Stockholm County (Stockholms län) is a county of Sweden which includes its capital, Stockholm and its surrounding municipalities. With 2.2 million inhabitants, it is both the country's most populous region and the most densely populated one. Far from homogenous, it includes dense urban areas as well as large expanses of forests and the Stockholm Archipelago, a sparsely inhabited archipelago of over 30,000 islands. Stockholm dominates the area and it is fair to say that all of the municipalities within the county are Stockholm's satellites and suburbs to some extent, although other cities with a distant identity do exist there, notably Sweden's oldest city Sigtuna, the port of Nynäshamn, and the industrial hub of Södertälje.
The county has 26 municipalities, but not all of them are of equal interest to tourists. For easier orientation, we describe them by grouping them into eight sub-regions:
| Stockholm (municipalities of Stockholm, Solna, Sundbyberg, Lidingö and the town of Nacka in the namesake municipality)|
Metropolitan Stockholm consists of Stockholm Municipality, and some of the inner suburbs. This area contains five Royal Palaces, more than 80 museums and countless historical buildings, all within reach of public transport.
| Ekerö |
A freshwater archipelago, and the only Swedish municipality with two UNESCO World Heritage sites: Drottningholm Palace, and Viking-age settlement Birka.
| Stockholm Archipelago (Many larger and smaller islands belonging to different municipalities, including Värmdö and Vaxholm. The island of Boo and the seaside resort of Saltsjöbaden in the Nacka municipality are also covered here)|
Contains 30,000 islands spread across multiple municipalities; some with deep forests and wide farmlands; others just small rocks just reaching above the surface of the Baltic Sea.
| Södertörn (Botkyrka, Haninge, Huddinge, Nynäshamn, Salem and Tyresö)|
The peninsula south of Stockholm, with lush forests, the Tyresta National Park, a long coastline, the port of Nynäshamn, and the world's largest IKEA store.
| Södertälje (This guide covers the municipalities of Södertälje and Nykvarn)|
A major port, with a canal between the Baltic Sea and Lake Mälaren.
| Stockholm's northern suburbs (Danderyd, Järfälla, Sollentuna, Täby, Upplands-Bro, Upplands Väsby and Vallentuna)|
The outer suburbs of Stockholm are a good retreat for sport and outdoor life.
| Sigtuna (Sigtuna, Märsta, Arlanda)|
Sigtuna was founded in the 10th century, and was effectively Sweden's capital for 300 years. Sigtuna Municipality contains Sweden's largest airport: Stockholm-Arlanda.
| Norrtälje |
The northernmost municipality in the county and the most expansive in terms of area, as well as the most sparsely inhabited. It offers a long coastline, many bodies of water surrounded by forests and farmlands, and is therefore popular with tourists in the summer.
Stockholm County consists of the eastern parts of the Uppland and Södermanland provinces.
Due to the post-glacial rebound, the land is rising, and until the 15th century, lake Mälaren was a bay of the Baltic Sea.
While Birka became Sweden's first city in the 8th century, the cradle of the Swedish Kingdom stood in Sigtuna. Stockholm was founded in the 13th century, and became the effective capital 200 years later.
The county was established in 1714, not long after the whole county system was created in 1683. While most Swedish counties were formed by the provinces, landskap, each with their distinctive folk culture and local patriotism with roots in the Middle Ages, the identity of Stockholm County has emerged from the capital city, as the outskirts of the county are effectively suburbs of Stockholm.
The city of Stockholm was an autonomous entity, until merged with the county in 1968; currently containing 26 municipalities.
The main hub of the county is the Stockholms Centralstation (Stockholm C or Centralen), which is the busiest station for long-distance, regional and local trains, the Stockholm metro (whose adjacent station is called T-Centralen) and local and long-range buses (which stop at the adjacent Cityterminalen).
Stockholm county includes two major airports with scheduled passenger traffic:
- Stockholm Arlanda is the country's largest airport by far in terms of passenger traffic and the number of international and intercontinental connections. It has a railway station served by Storstockholms Lokaltrafik's local trains (pendeltåg), which can take you to all over the county (and even up to Uppsala County) either directly or with a transfer. There is also an express direct connection to Stockholm's central railway station called Arlanda Express, as well as bus connections locally within Sigtuna, to Uppsala and to Stockholm. See Sigtuna for airport amenities, and Stockholm#Get in for transfer to central Stockholm.
- Stockholm Bromma is Stockholm's older airport, still within the city borders, which is now served mostly by domestic connections within Sweden.
- Stockholm Skavsta in Nyköping and Stockholm Västerås in Västerås also serve Stockholm, though they are each about 100 kilometres away from the city. Most of the traffic consists of no-frills airlines.
The only train station in Stockholm served by long-distance domestic and international trains is the Centralstation, where you can change to local trains, the metro or a local bus further on to your destination. Some long-distance trains also call at Södertälje Syd, Flemingsberg, and Arlanda.
