When summer comes, the Swedes set off by boat to the thousands of idyllic islands that dot the waterways between the capital of Sweden and the Baltic. The Stockholm archipelago in summer is like living a fairytale dream.
Every summer thousands of Swedes in boats navigate carefully through waters loaded with the 24,000 islands, rocks and islets of the Stockholm archipelago. The brackish waters start in the center of Stockholm and extend 80 km (50 miles) out into the open Baltic Sea. Close to the mainland the islands are larger and more lush, the bays and channels wider. Hidden here are idyllic island communities, farmlands and small forests. But as you travel further out, the scenery becomes more rugged. Finally ending in sparse windblown islets formed by the last Ice Age.
Related: The Stockholm Archipelago
In the middle of the 19th century, affluent Stockholm families began to build their second homes along the shores of the various islands in the archipelago. Over the years, “commoners” had more money and leisure time and soon, they too, sought their way to the archipelago. The combination of wilderness, sea, fresh air and closeness to the city, satisfied many leisure needs. Today, Swedes either own their cottages or rent them, and enjoy swimming, fishing, boating, nature walks and socializing with friends.
A quick guide to island-hopping
The archipelago can be explored on guided tours from Stockholm city center. Bit if you want to travel like the locals, then buy a Båtluffarkort (inter-skerries card) from the Waxholm boat-company, which allows you to see as many islands as you can in five days, including Sandön, with its attractive sailing center village of Sandhamn, sandy beaches and some good restaurants (3 hours by boat from Stockholm).
Visit Fjäderholmen, featuring a boat museum, fish-smoking plant, restaurants and crafts shops (20 minutes by boat).
Don’t miss Vaxholm, with its famous fortress (1 hour by boat).
The main attraction at Utö is the 12th century iron mine. The island is also a great place for bike-riding (3 ½ hours by boat).
Steaming Out Among the Skerries in the Stockholm Archipelago, compiled by Tor Kjolberg