I visited the Christmas Market in Gamla Stan in Stockholm in December 2016
Gamla Stan (The Old Town) in Stockholm is beautiful. Old stone houses lining picturesque streets. Narrow alleyways twisting and turning around the buildings. The Royal Castle at one end, a massive building, constantly watched by the King’s Guards. It was my first time in Stockholm in thirty years, I was staying in the middle of Gamla Stan. As soon as I had checked into my airbnb-apartment I set out to explore. I was walking through the streets, no plan in mind. Just getting my first look at the city. Taking in the views. There was so much to see. Some many places to stop and admire. In a month this would be my home town. I was anxious to see what Stockholm had to offer.
After walking down the main street through Gamla Stan I ventured into the smaller side streets. After a few turns I started to lose track of where I was. The fact that some streets tended to veer in different directions did not help. I was just about to get my phone, find my bearings with the help of Google Maps, when I came to Stortorget. In front of my was a christmas market.
I happen to travel a lot in December, I try to get a trip in every year, find it nice to get away from all the holiday stress. I have on my December trips visited christmas markets in many cities. Berlin, Strasbourg, Gdansk and even Sapporo in Japan. I am starting to become a bit of an expert on christmas markets I feel. Many great christmas markets come to mind, Strasbourg and Sapporo in particular. I am afraid to say the Christmas Market in Gamla Stan in Stockholm is not one of them.Located at Stortorget in Gamla Stan, the backdrop of the christmas market is stunning. Beautiful old buildings lining the square, the top of the houses seen above the stands in the market. But the market itself was a bit boring and not very satisfying. It was small, maybe 20 stands in total, with only two of them selling food. And the food they sold was hot dogs, not something I associate with Christmas. There were not many places to sit down either. You could walk around, look at the stalls, see if you found something to buy, or just walk away it seemed.
I walked around for a bit, looked at the merchandice offered by the different vendors. The usual stuff you find at christmas markets really. Christmas figurines, knitted sweaters. Some ham and cheese. Nativity scenes and small santas. Feeling a bit peckish I ended up buying a hot dog as well. Nothing impressive, just a regular hot dog served in a bun. Nothing like the famous Icelandic hot dog I had tried earlier in the year. And nothing that reminded me of christmas. I quickly finished my hot dog, washed it down with some mediocre glühwein. Feeling there was not much more to see I left the christmas market. I could not have been there more than 15 minutes.Gamla Stan in Stockholm is beautiful, a place I have no problem recommending to other travellers. As for the Christmas Market at Stortorget in Gamla Stan I can’t say the same. There are so many good christmas markets out there, all over the world, and many worth a visit a lot more than the one in Gamla Stan.