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
Photo by Bengt Nyman
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Photo by Dennis Jarvis.
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.
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
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.
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