It's a little embarrassing that I've been writing a tourist blog about Stockholm for over a year and I haven't written about the number one tourist attraction: Gamla Stan. I guess it's mostly because this island is so centrally located, just a ten minute walk from the Rival Hotel, that visitors can't help but visit it at some point during their stay in Stockholm.
Buildings in the Stortorget square
Gamla Stan, which literally means "old town", is the original core of Stockholm and where the city was founded sometime in the 13th century. Geographically it is the center of the city and almost all traffic (foot, car, bus & subway) going between the northern and southern sections of central Stockholm passes through or under Gamla Stan. It is also the border between the Baltic Sea to the east and Lake Mälaren to the west.
Up the hill to... Storkyrkan
Gamla Stan is the perfect place to stroll around for half a day or more to soak up some history. There are many interesting sights to see/visit like the Royal Palace, the Treasury, the Nobel Museum, the church Storkyrkan and the square Stortorget. There is plenty of interesting architecture to look at with most of the buildings dating back from the Middle Ages. Shopping is also a good option... a great place for souvenirs, antiques and Swedish handicraft. There are also plenty of good restaurants to be found on the island. Some that I can recommend are Kryp In, Pontus by the Sea, Le Rouge, Fem Små Hus, Pubologi, Djuret and Den Gyldene Freden. Some parts are more "touristy" than others... especially the street Västerlånggatan, a pedestrian street filled mainly with souvenir shops and Italian restaurants (for some strange reason). But don't let the amount of tourists put you off, you should definitely visit Gamla Stan when coming to Stockholm!