Stockholm’s metro is affordable, efficient, and easily the best way to get around the city. If you’re a fan of urban photography, I would also be willing to bet that it’s already at the top of your list of must-sees while in Sweden’s capital city.
Since the 1950’s, over 150 artists from around the world have transformed Stockholm’s metro stations into the world’s longest art gallery. The underground art is sure to brighten your day, and makes what could be a boring metro commute a lot less dull. The installations also leaves snap happy photographers waiting for the next train… and then the next train… as they try to capture new angles of the city’s beautiful metro stations.
On our last day in Stockholm, the weather was subpar at best… which actually perfect since we’d planned on spending most of the day underground anyway.
More than 90 of the 100 stations are covered in murals, sculptures, and other art installations, so you probably won’t get to all of them in one go. Some stations are definitely more elaborate than others, so, if you only have a limited amount of time in Stockholm, you should check out the photo hot spots first.
Here are the most impressive stations we saw this time around, a few we plan on going back for… plus a free map to help you plan your own self-guided tour!
We began our underground art adventure at T-Centralen, and headed to Morby Centurum, the furthest station on our list, and the terminus of the red line.
The station looks a bit like it’s covered in cotton candy clouds, and just before you reach the escalator, there’s a super cute pastel color-block wall that it’d be silly to not snap a few photos in front of.
Snap a few quick photos and get back on the train before it heads towards Centralen again, or stick around and wait for the next one.
Our next stop was Stadion - which was arguably my favorite of all the metro stations we covered.
Stadion has bright blue walls, and a massive, vibrant rainbow that stretches across the platform between the tracks.
The colorful art around this station is an ode to the Olympic Stadium that is just upstairs.
There were a few other people here taking photos, too… so we had to wait a bit to get the shots pictured below. Only a few minutes though… which we would have had to wait anyway before the next train came.
After visiting Stadion, our original plan was to head back to Central Station and transfer over to the blue line… but neither of us were paying attention and we missed our stop. To be fair, the metro commutes are SUPER quick in comparison to what I got used to in Seoul (where you can literally be on the train for an hour or more before getting where ya need to go).
Turns out, they don’t call Stockholm the world’s smallest big city for nothin’ - (so when you’re on the train pay attention)!
Anyway, when we arrived to the next station, Gamla Stan, we realized it connected with the green line, and made a split second decision to transfer over to that one instead. We were already planning to check out a rooftop bar a couple of stops away, so we headed there for a beer before continuing to Odenplan, the next station on our underground art adventure.
Unfortunately, when we got to Odenplan, we couldn’t even find any of the installations… and didn’t have the time to do much searching… BUT our little detour down the green line wasn’t in vain. It was really nice to grab a drink and slow down for a minute at Himlen.
Located near Medborgarplatsen Station, this restaurant and sky bar is a great place to get an epic view of Stockholm… just don’t come on Sunday… because they aren’t open (as we found out the hard way).
Was it worth making a second trip? I say yes… because CHECK OUT THIS VIEW!
K… now back to your regularly scheduled underground art!
After our beer… (and our Odenplan failure), we went straight to hell. Lol.
No, seriously… Solna Centrum is often called the “Gates of Hell.”
With its bold red and black walls, it’s definitely one of the more sinister looking stations… even a little post-apocalyptic… but not entirely.
While the walls surrounding the escalator are entirely red and black, the rest of the station is also bright green with trees. The reason behind the stark contrast is actually political.
Originally, the artists behind this station’s transformation painted the walls red and green to depict a sunset over the forest, however, as they continued, the art took a darker turn to illustrate the societal issues of Sweden in the 70’s - the environment and over logging… (which sadly remain unresolved globally decades later).
This highly political station is one of the most popular among many photographers.
From Solna Centrum, we headed all the way to the end of the blue line to check out Kungsträdgården station, (though we should have made a stop at Rådhuset first).
Swedish artist Ulrik Samuelson transformed this station to bring to mind a garden… which makes sense given that Stockholm’s popular King’s Garden is just above ground.
With the greens and reds, checkerboard floor, underground fountains, and funky ceiling art, Kungsträdgården also gave off some serious Alice in Wonderland vibes.
Photos here are tough because it’s super dark in the tunnel and the main photo spot is just below the escalator… but we gave it our best shot.
Last (but certainly not least) we returned back down the blue line to Central Station… and by some miracle were able to get people-less photos at this incredibly busy metro stop (and incredibly popular photo spot).
All of the city’s metro lines meet here, so, no matter what time of day you come, you can expect that you probably won’t be the only one here. Still, if you’re patient enough, you can still capture nice (seemingly vacant) shots.
The striking blue and white walls pictured below can be found all the way downstairs at the station’s blue line.
And that’s a wrap - For now...
Unfortunately, we had a train to catch back to Malmo… so these stops were all we had time for this time around. There is loads more to explore throughout Stockholm’s metro stations - Odenplan (which we went to, but couldn’t find the light installation), Rådhuset, and Thorildsplan are a few more that are at the top of my list for next time!
Even if you prefer to do your commuting and photo taking above ground, you should still set aside at least an hour or two to explore Stockholm’s notoriously colorful (and very insta-worthy) metro stations. If you love urban photography and cool murals like I do, this is the perfect way to spend an afternoon in the city - (especially if it’s a rainy afternoon)
Maps + Other Practical Info
First things first… you might be wondering when we went to these stations to get such vacant looking photos. Believe it or not, we actually did our underground art tour in the middle of the day… and no, I didn’t photoshop any people out of the photos.
Unless you’re willing to get up first thing in the morning, or stay up super late at night, weekdays in the middle of the day is actually a pretty good time for metro photos. Lots of people are already at work, so it shouldn’t be too busy.
To be completely honest, I never saw anyone checking tickets.
That being said, you always have to boop yourself through… and there are usually guards watching at the busier stations. Don’t try to be sneaky and share a card or sneak through with a friend…because if ya DO get caught, you’ll be stuck with a hefty penalty fee of 1500 SEK. That’s about US$154 for all my American friends… and that’s just not worth the risk, ya feel me?
Tickets are always cheaper if you buy them in advance on the SL public transport app, but, unfortunately for those non-Swedes without a personal number, you don’t have this option.
You can purchase tickets from the terminals at each station, or at the information desk.
A single ticket is valid for 75 minutes, which wasn’t quite enough time for us so we got the 24 hour pass instead. I’d recommend this, or maybe even something longer depending on how long you are in the city for. Stockholm is really walkable, but its still convenient to have the metro as an option, too.
Students - don’t forget your ID card because you can get a discount! - (Actually, I take that back… Even if you don’t have an ID card/aren’t a student, still take your chances and ask for a student ticket if you think you can get away with it. They didn’t even ask for ID).
From Monday to Friday, trains run from 5:00 a.m. until 1:00 a.m. On Saturdays and Sundays, as well as holidays, trains operate from 5:00 a.m. to 3:00 a.m
Need more help planning your trip? All the metro stations we visited (and the few I’m saving for next time) are pinned in the metro guide and the interactive google map below!
Want to see Stockholm’s best underground art for yourself?