Neighborhood Guide: Årsta, Sweden

Martin is a DIS Stockholm student worker currently pursuing his masters in Economic History at Stockholm University, as well as a Årsta local. Read his guide to the neighborhood, and living like a local while abroad.

Årsta is located south of Södermalm; situated over the waters, the neighborhood manages the incredible feat of simultaneously being centrally located, containing a nature reserve, and maintaining a true small town feel. The DIS residences in Årsta are located close to Gullmarsplan, a hub for subway, bus, and tram connections in the southern Stockholm area. The larger area of Årsta, however, gets a lot of its charm from the fact that it is not otherwise directly connected to the subway. Despite being so centrally located it keeps the small town charm, not being quite as gentrified as it could be while being well connected by tram and buses.


The heart of Årsta is Årsta Torg, a quaint square where some of the best restaurants around are located. And while it is perhaps not the most bustling spot in Stockholm, it is a great place to have an evening with close friends. The most eye-catching spot here is the Danish restaurant Två Små Svin, with its outdoor seating area sprawling up a rocky hillside. It’s a great spot for a dinner or beers, with top notch Danish smörrebröd and snaps on the menu.

Opposite of Två Små Svin you find Hjälmaren, which is a personal favorite in the area. It’s more of a large ‘dive bar-esque’ establishment where the locals go to drink and eat simple Swedish husmanskost and basic Italian food. It is more of a local drinking hole than a culinary hotspot and you will find it bustling with local characters on weekend nights.

Årsta torg is also blessed with two excellent sushi places: Hamzo Sushi and Satzuma Sushi, both of these spots serve high grade sushi of the variety that many of us have come to expect nowadays. Beware: Once you upgrade your sushi game it is hard to go back to the basic stuff. Both of these places provide fresh high-grade fish with tasty garnish and sauces. Next to Satzuma Sushi you find Jettz Burger, the best burger place around in my book.

Over by Årsta torg you also find Palmyra, a kebab spot well-known for its generous buffet and large servings — well worth a visit and a spot that is very much cherished by the locals. Lastly, I’d be remiss not to mention Local Café, the café downstairs at the DIS housing site. It is a great place to study, with a nice decor and plenty of good seats for studying, and they serve some really nice food and fika. It’s the perfect spot when one doesn’t want to study in the room but doesn’t want to travel to some café further away!

Nature, Walking Trails, Swim Spots, and Vantage Points

Årsta’s nature reserve, Årstaskogen (Årsta forest), is beautifully located by the water of Årstaviken, opposite of Södermalm. The forest climbs up the rocky hillside, providing some beautiful vantage points where you can get a nice view of the city. One of my favorite overlooks in the forest is located right next to Årsta IP, a stadium used by Hammarby Fotboll, the soccer team of choice for the people of Södermalm and the south of Stockholm. If you want to fit in in Årsta, this is the team to cheer for. When the derbies are played you will most likely encounter a lot of green clad residents around Årsta.

Speaking of sports and exercise, Årstaskogen has plenty of outdoor gym spots for those looking to exercise for free in the fresh air. You will find plenty of walking trails around the forest, along with mountain bike tracks and swimming spots. My favorite walking path goes along the water towards Liljeholmen and passes several nice swimming spots with piers — perfect places to hang out on hot summer days.

Stockholm is placed right in the middle of the archipelago, stretching inwards towards Mälaren and out east towards the Baltic Sea, and swimming in these waters is a must — at least when the water is at a temperature you can tolerate. But hey, ice bathing is in Vogue so why not try that while here? (Or don’t, I wouldn’t judge you either way.)

Walking westwards along the waterfront will eventually get you to Liljeholmen, which has been turned from an industrial area into a modern residential area. Here you find some cool piers for swimming but also some nice cocktail bars and restaurants along the water. It’s a perfect distance for a longer walk from the DIS residences, and you can take the tram if you don’t feel like walking back to Årsta.

Shopping and Concert Venues

One of the shopping areas close by is the area around Globen (the globe), where you can find plenty of stores at Globen Shopping. This mall has a large selection of stores of all kinds, and it’s located a convenient walking distance from the DIS residences. You also of course find the globe itself, now called Avicii Arena. Next to this big white sphere you find the large Tele2 Arena, and both of these arenas are used for bigger sports and concert events.

Gullmarsplan is perhaps not the coziest area in Stockholm, as it is mostly used as a public transport hub, but here you find Hemköp, which is a larger supermarket than the Ica Nära by the DIS residences. Neither of these supermarkets are the cheapest, but they are convenient.

Another shopping area nearby is Skanstull, over the bridge from Gullmarsplan, on Södermalm. This is where I do most of my shopping. Here, you find Åhlens and the shopping center Ringen. You can also find plenty of stores if you continue up Götgatan, which cuts through Södermalm northwards.

Södermalm, which means ‘southern ore’, is the Brooklyn of Stockholm if you will, and it is my favorite area in the city to go out, whether for a fika or food. It’s wonderful that Årsta has the hustle and bustle of Södermalm and the rest of central Stockholm so close-by. Årsta is a great place to call home, with its location söder om Söder.

Martin attends the master’s program in Economic History at Stockholm University, and holds a B.A. degree in Economic History from Uppsala University. He will, amongst his other gigs, be working extra at the Economic Museum (aka. The Royal Coin Cabinet) this autumn; a museum where he had a very fun internship during this spring. Martin is one of the local students living at the Årsta Studentboende, and has a passion for great food, beautiful art, and he’s a full fledged music nerd with an affection for old school dance music.

Other resources for exploring Stockholm:

>> A Guide to Thrifting in Stockholm

>> Neighborhood Guide: Södermalm, Sweden

Leave a Reply