My parents are two of the most well-traveled people I know, which is probably why I'm so passionate about traveling. Both of them have been all around the globe, and I grew up learning about the world through their eyes. One experience that has always stood out was the time my dad spent in Sweden. He lived in Stockholm for five years, and his stories always made me want to visit. I finally had the chance to head to Scandinavia, so of course I consulted him for recommendations. My dad's itinerary for my trip to Sweden totally made me love it as much as he does.
I planned on squeezing in a trip to Sweden during a six-week-long run between four different countries in Europe (with a quick three-day stop in LA to unpack and repack), so I needed my dad's expertise to help me make the most of my time. He recommended I kick things off in Southern Sweden since I was coming from London, and then take a train up to Stockholm to see the country's capital.
The trip was truly magical. My six days in Sweden were better than I could have asked for, and I have my dad to thank for that.
Because my dad recommended I see the southern part of the country, I started off in Åhus so I could visit the Absolut Elyx distillery. Åhus is about an hour and 40-minute drive outside of Copenhagen, where I flew into from London. The town itself is stunningly quaint, looking like something straight out of a storybook. As I strolled around, I noticed all the houses had fun colors painted on the doors and windowpanes, and the cobblestone streets were beyond charming (making it difficult to wear heels, but still picturesque, nonetheless).
I'll admit that I'm not a huge vodka drinker, but I thought that a stop at the distillery would be a fun way to explore a part of the country that I might not have otherwise. I had the chance to tour the distillery and try a ton of cocktails made by some of the brand's bartender ambassadors, which were so delicious. I even had the chance to take a helicopter ride around the town and blow my own glass decanter. Though it was only a short two days in Åhus, it was packed with activities I'll remember for the rest of my life.
From there, I drove back to Copenhagen and hopped on a six-hour train ride to Stockholm. Though the commute was long, it was OK because the ride was beyond scenic. The rolling hills and vast fields of the countryside were a gorgeous backdrop while I got work done (thanks to the train's strong WiFi), and I arrived in Stockholm in no time.
My dad was clear about me finding a hotel in a very central location since so much of Stockholm is walkable. I scouted out the Hotel Kungsträdgården, which could not have been in a better spot. Kungsträdgården is Stockholm's main park, so having a hotel in that area primed me for a wonderful three days in the area. (When I told my dad where my hotel was, he was totally impressed.) The hotel was also perfect for me because they include breakfast in the rate — and I'm in love with Swedish food.
The biggest recommendation my dad asked me to follow was to spend a day in Stockholm's "old town," Gamla Stan. It's the historic part of the city, complete with cobblestone streets, brightly-colored buildings, and breathtaking architecture. I spent an entire day wandering through the winding streets, stepping in and out of stores, eating food from tiny hole-in-the-wall shops, and generally soaking in the sights. My dad was totally right: Gamla Stan is seriously beautiful, and I'm glad I set aside an entire day to explore that one part of Stockholm.
Some of my dad's other recommendations of places to see included the Royal Opera House and the City Hall, which, of course, I stopped by to take pics of. He also told me that since I love actively exploring cities on foot, I should try biking around because Stockholm is such a bike-friendly city. He lived there almost 30 years ago and hasn't been back since, so he hasn't been able to discover the city's newest method of public transport: scootering. I scootered around the city for hours and hopped off whenever I found something that looked interesting.
Along with places to visit, my dad gave me stellar food recommendations. Though the restaurants have definitely changed since he was last in the country, good Swedish meatballs and shrimp toast can be found at a lot of places. I sent him pictures of my food whenever I settled into a restaurant, and I'd like to think he was pretty proud of my choices. He also told me that I, a passionate shopper, absolutely had to buy at least one thing from H&M. What kind of fashion lover would I be if I didn't?!
Though I know I could have figured out how to navigate Sweden on my own, having my dad's guidance was the cherry on top of a perfect trip. I loved being able to reference his notes whenever I was planning what to do that day, and I feel like my trip was just better because I had a little bit of help. Now, the two of us have to go back to Sweden together.