Are you considering a short break to the capital city of Sweden? With the city spread over 14 islands and joined by 59 bridges, contemplating where to stay in Stockholm can be as time-consuming as deciding what to pack for your first city break in Scandinavia.
Stockholm is constructed on a Baltic Sea archipelago of 14 islands and the mainland areas of Södermanland and Uppland. The areas are joined by bridges over numerous waterways.
While Amsterdam may be the city of cycles, Stockholm is home to over 200,000 private boats of all shapes and sizes.
The town was first mentioned in historical archives in 1252 and became the capital of Sweden in 1436. Much of its architecture still dates back to the Middle Ages.
With its meandering waterways, quaint harbour fronts, medieval old town district, attractive historic architecture and wide open spaces, it is considered one of the most beautiful capital cities in Europe.
Read on, for our take on the seven best places where to stay in Stockholm.
Where to stay in Stockholm: Best areas
1. Gamla Stan (The old town), where to stay in Stockholm for first-time visitors
The old town area of Stockholm is situated on the island of Stadsholmen and three of its smaller islets. It is one of the most popular places to stay in Stockholm, and a major go-to attraction for visitors to the city.
Dating back to the 13th century, it is an area of picturesque cobbled streets, mysterious alleyways and bustling squares.
With its brightly painted terraced townhouses and businesses, the Royal Palace with its three museums, the Storkyrkan cathedral and the Nobel Prize Museum, a pleasant, relaxing day can be spent exploring the buildings and surrounding area.
It is a popular area both day and night. Shops, cafes, pubs and restaurants housed in historic old buildings serve a choice of Scandinavian, Swedish and international cuisine, craft beers, local wines and the latest cocktails.
Västerlånggatan is the old town’s narrow main street, and a favourite shopping area for both locals and visitors. Here you will find independent businesses from boutiques to curiosity shops selling souvenirs and mementoes.
All mixed in with cafes, pubs and eateries where you can take the weight off, and enjoy a little people-watching while sipping your favourite aperitif.
Back in the 13th century, the original city wall ran along the right-hand side of Västerlånggatan. You can also look out for hard-to-find Mårten Trotzigs alley, the old town’s narrowest alley at just 90cm wide at some points.
Back in the 1300s, Österlånggatan Street was at the rear of the main dockyard, and full of all manner of businesses associated with maritime activities.
As land was reclaimed and the harbour moved further away, by the early 20th century, most of these maritime industries had disappeared.
Today it is a street of historic buildings, visitor cafes, pubs and eateries, and home to the Royal Coin Cabinet, the Stockholm School of Economics, the Stockholm Concert Hall, and, on the Merchant’s Slope, the statue of Saint George and the Dragon.
Accommodation in Gamla Stan is broad, with 2 to 5-star hotels, hostels, self-catering apartments and Airbnb.
BEST PLACES TO STAY IN GAMLA STAN
2. Norrmalm, the commercial area of the city and a popular place to stay in Stockholm
Laying alongside the old town’s northern border, Norrmalm is Stockholm’s commercial and city centre, yet the two districts couldn’t be further apart.
Gone are the quaint cobbled streets, old buildings and narrow alleys. Replaced by broad, straight roads, commuter traffic, big flamboyant squares and 1960’s era office blocks.
Norrmalm is the commercial hub of Stockholm, where central banks and big businesses have their head offices. You’ll also find large retail centres full of national and international brands and the bigger independents.
If a new party dress is on the itinerary, head for Norrmalm’s Drottninggatan area, and its many Swedish and international designer fashion stores.
The Central Train Station, the Metro Station serving the capital’s three underground lines, and the long-distance bus terminal are all located in the city centre, making Norrmalm a popular stop-over for business travellers needing to stay in Stockholm.
Norrmalm also has a port area where you can stroll the waterfront, catch a ferry to the Södermalm or Djurgården Islands, or book an organised water tour of Stockholm.
