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Secret Stockholm


From open-air swimming to secluded dining, Stephen Doig experiences the city as a local

Stephen Doig ,

Stockholm is a city of avant-garde fashion and cutting-edge design. It is also home to some of the world’s most exciting gastronomic experiences and has plenty of historical attractions. But which treasures should the travel enthusiast seek out if looking to live like a local?

The site of a former prison might not be everyone’s first stop on a tour of one of Scandinavia’s most beautiful cities. Slightly off the well-trodden tourist track, Långholmen is one of the 14 islands that dot Stockholm. The prison closed in 1975 and there is now a hotel on the site, with stunning views.

Making a splash
Långholmen is a haven for local people who take advantage of the city’s strict environmental laws and enjoy relaxing on the clean beach and swimming in the clear water. The standard soundtrack in the summer months is a continual splash as families leap from the pier into the water. For those who like swimming, but prefer a more urban experience, Eriksdalsbadet is the largest pool in Stockholm. Built in 1962 for the European Aquatics Championships, this outdoor facility features whirlpools and river rapids.

Back on dry land, there are plenty of hidden treasures. Leijontornet 12 x 8 restaurant, in the heart of the Old Town, only has eight seats and is open 12 times a year. If you do manage to experience a meal here, look out for the remains of the city wall which date back to 1380, found during a renovation of the building.

Come dine with me
Want to venture further into secret Stockholm life? Sign up to Stockholm Supper Club, which organises gastronomic experiences in specially themed venues off the beaten track as well as in people’s homes. Tanja Sieder and Carina Schichi set up Nectar & Pulse to help visitors to make the most of their time in European cities, including Stockholm. The company has produced alternative travel guides to cities, based on the recommendations of locals ‘soulmates’ such as jewellery designer Isabell, photographer Kristopher and food enthusiast Hanna. So, whether you want to track down vintage fashion, retro bars or places connected with industrial design, one of these guides will have all the information you’ll need. Nectar & Pulse can also create a tailor-made itinerary for you.

Cultural escape
Millesgården is on Lidingö island, a short drive from central Stockholm, and it’s well worth making the journey. This stunning house is crammed with artworks and antiques, while the garden is filled with sculptures. Built in 1906 by collectors Carl and Olga Milles and designed by Carl M Bengtsson on a cliff above Lake Värtan, it became popular with artists who used the couple’s studio space. As well as a shop, there is also a café and a restaurant, making this an ideal place for a cultural break away from the city centre.

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