A vibrant Nordic haven for football fans
According to Linus, Johan and Adrian, Stockholm is the place to be if you're seeking an exciting football experience. "We have a completely different football culture compared to our neighbours in Norway and Denmark. We definitely have the best supporters here in Stockholm," say the ardent AIK supporters.
Friends Arena, Stockholm
They stand outside Friends Arena in Solna, just north of Stockholm city centre. A large crowd has gathered to welcome the AIK team bus. Seeing such a massive group of supporters is quite a sight. The atmosphere is palpable.
Smoke bombs explode, flares light up the lampposts, and black and yellow smoke creates an intense backdrop for the crowd.
Fans of all ages cheer: fathers with wide-eyed sons and daughters, couples enjoying an ice-cold beer, and the most uncompromising supporters – the ultras – who leave no doubt that this is a major event in Stockholm.
It's an event that includes everyone who loves football.
This Monday in April, AIK is facing off against Norrköping, both of whom play in the Allsvenskan, Sweden's top football league, with 32,178 spectators in the stands.
Football Hotels with a Central Location
You don't have to be Swedish to be interested in experiencing a match in the capital. Stockholm derbies, where AIK, Djurgården, or Hammarby clash in local contests, are famous far beyond Sweden's borders. The atmosphere is unusually good and loud for the Nordic region, and it's not uncommon for nearly 40,000 spectators to watch the matches.
Friends Arena is AIK's home ground and Sweden's national arena for its men's national football team. The stadium has a capacity of 50,000 seated spectators for sports events and 65,000 for concerts. Performers like Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band, Beyoncé Knowles, and Iron Maiden have graced the stage.
Both hotels are located near Friends Arena, with the Westfield Mall of Scandinavia shopping centre and beautiful nature areas close by. Comfort Hotel® Solna opened in 2021 and is Scandinavia's first energy-neutral hotel. Its façade and roof are covered in solar panels, generating all the energy it uses, while even producing a surplus. Guests also have access to free laundry facilities and a fitness room. If you're passionate about sustainability, technology, and staying close to the action, this is the place for you.
Quality Hotel™ Friends is perfect for those with FOMO, as you'll be right in the middle of everything happening on the pitch or the stage. The hotel is popular for both after-work gatherings and dinners. On the 25th floor, you'll find Brasserie X, where you can enjoy both stunning views and delicious French cuisine. Football supporters and families alike stay here.
Warming Up with the Family Before the Match
At Quality Hotel Friends, we meet Peter Westlund and his son, who are playing shuffleboard in the hotel lobby before the AIK match.
While the atmosphere outside swells with the rhythm of snare drums, and excitement grows as kick-off approaches, all is calm within the hotel walls.
The father and son are enjoying their own little warm-up as the stones slide across the table. They're excited but confident:
"Of course, AIK is going to win," they claim, smiling at each other.
A black and yellow scarf is wrapped around the son's neck, and they're ready to step outside and join the crowd.
The Nordic Region's Most Electrifying Atmosphere
Peter and his son join the crowd outside and enter Friends Arena alongside tens of thousands of supporters. The noise level inside the stadium reaches an impressive level, and one end is packed with passion, flares, flags, and an awe-inspiring, homemade tifo.
Here, twentysomething friends Linus, Johan and Adrian are also ready.
"The rivalry between Stockholm clubs is a sort of blend of unity and animosity. We come together and do something as one. The football might be better in many other countries, but the camaraderie is unique here in Stockholm. We have a football culture that no one else in the Nordic region has," they say.
At the opposite end of the pitch from the supporter buddies, the crowd is a sea of blue and white. That's where the Norrköping supporters are seated – but the immense atmosphere engulfs them – even as they ignite a series of flares with impressive precision, creating a small, inward-facing sea of flames.
Unity Softens the Blow
Things don't go AIK's way in the cauldron of Friends Arena this Easter afternoon.
The small blue and white contingent in the corner erupt once, twice, and even three times, and expressions of discontent spread through the stands.
The chorus of boos directed at the home team is intense, both at half-time and after the match.
But despite the loss, it's like Linus, Johan, and Adrian describe it – it's all about unity and love for football, regardless of whether it's a Stockholm rival or a different side visiting.