Why is it that some streets became more famous than others? And do they deserve to? I believe the answer to the former question lies in a certain combination of factors. The street’s location, its historic importance, and not least, its character and how popular venues and places located on the street are.
Answering the latter question might be a bit more complicated. Most importantly though, should you be looking forward to visiting a street because it houses a world-class museum, a famous restaurant, or a myriad of boutiques selling your favourite brands? Well, I do not think that is for me to judge and I will leave the decision to you.
What I do tell you in this guide, however, is which streets in Stockholm you should get to know better and why I think these are more interesting than many others.
Without further due, we begin right in the heart of modern Stockholm on Birger Jarlsgatan. I have mentioned boutiques previously, and this street is where you would find some of the most exclusive ones in the city. Apart from shopping, you can use your time for grabbing a nice meal or a drink at one of the plentiful renowned venues lining the street.
Both locals and visitors tend to gather here, especially around Stureplan, for an enjoyable night out. The immediate neighbourhood of Stureplan is also where you can get to see some of the most impressive architecture on Birger Jarlsgatan, but if I were you, I would notice buildings on both sides of the road along the entire street.
Probably the best choice in Central Stockholm for shoppers who are not looking to spend a fortune while still being able to choose from a large variety of boutiques is Drottninggatan (“The Queen’s Street”). On this street, you can also get souvenirs for yourself, and your dear ones and your caffeine intake will never be in danger here. There are so many coffee shops on Drottninggatan that it is literally never worth it to turn around and go to a one you have already met, just keep walking and you will meet another one.
Drottninggatan is, moreover, a good path to take from the historical city centre to traditional residential areas of Stockholm. It can take you all the way from Riksbron Bridge, connecting the street to the Parliament House, to the Vasastan district with all its colourful facades and green parks.
Now to a very different kind of street. From the busy city centre, we move to the northern part of the Södermalm Island, which is not far at all. Leading to the 17th-century Katarina Church (Katarina kyrka) is a charming little street known as Katarina Kyrkobacke. I recommend you have a close look around and admire what Stockholm once used to be like in this historical neighbourhood.
If you enjoyed the previous location, I am confident you are going to like the next one, too. Monteliusvägen is located on the northern edge of the western part of the same island, and it is one of the best places in town for observing the city landscape, as well as for taking panoramic pictures. In addition to that, Mariaberget – the area which surrounds the street – also offers an exclusive look into the past with not only houses but the entire streets preserved in their near-original condition from the 18th century.
As you would expect, the streets that remember the most are located in the core of the Old Town (Gamla stan) of Stockholm. The eldest street in Town is Köpmangatan (‘The Merchant’s Street’) leading from Stortorget (‘The Big Square’) to the former location of a port, now Köpmantorget Square (‘The Merchant’s Square’).
Being centuries old, Köpmangatan can show you memories from different eras it has experienced. Perhaps most importantly, though, it preserves its historical character with traditional boutiques, signs, and wall anchors complementing its unique atmosphere.
If you would rather avoid tourist crowds, you should probably plan your visit to Västerlånggatan carefully. This is likely the most popular street with visitors in the small Old Town, but it certainly has its portion of charm. The former western border of the city is where you would find plenty of traditional boutiques, original souvenirs, and local restaurants and cafés.
Notice also how well, for the most part, these venues are integrated into the historical milieu. Even large national and international chains adapted their logos and design language in their displays which is something you rarely see elsewhere.
Near the southern end of Västerlånggatan, there is an alley which is unlike any other in Stockholm. It is called Mårten Trotzigs Gränd, and with its roughly 90 centimetres in width, the alley is the narrowest street in town. Walking either up or down the street is a pretty exciting experience. Once again, I recommend you come during a less busy time of the day if you want to enjoy the place at its best.
Streets that I show you next definitely do not belong to the narrowest in Stockholm. Instead, we now explore some of the most impressive and famous boulevards in town. When speaking of boulevards, we cannot start anywhere else than on the world-famous Strandvägen.
Strandvägen is quite possibly Stockholm’s most famous street, and in this case, you need not worry about it being overhyped. This beautiful waterfront promenade delivers on every promise it makes from outstanding views through lavish architecture to exclusive venues and boutiques. It is loved as much by the locals as it is by tourists and I believe everyone who wants to experience Stockholm truly shall take a walk down this prominent street.
Another major street in the Östermalm district where the architecture is hardly less imposing than on Strandvägen is Valhallavägen. While several important institutions reside on or near Valhallavägen, the character of this place is significantly different from what you can see on the other side of the district.
You should not expect to find many cafés or restaurants in this area, but the historic Olympic Stadium, the campus of the Royal Institute of Technology (Kungliga Tekniska Högskolan), or that of the Royal College of Music (Kungliga Musikhögskolan) will certainly make up for it.
Sveavägen, the next street we look at, was never completed in the most ambitious form that has been proposed for it. It was King Gustav III who, at the time when he built the beautiful royal residence at Haga Park (Hagaparken), wanted Sveavägen to be his direct path from the Royal Palace of Stockholm to Haga.
Today, neither of the street’s ends quite reaches its original target destination, but the street does cover a large part of the way. Interesting sights it leads to include Adolf Fredrik Church (Adolf Fredriks kyrka), Stockholm Public Library (Stockholms stadsbibliotek), and the Vanadislunden Park.
Strandvägen was loved ever since the early days of its existence. In fact, it was so popular that the authorities decided to build its counterpart on the southern edge of Kungsholmen a few decades later. Times had changed, though, and while Norr Mälarstrand is more than worth visiting, its character is very different from Strandvägen.
If you are looking for the most peaceful of the two alternatives, I definitely recommend Norr Mälarstrand. The lakefront promenade you will find there belongs to the most beautiful in the city, and if you reach its eastern end, you will be rewarded by the opportunity to admire the massive yet elegant Stockholm City Hall (Stockholms stadshus).