How to Design a Perfect Stockholm Subway Tour on Your Own

0 Stockhom SubwayWhile I kind of knew the Stockholm subway stations are beautiful, I had no idea what I got myself into until I was looking at the maps and planning my itinerary. Once I went further with my plan, I started to understand how I should incorporate my subway station visits into my travel plan; and now I would like to share my experience and offer some useful tips that will make your subway tour easier. Please comment, like and share – You are welcome to leave comments about your ideas!

About the Stockholm subway

0 Stockholm Subway Akalla

Stockholm’s subway system opened in 1950, and it has 100 stations in use today.

The entire system is separated into three colored main lines (Red, Green, and blue), and these three main lines converge in T-Centralen (Stockholm’s main train station in the city center – the only station where the three lines meet) splitting into a total of 7 routes with different termini:

The Green Lines are numbered as T17, 18 and 19, Red Lines, T13 and 14, and lastly, Blue Lines, T10 and 11.

8 Stockholm Subway Tekniska Högskolan 2
Tekniska Högskolan

Named “the longest art gallery in the world”, Stockholm’s subway system is known for its beautiful decoration in a number of stations. First, many of the stations are left with crude and unfinished bedrock exposed; Secondly, the bedrock ceiling served as a canvas for a number of artists to create their frescoes and paintings, making these stations colorful and unique. Lastly, over 150 different artists contributed to decorating with sculptures, mosaics, installations, engravings, reliefs, and art displays.

Check out Visitstockholm’s website as it highlighted 14 stations, but really, you shouldn’t limit yourself to these 14 stations – you may be surprised by the artworks in many other stations during your journey!

How to design your own Stockholm subway tour

2 Stockholm Subway Tensta 2

One way to explore the subway is by joining a guided tour. Of course, it’s cool to have a professional guide offering more in-depth knowledge of what shaped the various stations and the ideas of their respective artists.

However, it is possible to explore the subway with a self-designed art tour with a little research. After all, the subway is public transportation and why not experience it like a local? The Stockholm subway is actually very easy to navigate and a self-guided tour allows you to travel around at your own pace. I marked those stations on a map and incorporated these stops into my itinerary. Read on, I have a map.

Best times to take the Stockholm subway art tour

5 Stockholm Subway Hallonbergen 4

The best time to take the tour, obviously, is the off-peak hours, when you have a smaller crowd on the platform. If you want to take the tour during the daytime, 10 am or 3 pm on a workday is ideal (a.k.a. Avoid the time when people travel for work). In particular, T-Centralen is the busiest station in Stockholm, being the intersection of three subway lines.

The best time, for me though, is at night. If you own a Stockholm Pass in winter, this is an incredible bonus because most of the museums and attractions close from 4 pm to 5 pm (a few of them at 6 pm), and you could travel for free with the pass and take advantage of it fully. Moreover, it is much less crowded at night and you could take lots of photos in the subway station without interruption. So, spend your day “above ground” for some sun and move “underground” as the sun goes down.

Stockholm subway tickets

4 Stockholm Subway Nackrosen

While the art displays are for the public in a subway station, you still need a ticket to enter the platforms; The ticket is technically all you need for your art tour (guided or non-guided). Another thing to be aware of is that a single journey ticket is only valid for 75 minutes – which generally covers a single trip for one line.

In the end, it depends on how you plan on visiting all stations. If you would like to visit them in one day, I recommend getting a 24-hour pass so you could travel from place to place at your own “glacial” pace without worrying about the ticket expiring. You can also in and out anytime, and it is probably cheaper than buying multiple single-journey tickets (if you get in-and-out out more than four times).

Ticket Prices (Fares from January 2020)

Single Journey Ticket: SEK 37 / 25 (discounted)

24-hour Travel Card: SEK 155 / 105 (discounted)

    • There are also 72-hour, and 7-day Travel Cards available.
    • Travelcards are transferable and can be used by several travelers, but only one at a time.
    • All travelcards are valid for travel on the Djurgården ferries between Slussen and Djurgården, as well as commuter ferries 80 and 89.
4 Stockholm Subway Solna Centrum 2
Solna Centrum

I used the Stockholm Pass so public transportation is included. I could just hop on the subway anytime, and I can visit other places traveling from one station to another.

What to see and do in different areas you asked? Stay tuned for my recommendations below, and also all my future posts!

Check out: 3 City Highlights in Stockholm You Must See Before You Leave

Tips for photographing the Stockholm subway art

In general, I would say it’s very easy to take beautiful pictures at the station. The Stockholm subway is generally clean and safe. Even when I was visiting the stations at night, I felt safe compared to many other European cities.

