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Header image by Bengt Nyman

A trip to Stockholm isn’t complete without a trip to Gamla Stan. The city’s Old Town, and one of the largest and best preserved medieval city centers in Europe, this is after all where Stockholm began, all the way back in 1252.

Made up of 4 islands, Gamla Stan is mainly focused on the largest of the group, historically known as Stadsholmen. Stockholm itself means “log island” and as the legend goes, Swedes looking for a new capital that was safe from armed gangs, had filled a log with gold and sent it adrift. When it landed on what is now Gamla Stan, they knew they had found their new capital city.

Gamla Stan is a living museum filled with beautiful churches, narrow winding cobblestone streets, colourful architecture, the finest restaurants, and accommodation to suit all tastes. This is the real Stockholm, and where every Stockholm adventure should begin.

Consider this your ultimate guide to staying, playing, and eating in Gamla Stan.

Travel Guide to Stockholm’s Gamla Stan

Travel guide to Stockholm's Gamla Stan

Photo by Bengt Nyman 

Arrival

As taxi fares in Sweden aren’t regulated, it is best to pre-book a premium transfer service from  Stockholm Arlanda International Airport for the quickest, hassle-free arrival into Gamla Stan.

Stay

First Hotel Reisen: Hotel Accommodation

Average Price Range: $200-300 USD

The perfect choice if you are looking for a lovely 4 star hotel that is right on the waterfront, offering rooms with harbour views. Easily walk to the nearby Royal Palace, grab a bite to eat at one of the many cafes/restaurants, or do some shopping.

The hotel began back in 1700 and has come a long way since then. Currently they are working on a floor by floor renovation that is due to be completed next spring. This will only enhance the hotel’s already charming character.

Be sure to try their breakfast buffet which is said to be one of the best in Stockholm.

➡ Check rates and availability.

Salishan Spa & Golf Resort

Residence Perseus: Apartment Accommodation

Average Price Range: $250-$500 USD. Minimum 2-night stay.

You won’t find better accommodation in Stockholm than these lavish apartments. They are perfectly located next to most Gamla Stan attractions like the Stortorget central square, the Nobel Museum, and the Royal Palace.

Each apartment is unique and stylishly decorated. History meets elegance as the building dates back to the 1600s. Be greeted to original hardwood floors and 17th century ceiling paintings.

It is also said that a hidden treasure of silver lies hidden within the building. Treasure was stashed in the building’s cellars to evade the government and a certain silver treasure was supposedly never found.

They offer a wide range of apartment options which can suit a single traveller looking for a bit of space, a group of 2-4 travellers, or even an option should you have a larger number of people.

The Prestige is their finest apartment, covering an entire floor which sleeps up to 10 guests. It offers four bedrooms, Jacuzzi, library, and even a grand piano. Self catering with glorious full kitchens, flat screen T.V., free WiFi, and Bose sound system. You will also find a washer/ dryer and dishwasher in all the apartments except for the smallest Delight studio.

➡ Check rates and availability.

Residence Perseus

Photo courtesy of property management

Castanea Old Town: Hostel Accommodation

$30-$35 USD for dorm room or $65-90 USD private room

A wonderful option for the backpacker or budget traveller. Crisp, clean accommodation offering small rooms which don’t seem as small due to vaulted ceilings and large windows.

They offer several room options which include, single rooms, twin, 4-bed private room, 4-bed dorm, 4-bed female dorm, 6-bed dorm, or a 16-bed dorm.

Make use of their communal kitchen, free WiFi, free guest computers, separate lockable showers, lockers, and luggage room if you need to store your belongings before or after checkout. There is no curfew as you just use the door code for entering 24/7.

➡ Check rates and availability.

Play

The Royal Palace of Stockholm

One of Europe’s largest palaces, the Royal Palace of Stockholm is the official residence of the Swedish monarchy. Unlike many other European palaces, this one is open to visitors year round.

Visit the palace’s Royal Apartments which are the state rooms used for receptions by the King and Queen. You can also admire numerous museums, the Royal Armoury, a chapel, and changing of the guard.

Entry is free with the Stockholm Pass or around $20 USD.

The Royal Palace of Stockholm

Photo by Dennis Jarvis.

Stortorget: Gamla Stan’s Central Square

The heart of Gamla Stan since the 13th century, the central square continues to delight visitors. Enjoy vividly coloured buildings many of which are historic. Admire Börshuset, the old stock exchange building which now houses the Nobel Museum.

