Local traditions and culture in Stockholm

  • Festivals
    by Mkwire
  • Panoramic windows at Fotografiska
    Panoramic windows at Fotografiska
    by sim1
  • Cow Parade in Stockholm
    Cow Parade in Stockholm
    by HORSCHECK

Most Viewed Local Customs in Stockholm

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    Telephone Boxes

    by Kathrin_E Written Oct 3, 2014

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    Stockholm has kept its historical phone boxes. I spotted them in various locations in Gamla Stan and on Södermalmen. They have been equipped with modern telephones and are fully functional just like any other public phone. I think they look funny, balancing on those four thin legs.
    The door flaps pretend some privacy but since they are open at the bottom everyone could listen nevertheless.
    Good thing is you can see from afar whether a box is occupied, and people won't occupy it too long because they get cold feet quickly.

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    How-to: self-service laundry

    by Muscovite Written Mar 18, 2014

    Having worked as a national guide for 10 years, I never came upon this problem – you take your own cake of soap and you do your own laundry in your own hotel room’s bathtub. That’s what one calls ‘self-service’, indeed!
    Most hotels will oblige - you hand in your laundry and pick it up washed, ironed and folded, but I haven’t seen any self-service laundry facilities in any hotels in Stockholm - another reason for choosing a flat :)

    However, if you positively need a 'city laundromat', try this one:
    Tvättomaten
    The address is Västmannagatan 61, 113 25 STOCKHOLM
    Look up the map - it's not exactly central, but not in the outskirts, either, within sensible reach.
    Current pricing: 100 Swedish krona for one machine-load (5kg) - that's about 10 euro.

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  • HORSCHECK's Profile Photo

    Door locks

    by HORSCHECK Updated Dec 7, 2013

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    In Scandinavia door locks or keys often have to be turned contrary to how you are used to turning them to open or close a door.

    For example, in Germany a door with a door handle on the right side is usually locked by turning the key clockwise, whereas in Scandinavia you might have to turn it anti-clockwise.

    Scandinavian door handle and lock
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    My Friend Fika

    by travelfrosch Updated May 15, 2013

    One custom I got to like during my stay was Fika, an afternoon coffee break featuring a cup of coffee and sweet pastry. Most cafes will roll out the sweet pastries shortly after lunch, offering you a chance to partake. I usually took mine in a museum cafe -- the one above was a particularly scenic one attached to the Aquaria.

    As I read up on this custom, apparently you're supposed to take Fika with a friend. I was traveling on my own, so it would seem I wasn't quite doing it right. I suppose I could say I was just with my friend Fika.

    Coffee and a small sweet cake Lovely view to go with Fika
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    Changing of the guard

    by HORSCHECK Updated Jan 21, 2012

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    The changing of the guard ceremony takes place every day in the Outer Courtyard of the Royal Palace (Kungliga Slottet), on weekdays at 12:15 h and on Sundays at 13:15 h.

    The Royal Palace is situated on the small island of the Old Town "Gamla Stan".

    Guard at the Royal Palace
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    Changing of the guard

    by brazwhazz Written Dec 12, 2011

    The changing of the guard attracts hundreds of tourists in the outer courtyard of the Royal Palace (Kungliga slottet) around midday. It is an entertaining half-hour display of military traditions. If you are spending a half-day or full day on Gamla stan (which tourist doesn't spend at least a half-day here?), time your visit to/around the Royal Palace accordingly.

    In summer, the ceremony takes place every day in summer at 12:15 p.m. (1:15 p.m. on Sundays and holidays). During the rest of the year, it takes place on Wednesdays and Saturdays (12:15 p.m. in April, September and October and 12 p.m. in winter) and Sundays (1:15 p.m. in April, September and October and 1 p.m. in winter).

    Military parade Preparing to fire the cannon
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    THE WORLD'S ONLY ICE-BAR IN THE MIDDLE OF S'HOLM.

    by eden_teuling Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    Picture a bar, where everything including the drinking glasses is made of pure, translucent ice from the TOME river in LAPLAND, and where the temperature is below freezing year round.

    Sounds like a dream?

    In Stockholm the dream becomes reality if you visit what is literally the world's coolest bar : Icebar at the Nordic Sea Hotel. This is a place where you can experience the bitter cold of the North in the middle of the summer.
    The walls in the Icebar are made of thick blocks of ice, as is the bar counter and the art works that decorate the bar. Visitors can come as they are, even in summerclothes .
    A warm poncho, gloves and shoes are provided.

    And you really need these since the temperature in the Ice bar never goes higher than -6C.
    Cool off on a hot summerday at the Ice bar located onVasaplan in central Stockholm near the Central Station.

