Smorgasbords originated in Sweden and traditionally were a small buffet served to the upper class before a meal. Over time the simple fare of mainly bread and cheese expanded to include warm and cold dishes as it drifted to become a main meal, often served early in the day. Finding a good, traditional smorgasbord in Sweden is becoming difficult as the rapid pace of modern life displaces the slow meals of the past. Here are three of the best smorgasbords in Stockholm that are well worth making the time for.

Breakfast at Royal Haga Park

The Stallmastaregarden Hotel puts on a sumptuous breakfast and brunch, and it’s served outdoors in a beautiful setting. Take a peaceful stroll around the park before settling down to a cup of coffee and a great selection of bread and cheeses. Try pairing a slice of rich brie with a piece of sweet pear on rye. Once you’ve decided on the perfect combination, head back for thick waffles piled fruit and cream and a slice of bacon or two. Freshly made omeletes will take care of any lingering hunger pangs and you may even find cream pies for dessert. Brunch is much the same, but you can add a steaming bowl of the freshly made soup of the day.

The SS Stockholm

Every day at noon, the steamboat SS Stockholm heads out for a three-hour cruise through the incredible archipelago. The view alone is stunning, but to be able to sit back with a plate full of delicious, traditional Swedish dishes and watch the many islands slip past the boat is simply an amazing experience.

Tables are piled with breads, cheeses and fish dishes. Herring and salmon are prominent, but a number of non-traditional options are also provided. Hot and cold salads, pickled, smoked, dried and roasted meats and other cold starters are set out first. Don’t make the mistake of thinking this is all you get.

After guests have nibbled on all the starters, the tables are cleared and refilled with hot dishes. Fill your plate with sausages, meatballs, eggs and surprises concocted by the chefs. Try as many different dishes as you can, but save some room for dessert as you won’t be able to resist a bite or two of the many delectable pies, crisps, tortes and mousses set out for the trip home.

The cruise is hugely popular (with good reason) and reservations are strongly recommended.

The Verandan Restaurant at The Grand Hotel

Perhaps the best dinner smorgasbord around, you need to pace yourself there and have a plan before heading to the table. The exact menu varies, but the Verandan serves up some very traditional offerings and pairs them well with cold beer and liqueurs. Many dress a little nicer for dinner, but you are still welcome in casual clothing.

Start slow by sampling the herring dishes – who knew there were so many ways to prepare a simple fish? Follow the smaller fish with a larger one, traditional Swedish salmon. Smoked, poached, baked and gravid, there will be some flavour that will totally captivate you, but resist the urge to take seconds, instead sample the other fish dishes before moving on to the salads.

If the anchovy salad isn’t to your liking, reach for sausages, roast lamb, cold cuts and the other chilled dishes that haven’t yet caught your eye. Now that you’re warmed up, head for the table of hot foods – chicken, beef, sardines, salmon (hot this time) and of course, meatballs.

Thankfully dessert comes with coffee and you may need a few minutes with that cup before you tackle the desserts. The variety is daunting, but resist the temptation to settle for fruit – unless it’s a peach melba mousse or a mouth-watering bite of blackberry cobbler.