Whatever you do in Stockholm, don’t miss the delights of the city’s southern island, Södermalm, whose craggy cliffs, turrets and towers rise high above the clogged traffic interchange at Slussen. The perched buildings are vaguely forbidding, but venture beyond the main roads skirting the island and a lively and surprisingly green area unfolds, one that is at heart emphatically working class. After dark, you’ll probably end up in one of Söder’s bars or restaurants in the hip area known as So-Fo; this is the handful of streets lined with cafés and restaurants which lie “south of Folkungagatan” (hence the name), predominantly Åsögatan, Bondegatan and Skånegatan. It’s best to get your bearings on Södermalm during the day, though, as its grids of streets can become confusing in the dark.
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A mere five minutes’ walk from Slussen along Stadsgårdsleden towards the Viking Line ferry terminal, Stockholm’s latest attraction, the Fotografiska Muséet, is housed inside one of the city’s former red-brick customs warehouses. Spread across three floors of airy exhibition space, the museum showcases the work of world-renowned photographers both in print and on film. Exhibitions change frequently though there’s every chance that one of the big names will be on display when you visit: recent displays have included Robert Mapplethorpe, France’s Sarah Moon and Scottish photographer Albert Watson, whose work featured on over two hundred magazine covers, including Vogue. For unsurpassed views of the Stockholm waterfront, head up to the museum’s top-floor café where the vistas are as breathtaking as the photographic work downstairs.
True to its name, which means “long island”, Långholmen is a skinny sliver of land that lies off the northwestern tip of Södermalm, crossed by the mighty Västerbron bridge linking Södermalm with Kungsholmen. There are a couple of popular beaches here. Leafy and peaceful, Långholmen is a delightful place to take a walk; on the way you’ll also get some stunning views of the city towards Stadhuset and Gamla Stan.