There has never been a shortage of great art galleries and museums in Stockholm, but this year, two new art stars were added to that firmament. One common denominator? Both house exceptional restaurants that allow visitors to plan lunch or dinner around a visit. Start your weekend with Artipelag (Artipelagstigen 1, Gustavsberg; Artipelag.se), situated amid a cluster of pine trees on Värmdö Island, about an hour?s boat ride across the bucolic Stockholm archipelago. At 9 o?clock on a summer?s morning, the mist was creeping prettily over the water, alternately thickening and fading to offer tantalizing glimpses of elegant weekend homes along the shore. (In midwinter, you might prefer to hop on the dedicated bus from Vasagatan for the breezy 20-minute journey by road.)
Artipelag describes itself as a ?meeting place for art, culture, music, design, and gastronomy,? and it scores remarkably well on all those counts. Designed by the late Johan Nyrén, the building blends beautifully with the island on which it stands, a convergence of art, nature, and architecture that doesn?t preclude a touch of whimsy, like the crouching life-sized human figures by Swedish artist Maria Miesenberger that lurk in the undergrowth as you approach. Inside, a giant rock pierces the floor, left there during construction to underline the harmony between the museum and island. The harmony continues at Restaurant Baggen, which serves simple, elegant food in the new Nordic style -- none of the ubiquitous matjes herring here; instead a lightly grilled perch with a mound of tender new potatoes and horseradish. Plans are afoot to open a hotel here as early as late next year, which would make Värmdö a perfect island for a weekend stay.
Back in the city, on the island of Djurgården, the Spritmuseum (Djurgårdsvägen 38; SpritMuseum.se) -- museum of spirits?has hit on a radical idea to lure visitors: Armed with a ?manual? containing small vials of flavored aquavit, you literally drink your way around the principal exhibition, which is structured as an immersion into Sweden?s drinking culture?one room even simulates the effect of a hangover. The museum?s star attraction, however, is the Absolut art collection, an eclectic survey of 30 years of art, starting with early contributions by Andy Warhol and Keith Haring and culminating in Damien Hirst and Annie Leibovitz. Afterward, sit outside on the waterfront for a glass of wine and a serving of the bracingly tart rhubarber crumble (a menu fixture in season), and contemplate how fabulous life could be if every museum had the same capacity to nourish your soul and stomach as well as these two gems in Stockholm. --Aaron Hicklin
A short walk from the old town on a small island that it shares with the Modern Art Museum, Hotel Skeppsholmen has the most idyllic setting of any hotel in Stockholm, comprised of former marines barracks, dating from 1699 and overlooking the water. Breakfast on the terrace in summer is heavenly. A nearby ferry terminal can whisk you to hipster central, Södermalm, in minutes. Gröna gången 1; HotelSkeppsholmen.com
The Stockholm-based fragrance house founded in 2006 by Ben Gorham has a terrific boutique where you can buy Gorham?s unique signature fragrances, including Baudelaire, with its notes of juniper and pepper, and the musky, woody Oud Immortel. Mäster Samuelsgatan 6; Byredo.com
Acne cofounders Jonny Johannson and Mikael Schiller started with jeans back in 1996, but the brand has since expanded and deepened. The flagship store is located in the former Kreditbanken, famous for the 1973 hostage crisis that bequeathed us the expression ?Stockholm Syndrome.? You can even try on a pair of jeans in the vault-turned?fitting room that once held the captives. Norrmalmstorg 2; AcneStudios.com
The Swedish jeweler and former pop icon-turned?lesbian crusader designs exquisite pieces for men and women, including her Homo Sapiens collection of bracelets and necklaces. Attling Man, Hornsgatan 42; EfvaAttling.com
Depths by Henning Mankell
If you?re familiar with Mankell, it?s probably for his brilliant Kurt Wallander detective series. The pensive detective is absent in Depths -- which is set in the Stockholm archipelago -- but the creeping sense of foreboding and repressed violence that gathers around this tale of a naval engineer in a loveless marriage is deft and gripping.
This floating bar and restaurant on the island of Kungsholmen is a magnet for gays on warm summer evenings (it?s closed in winter), when it becomes a great starting point for a night of revelry. Norr Mälarstrand 64; Mälarpaviljongen.se
On Sunday nights, make sure to end up at this floating boat?turned-nightclub with several dance floors that hosts a popular gay party. Stadsgårdskajen 152; Patricia.st