Planning a visit to Stockholm? Prepare to be blown away by the beautiful art in Stockholm’s subway stations! From mosaics to line drawings and paintings to sculptures, Stockholm subway art showcases the talents and efforts of dozens of artists. Doing a dedicated tour to view the underground metro art is one of the coolest things to do in the Stockholm!
If you use Stockholm’s metro to get around the city, you’ll no doubt come across some of the art, but a dedicated tour will allow you to fully appreciate the enormous scale, diversity, and beauty of the art displays. Excited? Read on for 15 stunning stations to put on your must-see list, and tips for a fabulous experience.
STOCKHOLM SUBWAY ART: 15 BEST STATIONS TO VISIT
Most of Stockholm’s 100 or so subway stations feature art of some kind. It’s no wonder that Stockholm lays claim to having the longest art gallery in the world!
Art began to be added to Stockholm’s subway stations as far back as the late 1950s, after local artists opined that art ought to be available for everyone to enjoy. What better venue than the subway stations, through which thousands of people pass daily?
The art is beautiful, of course. But artists used the opportunity to also highlight issues of importance to them: the cutting down of forests, or women’s rights, for example. Whether you visit just to savor the amazing sight of the caves and displays, or you want to delve deeper and study the meaning or message behind some of the art, you’ll love touring the Stockholm metro art gallery!
Here are 15 stunning Stockholm subway stations to put on your must-see list:
The always busy central hub of Stockholm’s subway system, T-Centralen was the first station to feature art. You’ve probably seen photos of the famous Blue Platform at T-Centralen, with its blue-leaved creepers traveling up the walls. Created by Per Olof Ultvedt, the charming blue and white display is pleasing to the eyes and soothing to the soul.
But even though it’s the most photographed, the leaf art is not the only art at T-Centralen. There’s another blue and white display that features silhouettes of different workers with their tools, made by the same artist. Ultvedt created the display in appreciation of the workers that were working at the station before it opened in 1975.
Also, don’t miss the multi-hued motifs and patterns in the subway tiles along the red and green line platforms: they are so pretty!
#2 Kungsträdgården: Blue Line
The art at Kungsträdgården Station is not just beautiful, it also tells the story of the park above the station. Kungsträdgården is one of my most favorite stations from our tour. With painted art, sculptures, and found historical objects, there’s a lot to see here!
Kungsträdgården is one of Stockholm’s most beautiful parks, famous for its pink canopy of cherry blossom in the spring. At the site of the park, there used to be a palace, the Makalös Palace, with a gorgeous French garden. Sadly, the palace burned down in the early part of the 19th century. But the green, red, and white of the garden lives on in the color palette of the underground metro art: green for the garden, red for its gravel paths, and white for the statues that adorned it.
The beautiful painted cameos in the ceiling of the cave are fascinating, with people, birds, animals, and objects. Also, don’t miss the historic gas lamps, and the archaeological display with remnants from the palace. There’s even real moss here!
#3 Radhuset: Blue Line
The art at Radhuset highlights the beautiful bedrock out of which the “caves” of the subway were tunneled. This cave has been compared to a grotto, and that’s exactly what it looked like to me.
The art at Radhuset is not as showy as some of the other displays you’ll see, but it’s still worth a stop to take photos of the beautiful rust-colored bedrock with its subtle textures.
#4 Fridhemsplan: Blue and Green Lines
Fridhemsplan has a nautical theme, with a sailboat and a cool compass. I also loved the green walls of the platform, with the little squiggles of red and blue to brighten it up.
The station also has some cool cameos of robots in tile, with lots of color and an environmentalist theme. My daughter-in-law Sara describes the art in Fridhemsplan as quirky, and I think that describes it perfectly!
#5 Västra skogen: Blue Line
At Västra skogen, the Blue Line splits into two: one line going towards Hjulsta and the other towards Akalla. We’d seen glimpses of the tiled art here while on commutes, and I was excited to finally tour the station.
Västra skogen features a number of large colorful tiled designs running the length of the platforms. No underlying message here that I could see, just lots of cheerful colors to brighten your day.
#6 Solna centrum: Blue Line
If you are looking for drama, Solna centrum provides it in spades. The red and green landscape created by artists Karl-Olov Björk and Anders Åberg depicts a forest of spruce almost 0.6 mile long, topped by a bright red sky. There’s not a speck of blue to be seen anywhere!
Dotted here and there in the landscape are little vignettes, highlighting some of the concerns that cropped up with the industrialization of Sweden in the 1970s. Don’t miss the little 3-D models in the platform walls!
#7 Hallonbergen: Blue Line
Hallonbergen Station will take you back to your childhood, with its theme of kids’ drawings. The artists, Elis Eriksson and Gösta Wallmark, reportedly used many of the drawings from their own childhood.
There’s a little bit of color for interest, but the focus is on the drawings. Take the time to enjoy the workings of a child’s perspective and imagination: you’ll see real and mythical beasts and birds and fun representations of daily life.
