13 of the best things to do in Södermalm, Stockholm

With its trendy cafés, retro boutiques and arty atmosphere, Södermalm is the coolest district of Stockholm. 

Södermalm is the coolest district of Stockholm

Technically an island, Södermalm is bang in the centre of the city and connected to the mainland (and nearby islands) by a series of bridges.

Popular with artists and young Stockholmers, it’s a fun place to explore and hang out with the creative crowd.

Those in the know call it Söder, and its lively nightlife is centred around “SoFo”, the area south of Folkungagatan. Here are our favourite things to do:

1. Check out Södermalm’s coolest café

The Drop Cafe is one of Södermalm's coolest places to get a cup of coffee.

The hipsters of Södermalm take their coffee very seriously and the Drop Café is where they gather for a fine brew and fika.

This long-established independent café roasts its own beans that are all sustainably grown and organic where possible. All their beans are sourced from small-scale farms and cooperatives that share the café’s high ethical standards.

So, if you’re fussy about your coffee, drop in at the Drop Café and join Södermalm’s coffee fans for an espresso, filter, slow-drip or any other type of coffee you fancy. 

2. See the world though a different lens at Fotografiska

The Fotografiska is Stockholm's cool photographic museum

One of the world’s largest collections of contemporary photography, Fotografiska is a must for film and photo fans.

Housed in a beautifully converted Art Nouveau former customs house on the waterfront, it has a vast collection of photos and images from international photographers as well as putting on regular temporary exhibitions, by top names such as Cindy Sherman and Sebastião Salgado.

It’s worth getting tickets in advance as it can get busy on weekends, especially.

3. Shop SoFo

Formerly a gritty working-class area that was popular with students, SoFo (the area South of Folkungagatan) is now filled with cool, creative boutiques and workshops, selling designer fashion, jewellery, pre-loved clothes and accessories and vintage vinyl. 

A honey-pot for hipsters since the early 2000s, it’s the place to hang out, sip coffee or cocktails and watch the stylish Swedes at play.

On the last Thursday of every month, the district hosts SoFo Nights, with boutiques, workshops and galleries hosting events and staying open til 9pm.

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4. Eat your way around the globe on Ringvägen

Gojo serves up tasty Ethiopian dishes in Södermalm

If you fancy a change from Swedish food and are are looking for some tasty, zingy ethnic flavours, head to Ringvägen.

This small street is our top pick for food-lovers of all persuasions, with China! serving some of Stockholm’s best Chinese food, the Israeli Reggev Hummus dishing up tasty hummus and Middle Eastern dishes and Gojo serving up delicious Ethiopian dishes.

Our favourite Södermalm tours

If you want to really discover the hidden corners of Södermalm, the best way to do it is to take a tour of the district with an expert guide. 

This two-hour walking tour will take you to the trendiest shops, check out the best Swedish design and root out the resident hipsters’ best-kept secret places.

We also love the LGBTQ+ Queer tour, which takes in some of Stockholm’s famous queer sights, such as the rainbow-painted Stadion Station and fills you in on the city’s hidden LGBTQ+ history. The tour ends up at Mariatorget in Södermalm at some of the district’s iconic queer bars and clubs.

Or if you’re feeling lazy, you can do as the locals do and explore the district by e-bike on this guided e-bike tour of Södermalm.

And finally, a fun way to explore Södermalm is from the water on a kayak tour that sets off from Långholmen to paddle around the neighbouring canals and waterways. 

5. Watch an art-house film

Bio Rio is a cool art-house cinema in Södermalm

Söder is home to several independent cinemas where you can escape the mainstream blockbusters and settle down to a serious art-house movie.

Our favourite is Bio Rio on Hornstulls strand 3. This cosy independent cinema dates from the 1940s and shows a good range of foreign and independent films. We love the retro neon lights and the plush red seats.

