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Stockholm, Sweden
Photograph: Pedro Szekely/FlickrStockholm, Sweden

Your essential guide to where to stay in Stockholm

Get to know the neighbourhoods of Stockholm and find the one that will make the perfect 'home from home' for your stay

Written by
Huw Oliver
&
Madeleine Hyde
Contributor
Rosemary Waugh
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Stockholm is made up of – count them – 14 islands. And each of these areas has its own unique feel, quirks and attractions. It’s one of the most unique capital cities in the world, yet getting to know it can feel a little daunting at first. So let us take you on a virtual tour of the city’s best neighbourhoods, starting with a stroll around the fascinating Gamla Stan and ending with coffee and cake in Sundbyberg. Along the way, we’ll introduce you to the LGBTQ+ haunts of Hornstull and the calming surrounds of Djurgården. Soon, you’ll be full of ideas for the best bars and restaurants to book a table at, and the hottest places to stay in town.

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RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best things to do in Stockholm

Where to stay in Stockholm

Gamla Stan
Photograph: Pedro Szekely/Flickr

Gamla Stan

Gamla Stan (or the Old Town) is Stockholm’s medieval heart, and it remains the epicentre of the inner city. Here you’ll find Parliament, the Royal Palace, Christmas markets, museums, colourful churches and narrow cobbled streets. The trouble is deciding where to begin.

Unlike the modern districts surrounding it, there’s no logical order to the streets of Gamla Stan. The trick is to surrender to it and get lost within. It’s utterly rewarding: on your way you’ll come across cafés spilling on to side streets, tucked-away wine bars and boutiques selling hand-crafted gifts.

Gamla Stan is accessible from almost anywhere in central Stockholm, whether on foot across its bridges from either Norrmalm or Södermalm or via the metro station where both the green and red lines meet. On a sunny day, the best way there is by boat: the commuter ferry 82 nips between Gamla Stan and the islands of Skeppsholmen and Djurgården in just 10 minutes. 

STAY

You’re spoilt for hotels here, from the decadence and antique charm of the Victory Hotel to a cosy cabin on board the Mälardrottningen yacht hotel, moored just a couple of minutes from the metro station.

EAT

Gamla Stan is packed full of surprises and one of them is Bröd & Salt, where you'll find pastries, breads and bowls of beautiful brunch food that are almost too pretty eat. Almost.

DRINK

Kornhamnstorg, a waterside square on the western side, brims with pubs. Engelen is a great choice for live jazz and blues, as is The Temple Bar for its cheap pints and indie playlists. 

DO

Learn about Nobel Prize winners at Nobel Prize Museum on Gamla Stan’s main square, Stortorget. While you’re there, take in the gorgeous old buildings that surround the square. This a great place to start any self-guided tour of the neighbourhood, if you don’t get held up browsing a market first.

If you only do one thing…

Watch the sun set from the western edge of Riddarholmen, Gamla Stan’s tiny sister island. It’s quiet and the view across the water, with Södermalm to your left and Kungsholmen island to your right, is really quite striking.

  • Things to do

The western corner of Södermalm island, in the south of the city, is home to Stockholm’s trendiest residents. This is the area to head to if you’re after alternative and LGBTQ-friendly culture. Hornstull is easily reachable via the red metro line, so there’s little standing between you and an incredible selection of independent cafés, markets, bars, clubs and gig venues.

On any given day or night, you can grab a drink and a falafel wrap to enjoy on the island’s mini beaches, relive the ’90s at one of Debaser Strand’s indie nights, or just chill out at a floating bar.

STAY

For a stay that’ll leave you feeling like a local, find an Airbnb near Tantolunden park. Or go all-out in one of Långholmen’s colourful traditional Swedish cottages.

EAT

If you’re not sure what you want, head to the waterfront and take your pick of the food trucks. Veggies should beeline for Vegan Soul Train, a welcoming takeaway shack that makes vegan-friendly burgers, kebabs and ice cream.

DRINK

Stage Bar & Kök (kitchen) is always a safe bet for decent pub grub and regular live bands. Alternatively, for a bit of quirk, you should try Loopen, which you’ll find floating on Årstaviken lake.

DO

Shop for perfect pieces old and new. For vintage vibes head to Hornsgatan and for a contemporary feel, browse Hornstull Gallerian. If you’ve still got loads of energy left after a day of shopping, dance the night away at Debaser Strand club.

If you only do one thing...

Take a stroll along the Strand, which runs besides the water and beach, and even take a dip if you feel plucky enough to brave the chilly Liljeholmsviken.

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Odenplan
Photograph: James Losey/Flickr

Odenplan

The northern corner of downtown Stockholm might not be the oldest or prettiest, but it really can’t be missed. Odenplan was already the central hub of the upmarket Vasastan district, but has recently upped its game with a shiny new commuter rail station, underlining its pride of place in the middle of the Swedish capital. Surrounding Odenplan are some of Stockholm’s best-loved cafés, the national library and a smattering of brilliant vintage stores.

Effortlessly cool Odenplan is unavoidable if you want the full inner-city Stockholm experience. Simply walk up from Norrmalm, past the central station or along the buzzing Sveavägen avenue, and keep going uphill until you reach Odengatan street. If you’re in a hurry, you can take the green metro line to get in from south or west Stockholm.

STAY

A few affordable international chains have opened up hotels by Odenplan. The local Hotel Ibis Styles is on a quiet street just off Odengatan, where some rooms have even kept a few of their original features.

