The general consensus of opinion is that there are around 24,000 islands in the Stockholm Archipelago, and they stretch from the centre of the city for some 37 miles eastwards to the Baltic Sea, where they run from south to north roughly between Landsort and Arholma.
Some of the islands are large, and some are tiny, but most of them are a magnet for Stockholmers who like the great outdoors, especially boating.
For us mere mortals who only have a few days in Stockholm we can only get a taste of this fabulous seascape by going on one of the trips that regularly operate from the centre of the city.
There are two companies - Waxholmsbotaget and Stromma - who provide an array of excursions catering for most tastes, but for an introduction to the archipelago we decided to take Stromma’s ‘Archipelago Tour with Guide’ which lasts between two and a half and three hours.
With so many departing berths for the different boat trips in Stockholm it’s always best to double check where your boat departs from. The M/S Ostana left from berth 15 on Strandvagen which is near Nybroplan, and once again it pays to get there early if you want to make sure of a seat up on the outside deck.
There’s a guided commentary throughout the trip but you might want to pick up one of the leaflets describing the route as well.
As you might imagine, the Inner Archipelago has a more urban feel to it, but it gradually gives way to islands with a variety of simple wooden red houses and more upmarket villas.
We travelled almost as far as Vaxholm before turning around for the return journey. This is really just a taster of the Archipelago, but we thoroughly enjoyed it, and there’s no doubt in my mind that I would love to explore this area further.
The summers are short and the winters are long in this part of the world and it’s easy to see why people make the most of this area when the weather’s good, which it was today.
I did a similar trip back in 2003 when I was the only fool to be up on deck during early April when the rain turned to sleet, then to snow, and then to freezing rain.
I enjoyed it then - and I enjoyed it again now. I just hope that one day I can come back and see some more of this wonderful area. Three hours is nowhere near enough - not for me anyway.
Just half an hour by waterbus and you'll find yourself on an island outside Stockholm, says the brochure. But when actually on the island, i found it was crowded on a sunny day. It is small enough to walk round in less than an hour but makes a refreshing change to the usual tourist routine of churches and museums. Many people come with their lunch baskets and spend the day sun bathing on the cliffs. However, you don't have to bring your own food if you don't want to because there are restaurants and cafés.
You can see glass blowing and other handicraft being made and buy some nice hand made artefacts. There's also an outdoor theatre.
You can buy your boat ticket in advance in the internet or at the booth at the pier, it's 120 kr for adults.
If you aren't on a Cruise ship like we were, then I would suggest doing a cruise of the Archipelago.
The Cruise passes by many small Islands and is spectacular! There are more than 30,000 Island's located in the area.
We saw small Villages, isolated huts, fishing boats, birdlife, industries and so much more!
It is a beautiful area and one I think shouldn't be missed!
On my final day in Stockholm I decided to do another boat tour! This time it was to some of the 24,000 islands on the Stockholm archipelago. The tour tells you bit a bit of Stockholm's history before going out to the archipelago and islands and also the city's unique location between Lake Malaren and the Baltic sea. It cost 220 SEK (May 2011) for this trip.
You can find out further information on the website
This tip is very broad, but it is just to urge you to visit the archipelago, never mind WHERE you go. There will then be separate tips amongst the "off the beaten path" tips. Thousands and thousands of islands lie waiting for you. From the rockiest of skerry to large, leafy islands they offer various sights but are all picturesque. Boats leave from two quays in the city centre. You can pick up timetables there or in Sweden House at Kungsträdgården, or find them on the sites below. There you can also buy packages including 'island hopping passes'. For the best atmosphere you should try the old steamships which run summertime, but if you're visiting at other times, there are plenty of other boats as lots of people live in the archipelago all year round. Just taking a tour to the small town and citadel of Vaxholm is nice but if you want to venture further out, Sandhamn (second picture) and Möja are lovely too, and amongst my "off the beaten path" tips you can find Utö.
Stockholms closest archipelago, about 20 minutes with a ferry from Slussen or Nybroviken. A beautiful place but it´s not like a "real" archipelago because it´s so many tourist that come here so it lost the specaial thing. But it´s worth a wisit.
You already know that you get to see part of the archipelago on the way to Finland, but there are also boat tours that navigate through these islands. In my case, my workplace arranged our summer party as a boat tour to Vaxholm and back. Not only were we blessed with good weather (not sunny but not rainy either) but the water was calm too! On our way there and back we saw people riding water scooters, some sail boats, a bird family swimming (don't know which bird), several very fine houses and lots of boats.
Boat companies have a few different tours to choose from: Fjäderholmarna, Drottningholm, Birka, etc. Strömma was the company we used and I can highly recommend it. Some of my coworkers were late and they decided to wait a little bit for them (they didn't show up so we left more or less 15 minutes after we were supposed to), the food is really good and they even managed to get me a different main course than the one the company had selected on our menu because, silly me, I forgot to tell the coordinators that I'm allergic to fish and guess what they served?