Take a guided walking tour of the square to learn incredible history facts like in 1520 when the Danish king Kristian II, after having just conquered Stockholm, arrested 82 Swedish dignitaries and then had them beheaded in the square.

And don’t forget to check out the numerous beautiful churches around Gamla Stan including Storkyrkan, German Church, and Riddarholmen Church.

Gamla Stan’s Central Square

Photo by Dennis Jarvis.

Nobel Museum

Learn everything there is to know about the world’s most prestigious award. Take a guided tour, enjoy films, and witness numerous Nobel artefacts.

The annual award ceremony takes place in Stockholm and since they began back in 1901, nearly 1,000 individuals have received the honour. Prizes are awarded for literature, medicine, physics, chemistry, peace, and economics and carry a prize value of over $1 million for recipients.

Notable winners include Barack Obama, Albert Einstein, Nelson Mandela, Ernest Hemingway and Martin Luther King Jr. Entry is free with the Stockholm Pass or around $15 USD.

Eat

Stockholms Gästabud – Meat Lovers

Translating as “feast”, this secluded and quaint restaurant will definitely fill you up. Try some Swedish meatballs or exotic meats like moose and reindeer. Fish lovers should choose their delicious salmon or herring meals.

Expect to wait for a table as seating is very limited, about 30 covers, and the place is very popular with good reason. Expect mains to run around $25-$30 USD

Stockholms Gästabud – Meat Lovers

Photo by Steven Coutts

Hermitage – Vegetarian / Vegan

Vegans and Vegetarians rejoice, Stockholm offers numerous “all vego” eateries. One of the best you’ll find in Gamla Stan.

Hermitage offers a fresh menu that changes daily offering an all you can eat buffet for around $15 USD. Whether you shy away from meat, want a bit of a health kick, or simply want to try something new, give this affordable yet delicious place a go.

StikkiNikki Gelato – Dessert

Somehow a girl from Texas, Nicole, wound up in Sweden and has been creating gelato masterpieces for Stockholm since 2008. She now serves up fresh daily gelato to its 8 stores scattered around Stockholm, one located in Gamla Stan.

Getting its name from Nicole’s childhood nickname “Stikkinikki” on account of her long skinny legs, over 500 flavours have been created over the years.

The flavours vary with the seasons but one thing always remains true. The gelato is always homemade using only organic ingredients. No artificial taste enhancers or colours, just delicious all natural flavour.

Be sure to check out this family owned and operated gem next time you find yourself in Gamla Stan.

OUR FAVORITE SWEDEN GUIDES! CLICK BOOK TO LOOK INSIDE ↓

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Megan is an Australian Journalist and award-winning travel writer who has been blogging since 2007. Her husband Mike is the American naturalist and wildlife photographer behind Waking Up Wild; a website dedicated to opening your eyes to the wild & natural world.

Committed to bringing you the best in adventure travel from all around the globe, there is no mountain too high, and no fete too extreme! They haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on their list.

If you enjoy getting social, you can follow their journey on FacebookTwitterYouTubePinterest and Instagram.

Pinterest photo credits: Bengt Nyman &  Dennis Jarvis.

    24 Comments

    • Glad you had a fabulous time too!

  1. Gamla Stan sounds amazing. Of course, I knew there were lots of islands around the coast of Sweden, but it never registered that these would be, for example, part of the cities! I’m definitely up for visiting now – and your hotel recommendation of first hotel Reisen sounds perfect for me.

    • Awesome Fiona, glad we could introduce you to Gamla Stan. And yes, First Hotel Reisen is absolutely superb, and in a killer location on the waterfront – you’ll love it!

  2. That is interesting story of Gamla Stan 😊 I really liked the colorful facades there. Looks like it isn’t spoilt by modern architecture yet. Thanks for all the helpful tips on stay there.

    • Glad you enjoyed the post Indrani – yes, aren’t the colorful buildings throughout town just fab! Such a charming and well preserved area. Hope you have the chance to visit sometime soon :)

  3. When I read that this is one of the largest and best preserved medieval city centers in Europe. You absolutely got me immediately! To experience Medieval architecture and is one of the reasons why I would love to visit Europe. This place is like my fantasy land.

    I would love to stay at Hotel Reisen. It’s amazing to stay in this 17th or 18th century building located among narrow cobbled street. This is something I really look forward in Sweden.

