A self-guided art walking tour of Stockholm
Publish date: 20 April 2022
In Stockholm, we're lucky enough to have master painters treasures on our doorstop. The city curates and maintains hundreds of pieces of art, which you can discover just by wandering the streets.
First and foremost, a disclaimer. I'm not an art expert but I'm definitely an admirer. I've been drawn to Scandinavian art, in particular Swedish master painter Anders Zorn, for many years now. When I moved to Stockholm, I sought out his work and also found myself falling in love with the works of his female contemporaries such as Elizsabeth Keyser, Mina Carlson-Bredberg, and Amalia Lindegren.
Here is one of my favourite routes that will give you both a hit of culture...and vitamin D! You obviously don’t need to follow the whole route and there are of course many other art gems around Stockholm.
Centralen, Skeppsholmen, Kastellholmen
Starting at the Central Station, walk down Vasagatan and make your first stop at Rosenbadsparken to admire one of Anders Zorn’s final pieces, the sculpture ‘Morgonbad’ (Morning bath). A young woman clasps a sponge in her hands as water flows down her body. It was originally called Svampen (The Sponge) and is one of three specimens cast.
Walk along Strömgatan, keeping Parliament and Gamla Stan to your right, and you’ll soon arrive at Strömparteren. Strömparteren was originally an area designated in the 1810s as a place to store fishing gear, but soon became an iconic part of 19th century society, with a garden and music pavilion for entertaining the public. There are two statues to admire here: Solsångaren (1926), a homage to the writer Esaias Tegnér by celebrated Swedish sculptor Carl Milles and Dimman (1910) by Gusten Lindberg, one of the 85 Swedish artists that formed the Opponenterna (The Opponents) movement. The production of Solsångaren almost bankrupted Milles, due to his constant reforming of the work. He wrote in 1928: ‘I am totally broke and the wolves are waiting in the corners …’
Stroll past the Kungliga Slott (Royal Palace) and along Strömbron onto Södra Blasieholm. Walk to the far end and you’ll find our next destination, Nationalmuseet (The National Museum). This incredible building was built in a north Italian Renaissance style by the architect Friedrich August Stüler in 1866. Here you can marvel at the museum’s broad collection of Rembrandts, Renoirs, Degas and Zorns. It is free to enter, but you will need a ticket for any special exhibitions on display. The museum’s restaurant and Glass Bar offers delicious food and wonderful views over Strömmen and the Royal Palace.
Now refuelled, you’ll move on to the final parts of the walk. Admire the golden crowns on Skeppsholmsbron and head on to Skeppsholmen. Home to the Royal Institute of Art, this is one of my favourite small islands in Stockholm, surrounded by little boats, twinkling lights and fabulous views. Walk along Brobänken around the island.
For an extra walk and feeling of completion you can take the bridge and move on to Kastellholmen, climbing up to Kastellet. The citadel was built in 1667 but redesigned in 1845 after being destroyed by accident and became a permanent part of Stockholm’s defence in WW2. To this day, the Swedish military ensign flag is hoisted every morning to signify that the nation is at peace. Here’s hoping we continue to see it flying proudly every day!
Whether you’ve decided to move on to Kastellholmen or continue along brobänken, you’ll follow the signs and move on to Moderna Museet. Moderna Museet was first opened in 1958 and houses pieces from artists such as Picasso, Dali, Duchamp and Matisse. Whilst free to enter, if you feel you’ve had enough gallery hunting and want to save the Modern Museum until another day, a quick look around the sculpture park is well worth it.
Our final stop rounding off the island is to walk round back to Brobänken and head to either to Glassverkstad for an ice cream or Topedoverkstad for a spot of brunch and, if you’re lucky enough to be there on a Saturday, you can enjoy ‘BrunchJazz’ from 12.30 to 15.30.
Wishing you a wonderful walk and stort lycka till!