Stockholm: The 'Dragon Tattoo' City

 

The Kvarnen pub
The Kvarnen pub has been mentioned in the Millennium series; it’s where Lisbeth Salander unwinds with her friends.

 

Sometimes, the setting of a book, movie or TV series can become as much of a character as any of the actors. (What would Sex and the City be if set anywhere other than New York, after all?) Since its English translation was published in 2008, Stieg Larsson’s Stockholm-set Millennium series (The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played With Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest) has raised the city’s profile as a tourist destination, and the three movies that followed—all filmed in Stockholm—also contributed significantly.

Moreover, the locations referenced in the books and used for filming the Swedish movies have become popular attractions for visitors, bringing fans to the city’s beautiful hidden gems that they might otherwise have missed. In December, the American film adaptation of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (also filmed on location) will be released, and the city seems poised for an influx of new fans eager to see the homes and haunts of reporter Mikael Blomqvist, punk hacker Lisbeth Salander and the rest of the motley crew from the series.

As the books’ popularity grew, local guides took advantage of the interest and created tours of the different locations. “When we talk to guides, we’re hearing that a lot of Americans are doing the tour,” says Lotta Thiringer of VisitSweden. To that end, VisitSweden has promoted the series in the “Scandinavian Specialist” program at Travel Agent University.

 

Mikael Blomqvist’s apartment
In the Millennium series, Mikael Blomqvist’s apartment is at Stockholm’s 1 Bellmansgatan.

 

“We try to be active in talking about it,” she says. “Even though the books have been widely read and are wildly popular, people might not know that there are even tours since the U.S. is such a big market. The U.S. release [of the movie] will promote Stockholm as a destination, will revive interest in the original books and the Swedish films, and will have lovely footage from the city and the countryside.” 

Increase in Tourism

Thor Forsberg, destination manager, Europe, for Cox & Kings, The Americas, says that his company has seen a notable increase in travel to Sweden this year and that a few travelers have requested to see sites mentioned in the Larsson books. “Usually, we will suggest the Millennium Tour of Stockholm to our clients wishing to find out more about the series. For clients who would like a private guide to give them a more in-depth tour into Stieg Larsson’s Stockholm, we have arranged that as well.”  The company is expecting even more interest once the American movie is released, and is planning a tour of Stockholm sites as well as locations in Halsingland described in the books.

Guests can also find private guides for a one-on-one tour that can be adjusted to any pace or interest. Elisabeth Daude, a multilingual city expert, leads private walking and public transportation tours of the city and knows the books cold. When Travel Agent was in Stockholm last year, she pointed out exactly where each scene takes place and explained how the city of Stockholm is an essential character to the stories and why they couldn’t take place anywhere else.

Guided Tours

The Stockholm City Museum arranges guided Millennium tours in English on Saturdays at 11:30 a.m. and on Wednesdays at 6 p.m.

The 90-minute Millennium tour begins at Blomqvist’s historical apartment at 1 Bellmansgatan on the island of Sodermalm. Visitors can then walk uphill a few blocks to see Salander’s luxury apartment building at Fiskargatan 9, with fantastic views over Djurgarden and Old Town. Other highlights include Bloomqvist’s office in Götgatan and the street where the Millennium offices are located.

 

Agent Advice

Carol Arklind of Cadence Travel says her business to Scandinavia is bigger this year than in the past four years. “The books have contributed to awareness of Stockholm,” she says, and is hopeful that the American film, which is being filmed on location in the city, will do the same.

Arkind suggests that Millennium tours can be sold as a people-to-people experience. While the tours are steadily increasing in popularity with U.S. visitors, she notes that they have been popular with Europeans—and even Swedes from outside of Stockholm—for years, and that the tours could be a great opportunity for American fans to meet other travelers with similar interests.

 

When guests get tired of walking, they can continue soaking up the ambiance of the books while taking a breather or getting some refreshments at Mellqvists Kaffebar, frequented by Blomqvist in the books (Larsson himself was also a regular patron, so we have heard) and the Kvarnen pub, where Salander unwinds with her friends.

Tickets for the tour can be purchased in advance at the Stockholm City Museum, the Stockholm Tourist Centre, or at www.ticnet.se.

If your clients want to do a tour on their own, they can buy a map at the Stockholm City Museum, the Stockholm Tourist Centre in Vasagatan or Arlanda Airport.

To book a private tour, contact the Stockholm City Museum’s booking service for prices and information ([email protected]).

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