Matt studied abroad at DIS Stockholm, and after graduation, returned to Scandinavia to work with DIS as an intern. Read Matt’s advice below for living like a local during your time abroad:
Budget Friendly Tips to Explore Like a Local
Södermalm (or ‘Söder’ as locals refer to it) is a large island that encompasses many popular districts in Stockholm. Commonly known as the hipster and artsy area of the city, there are many exhibitions, intimate concerts, and diverse shopping options as well as beautiful views, food, and fika to be found in this neighborhood. DIS alum Matt describes some of his favorite aspects of this must-explore neighborhood.
What to see, do, and eat in Södermalm:
City Viewpoints and Lookouts:
One thing that I loved about living in Södermalm was the easy access to city lookouts. Taking a walk around to these different viewpoints are a great way to get some exercise and a chance to see the city away from the business of the streets.
My personal favorite is the Skinnarviksberget viewpoint. Skinnarviksberget is beautiful anytime of the year, just be aware that during the colder months it is quite windy (I learned this the hard way). On a beautiful sunny day, it’s the perfect place to have fika with a friend and people watch from this popular vantage point.
Another beautiful viewpoint to take advantage of is Katarinahissen, or the Katarina Lift, which is a viewing deck that has a special view of Stockholm’s Old Town (‘Gamla Stan’. The lift is currently closed due to the Slussen construction, though one can still enjoy the dramatic views by taking the stairs up. If you’re looking for a lovely walk and vista, try the pathway on Monteliusvägen. This Södermalm street has views of City Hall, Gamla Stan, and Norrmalm, among other unique sites.
DIS housing in Södermalm is also a short walk away from a waterfront path called Söder Mälarstrand. It’s the perfect path for running, walking, and taking in some sun and views of the city. You can see beautiful sunsets that light up the skyline if you walk this path in the evening. You can also find different docked boats and houseboats where visitors can read informational plaques about the history of each boat.
Cafés and Fika:
I was quite an avid fika participant during my time as a student in Stockholm, so I am always excited when I find a new coffee shop where I can relax, read, and do work.
My favorite café is called Cafe Vurma. This café offers an assortment of drinks, pastries, and sandwiches, and vegan options, with both indoor and outdoor seating and a view of the water, this café was a great place to go for fika with friends!
Another nice cafe is Fern & Fika, offering a cozy atmosphere and all vegan food and drinks right by the Hornstull station. It’s always fun to sit in the window and watch passersby!
Food (for when I was craving a taste of home):
Sometimes when I was missing home, the thing that helped me feel better was having food that reminded me of restaurants in the U.S. The two things that I craved the most were burgers and breakfast diners. While there are many great burger places all over Södermalm, one of my favorites is called KÄK. Moderately priced (under 200 KR for a cheeseburger, fries, and milkshake), KÄK serves one of my favorite burgers in Stockholm. Along with vegetarian options (for a bit higher price), KÄK also has great fries and delicious milkshakes. The restaurant offers casual indoor and outdoor seating, so it’s a great place to go with friends and sit outside on a nice day.
Finding an authentic American diner can be a bit difficult in Stockholm, but luckily, I discovered one that satisfied my need for French toast and eggs. Greasy Spoon offers a diner experience with an authentic atmosphere, and the menu has a vast array of traditional American-style breakfast options. While a bit pricy depending on what and how much you order, this was a fun place to go with friends to treat ourselves a few times during the semester. There are two Greasy Spoon locations, but the one located at Tjärhovsgatan 19 in Södermalm and has a small, cozy vibe. My favorite item on the menu is the Banana French Toast.
Vegetarian & Vegan Options
Stockholm is a great city for vegetarians and vegans, and most restaurants are very accommodating for plant-based alternatives. That said, there are a few Södermalm restaurants that are especially good for vegetarian and vegan options.
If you’re looking to stay in the neighborhood, Ho’s Kina at Hornstull has a full vegan menu, including black bean tofu and stir fried noodles, and they also have outdoor seating in the warmer months.
There is a fully vegan restaurant at Zinkensdamm called Mahalo, which has a beautiful outdoor patio in the back and super delicious burgers, fries, and noodle bowls. Beside Mahalo one can also find a restaurant called Lao Lao, which has a super cozy vibe and offers a lunch special every day with vegan or non-vegan options.
