I finally found the perfect activity to satisfy both my own and my husband’s travel obsessions: a self-guided tour of the Stockholm subway.
He enjoys finding out about trains and transport systems, exploring subways and finding out how a city functions. Sure, it’s a weird obsession to have, but it’s kind of interesting too.
I, on the other hand, like to take photos of things.
Considering this, I got fairly excited when I stumbled upon some photos of arty subway stations on the Visit Stockholm Instagram account. Finding these would be the perfect not-so-romantic way for us to spend our morning exploring the city as a couple.
I quickly listed the most interesting stations to check out, and planned a route that would take us to them all within the timeframe of one subway ticket. A ticket costs 37 SEK (about 4.00-4.50 USD) and is valid for 75 minutes of subway travel. You can also buy a 24-hour ticket for 155 SEK if you’d prefer to spend all day sightseeing as well as exploring the artsy metro.
Here’s my recommendations for a self-guided tour of Stockholm’s best subway stations. It’s a fun way to spend an hour getting some snaps to post on your Instagram feed.
My itinerary starts and ends at Central Station, but you could start at Kungsträdgårdsgatan instead. Here’s a few tidbits that you might find interesting about the Stockholm subway system!
- Over 90 of the city’s 100 subway stations are decorated, with installations from over 150 artists.
- The Stockholm subway has been called the ‘world’s longest art exhibit’ – it stretches for 110km.
- 53 of the stations are above ground, the remaining 47 are under ground.
- Nearly 900,000 passengers use the subway system every day.
- If you’re in Stockholm during the summer, you can tag along on a free guided art walk. At other times of the year, you can book a Stockholm subway art tour with a guide to give you commentary about all the fantastic art pieces.
T-Centralen (Central Station)
Start at T-Centralen (Central Station) and head towards the Blue line. The rocky walls here were painted in white and blue by artist Per Olof Ultvedt.
The upper levels have silhouettes of workers, as a way of honoring the many men who constructed the station. The lower levels are painted in the same style but with calming leaf-like patterns, which is meant to lower the stress level of the station’s 167,000 daily commuters.
From Central Station, hop on the Blue line and get off at Kungsträdgårdsgatan (don’t you dare ask me to try and pronounce this).
This station is arguably the most impressive. The design is supposed to represent an archeological dig and features actual artefacts from Makalös Palace, which once stood in the same location. It also has some geometric-style patterns on its floor and ceiling, installed by artist Ulrik Samuelson in 1977 and 1987.
Kungsträdgårdsgatan is the end of the Blue line, so go back in the other direction and hop off at Rådhuset.
This station was designed by Sigvard Olsson and was my fave from our makeshift tour – the red rock juxtaposed with the modern escalators gave the whole place a surreal look. It felt like we were wandering through a futuristic cave.
Take note when you’re in the station that this is the fourth deepest in the metro system. You’ll be standing at 20 meters below sea level!
Continue on the Blue line in the same direction, and get off at Fridhemsplan. We only intended to use this as a station to change from the Blue line to the Green line, but the station itself is actually pretty cool, too.
From Fridhemsplan, change to the Green line and go one stop to Thorildsplan.
This is the only outdoor station on our itinerary, and it also has the most recent artwork. In 2008, Lars Arrhenius added the pixellated tiles arranged to show characters and scenes in the style of video games such as Super Mario, Space Invaders, and Pacman.
To get back to Central Station from here, get back on the Green line but head in the other direction.