Stockholm on foot or by bike: Södermalm, Djurgården and the surrounding area

I lived in Stockholm for 18 months and loved it.

In this article, I suggest some of my favorite walks and bike rides, with maps showing the routes to follow on the islands of Södermalm and Djugården.

As a bonus, I also give you some ideas for must-see excursions around Stockholm .

Discover Södermalm, Djugården and the Stockholm area

I lived in Stockholm in 2012 and 2013 and have returned regularly ever since.

In the first article, “Stockholm: Discovering the City and the Swedes”, I tell you why I loved this city and its people, and why I invite you to visit . You’ll also find a section with some practical advice.

Stockholm is a city made for walking and cycling, but organizing your visits can be a bit confusing, as the city stretches over no less than 14 islands.

That’s why I’ve put together a few of my favorite walks, which should give you a good idea of this magnificent urban and natural city.

In this article I present four of them:

  • The first tour takes you on a walking tour of the heart of Södermalm, a trendy, young island.
  • With the second tour we’ll take a trip around the island of Södermalm, with magnificent views of Lake Mälar and the Baltic Sea.
  • The island of Djugården is home to some of Stockholm’s most interesting museums. On the third tour, you can explore them on foot.
  • Djugården is also a national park. We’ll discover it by bike on our fourth ride.

Stokholm’s surroundings are also very interesting to visit. Here are a few easy-to-organize excursions.

Last but not least, I’d like to introduce you to other walks in the article: ” Stockholm on foot or by bike: Gamla Stan, the center and north of the city“.

Stockholm location map

All coral-colored text indicates an internal or external link, which I invite you to click on.

Stroll in Södermalm : the trendy young island

Södermalm is Stockholm’s largest district. It’s a former working-class suburb that has become Stockholm’s hip, young district. If I were to return one day to live in Stockholm, I think I’d look for a place in this neighborhood. It’s a great place to live with its many restaurants, cafés and bars.

Södermalm is primarily a district for strolling, on foot or by bike, as the island is not home to any museums or major tourist attractions, but it is, in my opinion, the district where you best capture the spirit of the city. It offers a wide variety of architecture, and I like to lose myself between its medieval houses and 60s buildings. What’s more, its rugged topography is far from boring.

The first walk I suggest is best done on foot to discover the heart of Södermalm.

The numbers on the map below will help you find your way as you read the text.

Map of Sodermalm center

We start the ride at “Slussen” (1) means “lock” in English. It’s a highly strategic crossroads, providing access to southern Stockholm.

Slussen has always been a difficult place to develop, because, in the same place, the city had to organize major pedestrian and bicycle flows, as well as integrate train and metro lines, an urban freeway, and locks between Lake Mälar and the Baltic Sea!

Major works are underway and the urban planning challenge is far from obvious, but here’s what Slussen should look like in 2025.

Slussen after 2025

As you approach Södermalm, you’ll see a strange metal structure extending towards Slussen. It’s an elevator to Södermalm. The restaurant Erik’s Gondolen was also popular for its views. It’s currently being renovated and I’ll let you know when it reopens.

Gondolen
Slussen

From Slussen, we first climb a fairly steep hill to the Hilton Hotel (2). This one has a bird’s-eye view of the Slussen freeway, railway, and metro lines! Surprisingly, these major transport axes don’t disfigure Stockholm’s old town too much. Go to the hotel’s terrace to find out.

After the hotel, you’ll cross a pretty district of old houses with steep cobbled streets before returning to a pedestrian path, Mariaberget (3), with magnificent views towards Kungsholmen and its town hall.

Mariaberget

View from Mariaberget

Below, our path joins the quay along Lake Mälar. Here you’ll find many boats, some of them youth hostels.

We climb back up to a granite hill called “Skinnarviksberget” (4) , where young people gather at the end of the day. They come here to admire the sunset while drinking beers in a good-natured and, at times, sentimental atmosphere!

Skinnarviksberget

Then we head for Mariartorget (5), a pretty square surrounded by streets with trendy boutiques, restaurants, and cafés. It’s a great place for a fika!

The streets to the south of Mariatorget can be surprising, with staircases and other urban details to observe.

Stairs Södermalm

Our steps take us to Fatbursparken (6), a park surrounded by a Ricardo Bofill-designedhousing complex from the early 90s.

Fatburgsparken

Just around the corner, we reach Medborgarplatsen (7), one of Södermalm’s main squares. There’s a covered market and the Medborgarhuset, a cultural center dating back to the 1930s. If you feel like taking a dip, I’ll take you to the Forsgrénska Badet swimming pool, whose 1930s style is well worth a visit.

Not far away on Götgatan, the Himlen bar (8) is perched 104 m high. The view over Stockholm is breathtaking, day and night.

Himlen view

We continue our stroll towards the SoFo district to the south of Folkungagatan. Here you’ll find second-hand boutiques, home decoration stores, and numerous cafés and restaurants in a trendy, hipster atmosphere. Nytorget (9) is the heart of the district.