Choosing Norrmalm for your stay in Stockholm means you can enjoy a little Swedish culture. Ballet and opera are performed at the Royal Swedish Opera House.
Modern dance and art exhibitions can be found at the Kulturhuset Stadsteatern. And classical concerts are held at the Stockholm Concert Hall.
Visit the Medelhavs museum, or take in the Hallwylska Museum, before enjoying a little downtime at Kungsträdgården park with its hiking trails, picnic areas and numerous cafes.
Norrmalm is a popular area to stay in Stockholm with return visitors, and is generally not as crowded as the old town.
Accommodation prices in the main tend to be a bit lower, and with its excellent choice of pubs and restaurants, pleasant evenings can be spent making new friends over a meal, or just discussing the following day’s activities.
Accommodation cost is reasonable across all areas, from backpackers hostels to mid-range and high-end hotels.
BEST PLACES TO STAY IN STOCKHOLM IN NORRMALM
- ($$$) Bank Hotel, a Member of Small Luxury Hotels
- ($$) Hotel With Urban Deli
- ($) City Backpackers Hostel
3. Sodermalm, where to stay in Stockholm away from the crowded city centre
A predominately residential neighbourhood of Stockholm, Sodermalm comprises several local districts, each with its own charm and attractions. It is also Stockholm’s most heavily populated area and the city’s favourite bohemian district.
If you have an independent streak, prefer vintage or retro fashion to the latest trends, or individualistic home décor to the flat-pack variety, Sodermalm could be the place to be for your stay in Stockholm.
The area is full of creative and trendy shops, artisan stores, vintage and pre-owned boutiques, art galleries and places for those quirky one-off mementoes of a pleasant stay in Stockholm.
To help with the revival of this once rather run-down area, fashionable coffee shops, bars and cafes, restaurants, wine bars, and fast-food joints have opened up, providing a bustling, friendly nightlife scene where you can relax after a day of hectic sightseeing.
To truly immerse yourself in the ‘alternative’ Stockholm, head for Götgatan Street and its smart, funky cafes, bars and restaurants. Here you can hang out with the city’s arti-set, designers and musicians.
From the Slussen end, a pleasant stroll will get you to Medborgarplatsen Square, with more open-air bars, shops, eateries and musicians serenading you in the sunshine.
Some of the most interesting attractions include Stockholm City Museum, Fotografiska, and the Tantoludnen Park.
A good selection of attractively priced accommodation is available around Sodermalm from 100-year-old cottages, to hostels, self-catering apartments and mid to high-end hotels.
BEST PLACES TO STAY IN SODERMALM
4. Vasastan, where to stay in Stockholm in an affordable and quiet area
Okay, so you won’t find any tall, triangular steel structures in Vasastan. You will however, find a number of chic French patisseries, cafes, brasseries and restaurants dotted around the area.
Vasastan lies just north of the city centre and is a pretty, friendly area of residential homes, apartments, hotels, shopping centres, fabulous parks, cultural attractions, and unique pubs, cafes and restaurants.
Most of the architecture around Vasastan is early 20th century, and you can find excellent examples of Nordic Classicism around the Atlasområdet district and at the Stockholm Public Library, amongst others.
You can also visit the Gustav Vasa Church, and the large Observatory on a hill at the top of pedestrianised Drottninggatan.
For those interested in Nordic art, pay a visit to the Sven-Harry Art Museum, displaying works from several famous Nordic artists. Tickets are available at the door.
Did we mention ‘different’ cafes, bars and restaurants? Are you looking for breakfast, brunch, or lunch? Call into Ritorno, located on Odengatan, just opposite Vasaparken.
The café has been serving the people of Vasastan the very best of breads, pastries, coffees and a range of other dishes since 1959. Step inside and step back in time, to décor and furnishings that hark back to the 1950s.
Fancy an afternoon ice cream? Head for Stockholm Glasshus at Birkagatan 8. This ice cream parlour makes over 50 flavours of ice cream, as well as sorbet, gelato and frozen yoghurt.
