The island of Södermalm is home to over 100,000 people and by far the largest borough of Stockholm. At the same time, it’s very green, has a close connection to the water, and is relatively devoid of big tourist attractions. That’s why this walk will follow the shoreline and focus more on nature.
Start by taking the subway to Skanstull at the southern tip. Localize the big (1) Clarion Hotel (Ringvägen 98; www.clarionstockholm.com) on Ringvägen and take the new pedestrian walkway down to the water’s edge toward the Swedish National Swimming Arena—(2) Eriksdalsbadet (Hammarby Slussväg 20; www.eriksdalsbadet.se). Turn right at the water and start by having a fika (coffee and a cinnamon bun) at (3) Nyfiken Gul (Hammarby Slussväg 15; www.nyfikengul.se), the most casual summer eatery in the city. After that, it’s basically a very long walk along the southern edge of the island, under the double (4) Årsta bridges and past some prime examples of the Swedish phenomenon kolonilotter.These are tiny, tiny cottages where urban-dwelling Swedes recharge their batteries with the help of nature and some healthy gardening. You can find them all over the city, but the ones you pass in (5) Tantolunden are some of the most sought-after and expensive.
After the next bridge, Liljeholmsbron, things start happening. You will automatically enter (6) Street (Hornstulls Strand 4; www.streetinstockholm.se), a street market with a typical Södermalm vibe. Just beyond it is (7) Liljeholmsbadet (Bergsunds Strand 2) from 1930, a beautiful floating bathhouse of a kind that used to be rather common. Today, this is the only one left in the city.
Keep going along the water, past the bridge to Reimersholme. Cross the next one out to the island of Långholmen. Keep left on Långholmsmuren and refill your liquids at the (8) hotel and youth hostel (Långholmsmuren 20; www.langholmen.com), which used to be Sweden’s largest prison, and also hosted Sweden’s last execution in 1910.
Not that it’s much of a tourist attraction, but Långholmen was also the site of the spectacular crash of a JAS Gripen jet fighter—Swedish industry’s pride and joy at the time—in 1993 during an air show witnessed by thousands of people. Amazingly, the plane went down in virtually the only spot on the ground where there were no people.
Unless you’re game for a walk up on (9) Västerbron for a great view of the Old Town, make your way back to Södermalm and warm up for another long and lovely stretch of walking, this time along the northern shore of the island. There will be more cars, but also more boats. And the view of the Old Town and City Hall will only get better the closer to them you come.
When you arrive at the tangled mess that is Slussen, aim for the big black thing sticking out of a building with a sign reading (10) “Gondolen” (Stadsgården 6). Apart from a spectacular view from the upper deck, they serve some of the best drinks in the city—your reward for a walk well done.
Nat Geo Traveler All Access
Available in print and for iPad®! See destinations come alive with 360-degree photos, videos, and more!