7 Best Things To Do In: Gamla Stan

At 100 Point Challenge we love seeing cities differently. Here are our 7 favourite things to do in Gamla Stan, Stockholms ‘old town’, which are off the tourist trail, and will give you a better sense of how locals spend their time in the historic heart of this beautiful city.

Gamla Stan from above. Photo credit: Henrik Trygg

Gamla Stan from above. Photo credit: Henrik Trygg

1. Watch kanelbullar being baked at Bröd & Salt

Known for both their bread and cakes, there are quite few of these bakeries around the city, including two on the island of Galma Stan. We recommend the one located on Skeppsbron- here you can see traditional Swedish cakes like kanelbullar and kardemummabullar being rolled and baked by artisan bakers. If you are lucky enough to arrive at the right time, they might even still be warm...

On a sunny day, grab an accomplice and one of their fika packs and find yourself a relaxing spot looking out over the water (Skeppsbron is a good choice). Swedish culture at its finest!

2. Get that photo of Söder Malärstrand

If you have googled Stockholm, chances are you have also seen a photo of the impressive gothic buildings perched along the cliff tops on the island of Södermalm.

The best place to get a shot of this iconic Stockholm vista is from Södra Riddarholmshamnen on the island of Riddarholmen, which is one of the three islands that make up Gamla Stan. Here, you can take in the height of the cliffs, and see the building’s colourful facades reflected in the lake.

For fans of Stieg Larsson’s Millennium trilogy, you will also be able to see the character Mikael Blomkvist’s studio apartment at the top of Bellmansgatan 1. Can you figure out which building it is?

Söder Malärstrand Photo credit: Jeppe Wikstrom

Söder Malärstrand Photo credit: Jeppe Wikstrom

3. Visit Stockholms Stadsmission and find a Swedish antique

The Swedish equivalent to the Red Cross, the Stadmission store near Stortorget has an excellent display of antique and collectable Swedish items. If you are lucky, you might find a mid-century lamp by a Swedish designer, some iconic swedish textiles or ceramics.  The store also has a nice cafe, and all proceeds support the organisation’s charity projects.

4. Visit Under Kastanjen and one of Stockholm’s most beautiful squares

The vine at Brända Tomten Photo credit: Freij Tove

The vine at Brända Tomten Photo credit: Freij Tove

In the spring and summer, Brända tomten is one of the most beautiful public squares in Stockholm. Located at the triangular junction between Kindstugatan and Själagårdsgatan, the square is surrounded on all sides by quaint medieval buildings, and boasts a central chestnut tree and a beautiful weeping vine that spans the narrow cobblestone streets.

A bit off the tourist trail, it’s an easy spot to miss, but well worth the visit- we recommend taking in the square from one of the public benches, or otherwise enjoying it from one of Under Kastanjen’s two bakeries, or its traditional-style bistro and wine bar.

Like cafes? Read our post about the best cafes in Gamla Stan

5. Take a public boat from Stockholm slussen kajen

Don’t be confused by the name of the station, Stockholm slussen kajen is actually in Gamla Stan, not at Slussen on Södermalm! Inner Stockholm is spread across 11  islands, and one of the joys of the local public transport system is traveling by boat. With certain types of SL cards, you can catch boats from the ferry terminal located on Skeppsbron to the islands Skeppsholmen and Djurgården for no extra charge. Otherwise, buy a ticket at the station. Hop on board and see the city from a whole new angle!

The Djurgården line. Photo credit: Henrik Trygg

The Djurgården line. Photo credit: Henrik Trygg

6. Visit the Medieval Museum

Gamla Stan is the birthplace of modern Stockholm, and is believed to have been settled in the 12th Century. There is no better place to learn about the early beginnings of the modern swedish state than the Medieval Museum on the island of Helgeandsholmen. Best of all? It’s completely free. A bit tricky to find, the museum is located down the stairs from the Norrbro bridge. The lower garden of the island is also a great vantage point for photos of the Kungliga Slottet and Kungliga Operan.  

7. Take a challenge!

If you want to see the old town in a completely new light, come play the 100 Point Challenge. You will discover the islands of Gamla Stan, Riddarholmen, Helgeandsholmen as well as Skeppsholmen in a unique way- track down the city's hidden secrets, learn about Sweden (and Swedes!) and take polaroids with your team at all the best locations with our retro Fuji Instax 70s

Remember: its you vs the city!