#8 Rissne: Blue Line
Take a fascinating walk through history at Rissne centrum! A gigantic timeline of the history of the world in text and maps runs along the platform here. I thought this was a really cool theme!
Designed by Madeleine Dranger and Rolf H. Reimers, the artwork is both informative and colorful. The map of the world, done in different shades of green, red, blue, yellow, and purple, is simply gorgeous!
The historical timeline ends in 1985, when the station was opened.
#9 Tensta: Blue Line
The theme of inclusiveness is front and center at Tensta Station, with the word “brotherhood” listed in 18 languages. Above ground is a part of Stockholm that is home to lots of immigrants, and the sister and brother artist team, Helga Henschen and Lars Henschen, wanted to offer a message of welcome to newcomers to the city.
The art displays here are gorgeous: lots of stylized birds and animals and plants in jewel colors. The scene depicting a row of penguins huddled in a row in the bedrock above a walrus is much photographed, but other pieces, like the elephant, the moose, and the bright orange sun, are just as delightful.
#10 Thorildsplan: Green Line
For a fun art theme, stop at Thorildsplan. It’s like walking into a video game! Thorildsplan doesn’t have a cave because it’s a street level station, but the artist made great use of all the wall space available to create stunning digital pixel art.
You’ll see art from Super Mario Brothers, Pac-Man, and Space Invaders here. Such a cool idea, given that the artist, Lars Arrhenius, was asked to limit himself to using only subway tiles!
Thorildsplan Station was “our” subway station on a recent visit to Stockholm, since we stayed in an apartment nearby. The cheery art always made me smile as we passed it on our way in or out.
#11 Alby: Red Line
Alby Station is somewhat out of the way when compared to the other stations on my list, so you might want to leave it off if you are short on time. But I am so glad we included it in our tour! Created by Olle Ängkvist, the art in the station features a bright green background overlaid with bold motifs in contrasting red, orange, pink, blue, and yellow.
Alby feels like you are taking a walk through a tropical forest. You’ll see lots of large colorful flowers everywhere that are a joy to photograph.
Other motifs on the walls are reported to have been inspired by the petroglyphs found in the area. The design that looks like a large maze is gorgeous!
#12 Stadion: Red Line
Stadion Station features the dramatic rainbow cave that you’ve likely come across on Instagram. It does make a statement, doesn’t it?
The design theme of Stadion is inspired by the Olympic Games: near the station is Stockholm’s Olympic Stadium, which served as a venue for the 1912 games. The rainbow loosely represents the colors of the Olympic rings.
The cave is the main attraction, but after you’ve taken a zillion photos of it, don’t forget to walk around the rest of the station to see the rest of the colorful artwork!
#13 Tekniska Högskolan: Red Line
The station that serves the Royal Institute of Technology, it’s no surprise that Tekniska Högskolan features science-inspired art. Artist Lennart Mörk’s polyhedra, representing the elements, are the must-not-miss works here: they make you feel like you are on the sets of a science fiction movie!
There is lots of color in this station as well, and don’t forget to look down at the scientific drawings on the floor.
#14 Universitetet: Red Line
Universitetet features a large tiled work on the UN Declaration of Human Rights by Françoise Schein, a Belgian-born artist. She is one of the few non-Swedish artists that have contributed to the Stockholm metro art gallery.
As you might expect, many of the displays in this station are focused on learning. Some exhibits on the platform wall describe the travels of Carl von Linné, the Swedish botanist and zoologist. Formulas, equations, scientific symbols: you’ll see them all here.
For a pop of color for your camera, stop by the tiled exhibit that points to the emergency exit!
#15 Morby centrum: Red Line
If you are looking for pretty subway art to be the backdrop for your Instagram photos, you’ll want to visit Morby centrum. The columns of color on the tiled centerpiece look gorgeous in photos.
White ceilings and walls are speckled with light pink or gray-green clouds, depending on where you stand. The artwork here is subtle but pleasing.
There’s not a lot to view at Morby centrum, but I would visit just for the beautiful tile wall!
STOCKHOLM METRO ART: TIPS FOR A FABULOUS EXPERIENCE
The best part of Stockholm’s subway art is that it is easy and inexpensive to enjoy. Here are some tips to help you have a fabulous tour!
Tip #1: Familiarize yourself with the Stockholm subway system
The Stockholm subway system (also known as Tunnelbana or T-bana) is very easy to navigate. All the stations above are on one of the three main lines: Red, Blue, and Green. All the lines meet at the central hub T-Centralen. You can of course switch from one line to another at T-Centralen, but there are a couple of other stations where two lines overlap and you can switch from one to the other (see map below).
Trains run pretty frequently so you won’t have to wait around much after you finish viewing the art at a station.
Armed with a subway map or phone app, you can easily zip from one station to another and one line to another. Signs at the stations are plentiful and clear. If you forget your map, don’t worry: there are maps at all stations and in every subway car. Stops are announced and also show on a display in each car.
