Friendly disclaimer! We want to be as accurate as possible, but given these challenging times, we urge you to recheck that the venues are open when you decide to travel.
The Stockholm Archipelago offers quite a contrasting experience to the city it is named after. This collection of over 30,000 islands is twenty minutes to a couple of hours away from the busy, urban streets of Stockholm. Yet it is worlds apart. There are vast expanses of nature, camping grounds, secluded beaches, slices of medieval and natural history, art, craft, idyllic villages, and much more. All this may seem a little daunting for a traveler pressed for time. We’ve rounded up a list of easy to access islands to give you those essential island experiences!
The ‘Feather islands’ should be on top of the list for a traveller short on time or budget. Only a 20-minute ride by boat from Stockholm, they’re some of the easiest islands to reach for a perfect half-day trip. Easily accessible by public transport, a ferry costs about 74 SEK one way.
Take a stroll along the seafront, go on a short hike through the forest trails that cut through the middle of the island, or play a few fun rounds of boule at Röda Villan, a popular restaurant famous for crayfish salad and beer. Fjäderholmarnas Bryggeri is a drinking den where you can grab a local craft beer.
Don’t miss walking around the island’s very own art village, open from May to September. It has an array of crafts from silver, ceramics, fine art, paintings, woodwork, glasswork, knitwear, and much more!
Unravelog tip: The Stockholm Pass, an all-in-one discount card for bus and boat rides in Stockholm, offers a guided archipelago trip, among their various packages and itineraries.
One of the most visited and the capital island of the archipelago is Vaxholm. Being a 50-minute ferry ride away from Stockholm, it is a gateway to the archipelago. Most ferries make their first stop here before heading further into the islands.
Once a fishing village famous for Herring, Vaxholm is now a lively city with fishing huts, large houses, shops, restaurants among cobbled streets. The best way to explore the city’s mix of urban (Hamngatan Street) and old-world charm (Norrhamn) is on foot or by a guided kayak tour to explore its many islets.
No Vaxholm trip is complete without a visit to the 16th century Vaxholm Castle and Fortress built in 1548 to defend against attacks from the east. It also houses the Vaxholm Fästning Museum which has fascinating displays of Sweden’s coastal defense systems.
Grinda is 1.5 hours away from Stockholm by boat via Vaxholm. As one of the most beautiful islands of this archipelago, Grinda is also a nature reserve – with coniferous forests, leafy arbours, open cultivated land, grazing animals and picking hens. Being completely owned and maintained by the Skärgårdsstiftelsen (the Archipelago Foundation) has helped preserve the island’s natural beauty.
Grinda is the perfect place for a nice swim. There are child-friendly bathing areas at the two southern and northern steamboat piers: Grinda södra and Grinda Norra. At the Grinda Gård farm, you can see chickens, cows, and sheep in their natural environment. Kayaking is also an option.
If you’re visiting in the summer months, prepare to be surprised. The otherwise idyllic island of Grinda hosts a festival called Island Vibes in June, where DJs set up their deck for daytime parties! The majority of the island’s shops and cafes are at Södra Grinda including the famous inn, Grinda Wärdshus.
Unravelog tip: We recommend trying the traditional ‘Grinda loaf,’ the island’s speciality baked bread.
Sandon is a small island off the eastern coast of Stockholm. Sandhamn is the name of the pretty harbour village you’ll arrive at here. The trip takes 2 hours and 15 minutes, it needs to be booked in advance on their website.
A ferry to Sandhamn drops you right on the edge of the archipelago and the open Baltic Sea. In addition to 17th-century buildings, the island features stunning rocky shores and white sandy beaches. There are some beautiful tranquil hideaways along the coastline. Go explore them by kayak! This is the island to plan picnics too, sunbathe and take a dip (in places such as Trouville), go fishing or explore the vast pine tree forest.
Sandhamn is better-heeled than other islands near Stockholm, with many boutiques and retail shops, in addition to the usual cafés and souvenir shops.
Unravelog Tip: To taste Sandhamn’s freshest catch and best Herring, head to the Seglarhotell built in the style of a Scandinavian cottage. Sandhamns Värdshus, a restaurant, and inn is also a classic, dating back to 1672.
Roslagen is a coastal region in the northern part of the archipelago and is abundant in natural beauty, complete with wildflower meadows. Ängsö National Park, a small island in the region, is located eight kilometres off the coast. Ferries operated by Waxholmsbolaget run daily from Strömkajen in Stockholm during the spring and summer months. The ride takes a little over two hours.
Roslagen is one of Sweden’s original national parks set up to preserve traditional meadows and old-growth forests and has more than 400 recorded species of wildflowers. It is also home to a wide range of bird species. Note that overnight stays are not permitted on the island.
Unravelog Tip: To catch the mass flowering of the elder-flower orchids, visit Ängsö from mid-May until mid-June. The hillsides appear yellow with all the Cowslips that are also in bloom; along with Bird’s Eye Primrose, Ramsons, and Spring Pea Flowers.
Stockholm is certainly a city that deserves more time in order to enjoy its myriad facets. If you have more time to discover this interesting city in greater detail, you can check out our itinerary that unravels Stockholm in 3 days.