The Stockholm Diaries | Exploring Gamla Stan

2 March 2016

We woke up on Wednesday morning eager to begin exploring Gamla Stan, or Old Town, as it’s otherwise known. After building up an appetite by walking to the town centre through the beautiful cityscape, we were keen to track down somewhere for breakfast! This proved oddly hard to do, as there were just so many places to choose from.

Exploring Gamla Stan

Cinnamon Buns in Kaffekoppen

After much umming and ahhing on empty and grumbling stomachs, we opted for Kaffekoppen, a small café located within the town’s square. The café itself was, for lack of a better word, cosy to say the least. With four tables squashed within the top floor, we were lucky to grab a seat. This only seemed to add to its charm and, despite being in the centre of all tourist action, giving it an almost secretive quality that made it feel as though we’d stumbled across a hidden gem.

Kaffekoppen Stockholm

With rustic décor in the form of greying walls, wooden furniture and dimly lit candles to illuminate the vast array of mismatched wall hangings, we felt right at home. The cinnamon buns we ordered were huge and didn’t disappoint, with Kieran claiming (and still continues to do so) that they were the best he’d had on the trip. Well worth the wait!

It was after venturing downstairs on a twisting iron wrought staircase that we fell even more in love with the place – grey brick walls, wooden flooring, and fairy lights gave off an even more secluded feel, with us vowing to come back on the last day to make the most of it.

Kaffekoppen Gamla Stan
Gamla Stan Cafe

Exploring Gamla Stan

We then set off to explore the town, starting off with a visit at the royal palace during the changing of the guards, followed by admiring the architecture that portrayed Stockholm’s rich history. 

Exploring Gamla Stan
Stockholm Royal Palace

Whilst browsing amongst a variety of beautifully quirky and distinctive stores within the town, we learnt from the two lovely store owners of Designfirman that canon balls fired into the town by Gustav Vasa in 1521 still remain in the brickwork in a few of Stortorget’s buildings. Despite whether or not this is true, it makes for an interesting legend!

Exploring in Gamla Stan

It was in Designfirman that Kieran spotted a simplistic yet stunning print of Stockholm’s most notable buildings, with Kaffekoppen being one of them! As we had agreed earlier that we would only purchase things for ourselves on the last day we left the store, but were pretty certain that we would be making a return visit.

I also picked up a minimalist decor piece, consisting of a simple white triangular base, cork stopper and copper pipe. I decided it would make a lovely home for a simple small flower and picked one up for my Mum as well. We stepped straight out of Designfirman into Iris Hantverk, which I have to admit was was my favourite store of the many that we visited.

Gamla Stan Exploring

Here I marvelled over the loveliest delicate glassware in the form of lightbulbs used as mini vases for dainty flowers, as well as wooden rustic cutlery and homemade organic soaps. I treated myself to the lightbulb and a miniature glass sphere and cube, which have made themselves right at home on my living room shelf. In short, if you’re ever lacking in interior inspiration, Gamla Stan (and Stockholm in general, really) has the answer. Even if it’s not quite what you were expecting!

Viking Restaurant Stockholm

Visiting the Nordiska Museet

We then headed back to the hotel – not before stopping for chai tea latte which interestingly came in a mug more resembling a soup bowl… a large soup bowl! – where we dropped off our new buys for safekeeping. We then embarked on the short walk over to Nordiska Museet for free entry into all of their exhibitions. The building itself is a marvel, resembling more of a Hudson River castle from a fantasy story than a museum! The interior inside also tells a different story with its clean white modern panelling, contrasting greatly with its exterior.

The exhibitions revealed a fascinating insight into traditional Swedish life, be it the stories behind annual holidays and celebrations, the history of clothing and jewellery and – although not surprisingly – several rooms dedicated to interior design! After walking up and down the three floors of spiralling staircases, it was safe to say that food was the next item on our agenda.

Dining at Ulla Windbladh

Initially we had hoped to head back into Gamla Stan for dinner, but decided against it after spotting a lovely looking cafe overlooking the waterfront. We didn’t need any more persuading! The cafe in question turned out to be Ulla Windbladh, where we had previously stopped off for tea on our first day exploring Djursgarden.

The restaurant serves a mixture of contemporary and traditional Swedish dishes, but I opted for a simple salad and glass of white wine. As the day drew to a close and darkness crept up over the city, the lights reflected into the water around us, creating the most beautiful backdrop to our meal. Here we discussed how quickly the week had gone already – we didn’t want to leave this amazing place that we had just started to get used to!

Gamla Stan Exploring

However, we started making plans to spend our last full day exploring Sodermalm after great store and cafe recommendations… which will be up on the blog next!


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