    • If Medieval architecture is drawing you to Europe, I can highly recommend Sweden as one of your first stops. Gamla Stan is so rich in history, and so well preserved it’s incredible just wandering through the streets.

      And you can’t beat Hotel Reisen – a solid choice for a historic stay. Have a great trip!

  4. I almost got the chance to visit Stockholm last year, sadly didn’t happen. I’ve seen pictures here from my ex-boyfriend and I knew Stockholm is a must visit. The Swedish meatballs also look yummy though I’m not a big fan of meatballs for reasons. lol And if I’d come and visit here, I’d surely book Residence Perseus, it sure is expensive but could be a Stockholm thing since everything must be pricey!

    • Maybe you can make it happen in 2018 :D I LOVE my meatballs, and Swedish meatballs are among the best! If you’re looking for an excuse to splurge, Residence Perseus is it; it’ll be one of the most memorable apartments you’ve ever stayed in!

  5. It’s fun to read about a place that I have no perceptions and no context. Gamla Stan looks lovely, and the perfect place to wander along the cobblestone streets and colorful architecture. I’d love to check out the Nobel Prize Museum and the Royal Palace. It sounds like the Stockholm pass makes these entrance fees alot more affordable. Thanks for the tips!

    • Glad we could introduce you! Yes, can highly recommend the Stockholm pass if you’re planning on hitting up a number of different attractions / museums – comes in very handy in keeping your admission prices from piling up!

  6. I was really hoping to get to Stockholm before the end of the year to use my Stockholm Pass, but it turns out I’m still in Edinburgh. I can’t wait to go back though. The food there is absolutely delicious. I’ll have to try out those hotels when I go. They look beautiful, particularly the First Hotel Reisen.

    • Maybe 2018 is your year! Glad you enjoyed your first trip, and made a little bit of use of the Stockholm card – fabulous little thing isn’t it!

      Can highly recommend the First Hotel Reisen when you return :)

  7. I have been wanting to go return to Stockholm as it is such a beautiful city. The hotel looks gorgeous and I love that a hidden treasure of silver lies hidden within the building! How interesting! The Swedish meatballs look yummy, I would have to try that restaurant for sure.

    • The second trip back is always a blast because you can discover things you missed on your first trip, and take more time to devour the sites.

      Swedish meatballs are my favorite :D!

  8. I’ve been to Sweden many times, but never actually visited Stockholm. I’d particularly like to go in December when the Christmas markets are going on, since I’m not really in to museums and such. Or summer to do some urban kayaking.

    I love Swedish food, so I’d definitely be about eating. And I always try to find a place with reindeer meat, because it’s absolutely delicious. I’m surprised you didn’t mention fikka, though. It’s such an important and huge part of Swedish culture. Gotta have those fikka breaks!

    • If you do have the opportunity to visit Sweden again, I can highly recommend Stockholm – and yes, you really can’t beat Christmas in any European city; the festive atmosphere is incredible! Though urban kayaking in summer sounds awesome too – maybe need to plan a couple of trips for 2018 :D!

      I’m actually with you on the reindeer meat! I tried some in Finland a couple of years ago now and it was surprisingly delicious (after I moved past the idea that I was eating one of Santa’s lol!)

  9. Reading this reminds me my fabulous time in Stockholm, wandering around Gamla stan and photographing the colourful buildings. I did had a chance to visit the noble prize museum but that’s should be a good excuse to revisit, oh the yummy meatballs i had it couple of times!

    • So glad to hear you had a fabulous time in Gamla Stan Anneklien! And enjoyed the museums and food. It’s an incredible part of the city!

  10. Had no idea that Gamla Stan is one of the best preserved medieval cities in Europe. Love the history of the “log island” and the colorful buildings. It’s great to read that girl from Texas has made it big with gelatos, I’d love to try her unique creations. The one place I’d really love to visit is the Noble Prize museum. Great tip to use the Stockholm Pass, which I guess is cheaper in the long run. Great guide for exploring Gamla Stan.

    • Glad you enjoyed the guide Rosemary! Yes, as far as Old Towns go in Europe, Gamla Stan is pretty incredible – and Nikki’s gelatos are divine!

      Hope you have the chance to travel at some point soon – and yes, the Stockholm Pass is a great way to save on museums and attractions when you do :)

  11. Great read. Stockholm is a nice city that I want to visit again. I would like to walk Gamla Stan again as it is a great place to explore.

    • So glad to hear you enjoyed your time in Gamla Stan David :) I hope you do have the opportunity to visit again soon!

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