Graffiti Södermalm
Old house Sodermalm

I’ll then take you to Vitabergsparken (10), a pretty park dotted with granite rocks.

We head for Fjälgatan and its views of the Baltic and the islands of Skeppsholmen and Djugarden.

To make the most of the view, we go for lunch at Hermans, a very good vegetarian restaurant with outdoor terraces.

Hermans

View from Fjaägatan

We retrace our steps to the Katarina Kyrka church, which last burnt down in 1990 and was completely rebuilt according to the original plans. Most interesting of all is a stroll through the surrounding cemetery.

Katarina Kyrka Cemetery

We pass near the building at Fiskargatan 9. This is where Lisbeth Salander, the heroine of the novel “Millenium“, had her luxurious apartment. If you haven’t read the novel, do so, for it is fascinating.

In this district, you’ll discover streets and alleys that have changed little since the Middle Ages.

The walk ends at the pretty Moseback torg square, before joining the Götgatan shopping street and its sometimes slightly offbeat boutiques.

Lisbeth Millenium building
Old street Södermalm

Cycling around the island of Södermalm

A tour of the island of Södermalm offers beautiful views of the Baltic Sea and Lake Mälar. It takes about 14 km.

The bike ride starts from Slussen (1) .

The numbers on the map below will help you find your way as you read the text.

Sodermalm Tower Plan

Our first stop is the Fotografiska Museum (2). It’s very famous, but it’s more of a temporary exhibition center than a museum. I advise you to visit the website before deciding whether or not to visit it, depending on what is displaid.

Secondly, we pass the Viking Line cruise ship terminal (3). If there are boats alongside, we’re sure to be impressed by their size.

A cycle path runs along the edge of the island. From the boat terminal to the Hammarbyslussen locks, we pass through a modern residential area (4) of rather successful architecture.

Norra Hammarbyhamnen

In the distance, we can see a hill with a ski slope! That’s right, Stockholm is the only capital city in Europe where you can ski in the city!

Stockholm ski slope

The Hammarbyslussen locks mark the boundary between the waters of Lake Mälar and the Baltic. Right next door is the Eriksdalsbadet Olympic swimming pool (5).

In addition to its indoor Olympic pool, it also offers outdoor pools that are very popular in summer.

Eriksdalbadet

After the swimming pool, the landscape becomes more rural, with the lake on one side and allotments gardens on the other. It’s the place where Södermalm’s residents come to get some fresh air, go for a run, or take a dip in summer.

Then we come to Hornstull, the nightlife district for young people, with its many bars and restaurants . By day, Hornstull isn’t worth a visit, so we head straight for Långholmen.

Långholmen (6) is a small green island between Södermalm and Kungsholmen, with a park and a pretty little beach. The island is home to a prison that has been converted into a hotel. A concept that I think is a little bizarre, lounging in comfortable rooms where men once suffered.

Langholmen

After visiting the island of Långholmen, we return quietly to Slussen along the quays on the north shore of Södermalm.

On this quay, we pass the Patricia (7), an old ship. Sunday evenings are Stockholm’s gay meeting point.

Next, we pass by more hostel boats before ending our loop at Slussen (8).

View of Vasterbron bridge

Alternatively, after visiting Långholmen Island, continue to Kungsholmen via the Västerbron bridge (9), with its spectacular view over the lake.

View of Vasterbron bridge

Refer to the ” Norrmalm, Östermalm and Kungsholmen” itinerary to find out what to visit in Kungsholmen.

Djurgården Museum Tour Djurgården

The island of Djurgården, to the west of the capital, is home to some of Stockholm’s most interesting museums. We’ll keep our tour short, so we’ll have plenty of time to visit them.

It starts in Gamla Stan at the pontoon of the ferry line 82 (1). The crossing, with a stop at Skeppsholmen, offers magnificent views.

The numbers on the map below will help you find your way as you read the text.

Djugarden museum map

Abba Museum (2)

The Abba Museum is the first we visit. Even if you’re not a fan of the pop group, Abba has become an institution in Sweden. Hardly a day goes by without hearing the band several times on the radio. A visit to the museum gives you a better understanding of local culture!

When I lived in Stockholm, I used to welcome my guests in my car as I picked them up from the airport to the sound of “Dancing queen” at the top of my lungs! Since then, Sweden has become the land of pop music, with four Eurovision wins to its credit.

Vasa Museum (3)

We then follow the western quay, with beautiful views of Skeppsholmen Island, to the Vasa Museum (3). If you have to visit just one museum in Stockholm, this is it!

The Vasa is a warship with an extraordinary destiny. It only traveled 1300 m before sinking in Stockholm harbor in 1625! It was only brought to the surface in the 1960s, and it was a pleasant surprise. The mud with water that wasn’t too salty, given the proximity of Lake Mälar, ensured the boat’s excellent preservation.

A visit to the museum is astonishing, as 95% of the boat’s materials are original.

Vasa

 

After you visit the museum, I suggest you have lunch, in summer and if the weather is fine, at the Strandbryggancafé(4).

