Stockholm Archipelago: six of the best islands to visit - Routes North (2023)

Even if you’re just in Stockholm for a few days, taking a day trip into the amazing archipelago that stretches east from the city can be one of the most rewarding parts of your visit.

Stockholm Archipelago: six of the best islands to visit - Routes North (1)

The Stockholm Archipelago is made up of tens of thousands of idyllic islands.

Needless to say, you won’t see them all.

But it’s definitely worth exploring a few if you have the time, especially during the warmer months, when there’s endless potential for barbecuing, swimming and overnight stays.

Every summer, it seems like half of Stockholm’s population disappears into the archipelago to escape from the bustle of city life.

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There are more than 24,000 islands to choose from, some with lively communities and others with nothing but serene rocky landscapes and stunning views of the Baltic Sea.

Some of the islands can be difficult to reach without your own boat, so in this guide we’ve put together a list of six islands that can be visited easily using public ferries, and without shelling out for a guided tour (though there are some great ones available).

There are commuter cruise lines that connect many of the best locations to Stockholm proper, which makes planning an island day trip a total breeze.

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Guided tours to the islands

If you really want to get away from it all, consider this private sailing tour, which takes you out to some of the lesser-visited islands in the archipelago.

You’ll even get the chance to visit a deserted island where you can swim, sunbathe and eat lunch before heading back to the city!

A slightly cheaper option is this guided kayaking trip into the Stockholm Archipelago. Run in small groups, it lets you spend a full day exploring with nice breaks for lunch and a traditional Swedish fika.

And if you’re feeling even more adventurous, how about this self-guided three-day kayak and camping trip? All the camping and kayaking gear is provided, plus maps and compasses, so all you need to do is to head off and explore. You can set up camp on whichever island takes your fancy – a great way to really explore the archipelago.

During the winter, this Winter Kayaking and Fika Experience is another popular option to try out.

Boats to the archipelago

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The best and most affordable ferry company serving the Stockholm Archipelago is called Waxholmsbolaget.

Their English-language website is the best place to check for times, prices and other journey information, or just as easily use the Google Maps app on your phone to route the trip (it’s usually quite accurate).

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This is the ferry company that locals and islanders tend to use.

The Waxholmsbolaget ferry terminal is at Strömkajen, just a few minutes’ walk from Kungsträdgården in the centre of the city.

Look for the geometric brass building by the water and you’ll see the boats docking right there.

There’s no need to book tickets in advance; you can buy onboard quickly and easily.

Another transport option is the Cinderella and Strömma Kanalbolaget boats from the pier at Strandvägen.

These sometimes have faster connections, but are also pricier and need to be booked in advance, and only run from mid-April to early November.

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So which islands should you visit?

All of the islands we’ve recommended are served by both ferry companies – for some of the year, at least – and are easy to visit from Stockholm.

1. Fjäderholmarna

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Honestly, the little group of islands known as Fjäderholmarna is so close to the city centre that the only acceptable excuse for missing it is bad weather.

Fjäderholmarna is super easy to reach from Strömkajen (just 30 minutes by ferry), and is perfect if you want to make a quick half-day trip into the archipelago without spending much cash or travelling too far away from the city centre.

The one-way trip costs around 78 SEK on the Waxholmsbolaget ferry (Cinderella ferries also cover this route, but they are slower and more expensive).

Be aware that you may not get to see a specific sign or hear an announcement when you arrive because Fjäderholmarna is so close – if you get confused, just ask the captain to make sure you get to the right place.

Once you get to Stora Fjäderholmen, the main island, you can take a stroll along the seafront, go on a short hike into the forest trails that run through the middle of the island, or play a few fun rounds of boule at Röda Villan, a popular restaurant set in a red wooden house that’s surrounded by mature trees.

Fjäderholmarna is a bit of a hotspot for artist studios, so there are lots of places to browse and buy handcrafted goods, from jewellery and ceramics to glassware.

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A quiet road loops around the whole island, making it nice and easy to find the dock when you’re ready to head back to the city.

2. Vaxholm

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Vaxholm is known as the gateway to Stockholm’s archipelago – it’s relatively close to the city centre and is connected to the mainland by a bridge, but it’s also the first stop for most ferries heading further out into the archipelago.

To get there from Strömkajen in central Stockholm, take a Waxholmsbolaget ferry. A one-way journey costs 97 SEK and takes between one hour and 90 minutes, depending on what time of day you leave.

During summer, Cinderella boats also make the journey from Strandvägen in around 50 minutes, but you can expect to pay around 120 SEK for a one-way trip.

