New App for Stockholm’s Subway Art
Katharine Trigarszky explores the Stockholm’s subway art with the new app, SL ArtGuide, to bring us tips on how to use the app to get narrated details on all of the art we see every day on the subway.
A new app for the Stockholm subway system (Tunnelbana)
SL’s ArtGuide is a new app that helps people take a self-guided tour of Stockholm’s subway art.
Experience the most popular metro stations in Stockholm and learn about their art.
The GPS-based service offers short narrations about 21 central metro stations in the city, the commentary starts once the app determines your location.
Although SL has picked out 21 of the 94 stations with art on the Stockholm metro system, the app does have one serious limitation: there is no suggestion of a route to take or where it is best to start if you are planning to visit more than a few at a time.
It works well for those who happen to open the app at a station, but less so for anyone wanting to visit all or a number of stations at a time.
Here is a suggested route that allows you to take in these 21 stations in as seamless a journey as possible, starting at Kungsträdgården and ending at T-Centralen.
Take an art tour of all 21 stations
Kungsträdgården is an excellent spot to start the tour. This beautiful station is centrally located and is connected only to T-Centralen in the metro system.
Make sure you have the app open and then go through the ticket barriers and into the station.
After taking in the statues and decorations as you descend to the platforms, hop on a train and head to T-Centralen.
The narration here focuses on the blue line platforms and decorations in the walkway one level up, so you’ll need to get off the train to see these.
Tip: Make sure you keep the app open so that it can detect where you are and play the correct information for each station.
After appreciating the blue and white wall paintings (did you spot the silhouette of the artist on the wall?), go back down to the blue line platform and take a northbound train (towards either Akalla or Hjulsta) and get off at the next stop: Rådhuset.
This station is one of the most dramatic, from the red-painted rock of the walls to the massive pillar base seemingly embedded into the walls alongside the escalators.
Once you’ve marvelled at these, get back on a northbound train and take it two stops to Stadshagen. (We’ll swing back and stop at Fridhemsplan later in the journey.)
Keep heading north
It is also worth getting out at this station to look at the different sports-themed art installations along both platforms.
After you’ve seen all nine, it’s time to hop on the northbound train again and get off at Västra Skogen, the next station along the line. It is often overlooked by people travelling on to see the drama of Solna Centrum, but the colourful mosaics and metal trees at Västra Skogen are quite charming.
I bet you can guess where to next: yes, Solna Centrum.
Make sure that you take a train heading to Akalla, otherwise you’re going to miss out.
Solna Centrum is often featured on Instagram feeds or in travel articles about Stockholm, and for good reason.
It simply is magnificent, from the charming wall paintings making statements about the environment and changing life in Sweden to the dramatic red cavernous opening where the escalators disgorge passengers onto the platforms.
Tip: Remember that if you are doing this tour off-peak, it might take longer, with extended times between trains. On the other hand, starting it in rush hour is probably quite stressful! It took me just over two and a half hours, having started just after the rush hour ended.
As we’re now at the last of the app’s stations on the blue line in this direction, hop on a southbound train heading towards Kungsträdgården and get off when it reaches Fridhemsplan.
Time for the green line
After listening to the narration for this station, follow the signs to the green line. Take a train heading towards Alvik, Åkeshov or Hässelby Strand, and then jump off after one stop, at Thorildsplan.
You might need a bit of time at this station to appreciate all the art, especially if you are a child of the 1980s or someone who loves old skool videogames.
After appreciating Thorildsplan, take a green line train southbound (Hagsätra, Farsta Strand or Skarpnäck).
Make sure your app is on so that you can listen to the narration for Skt Eriksplan station without getting off the train.
Enjoy rotating art exhibits
Instead, hop off at Odenplan, where exhibits from art schools across Sweden are displayed for three months at a time.
Once you’re back on a southbound green line train, you have a choice about Rådmansgatan station.
The ArtGuide app tells you about what is beyond the ticket barriers, so you can pass through the barriers to look at those exhibits, or you can choose to skip the station to stay on the train.
Tip: If you’re travelling using a single ticket or Reskassan, you’ll need to keep an eye on the time to make sure that your ticket is still valid (75 minutes per journey). Bear in mind though that the whole tour takes longer than 75 minutes.
Back on the green line, still heading south, the next station is Hötorget.
A lot of Stockholm’s subway art can be seen without leaving the train, but it is best to get off as the stations are all quite close to one another.
You probably won’t have time to hear all the narration about Hötorget if you stay on the train.
I expect you can guess that you should get back on a southbound green line now.
Travel two stations, skipping T-Centralen, and getting off at Gamla Stan.
Again, although you can see much of the art from the train window, this station is too close to the next to hear all the commentary if you do so.
Red line stations
Once you’ve finished at Gamla Stan, take either a red or green line train south to Slussen. After the narration for this station is finished, you’ll need to hop onto a red line train heading towards either Norsborg or Fruängen.
You can stay on the train and listen to the commentary about Mariatorget, although if you want to look at the tiles that they mention more closely, you can choose to jump off and do so.
The next destination is one stop further south on the red line: Zinkensdamm.
This is another station with changing art, this time each year. Next, it’s time to head to the furthest point south that the art tour takes, which is Hornstull station.
To make the most of the commentary here, you’ll need to head up towards the street level and pass through the ticket barriers to see the remarkable sculpted pillar of noses, mouths, and hands in the station.
After marvelling at the intricate work by the artist, head back down to the platform and take a train headed north to either Ropsten or Mörby Centrum, staying on it for six stops until it arrives at Östermalmstorg.
At this station, you can enjoy Siri Derkert’s art along the platform walls.
Make sure you jump onto a train heading for Mörby Centrum next and then get off at the next stop, Stadion, to brighten your day with its impressive rainbow decorations.
If you’re beginning to feel a little overstimulated by all this art, don’t worry; there’s just one more station to visit.
Take a train north again to Tekniska Högskolan, where the art reflects the scholarly buildings above ground.
After avoiding Newton’s apple, it’s time to take a train south to T-Centralen to wrap up this art tour.
And you’ve done it: 21 stations featuring Stockholm’s subway art across a broad range of styles and subject matter.
Perhaps you are feeling a little more cultural now or maybe you’ve managed to get some great shots to post on social media.
Either way, you deserve fika!
Beyond the app: other great stations to visit for more of Stockholm’s subway art
- Hallonbergen (blue line)
- Tensta (blue line)
- Akalla (blue line)
- Bagarmossen (green line)
- Skarpnäck (green line)
- Mörby Centrum (red line)
- Alby (red line)