Fika in Strandbryggan

Skansen Museum (5)

We continue on our way to Skansen, the world’s oldest open-air museum.

We stroll through a pretty park amidst 160 buildings from different regions of Sweden, recreating examples of its heritage (churches, farms, mills, houses…).

It’s a place Stockholmers like to visit on Sundays with their children… which means you’d better come on other days to enjoy it in peace!

Skansen

 

Gröna Lund amusement park (6)

Finally, a visit to Djurgården would not be complete without mentioning the Gröna lund amusement park.

It was created in 1883. Concerts are also offered in summer. The atmosphere is good-natured, with a touch of the old-fashioned, and some of the attractions are spectacular.

Gröna Lund

Finally, we return to the city either by ferry 82 to Galam Stan or by streetcar to Östermalm.

Djurgården: a national park in the heart of the city

Djurgården is first and foremost a national park! If you don’t have time to get out into the countryside or archipelago, a visit to this island will give you a taste of Swedish nature.

It’s easy to cycle around the island. But the tour I’m proposing can also be done on foot if you wish. It takes about 13 km.

The numbers on the map below will help you find your way as you read the text.

Djugarden Map

We start our walk at Nybrokajen (1). Note the Royal Dramatic Theatre and its beautiful architecture.

Royal Dramatic Theatre Stockholm

We then walk along the Strandvägen quay (2). Here you’ll find numerous sailboats, pleasure boats, and floating bars. Facing due south, Stockholmers have made it one of their favourite places for a stroll.

Strandvägen

Before reaching the island of Djugården, we continue a little further along the opposite shore to see some beautiful buildings surrounded by gardens, including some embassies (3).

Embassies

We then retrace our steps to enter Djugården National Park. The further we go, the wilder nature will become.

We visit Rosendal Gardens (4) with its greenhouses and vegetable gardens.

Depending on the time of day, we can stop for a bite to eat or simply enjoy a fika at the Rosendals Wärdhus. At weekends, when the weather is fine, this is a popular spot for Stockholmers.

Djugarden
Rosendal
Djugarden
Rosendal

Next, I’ve indicated a possible route on the map, but don’t hesitate to deviate from it to get lost in the various paths inside the island.

Djugården is a huge park of wild forests and meadows.

Djugarden

In any case, we continue our walk to the western tip, from where we can watch the boats heading for the archipelago. In the summertime, a fika break at café blockhusporten (5 ) is welcome.

We mount our bikes again along the south bank. As we ride along, we see mansions that are both luxurious and discreet. They are said to belong to Swedes who are more or less connected to royalty, but we won’t know more about it!

Djugarden
Djugarden
Djugarden
Djugarden

After passing a marina (6), we reach the small Prince Eugens Art Museum (7).

Prince Eugen Museum

I’ll then take you to the little island of Beckholmen (8). It’s interesting because it’s a shipyard.

Shipyards Beckholmen

What’s more, the views over Djugården are stunning.

Grona Lund

Djugarden view

As you leave Beckholmen Island, you’ll notice the Slipen restaurant. I recommend that you come back one evening for dinner.

Finally, in summer, we end our stroll at the Strandbryggan café (9)for a cocktail in the setting sun.

Around Stockholm: some great excursions

Several excursions are easy to organize around Stockholm and justify staying at least a week to have time to do them.

Stockholm area

 

Drottningholm Royal Palace

Drottningholm is the private residence of the royal family. It’s an hour’s boat ride away on the Stromma company, anda lovely excursion from Stockholm City Hallon Lake Mälar.

Drottningholm Castle, on the shores of the lake, is a magnificent site, and the stroll through the park is very pleasant. The castle’s interior is interesting, but sparsely furnished and without much explanation.

Drottninghom

Don’t miss a guided tour of the Royal Theatre. It was inaugurated in 1766 at the request of Queen Luisa Ulrika. As her means were limited, the decorations are trompe-œil! The machinery of the removable decorations is still from the era.

Uppsala and Sigtuna

Uppsala is a 40-minute train ride from Stockholm and lies just north of Arlanda airport. It’s a university town well worth a visit. The main attraction is the cathedral, the largest in Scandinavia with its 118 m-high towers.

A pleasant place to stroll.

Sigtuna is a small village located halfway between Stockholm and Uppsala. It’s very touristy, but the cluster of old wooden houses on the shores of Lake Mälar is not lacking in charm. If you’ve rented a car, this could be a pleasant stopover before returning it and catching your plane, as Arlanda airport is close by.

Uppsala and Sigtuna can be visited in the same day from Stockholm.

Uppsala and Sigtuna

 

Tyresta nationalpark

Tyresta is a national park with one of Sweden’s last remaining primary forests. It can be reached by train to Handen and then by bus.

There are several hiking trails to choose from, and the park’s website is very comprehensive and well organized for organizing your visit.

Tyresta National Park

Tyresta Plan

 

Stockholm Archipelago

Last but not least: the archipelago, which is so exceptional that I have devoted an entire article to it: ” Visiting the Stockholm archipelago: a unique place in the world “.

Archipelago boat

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