy scent

This Swedish-based beauty company makes elegant creams and personal care products inspired by Nordic nature and wellness philosophy. We recommend having a travel-friendly hand cream in your bag to keep your skin hydrated during the flight or if you're traveling during drier winter months; this blend is made with shea butter, coconut oil, and meadowfoam oil for a rich yet silky texture. Plus, the brand pledges 5% of sales on their Spruce line to Naturarvet, a collection foundation with the objective of acquiring old-growth forest in order to contribute to the preservation of biodiversity.

Sandqvist Alva Backpack

Sandqvist Alva Backpack
VIEW ON Sandqvist | $285

Pro

  • Holds most 13-inch laptops
  • Made with high-quality leather and organic cotton canvas

A stunningly chic accessories collection made in Sweden, Sandqvist offers thoughtfully designed bags, weekenders, totes, yoga mat covers, and more. Browse their collection to see their full assortments that include vegan-friendly materials, recycled polyester, organic cotton canvas, and high-quality leather—no matter your preference there's sure to be something that speaks to you. This elegant backpack is a timeless accessory to use as a plane carry-on and around the city.

FjällRäven Reversible Bucket Hat

FjällRäven Reversible Bucket Hat
VIEW ON FjällRäven | $50

Pros

  • Unisex and reversible
  • Made from organic cotton & recycled polyester
  • Protects against the sun & rain

Bucket hats are quite trendy of late, and no one does it better than this classic Swedish brand. The hat is made with a quick-dry material, so it can rebound quickly from sweat (for sunny days) or a light rain (Sweden is known to have scattered rainfall). And this item isn't just perfect for a Stockholm holiday: Like all of FjällRäven's pieces, the quality supports longwear usage—as the brand notes, "Sustainability through longevity."

Vans Old Skool Trainers

Vans Old Skool Trainers
VIEW ON Nordstrom | $69.95

Pros

  • Comes in 18 colorways
  • Pairs well with a minimalist Scandinavian style
  • 95% of users recommend them to a friend
  • The sole has great grip for bike pedals

A good pair of walking shoes is always a must for any city getaway, but in Stockholm you might also want a pair that can double as a cycling shoe. These iconic sneakers are oh-so-comfortable for daily wear and have grippy rubber waffle outsoles, reinforced toe caps, and padded collars—which make them ideal for pedaling around.

Bon Voyage // Stockholm
Image by mbg Creative

Eco-travel is usually relegated to natural environments, but cityscapes and metropolitans can offer just as much inspiration. Stockholm is proof: The Swedish capital seamlessly blends together urban greenery and environmental architectural updates, without losing the historic sights and artistic roots.

Alexandra Engler
Alexandra Engler
mbg Beauty Director

Alexandra Engler is the beauty director at mindbodygreen and host of the beauty podcast Clean Beauty School. Previously, she's held beauty roles at Harper's Bazaar, Marie Claire, SELF, and Cosmopolitan; her byline has appeared in Esquire, Sports Illustrated, and Allure.com. In her current role, she covers all the latest trends in the clean and natural beauty space, as well as lifestyle topics, such as travel. She received her journalism degree from Marquette University, graduating first in the department. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.