Island-Hopping in Stockholm’s Front Yard

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There are a number of ways to see Sweden’s archipelago, a latticework of some 24,000 islands and smooth glacier-polished outcroppings that dot a 150-mile stretch off its eastern coast. 

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You can travel by ferry, vintage steamer, three-mast schooner, private sailboat, or yacht. But the most important thing is not to miss them: they are one of the country’s most important natural attractions and its wild frontier. Only 6,000 people live on 1,000 islands; the rest is uninhabited. In other words, ideal for island-hopping in Stockholm’s front yard.

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Sweden’s summer is brief but glorious and this is the place to celebrate it – kayaking, picknicking, biking and walking unpaved island roads.

Take a thirty-minute ferryboat ride from Stockholm out to the well-known restaurant Fjaderholmarnas Krog, accessible only by boat, for a leisurely lunch of just-caught fish, perfectly prepared. Fjaderholmarna means Feather Islands.

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Alternatively stay on board one of the steamers for the scenery: skerries (skärgarden, the Swedish word for archipelago, means “garden of skerries”), islets, flower-bedecked fishing cottages, landing stages, meadows, farms, beaches and a late evening sky of changing pastels.

Writers and artists have traditionally been drawn to Vaxholm, while the boating crowd firmly favors Sandhamn, hub for the prestigious annual Royal Regatta.

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The archipelago has two environments – the wooded, protected inner part and the barren, wild outer archipelago, the latter home to seabirds, seals, and a few very hardy fishermen. Take a leisurely, blissful sail and you’ll understand a lot more about Stockholm, built on fourteen of the archipelago’s islands, and its connection to the sea.