Whether you’re looking for the perfect Stockholm day trip or you want to spend a few days island hopping, the Stockholm archipelago is just waiting to be discovered.
From kayaking in the Baltic to seaside glamour under the midnight sun, the Stockholm archipelago is suited to all tastes. You won’t have time to explore all of the 30 thousand islands that make up the archipelago so we here at View Stockholm have put together a list of our favorites. Your adventure begins as soon as you hop on the ferry in the centre of Stockholm so go forth and explore!
Sandhamn is actually the main island on Sandön (Sand Island) and that name tells you that this isn’t your average rocky Swedish island. Sure, it has some of the rocky shores typical of islands in the outer archipelago but it also has long sandy white beaches, the largest is called Trouville. If it’s activities you’re looking for Sandhamn pretty much has it all: swimming, biking, kayaking, and scuba diving, along with an excellent network of walking paths that take you along the coast, as well as deep into the forests in the heart of the island.
This year-round island also has excellent shops in the charming main town, along with cafés, restaurants, and hotels, along with glamorous nightclubs where you can dance the night away under the midnight sun. The Royal Swedish Yachting Club has its own port here so be prepared to rub shoulders with plenty of sailors – or maybe take up sailing yourself.
Möja – Photo credit: © Stefan Holm/Shutterstock.com
Located about an hour from Stockholm, ‘peaceful idyll’ perfectly describes this laidback island. No late night glamour to be found here; instead, it’s all about biking, hiking, swimming, kayaking… and chilling out. You can bring a bike on the ferry (or rent one when you arrive) and then explore the winding dirt paths that snake across the island before hopping in a kayak to explore nearby islands.
One of Sweden’s finest fish restaurants, Wikström’s Fisk, is on Möja, and you can book a time at the public sauna in Ostholmen – although remember that clothing is always optional in a Swedish sauna. Berry picking and fishing are also popular activities, and there are plenty of places to stay if you plan on visiting for more than just a day.
Finnhamn – Photo credit: © Dick Rochester/Wikimedia Commons
Technically a group of islands, Finnhamn is a well-developed destination for the tourist who wants to chill out and enjoy the great outdoors as a Swede would.
Swim the rocky coast or relax on the sandy beaches. Maybe rent a boat and fish for your dinner (you can rent a cottage and self-cater). Walk, hike, and bike the day away before you relax for a meal at Finnhamn’s Café and Krog. This restaurant may be the only food game in town but oh, is it worth a visit! Top notch service compliments a kitchen that turns ordinary seafood into dishes that will have you raving for years to come.
It’s under three hours by ferry to get to Finnhamn so perfect for a day trip. The hostel and various cabin rentals mean you can stay for a few days of true relaxation, Swedish-style.
The house where August Strindberg lived on Kymmendö – Photo credit: © Patrik Nylin/Wikimedia Commons
Kymmendö is true back-to-basics and you have to work to get here – but it’s worth the effort, particularly if you have a literary bent. Privately owned, with just 26 residents, Kymmendö is where writer August Strindberg once spent his summers. He built his own writing cabin here (which still stands on a cliff) but his summer visits came to a halt following the publication of his novel Hemsöborna, which featured less than flattering portraits of the island’s residents.
These days residents are more friendly and while there isn’t much in the way of so-called tourism, you’ll love this place if remote and rustic is your thing. There is one (excellent) restaurant/bar on the island, which features a terrace overlooking the sea, and while there are few places to overnight you are welcome to pitch your tent in accordance with Sweden’s Right of Public Access laws.
Grinda Värdshus – Photo credit: © Ankara/Wikimedia Commons
Grinda is one of the most unique islands in the archipelago, featuring lush forests, beautiful coves and bays, and a healthy supply of toads, bats, and very tame deer. There is an excellent hotel, a restaurant that has been named Best in the Archipelago numerous times, and of course, there are plenty walking/hiking/swimming/kayaking activities, along with excellent berry picking.
What isn’t expected is the DJ who mixes sounds in the middle of a field or the discovery that this island has its own clothing line. Sandy beaches and two stunning lookout points will bring peace to your soul, and the floating sauna is not to be missed.
The Vaxholm Fortress
Close to the city and brimming with history, Vaxholm is the gateway to the Stockholm archipelago. You can reach it by car or bus but going by ferry is really just part of the fun. It takes around 45 minutes from the center of Stockholm and will drop you just in front of the wonderful Waxholms Hotell – which is the perfect spot to enjoy a fika or perhaps some lunch.
The Vaxholm Fortress Museum, located on a small island just across from Vaxholm (it’s a couple of minutes by water taxi) is perfect for both exploring and for learning more about the history of the area. Vaxholm is very popular so there is plenty to do, whether it’s culture, sports, or shopping. Wander the streets, enjoy the views, and you’ll be back in the city in time for dinner or an after work.
In English, it’s called The Feather Islets and bills itself as Stockholm’s closest archipelago island. In the past, this is where seafaring Swedes drank themselves silly before heading out on their next voyage, but these days it’s a bit less raucous. Head to the rocky shore and swim in the soothing Baltic Sea before grabbing a bite to eat at one of the many restaurants lining the main thoroughfare.
Here’s another great island perfect for leisurely bike rides and time spent relaxing on the beach. In addition to biking (you can rent on the island or bring one on the ferry), you can canoe, sea kayak, or try your hand at tennis, mini-golf, beach volleyball, or boule. Nature is wild here and the history is long. The windmill was built in 1791 and a climb to the top will give you the best views of the island. The beaches are often nearly deserted and if you are biking, it will take you about an hour to go from one end of the island to the other.
We here at View Stockholm suggest biking, paddling, relaxing on the beach and then treating yourself to some lingonberry ice cream. And don’t forget to grab one of the island’s famous ‘Utö loafs’ from the local bakery before hopping on the ferry and heading back to Stockholm. You won’t regret it.
Rödlöga – Photo credit: © Bengt Nyman/Wikimedia Commons
This is basically the end of the line when it comes to ferries taking you from Stockholm into the archipelago – and if you aren’t the adventurous type give this one a miss. There is no electricity on the cluster of islands and if you’re staying overnight camping with your own tent is your only option.
The wooden houses – mostly red of course – that make up the little village, though, will charm you, and the vision of red granite cliffs will have you gasping at their beauty. There are no longer any permanent residents on the island (the last one died in the 70s) but the boaters who love this island still give a sense of life.
Storhamn on Öja/Landsort
Often referred to as Landsort – after the island’s famous lighthouse, the oldest in the country – Öja is located at the archipelago’s southern-most point, where the Stockholm archipelago meets the Sörmland archipelago (and some might argue that technically this island is in Sörmland, not Stockholm).
This is a long, narrow island, with gorgeous paths for walking and biking. Bird watching is popular here, and that lighthouse we mentioned has been shining its light since the 1660s, guiding boats and ships safely towards Dalarö and beyond. The history of the island dates back even further, but the military and seafaring past have given way to around 20 year-round residents who welcome tourists with a smile and plenty of options for fun during your visit.
Enjoy your trip to the best islands of the Stockholm archipelago, we promise that you will be amazed.
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