Baltic sea ferries with passenger and vehicular (car and truck) capacities connect Stockholm with Helsinki, Turku, Riga and Tallinn. A ferry from Gdańsk arrives in Nynäshamn, a port in the south of Södertörn.
Stockholm is served by three major motorways of the European motorway system:
- E4, which traverses the country from north to south, passes through Stockholm by way of the city's beltway. South of Stockholm, it goes across the country to its west coast, terminating in Helsingborg (where you can branch out further south to Malmö and Copenhagen), passing by Nyköping, Linköping and Jönköping. In Jönköping, you can branch out to Gothenburg. North of Stockholm, the E4 follows the Baltic Sea coast to major Norrland seaside cities like Umeå, Luleå and Skellefteå and ends in Finland.
- E18, which leads by ferry from Finland to Norrtälje and goes north of the lake Mälaren through Västerås, Örebro and Karlstad to the Norwegian border and then on to Oslo
- E20, which goes south from Stockholm via Södertälje, and then, south of lake Mälaren, it goes west to Gothenburg. In Gothenburg, it turns south along the North Sea coast to Malmö.
Entering Stockholm by car with Swedish number plates incurs a congestion charge; see also Stockholm#By car.
Though public transport serves the whole county, driving can be a practical option for the countryside. Some archipelago islands are connected to the mainland by car ferries. Tourist destinations can be congested around holidays.
The whole county is served by Storstockholms Lokaltrafik AB (Greater Stockholm Local Transit Company), which provides many different modes of transportation under a common ticketing and fare scheme. This includes, light rail/trams in Stockholm, the Stockholm metro and local trains, and a comprehensive network of bus lines. There are also regular ferries between the islands which are operated by independent companies - some are under the same SL fare scheme, and others are not, requiring separate tickets.
The SL website has detailed ticket and price information in English, and a journey planner. It is always updated.
All SL services use an integrated ticket system. Stockholm operates a RFID card called SL Access which triggers entry gates and other electronic readers. The card costs 20 SEK to purchase and can load all tickets available in the SL fare scheme.
There are two forms of ticketing, passes and coupons. Public transport passes and coupons are bought at the public transport centers (located in different stations, including central station and t-central), at all "Pressbyrån"-kiosks, most bigger food markets and some smaller kiosks. Tickets can not be bought on buses.
There are passes available for 24 hours (115 SEK, 70 SEK for people younger than 20 or older than 65), 72 hours (230 SEK/140 SEK), 7 days (300 SEK/180 SEK) and for extended stays in Stockholm a 30-day card is available, which allows unrestricted access to all buses, trams, T-bana, and commuter trains, as well as the Djurgården ferry, for 790 SEK. The 72-hour pass also confers free admission to Gröna Lund (Djurgården).
A coupon ticket is valid for 75 minutes, and allows unlimited changes. Depending of the number of travel zones past through, a ticket costs 2, 3 or 4 coupons.
The cheapest option is to download digital coupons to the SL Access card, reskassa, at 12:50 SEK each, a one-zone ride costs 25 SEK (half price for children and seniors). A one-zone mobile phone ticket or a paper ticket from a vending machine costs 36 SEK (20 SEK), and a one-zone ticket bought at the ticket booth, or by a rail conductor, costs 50 SEK (32 SEK).
Children under 12 travelling with adults travel free from mid-day Friday to midnight Sunday. Children under 7 ride for free with a paying adult.
The Stockholm Card allows free public transport as well as free admission to 80 museums and sights in Stockholm, free sightseeing by boat and other bonus offers. Adult 24 hours 450 SEK, 48 hours 625 SEK, 72 hours 750 SEK, 120 hours 950 SEK. Children (7–17 years of age) 24 hours 215 SEK, 48 hours 255 SEK, 72 hours 285 SEK, 120 hours 315 SEK. This card is not RFID and requires visual inspection on access.
Airport buses, Arlanda Express and regional trains are not part of the SL network, and thus not included in any of these tickets.
Stockholm has a rapid transit system called the Tunnelbana [ˌtɵnəlˈbɑːna] (sometimes abbreviated T-Bana or just T on signs) with exactly 100 stations, serving most of Stockholm municipality, as well as Sundbyberg, Solna, and Danderyd. Trains run from 05:00 to 01:00 on weekdays, and around the clock on weekends. Night buses replace the trains on weeknights. It is in most cases the fastest mode of transportation.
The SL website has a guidebook to the artwork that is featured in many metro stations, with nearly all stations offering some form of artwork on display. The art on the blue line in particular is of note.
