In June, my family came to visit Stockholm for the first time. Since they weren’t here for long, I tried to be intentional about where and how we spent our time together. I enjoyed playing tour guide, and it made me realise all the ways in which I’ve gotten to know the city. My family’s fresh eyes and excitement highlighted some defining features of life in Stockholm that maybe I’ve started to take a bit for granted…
For one, the Stockholm cityscape is so beautiful. The distinct architectural styles guided my storytelling about the history of different areas, from the former royal hunting grounds of today’s grand, brick KTH main campus, to the expansion of Gamla Stan as post-glacial land rise provided more space.
Having visitors in Stockholm also means you can pass on any ideas of a car rental. Upon arrival, I had each of them get a multi-day unlimited pass loaded onto an SL (local metro) card. Wherever we wanted to go, a bus, metro, train, ferry, or tram got us there smoothly – even for our trip out to the archipelago.
Convincing my ever-prepared parents that they really wouldn’t need cash during their visit was a little challenging; they had yet to see how Swedish society is so digital. In the end, almost everything was payable by digital wallet or credit card. Only once did I have to pay with (digital) Swedish kronor from the transfer app Swish – though that was just because the food truck’s credit card machine was out of order.
I always say the best way to experience Stockholm is on two wheels. Naturally, I had my family rent bicycles, which was an amazing way to show them many unique areas (from SoFo to Djurgårdstad) while helping them get a feel for the city’s unique layout. As an urban planning student, I was proud to show off the networks of protected cycling lanes and bike-friendly infrastructure. Plus, it gave us easy access through and to countless green areas, including the massive green island of Djurgården.
Having lived in Stockholm for almost two years now, I’ve reached a level of familiarity and fondness that only comes with time. It was rewarding to show my family all the facets of the city that have shaped my student life and experiences here. And it definitely made me proud to call Stockholm home.