25 ways Stockholm has become more international in the past year

Published in collaboration between Invest Stockholm and The Local. 

Everyone knows Stockholm is an international city. Swedes are some of the best non-native English speakers in the world, and 23 percent of the capital’s population was born abroad. People of more than 190 nationalities call Stockholm home.

But why stop there? Stockholm is becoming more international each and every day. Here are just a few of the ways the city has changed over the past year – plus a few more changes about to take place…

1. Topping business and innovation rankings
According to Forbes, Sweden is the best country in the world for business. And not just best – another report showed it’s easy, too!

And that’s not the only ranking Sweden is climbing. It’s also number two in the world when it comes to innovation according to Bloomberg.

2. More flights to the US
Last year SAS launched direct flights between Stockholm and Los Angeles, and it’s already become a very popular route with daily departures.

And this past autumn Icelandic budget airline WOW announced Stockholm’s Arlanda airport will be its new Swedish hub, and that it will also be offering flights to New York via short Reykjavik transfers.

3. US Preclearance at Arlanda
Speaking of flying to the US, the whole process will be much smoother thanks to a decision made in November 2016 to have a preclearance facility at Arlanda Airport.

4. More big name brands moving in
Shopping has become more international, too! Last spring Chanel opened its first store in Stockholm, in the stylish Östermalm district.

American footwear company Red Wing, famous for their high-quality leather boots, started in 1905, also opened a shop in Stockholm.

Mac Cosmetics, another new player in the city, has a newly-opened shop at Biblioteksgatan. And 3INA (pronounced mee-na), a popular modern makeup brand from London, recently opened shop in the Kista Mall.

In addition, French fashion label Isabel Marant opened its first Swedish store in December, in the luxurious NK mall in downtown Stockholm, just a month after Céline opened its own first shop nearby.

And then there’s hip eyewear brand Ace & Tate, from Amsterdam, which opened a pop-up shop in the Södermalm district in January - and has plans to open a permanent shop later this year.

5. More foreign investments than ever
From 2015 to 2016, the number of foreign investments in the Stockholm Region jumped by 12 percent. Investors want in on the action called Stockholm!

6. …and bigger investments, too
At the same time, the value of investments skyrocketed, growing 25 percent from 2015 to 2016.

7. Gettin’ Getty with it: a photo gallery for the world
Getty Images, the world's largest photo agency, just opened its second gallery ever - right here in Stockholm. The only other Getty Images Gallery in the world is in London.

8. New music festivals
Sweden is already a key player in the international music scene, and Stockholm is home to great festivals such as Summerburst, Popaganda, Stockholm Music & Arts, and Into the Factory.

But this summer will see two brand new festivals in the electronic scene, both featuring world-famous artists: the Slaughterhouse Area Festival and Department. And don’t forget the Gather Festival, which couples great music with great ideas to promote collaboration and creativity.

9. Singapore moves in
In May 2017, Singapore Airlines will start operating their first flights from Arlanda Airport - a new route between Stockholm and Singapore, departing five times a week.

10. Direct line to Ethiopia
They're in good company. Ethiopian Airlines has decided to launch direct flights from Addis Ababa to Stockholm, increasing Sweden's connections to exotic destinations such as Zanzibar, Kilimanjaro, and South Africa.

11. More American food
Stockholm has a massive selection of international food stores already - but new ones are opening all the time. The popular American Food & Gift Store, with locations in Uppsala and central Stockholm, recently opened a new store in the suburb of Täby. And a lot of traditional Swedish grocery chains have well-stocked ‘American sections’ with everything from maple syrup to Hellman’s mayonnaise.

And soon KFC and its famed fried chicken, will be back in Stockholm with a new restaurant in the suburb of Bromma.

12. Hot, hot startup hub
You may have heard that Stockholm is the number two ‘unicorn factory’ in the world, right after Silicon Valley. Well, it’s true – and it’s just been confirmed again that Stockholm is the second-best startup ecosystem in the world.

13. Startups crossing borders
Speaking of startups, they’re not staying put. Several Stockholm startups have recently announced their plans to go international and launch in new countries – including payments company Trustly, savings app Dreams, and audiobook service Storytel. And it doesn’t stop there: iZettle, Now Interact, Soundtrack Your Brand and Optolexia are also Stockholm startups set to conquer the world.

14. New great hotels and hostels
And then there’s Urban Escape, the new block in the city centre featuring hip hotels and rooftop terraces. The hotels and restaurants have already opened but there’s more to come – check it out.

Haymarket and The Winery Hotel are other luxurious new additions, and award-winning luxury hostel brand Generator has now opened in Stockholm as well.

15. Schools climbing global rankings
Both Stockholm University and nearby Uppsala University climbed in the Academic Ranking of World Universities in 2016. The Stockholm School of Economics also skyrocketed from place 28 to 16 in the Financial Times’ ranking of Masters in Management degrees.

Oh, and the Royal Academy of Technology, Kungliga Tekniska Högskolan, was ranked the tenth best university in the world for coding.

16. Best university city per capita
Speaking of schools, Times Higher Education ranks the best universities in the world. But this year it also broke down the best university cities by number of top schools per capita - and guess which city came out on top? (Stockholm. It was Stockholm.)

17. International festivals
The Arabic Film Festival, which started in Malmö, came to Stockholm for the first time in 2015 - but now that it’s had its second great run, we know it’s here to stay!

The India Unlimited festival has also become a popular event, featuring food, dance, yoga, music, and more open for all.

18. Back to Beirut
On that note, last year Stockholm also got new direct routes to Beirut - boosting the number of travelers between the two cities by 65 percent. And this year there will be even more direct lines available.

19. Eataly
Familiar with Eataly? Well now the food mecca, already in cities such as Manhattan, Milano, and Chicago, is opening in downtown Stockholm! This autumn Biblioteksgatan will house the 3,000 square metre facility featuring restaurants, bars, cafes, and all the Italian inspiration you could ever need.

20. World’s first approved app for birth control
Natural Cycles, another Swedish startup, was recently approved by German inspection and certification organization Tüv Süd - making it the world's very first app approved to be used as actual birth control, not just a fertility tracker. It's not superstition - it's internationally recognized science.

21. More direct flights
We've already talked a fair amount about new flight connections - but there's so much more to say! Like new direct flights to Stuttgart, Madeira, Zagreb, Lisbon, Antalya, Marseille, and Ibiza, to name a few.

22. Hagastaden: a world-class science city
The new Karolinska Hospital in Hagastaden took in its first patients last year, and this year the first of the new apartments will be ready. But that's just the beginning. Hagastaden is going to be a cutting-edge international society, between central Stockholm and the suburb of Solna, where the world's top researchers and doctors in life science meet.

23. More people work for international companies
In 2000, only 130,000 people in Stockholm worked for foreign-owned companies. Now that number is 210,000 - that's 18 percent of the Stockholm workforce employed by international companies.

24. Europe’s largest hub for social impact opened
The new Norrsken House is designed to be a working and meeting place for hundreds of social entrepreneurs from across the world. It's an ambitious new hub which supports tech entrepreneurs who are working on social problems - to make the world a better place!

25. @MovetoStockholm – to show you what it’s like
Finally, it has never been easier to get a taste of what it’s like to live in Stockholm. The @MovetoStockholm Twitter account launched in late 2015, and in the past year it’s truly taken off. Expats from all around the world who live and work in Stockholm take turns curating the account and sharing their stories with others. Want to know more? Follow the account here!