If you’re looking for food by Slussen in central Södermalm, Eatnam has an excellent assortment of Vietnamese food with vegan options labeled. After eating, you can amble around Götegatan and explore the different shops and galleries.
Lastly, Herman’s Buffet, a short walk from the Slussen station, has absolutely stunning views out over Stockholm and Gröna Lund, as well as a hip, laid-back, and friendly atmosphere. Herman’s is fully vegan buffet style, so once you pay for your plate, you can fill up on as much food as you’d like (don’t miss their desserts either)!
Art and Culture:
Söder serves as the backdrop for The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo book series, and one activity I did was take a Millenium Tour, which highlights different locations where the “Dragon Tattoo” series was filmed. You also learn a lot about Stockholm’s history and contemporary culture.
Click here for details and ticket information for the Millenium Tour.
If you are somebody who enjoys art exhibitions, you should definitely walk down Hornsgatan. The street itself is quite long, but there are different art galleries scattered along the way. Galleri Hera has two floors with different exhibitions on each, and visitors can find a schedule online about which artists and styles are on display. You can find the current exhibitions on the Galleri Hera website.
Perhaps one of the best art museums in Stockholm, the photography museum Fotografiska, lies right near Slussen. It’s housed in a beautiful old brick style building right on the water, and they also have a nice restaurant upstairs with city views. I would recommend walking along the water on Söder Malarstrand all the way to the museum – especially at sunset! – if you’re looking for a nice adventure. Fotografiska calls themselves “The World’s Most Open Museum,” which means they are often open for a late-night or weekend trip. Fotografiska takes an innovative approach to photography and can have thought-provoking, edgy, and impressive exhibits – so I would recommend them for anyone, even if you aren’t usually into photography!
I also recommend checking out Högalid Kyrka, which was built between 1916 and 1923 by architect Ivar Tengbom. It’s a wonderful example of the romantic style and it also happens to be right next to DIS housing on Södermalm.
Two other historical churches to visit are Katarina Kyrka (Catherine Church) and Allhelgonakyrkan (All Saints Church). Both churches offer unique history, and Katarina Kyrka has a cemetery surrounding the church where several famous Swedes are buried.
A great museum to check out is Stadsmuseet, which has free entrance. Stadsmuseet is a museum dedicated to the history of Stockholm from 1527 to today, and it has a nice gift shop for souvenirs and a lounge named “The Salon” where visitors are free to do their own research.
If you’re looking for an off-the-beaten path museum, try the K.A. Almgrens Sidenväveri Museum, the Silk Weaving Museum, by Slussen. This small museum used to be a silk weaving factory, and going inside feels like being transported back in time several hundred years. They still have old looms, as well as exhibits about the modern day fashion industry.
It is also important to note that there is a public library, Hornstull Bibliotek, just a few minutes walk from DIS housing in Södermalm. Take advantage of living close to this library to have quiet and focused homework and study sessions!
A convenient place to shop is right at the Hornstull T-Bana stop where you can find a variety of stores including H&M, a cute flower market, a bookstore, a home goods store, and a few restaurants.
Near Slussen and on Hornsgatan is Stockholms Stadmissions, a popular second-hand store. I have found some great items at this store and would often come here with friends on the weekend for cheaper and more sustainable shopping.
If you are looking for more options, visit Götgatan, a beautiful long street right by the Slussen T-Bana stop that has a ton of Swedish brands (like Weekday and Monki), coffee shops, restaurant options, and a selection of different bars.
Finally, every DIS Stockholm student should enjoy the Hornstull Market. This flea market has many different food trucks and kiosks with ice cream, vintage and design items, arts and crafts, antiques, literature, delicacies, food, among other things. The market takes place every Saturday and Sunday, from the first weekend in April to the last weekend in September. This was one of my favorite things to do to get some fresh air, and it helped me feel more at home in Söder.
Matt is a DIS Stockholm alum from 2017 in the Gender, Equality & Sexuality Core Course, and was the Academics, Housing & Student Affairs Assistant at DIS Stockholm from 2019-2020. He is also a 2019 Graduate of The College of Wooster with a B.A. in Women’s, Gender & Sexuality Studies. In between traveling, watching reality television, and attempting to reach his goal of reading 50 books this year, Matt trains for 5Ks in the hopes of running a marathon in the coming year.