    The ice bar is open Mon-Sat 3PM to midnight , on Sundays 3-9 PM

    ICE BAR STOCKHOLM INFO
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    Black days & white nights

    by penny_g Written Mar 18, 2011

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    Scandinavia is one of the less places, when it is so dark in winter and so light in summer. This lasts no more than 72 days around 21 December and 21 June but at any time sky of Scandinavia offers unique colours. I haven't been in Scandinavia to enjoy this phenomenon but I am going to correct it this summer ... and of course, you will be one of the first who sees my new experience.

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    Trees wearing sweaters

    by Rupanworld Written Oct 20, 2008

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    I don't know whether I should really put this up in the customs tips as I don't know whether this is a custom or not. Atleast it seemed so to me, and so will I continue to think until I get to know something in the contrary from my readers. I came across a park in Sodermalm where I saw some nice sculptures (please see my Things to do Tips) and in the park, many of the trees were wrapped in woolen materials like this. Seems that the trees had cold, or were feeling cold. Must be, it was early February.

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    Santa Lucia Day

    by Toshioohsako Updated Apr 20, 2008

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    On December 13th, the Swedish festival of lights brightens up the long winter nights. It is a day to celebrate saint Lucia (Italian Christian) who is a symbol of love and kindness. Girls wear a white dress and a crown of candles. Boys wear a kind of white pyjama and carry candles. The Lucia queen is chosen and she leads the group. In schools people sing Santa Lucia's song.

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    Changing of the Guard

    by travelfrosch Updated Nov 6, 2007

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    The Changing of the Guard ceremony is quite a spectacle to take in. Settle in along the parade route, or line up in the Royal Palace courtyard to await the next shift's arrival. There's an impressive military ceremony, followed by a performance by a military marching band. The units and bands rotate in from all around Sweden, so every ceremony will be slightly different.

    Full ceremonies are held from May to September; off-season guard changes are lower-key affairs. The parade starts from across the Norrbro Bridge around 11:45, and arrives at the Palace between 12:15 and 12:20. The ceremony starts an hour later on Sunday. Does that mean the poor Saturday guards have to work 25 hours?

    The concert begins Hmm... why's the base drum in English?
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    Traffic jams

    by Sjalen Updated Oct 3, 2006

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    If you're stuck for a conversational topic with a Stockholmer, traffic is always popular. Contrary to many other cities, Stockholm lacks a ring-road and instead consists of a maze of roads criss-crossing the centre, even the E4 motorway at one point has to cross the city north-south. There was nevertheless outrage when the social democrats ruled locally and said no to road tolls like in London, only to be outruled by the government where the green party had suddenly ended up with some power. How dared they rule over Stockholm!? Still, whilst hated by many, just as many seem to like the fact that traffic has decreased and today, most people are more annoyed with the practicalities of collecting this "tax", by little metres in your car which doesn't always work when it is cold, bills are difficult to pay and some cars have been taxed even though they've not even BEEN in Stockholm but similar number plates have been photographed...

    The trains too are stuck in jams sometimes, as the bridges from the Central station to Söder are crowded with today's great amount of trains both national and regional. There are talks to build a tunnel under Riddarholmen for some of them. You will have seen it if you've come by train from the south and seen Slussen as in this picture.

    Slussen cars and trains Slussen trains and cars in the distance
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    Kanelbulle

    by Vincedem Written Aug 9, 2006

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    The Kanelbulle or free translated the 'cinamon bun' is maybe Swedens most popular cake because you can find it everywhere and always! I really love it and Im sure most people have the same opinion!

    If you know Swedish people ask them to make them for you because fresh they are even better!

    kanelbulle

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    Wedding Etiquette

    by dmirebella Written Jul 23, 2006

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    Apparently this is a Swedish custom during wedding receptions where should either the bride or groom leave the table (for a quick toilet break for example) - guest will be able to take "advantage" of the situation to kiss the bride or groom till the missing party arrives.

    So say the groom leaves the table - the men would then all rush to kiss the bride - and vise versa.

    Good fun this tradition

    Help!

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  • Sjalen's Profile Photo

    Söder now and then

    by Sjalen Written May 30, 2006

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    The island of Söder, the southern part of the immediate city centre, used to be Stockholm's working class quarters. My father's granddad used to deliver beer by horse and carriage from one of the breweries here. These days it is incredibly gentrified and one of the hardest places in the city to find an apartment in unless you are loaded or prepared to rent in third hand from a cousin's nephew's father's best friend's mother...sort of. Lots of cultural- and media personalities live here and it is easy to see why, with bars open around the clock, great public transport and the hills with the ever present lake or sea below. But this means that the atmosphere has changed. What used to look almost like a Swedish small town with little red wooden houses (with outdoor toilets and no mod cons until late...) is now block after block full of modern housing. But here and there, little pockets of the old remain and is today carefully protected, such as around Mariaberget and Fjällgatan (see sight tip).

    Old meets new
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Stockholm Local Customs

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