Fourteen islands make up Stockholm, one of Europe’s largest and best-preserved medieval cities. Within these islands, there are 50 bridges arched across the city. Visitors will find 30% of the city area is made up of waterways, while another 30% consists of parks and green spaces. However, no matter how large these figures may be, you can only choose one neighborhood to stay in for the duration of your vacation. We have pinpointed some of the best neighborhoods in the city, and outlined the attractions found there to help make your choice a lot easier.
Stockholm was founded in 1252 on the site of historic Gamla Stan, or the Old Town. The beautiful neighborhood is popular with tourists and projects a 13th century atmosphere to this day. Guests can experience this by taking a stroll along medieval alleyways such as three-feet wide Mårten Trotzig Gränd. The memorable vibe continues with the ornate 17th-century preserved houses which line narrow, cobbled streets. Visitors choosing to stay in Gamla Stan will have plenty of landmarks to call on from Stockholm Cathedral to the Nobel Museum and the royal family’s official palace, Kungliga Slottet. There is also the opportunity to enjoy a wide selection of pubs, restaurants, kitschy souvenir shops and picturesque harbor views.
Bustling Norrmalm is a good choice for those who really want to immerse themselves in city life. A modern and commercial area, it is a shopping lover’s paradise, especially on the busy pedestrian shopping street of Drottninggatan. Visitors will also love walking around the market at Hötorget where tasty food and beautiful flowers can be purchased. However, Stockholm’s shopping mecca is most certainly Sergels Torg where they are many shops, boutiques and department stores. There are also many sights for visitors to explore on the square including the Kristallvertikalaccent glass obelisk and the Hötorget Buildings. Norrmalm is also home to the Royal Opera, St. Jacobs Church and Sweden House. Other neighborhoods in the city can be easily visited via the central train station and the T-Centralen metro hub.
A hipster revolution has taken place in Södermalm, or as many other people know it, “alternative Stockholm”. Travelers who wish to spend their vacation here can choose from a diverse range of accommodation from Art Nouveau apartments to centuries-old cottages. Tourists will easily find themselves rubbing shoulders with artists, musicians and hip designers in bohemian cafés, edgy shops, and funky restaurants. To truly experience the neighborhood’s atmosphere, it is essential to stroll down Götgatan Street where there are many bars and shops. Starting close to Slussen, it passes by Medborgarplatsen Square which is surrounded by even more restaurants and pubs. Various entertainment options are provided by outdoor bars and music venues.
Families looking for an area of Stockholm in which to have a peaceful and relaxing vacation should consider booking an apartment in Djurgården, a favorite recreational area of Stockholmers. This island neighborhood has been royal land since the 15th century, and is ideal for taking leisurely walks and enjoying picnic baskets full of delicious Swedish foods. Although the area is not very large, visitors have the option of a number of cultural attractions such as the open-air folk museums of Skansen, the Vasa man-of-war ship, and the Nordic Museum. Children will especially enjoy the Gröna Lund Amusement Park and Skansen, the first open-air museum and zoo in Sweden.
Östermalm is the most elegant and exclusive part of Stockholm and is often compared to New York’s Upper East Side. This similarity is instantly seen through it impressive buildings and and high-end specialty stores, especially around Stureplan Square which is the place for upmarket shopping as well as nightclubs and bars. Foodies can also head to the specialist indoor Östermalmshallen Food Market where they can buy Swedish delicacies and a seafood lunch.
Östermalm centers itself around its parks. One of the most popular is the magnificent Humlegården, which encircles the Royal Library. It is also an area with numerous museums, including the Hallwylska Museum and the ornate Art Nouveau Kungliga Dramatiska Teatern which stand at one end of Strandvägen Boulevard.
Visitors looking for a lively spot in Stockholm should consider booking an apartment in Vasastan. Set within the walls of the charming architecture which lines the streets are trendy bars and great restaurants. Shoppers can enjoy the buzz of scouring the antique shops and secondhand stores which are scattered throughout the area. Vasastan is not without its share of cultural attractions either. It is worth taking the time to visit the Gustav Vasa Church, the Observatory and the Stockholm Public Library, the most important library of Stockholm. There are parts of Vasastan which are also quite residential. Vasaparken Park is a great spot to take some time out and relax, and can be found between Odenplan Square and Sankt Eriksplan Square.
(Header photo by Mike Norton via FlickrCC.)