Just as Savannah became a mecca for fans of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil and the tiny town of Forks, Wash., developed a tourism industry thanks to Twilight devotees, so too is Stockholm luring a whole new breed of visitors thanks to Stieg Larsson's insanely popular Millennium trilogy.
And with the upcoming release of the Hollywood version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo -- starring Daniel Craig (as Mikael Blomkvist), newcomer Rooney Mara (as Lisbeth Salander) and directed by David Fincher ("Fight Club") -- this Scandinavian capital is poised to attract an even broader tourist audience.
To cater to all those readers of Larsson's crime novels (around 30 million copies have sold), the Stockholm City Museum has been arranging guided Millennium tours since 2008. The two-hour walking tour takes place Saturdays (in English) and will appeal to hardcore fans of the series, as well as those who want to know more about the author. (Tours start at Bellmansgatan 1, the fictional home of Blomkvist.) There are also self-guided walks; an official Millennium map costs about $6 and can be picked up at the City Museum and the Stockholm Tourist Centre.
Most of the books' settings (as well as ones that Larsson himself frequented) are in Sodermalm, a trendy part of the city located south of the tourist-heavy Old Town. The hilly, densely populated streets of the area -- once poor and working-class -- are fascinating to explore for a day, even for those with only a passing interest in the Millennium stories. (In fact, Sodermalm boasts another tie to Hollywood; Greta Garbo grew up here.)
The main thoroughfare, Gotgatan (gatan means street in Swedish), which has been around since the 12th century, is today a shopping haven, lined with clothing stores, design shops and coffeehouses and crowded with young, boho types. (Take note: At the intersection of Gotgatan and Hokens Gata, look up to see the second-floor editorial offices of Blomkvist's Millenium magazine, over the Greenpeace offices.)
Though H&M and Miss Sixty have invaded Gotgatan, you can still find local goodies at places like DesignTorget (No. 31), where new designers sell their work alongside more established ones. It's a great place to browse for funky household items and nifty jewelry. Or stop in and check out chic Swedish boutiques like Filippa K (No. 23) and Whyred (No. 36).
Turn off the main drag onto Folkungagatan and you're now in the hippest part of the district, an area playfully dubbed SoFo (south of Folkungagatan). Ditch the map, wander the hilly streets and pop into indie boutiques, vintage clothing stores, record shops, art galleries and scenester eateries like the Nytorget Urban Deli, a mashup of a food hall and restaurant with a sleek industrial vibe and excellent seafood. (If you happen to be in town on the last Thursday of the month, it's SoFo night, when retailers stay open late and offer discounts and live entertainment.)
Once you've exhausted shopping and imbibing, take a quiet moment to pause and reflect at the nearby 17th-century Katarina Kyrka (Church of Catherine), distinguished by its bright yellow façade and large dome (and it's famous as the church where Garbo was confirmed and sang in the choir). Millennium readers will want to head north, a stone's throw from the church, to an imposing building at Fiskargatan 9, where Salander buys her 21-room apartment.
Or, you can tackle the steep cobblestone streets just to the east to get a taste of what Sodermalm looked like in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Dotting Stigbergsgatan and Fjallgatan are adorable historic wood houses in shades of red, green and yellow. (Lest you think the area too cute, it was once called Galgebergs gattan, where, in the 17th century, Stockholm's gallows were located.)
From this hill, called Stigberget, you can take in panoramic views of the city below (on a nice day, settle in for a glass of wine at one of the open-air cafes). Directly across the Saltsjon, Stockholm's inlet, is the island of Skeppsholmen, where you can make out a series of yellow buildings that once were naval barracks. Today, it's the boutique 80-room Hotel Skeppsholmen, where director Fincher and the crew stayed while filming "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo." (For ABBA fans: Benny Andersson's recording studio is housed in brick building mere steps from the hotel.)
Those who aren't afraid of heights won't want to skip the Katarinahissen (Katarina elevator). A short walk down a tree-lined street, Klevgrand, takes you to an open-air pedestrian bridge that spans the traffic of Katarinavagen far below. On the opposite side is the elevator, which recently went out of service, but the views 125 feet up still amaze. (And if you can spare the krona, dine at Eriks Gondolen restaurant, a few floors down and thankfully, indoors.)
If you haven't gotten your Millennium fill yet, cross over to Hornsgatan, a busy thoroughfare lined with coffeeshops; one is Mellqvist Kaffebar, set back on a shady plaza away from traffic. It's not only where Larsson's Blomkvist enjoyed his fika-paus (coffee break), it's also where the author himself breakfasted regularly and, it is said, wrote part of the famous trilogy.
Millennium Tours are conducted in English on Saturdays at 11:30 am through January 2012 (except Dec. 24), though they may add more dates in the future, following the Dec. 21 release of "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo." The cost is approximately $18. For non-Millennium-related guided tours of the city, try Stockholm Urban Adventures, where half-day tours are around $45.
This piece first appeared on travelwithval.com.