Make sure you are at the correct platform for the direction in which you wish to travel, by learning in advance the name of the terminal station at that end of the line. Also, know that some lines split into two (or more) branches, so you’ll want to know the terminus for the branch containing your destination station.
We didn’t get lost once as first-time users of the T-bana, and we used it extensively during a recent one-week visit.
Tip #2: Choose between self-guided and part guided/part on your own
We toured the Stockholm metro art entirely on our own. Most of the art is on the walls and ceilings of giant can’t-miss caves or along the walls of the platforms, so it is easy to find if you walk the length of the station on each side. If you just want to see the exhibits and take photos, this is your best option. To learn more about the art, get the audio guide offered by SL. It currently features information on 21 subway stations, including 10 from my list above.
If you visit in the summer, you can join a free guided art walk in English. All you need to show is a valid subway ticket or pass. Offered by SL (Stockholm Lokaltrafik, the city’s public transport company), the walk is about one hour and generally covers 4-5 stations of your guide’s choice. After the guided tour, you can still tour other stations on your own, for the best of both worlds.
Tip #3: The best time to tour Stockholm’s subway art
Since the art is in active-use subway stations used by thousands of Stockholm commuters, it stands to reason that you should avoid the peak commute times to avoid impatient looks and elbow jostles from commuters rushing about their daily activities.
If you plan to visit on a weekday, choose late morning or early afternoon for your best shot at viewing the art in peace and getting photos without a lot of people. Late evenings, after rush hour, would also work.
Weekend mornings are another great time to do the tour. We went on Sunday morning and there were very few people at most stations. A few other people were touring at the same time, so we occasionally had to wait a few minutes for our turn for posed photos in the caves, but otherwise it was a breeze.
Tip #4: How much time should you invest?
This depends entirely on your interest in art and itinerary constraints. You could spend a whole day and cover lots of stations at leisure, or you can do a whirlwind tour of just a few stations and still have a great time.
If you are severely short on time, you can see five top stations in about 40 minutes. Choose stations that are close together and not too far from the city center. My picks would be T-Centralen as the start and end point, Solna centrum and Kungsträdgården on the Blue Line, and Stadion and Tekniska Högskolan on the Red Line.
To do justice to the 15 stations I have listed, you need about 3-3.5 hours. If you drop Alby, you can complete the tour of the remaining 14 stations in about 2-2.5 hours.
All the approximate times I have listed above assume that you walk briskly and don’t have long wait times for the photos you want to take. If you are spending a few days in the Swedish capital and you love art, devote a morning or afternoon to view the subway art at leisure. It will be one of the most enduring memories of your visit!
Tip #5: What kind of ticket should you buy?
A single-use ticket on the Stockholm metro is valid for 75 minutes. So if you keep your tour to under that time and don’t plan to use public transport otherwise during your visit to Stockholm, then a single ticket is your best option.
But if you plan to use public transport to get to different parts of the city during your visit, a Travelcard is the way to go. A Travelcard allows you unlimited travel for the duration of its validity, which can be 24 hours, 72 hours, or 7 days.
Tip #6: Plan your Stockholm subway art route ahead of time!
Based on the time you have, make a list of the stations you want to cover ahead of time and keep the list as a note on your phone, or circle them on a subway map you take with you on your tour. To make efficient use of your time, you’ll want to cover all the stations on a line in one shot before you move on to the next line or branch of a line.
As one example of a route to cover all 15 stations on my list, start from T-Centralen and take the Blue Line to Kungsträdgården. Go back to T-Centralen and take the Blue Line to Radhuset and then to Fridhemsplan. From Fridhemsplan, take the Green Line to Thorildsplan and back. Then take the Blue Line towards Akalla, in order to cover Västra skogen, Solna centrum, and Hallonbergen. Return to Västra skogen and take the Blue Line towards Hjulsta, to visit Rissne and Tensta. Get back to T-Centralen and take the Red Line towards Morby centrum, to cover Stadion, Tekniska Högskolan, Universitetet and Morby centrum. Return to T-Centralen, and take the Red Line towards Norsborg, to visit Alby. Return to T-Centralen!
With a plan and a map, it’s easy!
So there you have it: the ultimate guide to a tour of the most spectacular Stockholm metro art. It’s a cool activity, and I can’t wait to return to Stockholm to explore other stations. At last count, 94 subway stations in Stockholm feature art in one form or another, and more lines and stations are in the works, so I have lots more ground to cover!
In Stockholm for just one day? Discover my exciting but doable one day Stockholm itinerary that will take you through some of Stockholm’s top attractions. If you plan to spend a few days in the amazing capital of Sweden, check out my list of the 25 top things to do in Stockholm!
Looking for accommodation for your visit to Stockholm? Check out At Six Hotel! It’s located in the city center, right in the middle of the action. Plus the rooms are super comfortable! Check availability and prices!
Have you done a tour of Stockholm subway art? Is there a station you loved that’s not on my list? Let me know in the comments below, so I can add it to my list for my next visit to the city!
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