In Depth

Style with a smile: A guide to Stockholm, Sweden

Head north for art, food, fashion, good design and the ultimate dose of Scandi cool

Stockholm's 14 islands host many distinctive neighbourhoods, from Gamla stan's lamp-lit cobbles to plush, party-loving Ostermalm. But wherever you are in the city, every local seems to be friendly, sharply attired and blessed with perfect English. All of which makes the recently-launched direct service from Luton very good news.

What to see

Above all, Sweden's capital excels at modern art – and we don't mean the Abba museum. Save your 'mamma mia' for the Moderna Museet's pieces by Munch, Pollock and Warhol. Southwestern Stockholm's Fargfabriken is a soap factory turned avant-garde hub, while former cocoa lab Marabouparken, to the north, houses functionalist exhibitions and a sculpture garden.

Take some time out

There's an east London whiff to Sodermalm, with its concept stores, such as Grandpa, and its creative crowd. But this is Shoreditch by way of Sweden, meaning it is less snobby and more smiley. Come on a summer Sunday if possible, so you can combine the cafes and Fotografiska museum with waterside Hornstulls Marknad's vintage clothes, furniture, food and flower stalls.

What and where to eat

The Stockholm Food Stories blog monitors the city's dining hotspots. Asked to nominate a current favourite, editor Niki Jennische says "Speceriet is my go-to for lunch or dinner. It's less well known than sister restaurant Gastrologik, plus more relaxed and intimate … there are communal tables where everyone sits tightly. You'll definitely get to know the people next to you!"

What and where to drink

Haktet Vanster adheres closely to the speakeasy textbook: it's hidden downstairs behind an unmarked door and decked out prohibition-style. Order a tequila-laced chocolate sensual once you've found the den. Far more conspicuous is Tradgarden, an under-the-bridge Sodermalm al-fresco club where international DJs play all day and night during summer weekends.

The best place to stay

Originally opened as a pastry parlour over 150 years ago, Berns combines stylish boutique rooms with acclaimed Asiatiska, a chandeliered Asian-fusion diner, and its Stora Salongen concert hall, where the likes of Rihanna, The xx and Lily Allen have played. The pastries are excellent, too.

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