Here are some pictures of what we encountered on the way. They might not look so good because at the moment I have a widescreen monitor and no matter how I set the settings, I don't get a non widescreen view.
We were fairly limited with time in Stockholm, and after reading everyone's recommendation that the Stockholm Archipelago is a must-see, we booked a half-day trip. To be honest, we were fairly disappointed, as we only got to see the inner Archipelago, there wasn't much to see at all. I'm sure if we had more time, and were able to go further, and possibly even stopping off at one of the islands, it would've been more enjoyable.
On the border between the inner part and the central part of the Archipelago, the tiny island of Grinda is situated. By boats this is a trip of 2 and a half hours from Stockholm.
Important before you go to Grinda: don't believe the pictures you'll see of Grinda in the folders. These pictures show a busy and happening island with a nice, touristical harbour. Grinda has exactly five buildings: One building is a supermarket-and-cafe-in-one. You can buy some coffee or tea here and a nice sandwich. And if you decide to camp here you can buy some canned food. Three buildings belong to the hostel: one mainbuilding with a small restaurant and two buildings with bedrooms. And the last building is at the harbour. Here you can rent canoes. And that's about it. A lot of Hard Rocks here, but don't expect a Hard Rock Cafe.
But besides this very small amount of cultivation, the island is just absolutely gorgeous. Even in summer everything is green, everywhere you look you can see flowers, rocks covered with all kinds of vegetation and there are some small beaches that attract the most of the tourists in the summertime.
You should really take a nice walk here and enjoy the beautiful Swedish nature. Don't be afraid you'll get lost, because that's just impossible on this small piece of land. When I was here it just rained and the smell of the forest was just perfect.
An absolute must-see during a visit to Stockholm is its archipelago, that is called Skärgarden (Reefs Garden). This enormous group of islands is unique in the world and it very easy to reach from the centre of the capital.
Stockholm itself is built on 14 of the islands of this archipelago, that it the border between the Malaren Lake and the Eastsea. Only 1000 of the in total 24.000 islands are cultivated, yet most of them only from April until October. In the winterperiod the life on these islands is rough, with a lot of snow, ice and a freezing cold. They are almost impossible to reach, because boats are the only way of transport in Skargarden. But during the summermonths this area is very popular under the rich inhabitants of Stockholm that have summerhouses here, or sailors and other watersporters, are simply for the Swedish and foreign tourists that want to enjoy the beauty and peace of the archipelago.
The Skargarden is reaching almost 80 kilometres to the east from Stockholm and is almost 100 kilometres from north to south. This enormous surface is to be separated into three parts:
- The inner part: This part is the closest to Stockholm. It has much more land than it has water. Like in the city of Stockholm there are a lot of islands that are only separated by a narrow strip of water. The islands are covered by beautiful green forests and still have quite a lot of housing.
- The middle part: In this part the amount of water and land is almost equal. This area start at about 40 kilometres from the centre of Stockholm. Here there are more islands that have nothing but rocks, the rest still have the nice forests.
- The outer part: This part is completely surrounded by the sea. The islands mostly are rough rocky areas and the other islands are nothing but little dots at the horizon. The outer part of the archipelago starts at about 55 kilometres from Stockholm.
Definitely take the ferry ride to the Stockholm Archipelago, especially to Waxholm. If you are there in June, the island is absolutely beautiful. Everything is in bloom, it smells great and the people are friendly and charming. Go!
Stockholms Skärgård [the Archipelago] is definitely one of the highlights of the Stockholm surroundings! It's a group of numerous islands right on the way to Finland, some of which bigger, some smaller, but you really can't see the end of it! I think it's every Swede's dream to have a little house there! Very very pretty & amazing! Crazy as the matter of fact! ;) No, really, if you get a chance, go there!
The trip can be pretty expensive if you take 'poshy' boats or if you sleep over. But when I was going to check the tickets to go there, I found a special offer, so I got a return ticket for 15 SEK, which is less than 2 EUR! :o) The price is usually around 100 SEK (10 EUR), but I was so d*mn lucky! ;) I think it's a great thing to see it on the way to Finland because if you go on a tour of Skärgård alone, it can get quite expensive.
We took the boat from the far north-east end of Södermalm - Vikingterminalen. I think (and I've heard) that Viking Line is the best option if you want to go to Finland or the Baltic. They have an office at Centralen, so you can ask around for some good deals. The boat leaves at 07.30 in the morning & comes back at the same spot at 19.00. A very cool day trip!
There's always a lot of Swedes on those boats, mainly because there's a Duty Free Shop on the boat, so most of them go & get some boose for the upcoming weekend or just to spend the day sitting on the deck sipping a beer...