Vaxholm is a cute little hub that is a lot more developed than other islands in the archipelago. Just be aware that, thanks to its proximity to the city, it can get very busy – especially during July and August, when coaches empty hoards of tourists onto the streets.

The boats to the island can also be busy. On the upside, Vaxholm is easy to get to, and there’s usually something going on, even outside of the main tourist season.

On arrival, you’ll probably want to explore the old town, where twisting alleyways are lined with picturesque houses, then peek into some of the island’s many souvenir shops and cafés.

If you’re a bit of a history buff you’ll want to visit Vaxholms Fästning, the huge fortress that was built to protect the capital from Russian invasion in 1544. From mid-may to mid-September, boats run between Vaxholm and the fort every 15 minutes for 50 SEK per adult.

If you’re taking a Waxholmsbolaget ferry to Vaxholm, it may also make a stop at the fortress – ask the captain.

There are two good B&Bs on Vaxholm – try Vaxholms Bed and Breakfast (around 700m from the centre) or Kastellet Bed and Breakfast, at the fortress.


3. Grinda

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Grinda is often talked about as the bathing paradise of Stockholm – people from all over the city head there during the weekends to get their share of sun, swim and relaxation during the summer.

The Waxholmsbolaget ferry to Grinda costs around 116 SEK and takes about two hours, 20 minutes (compared to around 80 minutes on the more expensive Cinderella boat from Strandvägen).

It makes sense to get off at Södra (south) Grinda since it takes another half an hour to reach Norra bryggan (the northern boat dock).

Grinda is almost completely owned by Skärgårdsstiftelsen (the Archipelago Foundation), which helps to preserve the island’s natural beauty.

This makes Grinda particularly lush and clean, with totally free access to explore the forest or swim to your heart’s content.

You can find the majority of the island’s shops and cafes at Södra Grinda, including a traditional Swedish värdshus (inn).

If you’re feeling peckish, we’d recommend trying the traditional ‘Grinda loaf,’ the island’s famous baked bread.

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And if you fancy staying the night here, try the Grinda Wärdshus, a lovely guesthouse, with rooms in traditional red-painted wooden houses a stone’s throw from the sea.

4. Svartsö

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Svartsö is also reachable using the Waxholmsbolaget ferries from Strömkajen – it’s about half an hour past Grinda. A one-way trip costs around 143 SEK.

While Svartsö is actually one of the larger islands in the archipelago, with its own little community, the population is seriously small – less than 100 people live here all year round.

This makes this remote, lesser-known island an amazing spot to go out and enjoy some peaceful time with nature.

It’s probably best to dock at Ahlsvik, since there’s a small beach there perfect for sunbathing.

It’s also close to the island’s only restaurant, Svartsö Krog – a famously good (but super pricey) place to eat if you didn’t pack a lunch.

Renting a bike is highly recommended on Svartsö; it’s a great way to check out the island’s surprisingly varied scenery – expect freshwater lakes, forests, open farmland, and views of the Baltic Sea.

If you fall in love with the island’s laid-back vibe, why not overnight at STF Svartsö Skärgårdshotell & Vandrarhem?

This bright, modern and affordable hostel is the island’s only place to stay (unless you want to try camping) and it offers the perfect environment to rest and recharge.

5. Ingmarsö

Just beyond Svartsö, the pretty island of Ingmarsö isa haven for walkers. With unspoilt woods, remote lakes, marshlands and sandybays, it’s a great place for hiking, swimming, fishing or simply enjoying thepeaceful natural surroundings.

The Waxholmsbolaget ferry to Ingmarsö takes about three and a half hours and costs around 173 SEK, while the Cinderella boat takes about two hours and costs around 180 SEK each way.

The island has a population of just 150 people but it’s well laid out with hiking trails and has basic facilities for visitors including a bakery, a restaurant and a few small shops.

You can also rent kayaks and bicycles for further exploration or even go on a trail ride around the islands on an Icelandic pony.

And if you fancy staying here, the lovely Norrgården farmhouse has six comfortable rooms offering bed and breakfast surrounded by lush gardens with pretty pastoral views.

It even has a museum of island life in one its former farm buildings!

6. Sandön

Stockholm Archipelago: six of the best islands to visit - Routes North (10)

Sandön is the furthest destination from Stockholm on this list, and you’ll need to take the Cinderella cruise line from the docks at Strandvägen to get there.

The trip takes 2 hours, 15 minutes, and needs to be booked in advance on their website. A round-trip ticket costs around 340 SEK.