The most striking art displays or mural paintings are usually in the center of the platform, if you are traveling with a group of friends, the art could be seen in a huge space for you to take pictures of the art (including you in the pictures).

10 Stockholm Subway Hötorget 2

Still, don’t forget to bring along a tripod so you can take a group shot of everyone. The stations are clean with flat surfaces to set up a tripod. Moreover, all stations have good lighting that makes taking a great picture so much easier.

I used an iPhone for photo-taking (and I know many new models have the same feature too), and its camera is so powerful with the wide shot feature, that it’s easy to take in the entire space. My suggestion: take close-up images of the art you like, and take one wide shot.

For some stations, the arts are installed in corridors or passages. It could be tricky to take pictures with passengers flooding in and walking by every now and then. However, the locals know that their subway stations are a popular attraction and they are used to seeing tourists around – they won’t be too surprised or bothered.

12 Stockholm Subway Bagarmossen 2

How to use this map 

2 Stockholm Subway Kungsträdgården

So, I have created a map to point out all the station highlights, and I have also included the major attractions and “must-see” places in Stockholm so you have an idea of what to see nearby any station. Simply hide and show different layers for you to have a clearer view of each subway line.

I have already mentioned a couple of times that you should incorporate your daily trips with these stations. You don’t have to visit all stations in a day, instead, split them into 3 or 4 days, you can mark your route for each day on this map to make the most of your visit to Stockholm, and your travel pass. So, here we go, grab your map and camera, and let’s start the tour!

All the highlighted stations are on four subway lines: Blue line (T10 and T11), Red Line (T14), and green line (T17).

Blue Line (T10 and T11)

  • 5 Stockholm Subway Hallonbergen 2T-Centralen
  • Tensta
  • Kungsträdgården
  • Solna Strand
  • Solna Centrum
  • Näckrosen
  • Husby 
  • Hallonbergen
  • Akalla

Day-1 itinerary:

If you want to cover all stations on the Blue Line. You have a lot to cover. Start your day in T-Centralen, the busiest station in the subway system. Then head to Kungsträdgården, a park in Central Stockholm where most of the city’s landmarks are located: The Opera House, the Royal Palace, and the Boat Tour. If you have more time, hop on a tram and visit the Vasa Museum, Viking Museum, and Nordiska Museum. There is so much more to see and do in the area including Gröna Lund and ABBA Museum, but it will take another day or two to visit them all. Anyway, to continue your subway tour, return to Kungsträdgården and travel to the other end of the Blue Line (T10, and T11).

1 Stockholm Subway T-Centralen
T-Centralen is the first station that features artwork. The platform is hand-painted with simple and classic flowers and leaf creepers. The giant paintings, created by artist Per Olof Ultvedt, are believed to create a calm and soothing environment with shades of blue. To me, I think it’s a great choice because the station is on the Blue Line (the oldest line in the city), and it set the tone for the center of Stockholm.

2 Stockholm Subway Tensta 1

One of the most vibrant, colorful, and lively stations in the city. Tensta is designed by artist Arne Sedell and her brother Lars. The entire station platform is filled with a colorful display of animals, stylized leaves, and imaginary creatures. While I didn’t confirm this, I had a feeling that the artist had a strong influence on the African native art culture – because I just felt like I was on a safari tour, walking through the caves and seeing different groups of wild animals.

3 Stockholm Subway Solna Strand
Solna Strand is my favorite station because of its industrial, futuristic, and modern design. Its concrete ceiling is juxtapositioned with the colorful heavenly cubes that pop out from the walls, ceiling, and ground. The station is designed by Japanese artist, Takashi Naraha, whose signature is to create art that involves polarized contrast of the yin and yang. Solna Strand is truly one-of-a-kind that stands out from any other station in the city.
4 Stockholm Subway Solna Centrum 1
The bold red and green combination of Solna Centrum is hard to forget. Ironically, the station is actually one of the earliest stations on the Blue Line since the year 1975. The luscious green on the wall represents the forest, while the fiery red on top depicts the light of the evening sun, setting behind the treescapes. The wall is designed by artists Karl-Olov Björk and Anders Åberg, and after completing the walls, they continued to add various details and scenes to the forest. So look closely, you will see a lot more in these paintings that send out political messages including the environmental issues, overlogging, and depopulation of rural areas.
5 Stockholm Subway Hallonbergen 1
Hallonbergen (literally means “Raspberry Mountains”) is a station with a lot of fun and whimsy. While Hallonbergen is a young and new neighborhood, Elis Eriksson and Gösta Wallmark, the artist of this station, draw inspiration from their childhood and decorated the station with lots of fun and creative elements, hand-scribbles, and pastel colors.

