Main Streets & Arteries -- Stockholm's major streets -- Kungsgatan (the main shopping street), Birger Jarlsgatan, Drottningsgata, and Strandvägen (which leads to Djurgården) -- are on Norrmalm (north of the Old Town), and are reserved (with some exceptions) mainly for pedestrians. Stureplan, which lies at the junction of the major avenues Kungsgatan and Birger Jarlsgatan, is the commercial hub of the city.
About 4 blocks east of Stureplan rises Hötorget City, a landmark of modern urban planning that includes five 18-story skyscrapers. Its main traffic-free artery is Sergelgatan, a 3-block shopper's promenade that eventually leads to the modern sculptures at the center of Sergels Torg.
About 9 blocks south of Stureplan, at Gustav Adolfs Torg, are both the Royal Dramatic Theater and the Royal Opera House.
A block east of the flaming torches of the opera house is the verdant north-south stretch of Kungsträdgården -- part avenue, part public park -- which serves as a popular gathering place for students and a resting spot for shoppers.
Three blocks to the southeast, on a famous promontory, are the landmark Grand Hotel and the National Museum.
Most visitors to Stockholm arrive at the SAS Airport Bus Terminal, the Central Station, or Stockholm's Central (Public) Bus Station. Each of these is in the heart of the city, on the harborfront, about 7 blocks due west of the opera house. Kungsholmen (King's Island) lies across a narrow canal from the rest of the city, a short walk west from the Central Station. It's visited chiefly by those who want to tour Stockholm's elegant Stadshuset (City Hall).
South of Gamla Stan (Old Town), and separated from it by a narrow but much-navigated stretch of water, is Södermalm, the southern district of Stockholm. Quieter than its northern counterpart, it's an important residential area with a distinctive flavor of its own and a nostalgic reputation for housing, sometimes in overcrowded squalor, the factory workers of the 19th century's industrial revolution. Fast-growing, with a higher density of new, counterculture bars, stores, and nightclubs than any other district of Stockholm, it emerged around the turn of the millennium as one of the most talked-about districts in the capital. Greta Garbo claimed this island as the site of her childhood home.
To the east of Gamla Stan, on a large and forested island completely surrounded by the complicated waterways of Stockholm, is Djurgården (Deer Park). The summer pleasure ground of Stockholm is the site of many of its most popular attractions: the open-air museums of Skansen, the Vasa man-of-war, Gröna Lund's Tivoli, the Waldemarsudde estate of the "painting prince" Eugen, and the Nordic Museum.
Finding an Address -- All even numbers are on one side of the street, and all odd numbers are on the opposite side. Buildings are listed in numerical order but often have an A, B, or C after the number. In the very center of town, numbered addresses start from Sergels Torg.
Maps -- Free maps of Stockholm are available at the tourist office, but if you want to explore the narrow old streets of Gamla Stan, you'll need a more detailed map. Pocket-size maps, with a street index that can be opened and folded like a wallet, are sold at most newsstands in central Stockholm and at major bookstores, including Akademibokhandeln, Mäster Samuelsgatan 28 (tel. 08/402-11-00).
Neighborhoods in Brief
As you'd expect of a city spread across 14 major islands in an archipelago, Stockholm has many neighborhoods, but those of concern to the ordinary visitor lie in central Stockholm. We'll begin with the most nostalgic and evocative -- and our longtime favorite for sleeping or dining -- the Old Town.
Gamla Stan (Old Town) -- The "cradle" of Stockholm, Gamla Stan lies at the entrance to Lake Mälaren on the Baltic and, along with the excavated wreck of the Vasa, is the most popular attraction in Stockholm. The buildings here, in general, are most evocative of 18th-century Stockholm, built in romantic architectural styles, and there are many options for eating and drinking. The area's downside is that there are few hotels, and they tend to be expensive. Gamla Stan's major shopping street is the narrow Västerlånggatan, reserved almost exclusively for pedestrians, but many artisans' galleries, souvenir shops, and antiques stores abound on its small lanes. Its main square, and the heart of the ancient city, is Stortorget.
Norrmalm -- North of Gamla Stan, what was once a city suburb is now the cultural and commercial heart of modern Stockholm. Chances are that your hotel will be in this district, as the area is generously endowed with hotels in all price ranges. This is also the most convenient location for most visits, as it encompasses the City Terminal and the Central Station. Hotels here are not the most romantic in town, but they're generally modern, up-to-date, and well run.
The most famous park in Stockholm, Kungsträdgården (King's Garden), is in Norrmalm. In summer, this park is a major rendezvous point. Norrmalm also embraces the important squares of Sergels Torg and Hötorget, the latter a modern shopping complex. Norrmalm's major pedestrian shopping street is Drottninggatan, which starts at the bridge to the Old Town.
Vasastaden -- As Norrmalm expanded northward, the new district of Vasastaden was created. It's split by a trio of main arteries: St. Eriksgatan, Sveavägen, and Odengatan. The area around St. Eriksplan is called "the Off-Broadway of Stockholm" because it has so many theaters. Increasingly, this district has attracted fashionable restaurants and bars and has become a popular residential area for young Stockholmers who work in fields such as journalism, television, and advertising.
Vasastaden is slightly more removed from the action, but it's still a good bet for hotels. In international terms, Norrmalm would be like staying in New York's Times Square or London's Leicester Square, whereas Vasastaden would be equivalent to staying on the Upper East Side or Notting Hill. Hotels in Vasastaden come in a wide range of price categories.
Kungsholmen -- Once known as "Grey Friars Farm," Kungsholmen (King's Island), to the west of Gamla Stan, is the site of City Hall. One of its major arteries is Fleminggatan. Established by Charles XI in the 17th century as a zone for industry and artisans, the island is now gentrified with bars and restaurants. Some industry remains, though: Along Norrmälarstand, old Baltic cutters tie up to the banks, and Stockholm's newspapers have their headquarters at Marieberg on the southwestern tip of the island.
Södermalm -- South of Gamla Stan, Södermalm (where Greta Garbo was born) is the largest and most populated district in Stockholm. Once synonymous with poverty, this working-class area today is becoming more fashionable, especially with artists, writers, and young people. If you don't come here to stay in one of the moderately priced hotels or to dine in one of its restaurants, you should come to take the Katarina elevator, at Södermalmstorg, Slussen, for a good view of Stockholm and its harbor.
Östermalm -- In central Stockholm, east of the main artery Birger Jarlsgatan, lies Östermalm. In the Middle Ages, the royal family used to keep its horses, and even its armies, here. Today it's the site of the Army Museum. The area boasts wide straight streets and is home to one of the city's biggest parks, Humlegården, dating from the 17th century.
This is another of the city's hotel districts. While not as conveniently located as Norrmalm and Vasastaden, it's often easier to get rooms here.
Djurgården -- To the east of Gamla Stan (Old Town) is Djurgården (Deer Park), a forested island in a lake that's the summer recreation area of Stockholm. Here you can visit the open-air folk museums of Skansen, the Vasa man-of-war ship, Gröna Lund's Tivoli (Stockholm's own version of the Tivoli), the Waldemarsudde estate and gardens of the "painting prince" Eugen, and the Nordic Museum. The fastest way to get here is over the bridge at Strandvägen/Narvavägen.
Skeppsholmen -- On its own little island, which can be reached by crossing the Skeppsholmsbron bridge from the Blasieholmen district, Skeppsholmen is like a world apart from the rest of bustling Stockholm. Most people visit it to see the exhibits at the Moderna Museet. Skeppsholmen also is home to af Chapman, Sweden's most famous youth hostel, a gallant, tall ship that is a Stockholm landmark.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.