Sometimes, I just don’t want to follow the rules.
On a city break you’re supposed to spend your time seeing the top sights right? Pop in to the museums, wander through the popular areas, try the local delicacies… etc etc etc.
One June I popped over from Edinburgh to Stockholm for a short weekend visit. There’s a lot to do in Stockholm, like visit the Old town of Gamla Stan, see the Royal Palace and the Vasa Museum with the royal battleship that spent 333 years under water. But in a city that’s made up of 14 islands, 57 bridges and one third water, how could I not spend my first time in Stockholm on the water?
Visiting Stockholm in June means there’s plenty of daylight hours, and waking up to sunshine after the dreary grey winter of Edinburgh meant I couldn’t pass up the chance to be out in it.
The archipelago of Stockholm is made up of over 30,000 islands, islets and rocks, both inhabited and uninhabited. The islands have all kinds of characters from islands with forests of pines and rocky cliffs to others with sandy beaches.
Many of the islands in the Stockholm archipelago can be visited on a day trip, so with just over one day in Stockholm we decided to spend the day on Vaxholm, easily accessible by boat from the port (or bus, but that’s not as fun!).
What to do on Vaxholm
Vaxholm is known for it’s pretty wooden houses, built in the last century and still well preserved today. They’re painted in pastel colours and make for a very pretty little town setting. Vaxholm has some great food options, from fine dining at the Vaxholm Hotel to Melanders Fisk, a seafood market with an attached cafe. For a bit of history you can visit the Vaxholm Fortress Museum, or combine history and food by visiting Hembygdsgård, one of the oldest fisherman’s houses complete with cafe.
To be honest, we just spent the day soaking in the good weather in a local park, wandering around the island to look at the different buildings and people watch, and eating ice cream. Bliss!
Other archipelago day trips from Stockholm
Vaxholm isn’t the only archipelago day trip available from Stockholm. There are some other great options that are closer to Stockholm or have different things to see too.
Värmdö and Gustavsberg
Värmdö is very close to Stockholm and easy to get it. It’s home to the newest art gallery in Sweden and one of the most beautiful which is currently showcasing the work of Andy Warhol.
The main town of Gustavsberg produces porcelain that’s famous around the world, especially because it’s used for a lot of toilet bowls! You can also get decorative porcelain though, and there is a gallery, glassworks shops and numerous cafes here.
Located beginning of the archipelago and only 20 minutes by boat from Stockholm, Fiäderholmarna has many popular restaurants, some of which are only open in the summer however. A lot of artisans have studios on the island so there are plenty of craft store to browse. It’s a nice introduction to the archipelago if you don’t have much time.
Take a Stockholm archipelago cruise
The ferries in Stockholm don’t run to every island all year, so be sure to check the time you’re there. Vaxholm is another great choice since it’s open all year around.
Taking the time to visit the Stockholm archipelago, even if you don’t have much time in Stockholm, is worth it. I loved how close and easily accessible nature is to the city. Visiting Stockholm as a city break and coming away feeling like you’ve had the best of both worlds with city and nature in one is hard to beat.
I’ll be back in Stockholm next week, attending the TBEX Conference as a travel blogger. I can’t wait to spend some more time exploring this city, partaking in more of all those must see things in Stockholm that I skipped over the first time around, and hopefully getting out on the archipelago once again!
Have you visited a city but managed to make it a nature experience as well?
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