If there’s any “rule” I travel by, it just may be this one: if you see that a city has an “Old Town” neighborhood, you head there first. Because, invariably, it will be adorable and atmospheric and pretty much everything you imagine when you picture quintessential European charm.
I have yet to be let down by this theory, and Stockholm was certainly no exception. On my first day in the city, I set out for Gamla Stan, which dates back to the 13th century and therefore certainly earns its title as Stockholm’s “Old Town.” I was delighted to find that Gamla Stan was filled with ancient alleyways, bumpy cobblestone streets, and buildings hued in rich yellows and oranges. In other words: it was as picture perfect as I had hoped it would be.
I started the morning with a pastry and a coffee at a cute little shop on Gamla Stan, and then headed out into the streets to explore. Though I poked into Stockholm Cathedral, soaked up the sun in Stortorget (Swedish for “The Big Square”), and watched the stoic guards stand at attention in front of the Royal Palace, I didn’t have much else to “do” on my agenda. Rather, I walked up and down the streets, weaving in and out of alleyways and always finding more to explore (and photograph).
My morning in Gamla Stan was a quiet, low-key introduction to Stockholm – perhaps fitting, as I found Stockholm itself relatively quiet and low-key. For that reason, I wouldn’t place Stockholm on any list of the most exciting places in Europe – but due to neighborhoods like Gamla Stan, it may well be among the most lovely.