More amazing Stockholm pictures by Hannes R at flickr
I was contacted by an old acquaintance who’s coming to visit Stockholm, asking me for some recommendations. Seeing the WikiTravel Stockholm entry is pretty exhaustive, I wrote down some additional ideas on how to approach the city – and some personal favorites!
(T = Metro stop)
My first recommendation would be to avoid the pretty dull areas around the City center (T Hötorget and T-Centralen) and instead focus to get to know the four inner city districts/boroughs and their respective characteristics:
Vasastan/Norrmalm (T S:t Eriksplan, Odenplan, Rådmansgatan): The city library (T Odenplan) is a beautiful building built in the 20’s and has a lovely rotunda which is a refreshing break from the outdoor buzz (and cold, wear long johns!). I worked there as a librarian a few years back, real nice place. Then you can take a stroll through the neighbourhood to Vasaparken where the kids are ice skating and a friendly atmosphere is omnipresent. Then continue via S:t Eriksplan square to Rörstrandsgatan for a nice coffee at Mellqvist coffee bar or some of the other cafes on that street. This route is basically my childhood mapped geographically :)
Google maps suggestion for route en foot: City library -> Vasaparken -> Rörstrandsgatan
Östermalm (T Östermalmstorg, Karlaplan, Stadion et al): A more expensive, quite and shallow district with beautiful small parks and buildings. Start around Stureplan, where you can walk around until you reach beautiful peninsula Djurgården with the Vasa ship and Nordiska museums. The latter is in an impressive building in a photogenique environment
Google maps suggestion for route en foot: Stureplan -> Östermalm/Karlaplan -> Djurgården
Kungsholmen (T Fridhemsplan, Rådhuset): A somewhat suave version of Vasastan and not really something you should prioritize on a short visit. However the areas around Norr Mälarstrand is very nice in the summer time!
Södermalm (T Slussen, Mariatorget, Medborgarplatsen et al): A big, less expensive part of the inner city (however very popular compared to the different suburbs) with a more bohemian touch of eco shopping, more avant garde fashion and a more continental spirit in general. Lots of lovely bars, shops and restaurants! Start of at Slussen, walk though Medborgarplatsen (catching a delicious and cheap kebab at Folkets kebab), grab a coffee in SoFo (South of Folkungagatan, set of blocks known for their hipster touch) and then continue to the marvellous viewing point Fåfängan (translates as “The vanity”) from which you will be able to see all of Stockholm in all its water-surrounded glory :D
Google maps suggestion for route en foot: Slussen -> Medborgarplatsen -> SoFo -> Fåfängan
Gamla Stan (T Gamla Stan): In between the City and Södermalm, this is the expected tourist stop/trap. It’ve got some impressive alleyways and churches well worth a quick visit, but don’t spend a whole day here! A few hours should do more than enough, and don’t pay any attention to the souvenir shops…
In summary: focus on strolling around, avoid the city centre, and do ask people for directions and tips. Swedes are sometimes a bit shy, but are friendly and helpful if you just take the initiative of starting a conversation :) If you get tired of riding the metro, a nice and inexpensive tourist tip is to just jump on city buses (the blue ones) line 1, 2, 3 or 4 — they run through the city from Vasastan, via Gamla Stan, to Södermalm (lines 3,4) and provide excellent flexibility. I bet they have some Android/iOS app so that you can check time tables and maps on, hopefully in English as well.
(There are tons of other great opportunities in Stockholm, especially in the different suburbs with amazing/horrible architecture, milling markets and growing cultural areas. Furthermore, the inner city provides great museums such as Moderna on Skeppsholmen – just ask if you need any more ideas!)