Fancy a big, juicy burger and fries for dinner? Head for Surbrunnsbrunnsgatan and the American-styled diner Golfbaren. Not your regular diner. Here, before eating, you can enjoy a fun round of indoor mini-golf with the kids.
As well as those big burgers, Golfbaren serves tacos, tuna, lobster rolls or pickled tofu and a range of Stockholm street foods.
For more cafes and restaurants, vintage stores and niche shops, head for Eriksplan and Odenplan squares.
Vasastan has a good selection of lodgings available, from hostels, self-catering apartments and houses, to a full range of hotel accommodations from budget to 5-star.
BEST PLACES TO STAY IN STOCKHOLM IN VASASTAN
- ($$$) Miss Clara by Nobis, Stockholm, a Member of Design Hotels
- ($$) Hotel Ruth, WorldHotels Crafted
- ($) Ibis Styles Stockholm Odenplan
5. Kungsholmen, a quiet place to stay in Stockholm away from the tourist hot spots
With an area of just 1.5sq mi and a perimeter of 5.5mi, Kungsholmen dates back to the 15th century. Sitting on its own island, this pleasant, mainly residential district is just a casual 30-minute stroll from the old town district of Stockholm, or a 15-minute ride on the metro.
For such a small island, you can choose one of 11 bridges to get on and off, depending on which of the five Kungsholmen districts you are travelling to or from.
Although primarily a residential district, there are some interesting buildings dotted around the island worthy of a visit by those interested in different architectural styles.
- Saint Goran Hospital. One of Sweden’s oldest
- Kristineberg Palace, circa 1750
- Stockholm Court House, built 1909-1915
- Stockholm City Hall, built 1911-1923
- DN-Skrapan, built 1964
- Rådhuset metro station, opened in 1975
One of Kungsholmen’s most popular attractions is its City Hall. Located on the waterfront, it is the venue of the annual Nobel Prize banquet held every December.
The hall is open daily for guided tours, and through the summer months you have the chance to take in the impressive views from its 348-foot-high bell tower.
You can also stroll or cycle the picturesque waterfront promenade. If regular walking is a part of your healthy lifestyle regime, you can also walk the whole perimeter of the island around the seafront, a distance of 5.5mi taking around 90 minutes.
Depending of course, on the number of comfort stops you make at the many cafes and bars along the way.
Tours of the harbour and islands can also be booked from the harbour office.
Rålambshovsparken is a popular leisure park with locals, and a great place for any young family members to let off a bit of steam. Lots of wide open spaces for football or other games and walking and hiking trails.
It also overlooks the harbour, where you can enjoy a picnic while watching the cruise liners and private and tourist boats coming and going.
Everywhere you walk around Kungsholmen you will come across quirky, niche shops, fashion boutiques, second-user outlets and stores selling anything and everything.
You will also find establishments specialising in everything chocolate, and ice cream parlours offering a whole range of different flavours.
In the evenings, bars, pubs, clubs and restaurants catering for all tastes and palates ensure you have that perfect evening to round off the perfect day.
Accommodation on Kungsholmen is reasonable, with hostels, self-catering apartments, houses and several hotels.
BEST PLACES TO STAY IN KUNGSHOLMEN
6. Djurgarden, where to stay in Stockholm for museums
Are you a lover of museums, cycling or walking in the countryside, amusement parks for the kids, or still jump up and dance around the room to Abba? Then consider Djurgarden for your stay in Stockholm.
Another Stockholm district on its own island, Djurgarden was declared a Royal Park by King John III in 1579, and much of it remains royal land to this day.
It is a fantastic district and you can spend your three or four-day stay in Stockholm without ever leaving the island; there is so much to see and do.
Did I mention museums, little Djurgarden has more than ten of them covering culture and a range of different topics, including Sweden’s most famous band Abba, at the Abba Museum.
