Winding cobblestone streets, ancient churches, medieval squares – even a royal palace. It’s all here in Gamla Stan, Stockholm’s Old Town. Dating back to 1252, it’s one of Europe’s biggest and best preserved medieval centers.
And a Gamla Stan walking tour is one of the first things you must do when visiting Stockholm!
We’d flown into Stockholm for a Baltic cruise a few days earlier so we could enjoy some “pre-cruise” time exploring the city.
And so, armed with our trusty Rick Steves’ Northern European Cruise Ports guide, we set off on foot to explore Gamla Stan.
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Photos of our Gamla Stan walking tour
Here are some photos – in no particular order – of our walking tour of Gamla Stan.
While we tried to follow Rick Steves’ Stockholm walking tour of Gamla Stan, we got lost anyway (just as we have in other higgledy piggledy medieval towns like tiny Trogir and the 1,700-year-old palace city of Split).
But that’s part of the fun of exploring these old European towns, isn’t it!
Stortorget (or “the Big Square”) is the oldest square in Stockholm. It’s lined by beautiful buildings and houses dating back to the 17th and 18th centuries, once owned by wealthy merchants.
Cafés around Stortorget make good people watching spots…
Alley of Marten Trotzig:
How skinny can a street be? Pretty skinny!
The “Alley of Marten Trotzig” is the narrowest street in Stockholm – a mere 35 inches wide.
Built in Baroque style, the 18th century Royal Palace is the official residence of the Swedish monarchy (but the reception rooms, treasury and other rooms are open to the public).
Near the Royal Palace, Storkyrkan (literally “the Great Church”) has been around for as long as Stockholm.
On top is the clock tower, built in 1743 – at 216 feet tall, it’s hard to miss!
Lots of bicycles!
Gamla Stan itself is more geared to walking, but Stockholm in general is quite bicycle-friendly. And we noticed several people with bicycles.
Apparently there are more moose per square mile in Sweden than in any other country.
That probably accounts for why moose memorabilia are popular as souvenirs – like this blanket decorated with moose pictures.
Stop for fika:
Fika (pronounced “fee-ka”) is essentially Swedish for taking a break for coffee and a pastry, perhaps a cinnamon roll or vanilla bun.
Of course, we indulged in the Swedish custom too and stopped for fika while walking Gamla Stan.
Indeed, eating and drinking is popular in Gamla Stan!
And there are many tempting restaurants if you want more than just fika.
Come to think of it, walking and eating go hand-in-hand nicely on a walking tour of Gamla Stan…
Map of Gamla Stan
You can zoom in and out on this map of Gamla Stan to plan your own walking tour of Gamla Stan:
Stockholm travel tips
Free walking tour of Gamla Stan:
You might want to buy a Stockholm Pass, the sightseeing city card that gives you free entry to over 60 museums, attractions and tours.
If you do, you can get a free walking tour of Gamla Stan through Our Way Tours. This guided Stockholm walking tour gives you a short 1.5 hour introduction to the Old Town. (Note: The Stockholm Pass isn’t valid for a free tour between June 30 and August 26.)
More fun things to do in Stockholm:
Other attractions available through the Stockholm Pass include the Vasa Museum (which showcases the mighty Vasa ship recovered from the mud after it sank in 1628) and a boat trip to Drottningholm Palace (where the Swedish royal family still live) – both of which we enjoyed.
Where to stay in Stockholm:
Overlooking one of Stockholm’s harbors, our base was the Hotel Diplomat, originally built in 1911 as an Art Nouveau palace – lovely!
Transportation from the airport:
We pre-booked a chauffeur-driven car with Blacklane to take us from the airport to our hotel. Blacklane is a professional driver service that contracts with a network of licensed drivers in over 50 countries. Surprisingly, the rate was only slightly more than what a taxi would have cost, but we had the added comfort of being met at the airport in a strange city.
Best time to visit Stockholm:
We were fortunate we were visiting in September, at the end of Stockholm’s tourist season – we didn’t encounter the crowds we understand can gather in summer. Can’t blame them though… With its lakes and fingers of waterways, Stockholm is crazily beautiful. It’s no wonder people want to visit!
Bottom line: If you can, don’t visit in July or August. While the weather is dry and warm in high summer, prices are the highest and it’s very busy too. To avoid hordes of tourists, the best time to visit Stockholm is June and September.
Stockholm visitor information:
For more on what to see and do in Stockholm, see Visit Stockholm, the official tourist information website.
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We’re Janice and George Mucalov, professional award-winning travel writers, sharing tales of luxury travel with a twist of adventure.