If you’re cruising Northern Europe with an itinerary of capital cities, or happen to find yourself in Stockholm for just one day, there is one section of this amazing city that you need to be. Filled with cobblestone walkways, charming cafes and shoppes, cool architecture, and interesting history! The Gamla stan (Old Town) dates back to the 13th century and is the place you need to go if you only have one day in Stockholm Sweden.
The main walking street is västerlånggatan, which runs through the center of the old town. This is where the action is. It can sometimes get crowded with tourists and the shoppes can jack up their prices, but this is the starting point for your walking tour of Gamla stan. If you find yourself feeling a bit overwhelmed, you can always duck through one of the charming passages that lead to the less busy side streets and are just as charming!
Enthusiastically, I like to arrive early and I always like to stroll the cobblestones to my favorite coffee house, passing by the shopping and getting some good pictures before the streets are too filled. Dipping into the coffeehouse and taking advantage of the free wifi makes for some great people watching as well. Then, when the crowds and tour guides start to fill the area, I slip into one of the charming alleys such as Gasgrand and escape. The Gasgrand alley has an interesting history. Named after Ragnhild Grågås who lived in the alley around 1500.
The old town has more charms in store for you and after awhile you will probably find yourself in the Stortorget, the oldest public square in Stockholm. Mired in history, this square today is lined by cafes and historic legend. In 1520, this square was the location of the Stockholm Bloodbath, when the Danish king invaded Sweden and executed 82 Swedish dignitaries. Thankfully this historic square is peaceful these days and ready to explore.
Many of the buildings surrounding the square date from the 1600’s and historic streets fan off in all directions from this location. Let’s keep exploring!
There are a couple of different places your cruise ship might dock while making a port stop to Stockholm. I’ve arrived at two different docks on opposite ends of the city. Frihamnen seems to be the main dock. You’ll need to take the free 20 minute shuttle into town, but its a nice drive to sightsee through the city center.
Stadsgården is the other main dock and its on the opposite side of Frihamnen. It’s about a half hour brisk walk to get to the old town, but I’ve done it many times because I didn’t feel like spending money for a cab. This is by far my favorite place to dock when I arrive by cruise ship. The main reason being is the sail away out of Stockholm. One of the most beautiful sail aways I know of. Dotted with stunning scenery and hundreds of little islands, some of them including just one or two houses, we slowly pass other arriving ships as we make our way to our next port of call. Farewell Stockholm, I’ll see you next time. Here’s a video of the sail away. Enjoy!