6. Picnic in the park

Vitabergsparken is a cool green space in Södermalm

For a hip, urban area, Södermalm is surprisingly green, and home to several public parks. At weekends, locals head to the pretty Vitabergsparken or the large, leafy Tantolunden for walks, chilling in the sunshine or a picnic.

So pick up some freshly-baked bread, a pastry or a super-stuffed sandwich from one of Södermalm’s best bakeries, the long-established family-run Biscuit, and head to the park for a picnic.

7. Eat organic at Kalf & Hansen

Kalf & Hansen is a great place to eat in Södermalm.
Pic: Tyra Tollstoy

This lovely café/restaurant has been serving up 100% organic food on Mariatorget for years, and its founder Rune Kalf-Hansen has written several books and become a bit of a celebrity.

That said, the restaurant sticks to its original principals, serving a small menu of local seasonal and organic dishes at reasonable prices. 

Salads, Danish smørrebrød, wraps, soup of the day and stews are usually on the menu, and on Fridays sausages feature large, with dishes made from homemade organic sausages that change each month.

8. Stay in a converted prison

Stay in a converted prison in Södermalm

OK so this may sound a weird place to stay, but the 19th century prison building on Långholmen has been beautifully renovated into a comfortable hotel

There are cheaper hostel-type rooms with bunk-beds in the former cells, but also larger en-suite doubles with big windows that feel lighter and more airy.

The communal areas are smart and attractive, there’s an excellent restaurant and the hotel is surrounded by beautiful parkland. 

This is one of many weird places to stay in Stockholm (and there are plenty to choose from!)

9. See the sunset from the Skinnarviksberget

See the sun set from Skinnarviksberget in Södermalm

Central Stockholm’s highest point, this grassy hill is a great place to climb for lovely views over the water, and across Kungsholmen and Gamla Stan.

It’s a popular sunset spot for Stockholmers, and on sunny summer evenings people bring drinks and food and there’s quite a party atmosphere.

There are loads of other good viewpoints in Stockholm, but this one in Söder is a good, central option for drinking in views of Stockholm’s spires.

10. Chill out with an ice cream on Mariatorget

Try Stikkinikki's vegan ice creams in Södermalm

There are three outlets of local ice cream-maker StikkiNikki in Södermalm, but our favourite is on the pretty Mariatorget square, which is the only branch that sells 100 percent vegan ice creams.

The gelato is handmade and the flavours vary with the seasons, but look out for flavours such as saffron and coconut, salted liquorice, and pistachio and coconut. 

11. Go swimming off Långholmen

Go swimming at Langholmsbadet in Södermalm
Holger.Ellgaard (CC)

Linked to Södermalm by a small bridge, the leafy island of  Långholmen is where locals head for a swim on warm summer weekends.

There’s a sandy beach, grassy banks to sunbathe on and the water is generally very clean, especially for a capital city – you can check the water quality here.

12. Check out some vintage vinyl

Check out some vintage vinyl in Södermalm

Vinyl fans will find plenty of shops in Södermalm selling pre-loved and newly-pressed vinyl, from classics of the 1950s and 1960s to new emerging bands.

Some of the shops have listening booths so you can try before you buy, and all have racks and racks of lovely discs to lose yourself in.

For more on Södermalm’s best vinyl stores, check out our guide to Stockholm’s coolest record shops.

13. Sleep with Benny from Abba

Stay in the cool Hotel Rival in a converted cinema in Södermalm

Ok, so not exactly with Benny, but in the beautiful 1930s’ Art Deco Hotel Rival that’s co-owned by the keyboardist and composer from Abba!

On the pretty tree-line Mariatorget Square, the hotel is in a converted cinema and still has its own small theatre that puts on music, comedy and plays.

We particularly love the cool, theatrical decor and furnishings, the big buffet breakfasts – and the free tea and coffee throughout the day.

See also:
Stockholm’s best viewpoints and lookouts
Stockholm’s coolest record shops
Södermalm: a destination guide

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