There are also plenty of attractions to keep younger family members happy. The open-air Skansen Museum includes a small zoo and aquariums.
Do not miss the Nordic Museum, the Viking Museum or the Vasa Museum, with its famous and remarkably well preserved 17th-century warship.
You also have the Gröna Lund’s Amusement Park, with its white knuckle rides and open-air music concerts throughout the summer.
Junibacken is a young children’s cultural centre with a train, theatre and playhouse. At the same time, the National City Park offers acres of space full of local wildlife, forests, woods and plant species.
If you choose Djurgarden for your stay in Stockholm, getting to other areas such as the old town or city centre couldn’t be easier. If you fancy a morning stroll with a bit of camera action, the walk will take around 30 minutes.
You can take a ferry from Djurgarden harbour to the old town area taking about 10 minutes, or jump on a streetcar, bus or subway, all taking ten to fifteen minutes.
Exploring on foot or by bicycle is highly recommended to get the most from this beautiful district, and there are several places where you can hire cycles.
Accommodation is quite limited with a few hotels and some Airbnb.
BEST PLACES TO STAY IN STOCKHOLM IN DJURGARDEN
7. Ostermalm, best place to stay in Stockholm for that push-the-boat-out special occasion
Welcome to Sweden’s equivalent of Knightsbridge in London, or Greenwich Village in New York City. Ostermalm is Stockholm’s most elegant, exclusive and affluent district.
Since medieval times, Ostermalm was considered royal land, and in the 17th century was turned over to the military, complete with barracks and parade grounds.
Although still officially a military area, in the late 19th century, Stockholm’s affluent upper-middle class began building exclusive houses and apartment blocks along the waterfront, and the area officially became Ostermalm.
In the 1930s, modernist apartment blocks and fine houses began to appear, along with expensive restaurants, pubs and clubs, as the district became the home and playground of Stockholm’s wealthy elite.
The neighbourhood is also home to two of Sweden’s most prestigious universities, the Royal Institute of Technology and Stockholm University.
Today, Ostermalm encourages high-tech and digital businesses, with Swedish television and much of the Swedish film industry being based here. It also includes a large part of the National City Park running along its border.
The eastern edge of Ostermalm is where you’ll find a number of its museums, including the Museum of Science and Technology, the Ethnography Museum and the Maritime Museum. It is also the location of Stockholm’s 155-metre high Kaknästornet TV tower.
Other attractions around the area include The Royal Dramatic Theatre, the Swedish History Museum, the National Library and the Stockholm Transport Museum.
If you prefer galleries to museums, Ostermalm will touch the spot. The Art Warehouse ( Magasin 3) puts on exhibitions by international artists, but through the winter months only.
Sturegatan and Karlavägen are the main streets to head to for art, craft and fashion displays by upcoming designers.
In an exclusive area of a city, you expect exclusive shopping malls, and Bibliotekstan and Sturplan Square are the places to head for. Here you will find high-end Scandinavian and international fashion and accessory brands such as Chanel, Acne, Hope and Prada.
They are also the centre for much of Stockholm’s late-night life, with a high proportion of premium and exclusive nightclubs.
All around Östermalm, you will find chic cafes and numerous eateries serving pizzas, burgers and chicken to eat in or take away. You also have a wide choice of expensive fine-dining establishments, including several Michelin-starred restaurants.
For a different eating experience, visit the Östermalm Market Hall. A popular food hall with the locals offering such delicacies as a range of French cheeses, Italian cured hams and meats to locally caught fish dishes. Just don’t expect cheap, in Östermalm they don’t do cheap.
Whether choosing Östermalm as a base for your special occasion, a few days stay in Stockholm, or just for a day trip, you should prepare to pay a premium.
Nonetheless, the unique vibe generated by this affluent area as you stroll the streets and do a little people-watching on one of the many squares, provides adequate compensation. And lifelong memories of a fantastic stay in Stockholm.
BEST PLACES TO STAY IN OSTERMALM