Red Line (T14)

  • 6 Stockholm Subway Stadion 2Stadion
  • Östermalmstorg
  • Tekniska Högskolan
  • Mörby Centrum

Day-2 itinerary:

Take the Red Line in the morning and head to Gamla stan, Stockholm’s old town. Walk through the narrow streets in Gamma Stan – it is a tourist area with a lot of nice souvenir stores and restaurants. Take a Hop-on-hop-off bus tour and explore the city’s downtown! Afterward, head back north to the rest of the stations on the Red Line. They are only a few stations away.

6 Stockholm Subway Stadion 1
Moving on to the Red Line, the Stadion station celebrates love and peace with a rainbow across the arch of the platform’s center. Interestingly, the station is also very close to the main festive area, Östermalms IP, of the Stockholm Pride festival. The station is also very close to the Stockholm Olympic Stadium of the 1912 Summer Olympics, therefore, it has a lot of elements that remind passengers about its sport’s history. Artists Åke Pallarp and Enno Hallek did a great job designing the station as I immediately got their concept once I stepped out of the train. It is one of the oldest cave stations in the city as well.
7 Stockholm Subway Östermalmstorg 1
Compare to the other stations, Östermalmstorg might look a little bit more subdued with its sketches on the wall. The station showcases the works of a number of artists though. The centerpiece is Siri Derkert’s sketches. When walking around the station you will see the word “peace” written in different languages and portraits of people that had been working for the environment and with women’s rights issues.
8 Stockholm Subway Tekniska Högskolan 1
The station is named after KTH – Kungliga Tekniska Högskolan, the Royal Institute of Technology. Founded in 1827, the institution has famous alumni including Christer Fuglesang, Dolph Lundgren, and Anette Scheibe. Designed by artist Lennart Mörk, Tekniska Högskolan is an award-winning station that celebrates scientific advances and discoveries. Look at the polyhedra, representations of Copernican heliocentrism, Polhem’s mechanical alphabet, Newton’s three laws of motion, and da Vinci’s work –  you might feel like you got yourself into a museum of science and technology.
9 Stockholm Subway Mörby Centrum
At the end of the Red Line, Mörby Centrum is decorated with colorful tilework with a milky and pink top that reminds me of a lot of cotton candy. The walls actually change color as you look at them from different directions, it is a smart play on lighting and shades by artists Gösta Wessel and Karin Ek.

Green Line (T17)

  • Hötorget
  • Citybanan-Odenplan
  • Thorildsplan
  • Bagarmossen

Day-3 itinerary:

This is going to be an interesting day. The Green Line leads to the bus station that takes visitors to one of the most popular attractions in Stockholm, the Drottningholm Palace. Get out of Brommaplan and take a bus to Drottningholm Palace. Travel back in time and witness the beautiful architecture and garden of the old Kingdom of Sweden. On your way back to Stockholm, stop by Thorildsplan and Hötorget. Go to Gullmarsplan and head to Skyview, a modern spherical building that’s the largest of its kind in the world. Finally, head to the other end of the Green Line and explore Bagarmossen.

10 Stockholm Subway Hötorget 1
It is quite interesting that Hötorget doesn’t have a giant painting or art piece on the platform, instead, its “art form” is embedded subtly here and there, like the signage, the graphics, and the bathroom tiles, making it completely different from other stations in the city.
11 Stockholm Subway Citybanan – Odenplan 4
Another unique art form is presented in the city’s subway system. The Citybanan – Odenplan is a new track that connects T-Centralen directly with Odenplan, which opened in the year 2017. The entrance of the station is a modern white building with a sitting area. Hanging down from the ceiling of its western entrance hallway, the 400-meter long jagged white LED light fixture is called the “Life Line”; it is a functional and beautiful display designed by David Svensson, who drew inspiration from his son’s heartbeats as shown on the CTG-monitor during the childbirth.
11 Stockholm Subway Thorildsplan 2
Thorildsplan is one of the only three street-level surface stations in downtown Stockholm. In 2008, artist Lars Arrhenius added pixelated tilework on the tunnels connecting the platform to the concourse area. The graphics on the wall are, in fact, inspired by the community in Thorildplan. But to me, the mushrooms always belong to Super Mario.
12 Stockholm Subway Bagarmossen 1
Bagarmossen was once also a station on the surface, and then it moved underground in 1994. Gert Marcus, the artist of the new station, installed screen-printed glass plates on both sides of the walls, creating a unique visual in different shades of blues.

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