Stockholm: Don’t do this walking tour

I arrived in Stockholm just over a week ago, and wow, the time has flown by! Stockholm is definitely bigger and busier than Göteborg or Malmö. There are lots of different neighborhoods, spread out yet connected by a proper underground subway system. As per usual, I spent my first full day in Stockholm walking around the city, although I underestimated its size and walked over 14 miles (!). This is mainly because I spent my first week here in an Airbnb in Farsta, a borough 8km south of central Stockholm.

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If I could only show you one of my photos to represent Stockholm, I think this would be it. The colorful, old-fashioned, fanciful buildings, and the greenery, and the boats in the harbor – Sweden’s capital is a lot of this.

I started my day with a 45-minute train-and-bus ride to the U.S. Embassy, northeast of central Stockholm. I was there to give the embassy workers my filled-out “overseas voter” form, which they said they would send to the New York City Board of Elections for me. Annoyingly, although I am already registered to vote in NY, I have to do an additional registration to vote from abroad before I can request a ballot. I should get a confirmation email soon, after which I can request an electronic ballot to vote in this year’s presidential election!

From the embassy, I walked along the water to northern Stockholm (“Norrmalm”), then down through central Stockholm, Gamla Stan (the “Old Town”), and southern Stockholm (“Södermalm”). This is where I should have stopped and gotten a train home. Instead, I kept walking along the long bridge Skanstullsbron towards the Ericsson Globe, and then onto the cemetery Skogskyrkogården (that was an accident; I got lost there), and finally, 14 miles after starting at the embassy, I returned to Farsta. I wouldn’t recommend the latter portion of walk to anyone, as it involved walking along highways and getting stuck in dead-ends. Whoops! The maps below have mouse-over captions:

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Nordiska Museet: the Nordic museum. Many of Stockholm’s museums are on this green island, called Djurgården.
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Imagine eating in that gazebo! It houses additional seating for a café on Djurgården.
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Walking along the harbor towards central Stockholm.
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I randomly stumbled upon the Royal Dramatic Theater (Kungliga Dramatiska Teatern).
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A little passageway off the street of Birger Jarlsgatan, which reminded me of Paris. Do you see the spots of color at the end of the tunnel? They’re hanging umbrellas!
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Berzelii Park, named after this Swedish chemist.
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I found the pedestrian street Biblioteksgatan (“library street”), which is known for its high-end shops. I loved the design of Urban Outfitters as a cinema.
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On Kungsgatan (“King’s Street”).
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A statue in Hötorget, a main square in the city.
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Known as “Haymarket,” Hötorget literally means Hay Square and is home to a food and flea market. 
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This is the sunken pedestrian square of Sergels torg, near Centralstation. It’s the most central square in the city and has lots of shops. To the right is the Kulturhuset, Stockholm’s cultural center.

After central Stockholm, I walked along the super-crowded pedestrian street of Drottninggatan (“Queen Street”) towards Gamla Stan, which is mostly located on the island Stadsholmen. Stockholm, apparently called the “Venice of the North,” is comprised of 14 islands and has over 50 bridges connecting these islands.

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About to cross Riksbron, the “National Bridge,” which connects central Stockholm to the tiny island of Helgeandsholmen (just before Stadsholmen).
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Another view from Riksbron. I really love the pastel colored house here. Apparently it’s an old palace! The impressive-looking building to its right is the royal opera house.
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Continuing south, this is the canal between the islands of Helgeandsholmen and Stadsholmen. I’m just about to arrive at the heart of the old town.
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I found Gamla Stan! This is the main street of the old city, which is very pedestrian, colorful, tightly packed, and incredibly touristy. Every block of every street in Gamla Stan looks like this.
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It was a super sunny day and I couldn’t get the exposure right on this shot, but it was still fun to find a little alleyway like this.
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The science fiction bookstore is located in Gamla Stan. I love their sign with a rocket ship and a dragon.

I crossed another bridge over another canal to get to Södermalm, southern Stockholm. This is supposed to be the “edgy” part of Stockholm, and I definitely got a sense of hipster Brooklyn while I was there.

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Nytorget, or “New Square,” a small park in Södermalm.

I powered on through Södermalm (missing most of it) with a mission in mind of getting to the Ericsson Globe. It’s a huge indoor sports arena and concert venue, and it’s the largest hemispherical structure in the world. I didn’t know that at the time, though. The reason I read about it months before arriving in Sweden is because it is supposed to represent the Sun in our solar system. Sweden is home to the world’s largest scale model of the solar system, spanning the entire country at a scale of 1:20 million. The Ericsson Globe represents the sun in Stockholm, and models of Mercury, Venus, and Earth are also in the city. The other planets, as well as moons and comets and so on, are scattered around the country. Anyway, I think this is super cool, so I had to see the globe up close.

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It’s so strange to leave the old, classic architecture of Stockholm and then see this futuristic globe in the distance.
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Bridge selfie! At this point I had walked 7 miles and had removed 2 layers. You can see my nose getting sunburnt from all the sun (a reminder that one should wear sunscreen even in Sweden in September).
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I finally found my way to the Globe (Globen). Trust me – it is much bigger up close!

After reaching the Ericsson Globe, I was definitely far from central Stockholm. I kept going south and ended up in a large park, which was actually Skogskyrkogården, Stockholm’s “Woodland Cemetery.” I later found out that it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site and where Greta Garbo is buried, though I didn’t find her grave while I was there.

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The Woodland Crematorium and its three chapels.
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It’s very easy to get lost in a cemetery when all the roads look like this. It’s beautiful, though. I loved the tall trees.
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I wandered too far and ended up stuck in the back of the graveyard, where I found this unfortunate “grave” of old gravestones.

And that’s all! A couple miles later I found my way back to Farsta. Overall it was a good walk, but I missed some interesting parts of central Stockholm and saw too many highways. The next day, I followed my Lonely Planet Guide’s 3-mile walking tour of Central Stockholm for some more controlled sight-seeing. I have to say, it’s been nice so far to have Lonely Planet books as a resource.

 

 

 

 

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