Gamla Stan, Stockholm's Old Town, is the oldest neighbourhood of Stockholm and one of the best preserved medieval town centres in all of Europe. It was here that Stockholm was founded by Birger Jarl in 1252 and it was here the royal palace was built - which later burned down and a new palace was built instead.
Gamla Stan is the heart of Stockholm and one should at least stroll around this area for an hour when visiting Stockholm.
Gamla Stan was considered one of the poorest neighbourhoods of Stockholm in the 19th century but has quickly become a tourist hotspot after WWII.
It consists of many dark alleyways, cobble-stoned streets, red and yellow painted houses and three famous churches: the German church (Tyska Kyrkan), the Finnish church (Finska Kyrkan) and the Great church (Storrkyrkan). One highlight (and hidden gem) of Gamla Stan is the street Mårten Trotzigs Gränd which at a width of 90 cm, is the narrowest alleyway in all of Stockholm!
What to do in Gamla Stan
There's lots to do in Gamla Stan, summer and winter, but as the area is very popular among tourists, it pays off to visit early! The must-do's of a visit to Gamla Stan are:
Visit the Royal Palace
The Royal Palace was re-built in the 18th century after a fire. It nowadays functions as the workplace of the Swedish Royals (they live at Drottningholm Castle) and is situated right next to the Swedish Parliament.
You can visit the palace and take a guided tour, and also get a glimpse of the crown jewels. Opening times are from 10am to 4pm in winter and from 9am to 5pm in summer. A regular ticket costs 160 SEK.
Learn more about the Nobel Prize at Nobel Museum
So you probably know that the nobel prize has its origin in Sweden and that the prize is awarded in Stockholm each year. But how much do you really know about its founder Alfred Nobel?
The Nobel Museum hopefully provides you with the answers to all the questions you might have and can be visited between 11am and 5pm. Tickets cost 120 SEK.
Stadshuset is the the city hall of Stockholm and it's here the nobel prize is awarded. You can climb its tower to enjoy the view over Stockholm from above for 50 SEK. They also offer guided tours telling you all about the history of the building for 110 SEK in summer and 90 SEK in winter.
Of course nowadays there are a lot of souvenir shops in this area but also many small, unique shops that sell Swedish craft and fashion. So after you've visited the Royal Palace you can just stroll around the area, buy Swedish design furniture or just eat and relax in one of the many cafes and restaurants. Lunch always is the cheapest option in Stockholm if you want to eat a warm meal!
Relax at the waterfront
Next to Gamla Stan you can find Riddarholmen - the knight's island. You just cross a bridge and you are in the most beautiful place of Stockholm. Sit at the water and enjoy the view on Stockholm's Stadshus!
Where to stay in Gamla Stan
- Archipelago Hostel - for the budget traveller
- Mälardrottningen Yacht Hotel - ever fancied staying on a yacht?
- First Hotel Reisen - gorgeous view over Lake Mälaren
- Old Town Lodge - hostel with free breakfast
Where to eat in Gamla Stan
You shouldn't miss out on the Ben&Jerry's ice-cream parlour if you are there and if you like Italian food, the Vapiano right next to the subway station is always worth a visit. But of course you can find many authentic (but expensive) Italian restaurants in Gamla Stan too.