• Photo: konstantinks / Shutterstock

Norrmalm, Vasastan, and Kungsholmen

On the mainland north of Gamla Stan, Norrmalm is at the heart of modern Stockholm. The area bounded by Stadshuset, Hötorget, and Stureplan is essentially Stockholm's downtown, where the city comes closest to feeling like a bustling metropolis. Shopping, nightlife, business, traffic, dining—all are at their most intense in this part of town. Much of this area was razed in the 1960s as part of a social experiment to move people to the new suburbs. What came in its place, a series of modernist buildings, concrete public spaces, and pedestrianized walkways, garners support and derision in equal measure. Cross one of the bridges to the west of the central station and you reach Kungsholmen, a mostly residential island that is home to Stockholm's distinctive redbrick City Hall, as well as some delightful waterfront walking paths and cafés. At the northern edge of Norrmalm is another residential district, Vasastan, with restaurants, the city's main library, and several attractive parks.

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