Start on (1) Sergels Torg, the place most Swedes would regard as the center of Stockholm, with your back to the Kulturhuset (the big glass facade). Walk right along Hamngatan and browse around (2) NK (Hamngatan 18-20; www.nk.se), Stockholm’s premier department store. This is also where foreign minister Anna Lindh was stabbed to death on September 10, 2003.
Further down on Hamngatan is Norrmalmstorg, the site of the 1973 bank robbery that gave rise to the “Stockholm Syndrome”—the tendency of hostages to sympathize with their captors. Turn left on the square and stroll up Biblioteksgatan, the city’s posh shopping street. After you take a quick left on Jakobsbergsgatan for the best and cheapest (a rare combination) espresso in town at (3) Sosta (Jakobsbergsgatan 5), Biblioteksgatan will deliver you to Stureplan, the epicenter of Stockholm’s moneyed nightlife.
Continue north on Birger Jarlsgatan and turn left on David Bagares Gata about the same time you see the (4) Royal Library (Humlegården; www.kb.se/english) in Humlegården on your right. At the end of it you will see the entrance to a pedestrian and bicycle tunnel named (5) Brunkebergstunneln. It’s from 1886, it’s 253 yards (231 meters) long and it will deliver you to Tunnelgatan, the site of yet another Swedish murder. (6) A metal plaque (Sveavägen at Olof Palmes gata) in the sidewalk on Sveavägen marks the spot where Prime Minister Olof Palme was shot in the back by a lone gunman on the night of February 28, 1986. He is buried at Adolf Fredrik cemetery just across the street (enter from Olofsgatan and it will be on your left close to the church). If you wish to pay your respects, the appropriate flower is a red rose. You can pick one up at the (7) Flower Garden (www.delyx.se) at Sveavägen 49.
If you’re more into art, dash back up the stairs after exiting the tunnel, turn right on Malmskillnadsgatan and walk four blocks. At the intersection with Jakobsbergsgatan stands the best work of public art in the city—(8) Ernst Nordin’s bronze “Non Serviam” (Malmskillnadsgatan at Jakobsbergsgatan) from 1980, showing a young girl reading a Gunnar Ekelöf poem that has a distinct appeal to tourists: “I am a stranger in this land, but this land is no stranger in me! I am not at home in this land, but this land makes itself at home in me!”
Back at bustling Sveavägen, cross it and turn right on Drottninggatan. If you are familiar with playwright and artist August Strindberg (1849-1912), this is where he lived, in the house at number 85, which he called "The Blue Tower" and which is now a museum. For a highly romanticized interpretation of the man, make a short detour left on Tegnérgatan to (9) Carl Eldh’s statue (Tegnérlunden) of a tortured and struggling Strindberg in the nude.
Continue Drottninggatan up to (10) Observatorielunden (Drottninggatan 120), which if climbed gives a great overhead view of Gunnar Asplund’s celebrated Stockholm Public Library from 1928.
Press on to Odenplan station, which has brought you to Vasastan, and turn left. Keeping (11) Gustav Vasa Church (Karlbergsväden) to your right, stroll down Odengatan with the last part weaving in and out of Vasa park. At Sankt Eriksgatan, turn left and cross the big bridge—don’t miss Karlberg Castle to your right—over to Kungsholmen island.
Turn left on noisy Fleminggatan, left again on Inedalsgatan to get away from the traffic, and right at the water’s edge so you can stroll in greenery along Kungsholms Strand almost all the way to (12) City Hall (1, Ragnar Östbergs plan). If you brave Fleminggatan anyway, at least take a right on Scheelegatan and walk along the southern shore until you get to City Hall. Ragnar Östberg’s eight-million-brick masterpiece, which is where the Nobel Prize dinner is held each year, marks the end of your walk.
2016 National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest
Show us your best photos of nature, cities, and people from your travels around the world.