Stockholm/Gamla stan

Gamla stan [gamlaˈstɑːn], the Old Town, also known as Staden mellan broarna ("the town between the bridges") is the Old Town in Stockholm, containing genuine cultural heritage, as well as tourist traps. Adjacent islands are Helgeandsholmen, with the Swedish Parliament, and Riddarholmen, with several nobility palaces, today occupied by various government functions.

An aerial view of Gamla stan

Understand

Since the Ice Age, the land has been rising from the sea, at about half a metre per century. What is today Lake Mälaren, was part of the brackish Baltic Sea until AD 1000; in these times, Birka, Sigtuna and Uppsala were the most important settlements in Svealand; all being located at the Mälaren shore.

As Sigtuna was sacked in 1187, a fortress was built on the island to protect Mälaren from pirates. While most of the first houses were built of wood, and destroyed by fire through the years, some masonry basements remain from the Middle Ages. The first Royal Palace, Tre Kronor, burnt down in 1697.

In the mid-19th century, most buildings in central island had fallen into decay, and total redevelopment was considered. However, most buildings were restored instead, transforming the island from a slum to a high-class neighbourhood. Today, Gamla stan has 7,000 inhabitants and is full of trendy cafés and souvenir shops.

The T-bana station Gamla stan is at ground level and one of the least visually appealing stations in the system

Get in

Gamla stan is connected to Norrmalm by four walkable bridges, all of which provide picturesque views and nice photo opportunities. From east to west those are Strömbron, Norrbro, Riksbron and Vasabron.

Södermalm is only connected to the Gamla stan via the Slussen, a giant transit node built over the water lock between the Baltic Sea and the Lake Mälaren. There are walkways across it as well, although it is not quite pretty.

By tunnelbana

The Tunnelbana station Gamla stan is the only one within the district, and is located at the southeast edge of it. All trains of the red (13, 14) and green (17, 18, 19) lines stop at Gamla stan.

Alternatively, you can alight at the Central Station or at Slussen on the Södermalm side and take a bus or simply walk to the Gamla stan over one of the bridges.

By bus

These are the following bus stops in Gamla stan:

Nota bene: It appears on the network plans provided by the SL that bus 59 goes through Gamla stan along with 3 and 53. In reality, the 59 passes by Gamla stan using Centralbron (a highway bridge) and does not stop in Gamla stan at all.

Get around

Cars are banned in inner Gamla stan. As in most historical districts, people with motion disabilities might have difficulties getting around, though many basement establishments have wheelchair lifts. Community bicycles are good for the waterfront roads, but they could be difficult to bring inside the alleyways.

The Cathedral (Storkyrkan)

See

Riddarholmskyrkan
Tyska kyrkan towering over the Gamla stan
The Royal Palace
The Stortorget - on the right is the Nobel Museum
Norrström is a stream from Lake Mälaren to the Baltic Sea, passing by Helgeandsholmen islet, where the Parliament is located.

Do

Buy

Christmas Fair at Stortorget, in front of the Nobel Museum.

Gamla stan has plenty of small stores selling souvenirs, art, handicraft and other items mainly geared towards tourists. Although there are a number of tourist traps with tacky, grossly overpriced merchandise, especially on Västerlånggatan, you can also find nice and interesting stuff. If you want a calmer experience, try Österlånggatan or any of the other streets.

Eat

During summer, Västerlånggatan is packed with travellers.

Evening restaurant dining in Gamla stan is quite expensive - expect to pay around 120 SEK for a starter and 250 SEK for a main course. Check the evening menu price rather than the boards outside - the prices displayed outside are often lunch offers only. In winter months restaurant kitchens seem to close at around 21:30, so dine early!

Cafés

Budget

Some nearby low-budget supermarkets are in the basement of Galleria Slussen at Katarinavägen 1 about 700 metres away. If you can manage a longer walk there is a much nicer supermarket, Hemköp at Mäster Samuelsgatan 59, around 2 km away.

Mid-range

Splurge

Drink

Riksdag (house of parliament)

Drinks in Gamla stan are quite expensive - expect to pay around 60 SEK for a 500 ml lager in a cheap pub, rising to 95 SEK for a microbrew beer in a nice pub. If you like to drink a lot, it's worth heading further afield, and avoiding the tourist bars.

Sleep

Budget

Hotel Reisen at Skeppsbron, in business since 1819, neighbours the Royal Palace (visible at the right edge).

The Old Town contains several low-cost hostels. As the beds are in high demand, especially during summer, advance booking is strongly recommended.

Mid-range

The Collector's Hotels, (+46 8 506 400 50) a three- to four-star chain of three hotels with a maritime theme, all in Gamla stan.

  •   Lord Nelson Hotel, Västerlånggatan 22. 29 rooms Rates from SEK 1850.
  •   Victory Hotel, Lilla Nygatan 5. 45 rooms Rates from SEK 1791.
  •   Lady Hamilton Hotel, Storkyrkobrinken 5. 34 rooms Rates from SEK 1650.

Splurge

Stay safe

Beware of pickpocketing and illegal street gambling, especially around Västerlånggatan.

Connect


This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Saturday, February 13, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.