Flirting. Romance. Dating. If one European city was to sum all that up, which would it be? (It would be Paris, right?)
The Swedish capital has the most single people in Europe, plus the continent’s highest usage of dating apps. With a population of 1,632,798, Stockholm is the most densely populated city in all of Scandinavia. The Swedish capital has a reputation for being a singles’ city, and for good reason: around 47% of its households have just one, typically single, adult occupant.
But does that mean that people in Stockholm are lonely? Not according to Gustav Borg, CEO of Swedish dating service Mötesplatsen. For him, Stockholm (and Sweden in general) has long been a great place to date.
“It’s an easy place to be single and start a career,” he says. “Stockholm is a location for self-realisation and a place where dreams come true. It’s also a safe and a beautiful city, which makes it perfect for dating.”
High praise indeed – but it makes perfect sense. Stockholm effortlessly combines old-world charm (thanks to its intact, medieval Old Town) with unique cultural gravitas: there are 100 museums here, more per capita than any other city in the world. Add to that a vibrant foodie scene and a picturesque archipelago, and it doesn’t come as a surprise that people in Stockholm are spoiled for choice when it comes to dating places.
Stockholmers are also spoiled when it comes to the sheer abundance of dating apps available. During the last decade, dozens of dating websites and apps have flooded the market – both local companies such as Mötesplatsen and international apps such as Tinder and Bumble. According to Borg, this is both a blessing and a curse.
“Dating should be fun, safe and hopefully lead to long term relationships,” he suggests. “Quantity and shallow quick judgement through swiping thousands of profiles is not always the best solution. Single people are getting tired of superficial dating that produces no results. There is a growing movement against hookup apps.”
Hookup culture has become part of the city’s diverse DNA – but it can be equally liberating and alienating. With Sweden at the forefront of global gender equality, women in Stockholm are used to calling the shots when it comes to dating. Which explains why apps like Bumble, which only allow women to make first contact, are so successful when it comes to securing a date.
But the ever-increasing population, a hectic way of life and the eventual cultural differences that arise in a city so rich in expats, make that second and third date much harder to pin down. Serious relationships become harder to come by, which is where Mötesplatsen comes in.
The dating service, which currently has over 140,000 active members in Sweden and Norway, was founded in 2001 and has helped over 150,000 people to meet their partner since – and fast. “About a third of the member base is new every single month,” says Borg. “It’s in the DNA of a good dating service to have a fast turnover of the member base and we love it when members leave us for their new love.”
So how does a singleton meet someone in Stockholm? Whether its via an app or the old-fashioned way (on a sweaty dancefloor, drink in hand), the city is primed for a memorable date. Here’s how to spend it, according to Borg’s top tips.
1. Take a walk in Gamla Stan
Stockholm was founded in 1252 – and walking on the narrow, cobblestone streets of Gamla Stan feels like travelling back in time. Most buildings have maintained their original facades and there are no cars allowed, so it’s a perfect place to start your date.
Walk past landmarks such as the Royal Palace (one of the largest palaces in the world), the Nobel Prize Museum and the Stockholm Cathedral, which dates from 1279. There are plenty of cafes to sit in and shops to browse, but according to Borg, “just to take a walk in the old town is very romantic.” After all, the best dates are the ones where you just find yourselves taking a random turn in a winding street, walking together, lost in conversation.
2. Capture the moment at Fotografiska
“Stockholm is filled with so many interesting museums,” says Borg. “A good place for a date is Fotografiska; it contains one of the world’s largest collections of modern photography.” Even if neither of you are devoted shutterbugs, the museum hosts many different exhibitions (from black and white portraits of celebrities to abstract photography and wanderlust inducing landscape images) that make for interesting conversation. If all else fails, the top-floor views, paired with an awesome seasonal restaurant, should do the trick.
3. Soak in the sun and fun at Skansen and Gröna Lund
Stockholm is often rainy and overcast. But if the sun comes out, Borg recommends visiting Skansen, the world’s oldest open-air museum. Wander inside old farmhouses, catch a concert and see Nordic wildlife up close – a definite bonding experience. Close by is the amusement park Gröna Lund, where riding a roller coaster together is sure to make your heart beat even faster.
4. Laugh your hearts out at Norra Brunn
“After 20 years of experience, we know what works when you are looking for a new partner,” says Borg, who reckons an easy-going date filled with lots of laughs is the best way to bond. For that, he recommends Norra Brunn, Sweden’s most popular stand up-comedy club. Combine it with dinner from the à la carte menu, or go for the pre-booked menu that includes a few rounds of drinks.
5. Have a romantic massage at Yasuragi
Looking to splash the cash? Borg suggests choosing a hotel with spa facilities where you can indulge in treatments and a nice dinner. At Yasuragi you can lounge in a Japanese bath, calm first-date nerves with a bamboo massage and tuck into a vegan meal at their plant-based restaurant, Saishoku. And if things go particularly well, there are beautiful Japanese style rooms upstairs that overlook the Stockholm archipelago.