Stockholm County has a commuter rail network, pendeltåg, reaching 53 stations, including Uppsala, Knivsta and Bålsta in Uppsala county, plus Gnesta in Södermanland county. Stations are marked by a J sign. There are four lines:
- 35: (Bålsta) - Kungsängen - Stockholm C - Västerhaninge - (Nynäshamn)
- 36: Märsta - Stockholm C - Södertälje C
- 37: Södertälje C - Gnesta (connects with line 36 at Södertälje hamn)
- 38: Uppsala - Arlanda Airport - Stockholm C - Älvsjö - (Tumba).
Off-peak sees 4 tph (trains per hour) on lines 35 and 36 (2 tph in the bracketed sections), 2 tph on line 38 (only peak services run Älvsjö-Tumba) and 1 tph on line 37. Additional services run during peak hours, giving the core section Karlberg - Älvsjö a peak frequency of 14 tph.
Commuter trains are included in Stockholm's transport ticket system, with the exception of Knivsta and Uppsala on line 38, which employ Uppsala's local transport fares, and Arlanda Airport (see #By plane above). The cost is 60 SEK (35 SEK for youth) with an SL travelcard.
Light rail / tram
Stockholm county contains several light rail lines:
- Tvärbanan connecting Västerort to Söderort.
- Lidingöbanan connects Ropsten in Östermalm to Lidingö. Several archipelago ferries call at Gåshaga brygga at the end of the line.
- Nockebybanan in Västerort connects the district of Nockeby to Alvik on the green line of the Tunnelbana.
- Spårväg City is a city tram connecting Sergels Torg (at T-Centralen) to Waldemarsudde (Djurgården).
Buses serve most populated areas where metro, rail or tram does not reach. Four inner city main lines numbered from 1 to 4 are operated by large blue buses (weekdays every 3–10 minutes), the other, generally less frequent lines (weekdays 7–20 minutes), by red buses.
Apart from those four, several lines running through outer districts and suburbs of Stockholm are designated as blue buses - apart from the colour, they are distinguished by the middle 7 in their three-digit line number. The three-digit blue buses do not go to the city center and generally serve as radial lines to quickly link various areas of a suburban community with its main rail transit nodes.
There are also ferries going to Djurgården and Skeppsholmen. Travel with the Djurgården ferry is included with any 24- or 72-hour pass, 7-day pass as well as the monthly pass.
Sjövägen is a passenger ferry with hourly rides from Nybrokajen (Norrmalm), calling at several docks in Nacka, and Lidingö, ending in Frihamnen (Östermalm). All SL passes are good on the ferry. A single ride costs 40 SEK for adults, 25 SEK for children. The ferry has a cafeteria with tea, coffee, snacks, beer and wine, and gives a great view of the inlet of Stockholm.
Sjövägen is a great option for budget sightseeing.
Stockholm is obviously packed with an amazing array of sights and attractions, as you would expect of a historic European capital and a large modern global city at the same time. But this does not mean that you should not get out of the city proper and admire both the rich natural features and the unexpected wealth of opportunities to explore, experience and learn.
- The Stockholm Archipelago is both a tranquil refuge and home to quite a few historic monuments and museums scattered across the islands - just getting there over the water provides for some spectacular sights
- Ekerö contains the Drottningholm Palace, the residence of the Royal family, as well as Viking Age settlement Birka
- Sigtuna is Sweden's oldest continually existing city, and holds many artefacts thereof
- Tumba and Huddinge in Södertörn have museums devoted to their natural heritage
There is plenty to do in the Stockholm County. The city of Stockholm contains many sports and entertainment venues including the humongous Globen and Friends Arena, and there is always something major happening to be experienced live. The county has a very long coastline and includes vast expanses of water, which lends itself to all kinds of activities, from water-related sports to simply sunbathing or picincking on one of the many sea- and lakeshores. Surprisingly for localities easily reachable by commuter railway, you do not have to get far out of Stockholm either to observe wildlife up close and engage in a Nordic photo safari.
There is not much in the way of a particular cuisine of Stockholm County, but you will of course be able to enjoy the general Swedish favourites and specialties. Due to the region's diverse ethnic makeup, you may also take advantage of the wide range of non-Swedish cuisines represented throughout the County, from kebab and falafel stands to high-end specialty restaurants.
Though fishing has been an important business in the archipelago, most seafood sold in Stockholm has past through Gothenburg. Stockholms fiskmarknad in Östermalm is the only fishmonger for day-fresh catch.
Central Stockholm (Östermalm, Norrmalm, Gamla stan and Södermalm) obviously has the liveliest nightlife, and given the great public transportation connections, the inhabitants of other municipalities tend to go there to party and enjoy evenings out as well.
Given the well-developed public transport network, as well as the distribution of major businesses and venues throughout the county, you are not limited to Stockholm itself in your search for accommodation. Central Stockholm tends to be relatively expensive, especially if you are looking for a higher standard and larger rooms; expect around 1000 SEK for a 4-star single room. Therefore, you may want to look for a better deal in one of the other municipalities - provided you can figure out good connections from the place you stay to where you want to get. The outer areas also have mansion and palace hotels in the countryside.