EAT 

Café Pascal is a badly-kept secret amongst coffee lovers in Stockholm, and its moreish cheese scones and cardamom buns deserve equal fame. The ironically named Greasy Spoon offers a catchy playlist alongside a great brunch menu and is a firm favourite among both Stockholmers who love a full English and expats who miss them.

DRINK 

Tucked away behind Odengatan, RoQ bar is a delight for fans of rock music and arcade games. This one can keep large groups entertained long into the wee hours. Otherwise, make a right where Odengatan meets Sveavägen for a string well-loved pubs (most of which offer at least one affordable pint).

DO

Bookworms will be in their element at Stockholm’s City Library, a curved menagerie of literary delights. When you’re done browsing its titles, sift your way through second-hand garms at some of Stockholm’s well-loved vintage and charity shops: Myrorna, Stockholms Stadsmissionen and Beyond Retro all have branches within a few minutes’ walk of Odenplan.

If you only do one thing… 

Stockholm Observatory is perched proudly on a hill just off Odenplan. Hiking up there is worth it for the view of downtown Stockholm alone, but the waffles at the café by the Observatory offer an extra reward for your stair-climbing efforts.

  • Attractions
  • Sightseeing
  • price 2 of 4

Spend the day in Djurgården and you could be forgiven for imagining yourself on a charming country retreat. But this remarkable royal parkland is actually only a short hop across the bridge from upmarket Östermalm in the east of Stockholm. If you want to get your fill of simply adorable Swedish cottages or daydream as your stare out across the harbour waters, this is the place for you.

We love taking a satisfying walk around the edge of the island and spotting the Helsinki-bound cruise ships. Recharge at one of the cute cafes of Skansen before learning more about Swedish culture in one of the museums. If your legs are tired afterwards, hop on tram 7 to get back to central Stockholm.

STAY

Treat yourself to a bit of luxury with a stay at the Prince Van Orangiën, a beautifully ornate boat-house. Originally built in the Netherlands, the delectably decorated hotel is found between Djurgården and Beckholmen – and we’ve got our eye on Captain’s Cabin No. 4.

For a cheaper but still pretty stay, try the Scandic Hasselbacken in Skansen, where you’ll get to enjoy views across the lovely gardens while you stay here. Or – and this one’s for Mamma Mia! fans – head to the Pop House and get a good night’s sleep in an ABBA-themed room. No, really.

EAT

Rosendals Trädgård is a beautiful place to sample traditional Swedish cooking – and learn a little about biodynamic farming practices while you are at it.

DRINK

When the temperature dips, warm up at the outside bar of the Nordic Museum where, thanks to some clever lighting and palm trees, you might start to think you’re in a different country altogether. If, however, you’d like to learn a little about local beverages, visit the Spirit Museum where you’ll discover all there is to know about Nordic liqueurs.

DO

Djurgården is an excellent place to come for a spot of unusual museum visiting. The Nordic Museum provides an excellent introduction to everything Scandinavian, while the ABBA Museum does what it says on the tin and is a whole lot of fun. There’s also the Vasa Museum which is dedicated to the 17th century Vasa battleship which, unfortunately, sank just metres from where it once set sail but was resurrected from the ocean bed after 333 years underwater.

If you only do one thing…

But perhaps the loveliest museum of all is Skansen park, where you can delve into Swedish history while wandering around recreations of historic buildings, enjoying live demonstrations of craftwork and spotting some nice wildlife too. A fascinating open-air museum.

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Sundbyberg
Photograph: Madeleine Hyde

Sundbyberg

Just north-west of the city, Sundbyberg is the smallest yet most populated neighbourhood in Stockholm County. It started life as a swampy, agricultural stretch of land that began getting gentrified from 1870, when the first plot was bought. Nowadays locals still refer to it as ‘Sumpan’, but in an affectionate way. 

It’s also one of the most affordable areas thanks to a swathe of ’70s social housing, drawing in creatives and offering a wealth of great bars, cafés, shops and other attractions. A particular highlight is Signalfabriken, a former telephone cable factory in central Sundbyberg that’s been developed into modern housing, retail premises and a charming library. 

Recently updated transport links to Sundbyberg mean it’s now just 10 minutes from Stockholm Central Station by commuter rail, making this peaceful escape from the inner city a quick and easy one, and giving ‘Sumpan’ the place it deserves on the Stockholm map.

STAY

Signalfabriken’s Story Hotel offers industrial chic for a mid-range budget. It’s worth comparing prices if you’re already looking at hostels or Airbnb. 

EAT  

No trip to Stockholm would be complete without trying Swedish pastries. A great place to do this – and give fika, traditional coffee or cake, a go – is Princess Konditoriet. You’ll find this cute café on Sturegatan, the area’s high street. If you’re hankering after something a little heartier, head to pizza joint Delibruket Flatbread, in an old water tower.

DRINK 

The Public, a cava bar within the red-brick Signalfabriken, adds some Mediterranean flair to Sundbyberg, with an exciting tapas menu and inviting outdoor seating throughout summer. Soak up the midnight sun with a glass of bubbly in hand.

DO

Shop till you drop – or until you max out your card on upmarket Scandinavian design – at the second-largest shopping centre in the Nordics. The prosaically named Mall of Scandinavia contains more than 200 stores – so you’ll be absolutely spoilt for choice. It’s just a short hop on the Tvärbanan tram to boot. 

If you only do one thing…

Head to Marabouparken art gallery, which hosts exhibitions of thought-provoking contemporary art from Sweden and beyond. An added bonus: arts students get in free.

Simply want to tick off the sights?

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