Swedes love the sun. It’s a horrible generalization and one that I have yet to find untrue. (I’m pretty sure it has to do with the many months of winter darkness.) So when summer rolls around, Swedes celebrate, and it is one of the reasons that the Midsummer celebrations in Sweden are so fun. It’s also the reason the streets, parks and squares of Stockholm are filled with outdoor seating.
It’s not hard to find outdoor seating during the summer months, as just about every restaurant will put out a few tables and chairs. However, certain areas are just better than the rest. Here are some of my favorite outdoor seating spots in Stockholm:
Park benches (and restaurants) at Kungsträdgården
Kungsträdgården (the Kings Garden) is a park in central Stockholm. As the name suggests, it was once the Royal Garden. Today it is filled with restaurants, cherry blossom trees, a large fountain and, of course, statues of old kings. There is even an ice skating rink during the winter months. But during the summer, the walkway along the park is lined with outdoor seating.
Several restaurants and cafes offer dagens lunch (daily lunch) at a reasonable price and with a spectacular view of the park. There is even a TGI Fridays for those who just need that bit of Americana in their lives. (I’ll be honest though, despite the amazing location, I have yet to step foot inside that restaurant. There are too many fun little cafés in the park that offer an authentic Swedish experience.)
Sitting pretty at Östermalmstorg
If you’re looking for a more upscale outdoor seating experience, check out Östermalmstorg. The square is located in one of Stockholm’s fanciest neighborhoods, and there is a beautiful old indoor market with amazing meats, cheeses and vegetables.
Outside, you’ll find several cafés and little restaurants. One of the restaurants, Lisa på torget, is said to have been a favorite of the prince and princesses of Sweden in their younger years.
Sunny views from Södermalm
For more of a relaxed feel, head over to Medborgarplatsen on the island of Södermalm. There you’ll find a large open square surrounded by lovely restaurants, all with outdoor seating. In the middle of the square are a couple of kebab and hot dog stands for a quick bite. I prefer Melanders, a great restaurant that offers a delicious menu with plenty of fresh fish. At night, the Medborgarplatsen is a popular place to sit outside and grab drink, as most of the restaurants also have full service outdoor bars.
My absolute favorite outdoor seating, though, is the Mosebacke Etablissement. Also on the island of Södermalm, Mosebacke has what I consider to be the best view of Stockholm. The restaurant sits atop a hill looking out over Stockholm, and on a sunny summer evening, there isn’t a better place to be.
Unfortunately, I am not alone in thinking that and the outdoor seating is usually crowded just a few minutes after 5 p.m. every evening. If you’re hoping to get a table, be there early, or be quick and merciless when trying to find a seat. Hover around until someone leaves and dive right in; you won’t be the only one trying to get the table. Luckily, there is plenty to do while waiting around. Mosebacke offers some of the best live music in Stockholm, and there are also plenty of foosball tables outside to keep you entertained while you wait for a seat.
No matter where you go in Stockholm, though, if the sun is shining, there are few better places to be than in a restaurant or café enjoying the Swedish summer.