Last Updated on January 7, 2024
The Stockholm archipelago is a stunning island paradise located just off Sweden’s eastern coast. Spanning over 30,000 islands, skerries and rocks across an area 80 kilometers wide, this island chain features tranquil Baltic seas, vibrant boating culture, delicious seafood and charming rural villages. With quick train access from Stockholm, travelling to and around the archipelago is easy, efficient and environmentally friendly. You’ll soon discover why locals call it “skärgården” – their Blue Paradise by the sea.
One of the best ways to reach the archipelago is by train in Sweden. Sweden is known for its efficient and comfortable train network which conveniently connects Stockholm central station to key ports. From Stockholm, travelers can easily access boats and ferries to cruise between the scattered islands.
The ferry and boat services departing from the city operate frequent routes during summer with fewer options in low season between September to April. However, locals with at least a 30-day regional travel pass can ride for free on archipelago boats in low season making winter an appealing time for budget-conscious visitors.
Once you’ve arrived, the best way to explore is by island hopping from one idyllic destination to the next. Cruise services like Cinderella and Waxholmsbolaget travel to the most popular islands while the SL commuter boat hits key spots like Vaxholm and Rindö.
Vaxholm makes for an excellent home base with a decent range of restaurants, shops and accommodation options on offer. Travelers looking for a taste of rural island life can venture further out to spots like Möja which has less than 300 full-time residents.
Activities and Attractions
While meandering between islands by boat is an attraction in itself, there are plenty of activities onshore as well. The islands boast excellent swimming, fishing, kayaking and cycling opportunities for active visitors. Simply rent gear from local vendors or hotels. When you need a break, stretch out at one of the secluded beaches and rocks or explore the islands’ charming villages and farm stores.
The culinary scene also shines thanks to the fresh local seafood. Enjoy the catch of the day at places like Wikströms Fisk on Möja or grab a table at the much-hyped DavidAtHome restaurant on Tranholmen. And be sure to close out the trip with a meal at Artipelag Restaurant to indulge in Swedish cuisine while gazing at the bay views.
Best Archipelago Islands To Consider
The first thing that comes to mind when visiting Stockholm is checking out some of the top attractions, like the Royal Palace or Lake Malaren. But, when you go to the archipelago, it is quite common to be a little overwhelmed as you would not know what to consider. The islands that are the best, according to most tourists, are the following:
If you are planning a day trip during summer, Grinda is a solid choice. It features several untouched beaches and you will surely enjoy the crystalline waters. Swimming and sunbathing are really popular but you can also go for active activities, like kayaking, hiking, and playing volleyball.
If you decide to visit, make sure to try out a cinnamon bun and Grinda bread. Since the island is just around 1.5 hours away from the shores of Stockholm, you can so easily include the island in any plan you might have.
Svartso is often presented as the Stockholm archipelago’s greenest island. It is simply gorgeous and can be visited every single day of the year.
During summer, a visit means you can bike or swim. During autumn, the shores will change their colour as they are forested. During winter, bracing sea swims are available. Just make sure to also enjoy a waterside sauna afterwards to warm up.
To top things off, only around 100 people live on this island. You can thus easily use Svartso as a great way to get away from modern life for some nature bonding time.
When visiting the Stockholm archipelago, there is a pretty good you will consider a visit to Vaxholm since it is its capital. The island is particularly interesting for those who love history. You can find several galleries and museums showcasing the storied past of the region.
Make sure to book a visit at the fantastic Vaxholm Fortress Museum. Then, check out the old town. You will surely love the wooden houses, bars, restaurants, shops, and cafes. If there, you also have to seriously consider herring since it is a local specialty.
The last thing to highlight is that you can actually get to Vaxholm by car. Access is provided by several bridges.
Sandon is locally known as Sandhamn, which is also the main city in the island. You would spend more time on the road getting to Sandon but the good news is that it is easy to do so via ferry. Just 2 hours and you are there.
As soon as you get into the harbor, you will be welcomed by bobbing yachts, white sandy beaches, rocky shores, and clapboard houses. And there will be many locals Stockholm dwellers to meet as the island is popular among them. Locals appreciate Sandon as it has a Baltic island landscape and cosmopolitan fair. Some excellent restaurants and upmarket boutiques wait for you there.
Where to Stay
With 50,000 holiday homes, the archipelago offers no shortage of accommodation. Options range from budget campsites and hostels to luxurious villas and exclusive spa hotels. For an authentic experience, check into one of the family-owned guest houses which often provide bikes or kayaks to borrow. Grinda Wärdshus is one such charming inn serving traditional Swedish fare.
Or relax in style by booking a room at an archipelago spa hotel. Spend the day rotating between the saunas, massage treatments and tranquil beaches at these lavish properties. This is one of the most appreciated options for those who are mostly interested in relaxing
Whether you’re looking for rural island simplicity or cosmopolitan comforts, the Stockholm archipelago’s diverse islands offer the ideal Swedish escape. Start plotting your island-hopping adventure and escape to this Baltic paradise.
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