• Sumo

One of the best things about Stockholm is its pedestrian-friendly nature. It’s possible to walk for miles in the Swedish capital, purposely loosing yourself on the cobblestone streets and among the quaint shops and numerous attractions that make up this city.

In fact, there’s so many places to visit and possible starting points that chances are you’ll have a difficult time choosing where to begin.

Stockholm, as seen from the Skeppsbron quayside. Photo © 2011 Aaron Saunders

One good starting point for any walking tour of Stockholm is from historic Skeppsbron. Both a street and a quay located adjacent to Gamla Stan, Stockholm’s historic old town district, Skeppsbron has functioned as the traditional harbor front of the city for centuries. If you’re on a smaller cruise ship, you could dock here.

Are you ready to go strolling? Let’s begin.

Start at Skeppsbron and head up Norra Bankogrand. What looks like a nondescript street will open up to an attractive square on your left.  Take a stroll down the square and admire the restaurants and patios here. On a sunny day, the square is a hub of activity, and if you have an appetite, this is the place to be. Walk forward into the square, and turn to your right.

Your walking tour begins in this attractive square just one block in from Skeppsbron. Photo © 2011 Aaron Saunders

Take a stroll along Västerlånggatan. This street narrows considerably, at some points becoming just wide enough for small groups to pass each other. You’re in “restaurant central” for the Gamla Stan district; the abundance of eateries here is simply stunning. In an odd twist, there’s more than one Irish Pub to be found here, proving that some things (like Guinness) are universal.

If you keep following this slightly winding street, restaurants give way to shops of every shape, size and variety. Keep your eyes peeled for a candy shop on your left, offering every conceivable type of sweet. Other shops along  include antiques dealers, craft stores, trendy jewelers, and the usual shops selling tourist souvenirs.

Lose yourself in Mårten Trotzigs Grand, the narrowest street in Stockholm. Photo © 2011 Aaron Saunders

During your stroll, keep your eyes peeled for some of the narrow alleys that jut off from Västerlånggatan. There are some excellent photographic opportunities here. Be sure to stop at Mårten Trotzigs Grand, the narrowest alleyway in the city: just 90 centimeters across at one point.

Continue along Västerlånggatan until you come to Tyska Brinken, and turn right. You’ll be faced with a rather steep climb, but don’t worry, it doesn’t last for long, and it’s worth it to see Tyska Kyrkan, also known in English as “The German Church.”

Located in a section of Gamla Stan that was primarily dominated by German settlers during the Middle Ages, Tyska Kyrkan dates back to the 1600s, though the tower is more modern, owing to an 1878 fire that destroyed the previous one. You’ll approach from the Northern Gate, which bears the German inscription, “Fürchtet Gott! Ehret den König!” meaning “Fear God! Honor the King!”

Tysa Kyrkan, the historic German Church. The inscription on the North entrance reads,

Retrace your steps to Vasterlanggatan and continue on in the direction you were previously traveling, continuing to explore the shops that line this street. After five to 10 minutes, you will emerge, facing a square with a large bridge spanning a river, and historic buildings flanking all sides.

You emerge in the heart of the Swedish Parliament. Photo © 2011 Aaron Saunders

This is the Swedish Parliament, or Riksdag. Continue across the bridge; you are now on Stallbron, which will turn into Riksgatan once you enter beneath the stone arches. Make sure you take your time to walk around and explore all the adjacent buildings here; there’s even museum (Medeltidsmuseum) at the eastern end of the Riksdag that recently reopened to the public. It showcases medieval Stockholm, and features more 850 medieval artifacts that were unearthed on Helgeandsholmen between 1978 and 1980.

Looking south along the historic Riksgatan. Take your time to explore this area. Photo © 2011 Aaron Saunders

Continue through the stone archways along Riksgatan, which turns into Drottninggatan. This major pedestrian street is arguably one of the most popular in Stockholm. Almost totally car-free, the street dates back to 1630 when Stockholm’s central planners laid out the grid plan for this section of the city. Today, this area is a veritable shopping mecca.

Sergels torg (Sergel's Square) is the most central public square in Stockholm. Photo © 2011 Aaron Saunders

Continue along Drottninggatan until you reach Sergels torg and Klarabergsgatan. From here, you have numerous options: You can cross the street and visit the mammoth Åhléns City department store (fair warning – it’s packed!)  Or, turn left along Klarabergsgatan and walk for three short blocks to come to Stockholm Central Station. From here, you can take the Stockholm Metro (T-Bana) to just about any location in the city. Be sure to make a photo-stop at the Klara Kyrka (Church) along the way; it’s located just off Klarabergsgatan on your left.

Head Back to Skeppsbron – The Choice is Yours!

The great thing about this ending point is that there are numerous ways to arrive back where you started at Skeppsbron. If you’ve chosen to walk to Stockholm Central Station, we recommend following the waterfront back to your starting point; there’s not as many shops that line this route, but the views from the water of Stockholm can be breathtaking.

The waiting area at Stockholm Central Station. Photo © 2011 Aaron Saunders

If you’ve stopped along Klarabergsgatan across from the Åhléns department store, your best bet would be to re-trace your steps until you arrive back at the Riksdag. From there, once you’ve crossed the bridge into Gamla Stan, feel free to lose yourself in the narrow streets. Much like Venice, it’s impossible to truly get lost, as many roads all lead back to Skeppsbron eventually.