Stockholm is a great city to visit with lots to see and do. You’ve got the Old Town Gamla Stan, the Vasa Museum, the changing of the guard at the Royal Palace, and their underground subway stations.
Subway stations??? Go all the way to Stockholm to visit the subway stations? My answer is “Oh ya, you bet!”. Not only that, it’s one of my must do itinerary items for Stockholm. You see, there is actually an interesting attraction down there – it’s an underground art exhibition. At 110 km long, it’s considered the world’s longest art exhibition. With over 90 stations exhibiting some form of art, you have lots to choose from, limited of course by your transportation ticket.
Visit my Stockholm Subway Photo Series and I hope that is enough to impress you to consider adding the Stockholm underground metro to your itinerary. I’ll go out on a limb and bet that even your kids will be wowed. If you decide to do it, then follow my advice on how to get the most out of it by using these 8 Practical Tips for Visiting Stockholm’s Subway Art and you will have an amazing and fun itinerary item.
- Start at Kungsträdgården T-Bana Station Looking at the Stockholm subway map, you can see that Kungsträdgårde is a terminal station on the blue line. By starting at Kungsträdgården, you can focus on going in one direction. Visually, Kungsträdgården is a great station to start with and gives you a sense of what’s coming up. Also, it fits in perfectly with the general plan in the tips below.
Make it a Logical Part of the Itinerary Integrate the underground visit strategically into your day’s itinarary to maximize it. For example, your day can start off visiting Gamla Stan and end up at the Royal Palace in time for the changing of the guard. Once that is concluded, start your underground visit by making your way to the Kungsträdgården T-bana station by walking across the Strombron bridge and into the Norrmalm district. Afterwards, when your subway visit is finished, you can get off at the station Östermalmstorg in the Ostermalm district. From here you can easily reach Strandvagen where you can take a beautiful walk along the promenade.
Blue then Red There are more than 90 stations lined with art so unless you plan to allocate the whole day (or more) to the underground, have a planned route in hand. Obviously, the objective is to get as much in as possible within a reasonable amount of time and to get some WOW moments. We’ll accomplish this by focusing the visit to a good concentration of the more fascinating stations on the Blue and Red lines.
My advice to you would be to consider doing the Blue line first, then switch over to the Red line. By finishing on the Red line we have simple choices on which station to get off to continue your Stockholm visit. You can easily return back to Gamla Stan or Slussen T-Bana station, which is probably where most visitors are coming from. Or, as mentioned in tip #2, you can get off at Östermalmstorg T-Bana and do a 5 minute walk over to Strandvagen. Otherwise, get off at the central hub T-Centralen which can take you throughout Stockholm.To get started, enter the blue line via Kungsträdgården T-Bana as mentioned in tip #1, and visit the stations in this order:
Blue Line (Direction Akalla) -> Kungsträdgården -> Rådhuset -> Fridhemsplan -> Stadshagen -> Solna Centrum -> Näckrosen -> Hallonbergen
At Hallonbergen, change the direction back towards Kungsträdgården and ride all the way to T-Centralen. Get off here and visit the station. Once the visit of T-Centralen is completed, find your way to the red line and board the subway with the direction Mörby Centrum, and visit the stations in this order:
Red Line (Direction Mörby Centrum) -> Stadion -> Tekniska Högskolan -> Universitetet
If you have time and inclination, add Mörby centrum to the list (skipping the stations in between).
Board the End Cars When boarding the subway, always get into either the first or the last car. As each station has interesting designs from end to end, I would suggest viewing both ends of the station as well as walking the platform in between. Basically, you are trying to optimize the time so that you walk from one end of the station, to the middle, and then to the other end. Then wait for the next subway to arrive and board from that end. Repeat at next station.
Allocate Proper Time Based on all of the above, I would allocate at least 2 hours into your itinerary; 2.5+ hours for a little more comfortable tour. If you are spending more time in each station setting up a tripod, taking lots of pictures at different settings and angles, well, you get the drift – more time.
The Metro System is One Zone The entire Stockholm subway system is contained in one zone (Zone A) – no worries about accidentally crossing over into another zone. However, a one zone ticket will only last 75 minutes. If you’re in a rush and only doing a small number of stations, then that’ll work. Otherwise, the 24 hour Travelpass is probably a better bet.
Take a Free Guided Tour If you are not too confident about doing this visit on your own, the local transit authority, Storstockholms Lokaltrafik or SL, offers free one hour guided tours. Do note that these guided tours are available only during the summer months of June, July and August. During these months, the English tours are held on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays at 3 p.m. The tour congregates at the main subway hub station, T-Centralen. Remember, T-Centralen is a large hub so get there a little early. You need to head over to the ticket and information office at Sergels Torg Public Square on the east side of T-Centralen. The only requirement on your part is you need to have a valid public transportation ticket from SL. As it is an hour long with commentary, do expect this to be a bit rushed.
Play an Audio Tour If you are doing the visit on your own, then you won’t have the added commentary that the Free Guided Tour from the SL offers. This final tip addresses that gap. If you have an iOS or Android smartphone, then download the app GuidiGO. Once the app is downloaded and installed, then select the GO Store. Perform a search for Subart. Select it and download this FREE audio tour. Now you have your own personal guide on your phone while visiting the Stockholm underground! Just make sure you launch the app while you are sitting on the couch at home to get familiar with it. There’s lots of commentary as well as maps of the stations. To jump to any station, just tap on the Search feature and a list of the stations will appear.
For the visitor who is in Stockholm for only a couple of days, then what I have presented is a strategic, straight-forward plan that makes the most out of your limited time. By minimizing the number of line transfers and trying to go in one direction the majority of the time, we are able to efficiently visit many of the awe inspiring stations. Obviously, if you have all day, then you can afford the luxury of time and there are many more interesting stations to add to your underground visit. For example, Huvudsta, or Odenplan (which has a set of stairs that has been turned into one giant piano), or Solna Strand (previously known as Vreten) which has cubes submerged halfway into the floor.
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Need to Know
- Official website for the Stockholm Public Transport: http://sl.se/
- Guided Art Walk Information: http://sl.se/en/eng-info/contact/art-walks/
- Stockholm Subway Map (pdf): http://sl.se/ficktid/karta/vinter/Tub.pdf
- Everything you need to know about fares and tickets: http://sl.se/en/fares–tickets/
- The Stockholm Subway system (Tunnelbana or T-bana) consists of three lines: Red, Blue and Green
- The central station that connects all three lines is T-Centralen
- The SL Transport System is divided into three zones. Each zone covers a designated area which basically works out to the Stockholm City Center along with the inner suburbs (Zone A), the outer suburbs (Zone B), and everything outside Zone B (Zone C).
There are plans for an expansion of the metro system and for the construction of a fourth metro line. With nine new stations, Stockholm will be even more accessible in the future. Construction is set to start in 2016 with the various new stations having completion dates scheduled for 2020, 2021 and 2025. Let’s hope these new stations have additional fascinating designs and artwork so that we can gape at in the near future. Mark your calendar for a return trip to Stockholm!
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