Maybe it's just the order that we visited in, but I couldn't help but think of Stockholm like Oslo's younger and way more hip cousin. Most Swedes I saw on the street (even the children!) looked like they jumped out of a fashion spread, but the city itself just has a much more adventuresome and happening vibe. Coffee houses and internet cafés abound, which in addition to being quite affordable (especially in comparison to Paris) are also great for people watching and trendspotting.
The gastronomic scene is a lot more exciting as well. In addition to The Cube, one of my favorite meals was at Blasieholmens Akvarium och Restaurang (or B.A.R.), which features a wide array of fresh seafood cooked to order. I opted for a thick, steak-like tuna variety called bonito, lightly seared and served up with a sweet, tangy red pepper sauce. (It's basically the seafood equivalent to The Counter; after you choose a fish you pick out sides and sauces).
Stockholm has plenty of cool bars for weary travelers to take a break from pounding the streets. Some, like Flyt, take advantage of the city’s waterways by converting old boats to relaxing hangouts that gently bob in the wind. But I also enjoyed the sky bar at Och Himlen Dartill which, located on the 26th floor, was a nice vantage point from which to admire the city skyline at night.Aside from the delicious food and drinks, my favorite visit was easily the Fotografiska – Stockholm’s venerable photography museum. Exhibitions rotate frequently throughout the year, but in honor of London 2012 they had an awesome Olympics-themed sports photography collection. Too bad we were still full from dinner, because the café upstairs (whose riverfront view deserves mention) seemed quite popular.
The shopping is great too, as would be expected in such a fashion-forward city. Downtown contains name brand designers along with staples like H&M, Zara and the largest Urban Outfitters I’ve ever set foot in. But even so, I preferred the more eclectic boutiques and funky vintage shops in Södermalm (basically the Swedish equivalent to Williamsburg).I'm a little sad to leave behind Swedish hospitality - pretty much everywhere you go you're greeted with a cheerful "Hey, hey!" Let's hope Helsinki can match it.