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Sandön is a beautiful destination that’s well worth the time and cost of the trip.

Sometimes people get confused about the name of this island – to be clear, Sandhamn is the name of the pretty harbour village you’ll arrive at, while the island itself is called Sandön.

Sandhamn is a hub for Swedes sailing around the archipelago, and you’ll see tons of sailboats and yachts lining the piers all summer.

The town of Sandhamn is much posher than settlements on other islands near Stockholm, with many boutiques and retail shops in addition to the usual cafés and souvenir shops.

If you’re trying to avoid crowds, opt to rent a couple of kayaks and paddle around the island – there are some beautifully tranquil hideaways along the coastline.

There are also some really nice sandy beaches for sunbathing and going for a dip, as well many gorgeous spots to unpack a picnic lunch to complete your trip out into the archipelago.

Want to stay the night? There’s a comfy bed and breakfast just up from the beach on the island’s north coast (book ahead!).

Tips for visiting the Stockholm Archipelago:

  • Plan your trip ahead of time: take careful note of the ferry schedules because it’s no fun to wait at the dock for the next trip (it can be hours between departures).
  • Leave early, just in case: it’s better to be early than late when limited to the ferry schedule! This is especially important if you’re going to use the Cinderella boats and have booked your tickets in advance.
  • If you’re on a tight budget, pack a lunch and bring it with you: prices on the islands tend to get expensive as they are small communities catered towards summer tourists.
  • Do you want to stay overnight? Plan ahead to avoid full bookings, or pack some camping equipment for the ultimate archipelago experience; this option is highly recommended for Grinda.
  • Definitely bring your swimming gear: even if you don’t plan for it, spending a day out on these dazzling ocean waters can make a swim become too tempting to resist!
  • Bring cash. Most of Sweden is totally cashless, but you can never be too safe, especially out in the islands!
  • Don’t forget insurance! The archipelago is generally safe but we strongly recommend getting a decent policy in place for your trip. It really can make a world of difference when things go wrong. For lots of different reasons, we recommend World Nomads.

Seealso:

8 cheap Airbnbs in Stockholm

The best Stockholm boat tours and cruises

How to spend a summer weekend in Stockholm

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FAQs

Which archipelago to visit in Stockholm? ›

The islands of Sandön, Möja, Nåttarö, Utö, Finnhamn or Grinda, on the other hand, are perfect destinations for explorers who have more time on their hands. They might be a couple of hours away, but offer a welcome respite from the busy inner-city streets of Stockholm.

Is Stockholm archipelago worth visiting? ›

The Stockholm Archipelago is made up of tens of thousands of idyllic islands. Needless to say, you won't see them all. But it's definitely worth exploring a few if you have the time, especially during the warmer months, when there's endless potential for barbecuing, swimming and overnight stays.

How many islands are in Stockholm archipelago? ›

Stockholm archipelago

What are the islands in Stockholm called? ›

The Stockholm archipelago, Stockholms skärgård or (locally) skärgården, is a group of thousands of islands in the Svealand region, extending east of Stockholm in the Baltic Sea. While many of the islands are relatively small, two large ones, Värmdö and Vaxholm, stand out as major destinations.

Why is Stockholm so famous? ›

Stockholm is a city of contrasts. Trends in music, design, fashion, and technology are born here, and innovations that spread worldwide are invented here. Stockholm also has a rich history comprising exciting architecture, museums, the Royal Palace and the medieval urban core of Gamla Stan.

Why is Stockholm famous for? ›

Stockholm is famed for its iconic city hall, the world's first open-air museum and the fabulous Abba museum. But there are plenty of little-known facts about this city that even some locals might not be aware of – including an unusual story about Frank Zappa.

How many days do you need in Stockholm archipelago? ›

A paradise awash with water-based activities, you won't have to look far for things to do in Stockholm when visiting the magnificent archipelago islands.

How much money do I need per day in Stockholm? ›

For budget-minded travelers, it costs around $70-$120/day to visit Stockholm. These prices are based on what you'll need to visit the city comfortably as a budget traveler. If you want to upgrade your accommodations, add another $80-$150/night depending on your stay.

How many days is enough to see Stockholm? ›

3 days in Stockholm is the perfect amount of time to see the highlights of the city. You'll have time to visit some of the city's best museums, wander around medieval Gamla Stan and hipster Södermalm, explore the Royal Palace, taste some Swedish food, enjoy a fika, and even experience the archipelago via boat or kayak.

How do you get to the islands in Stockholm? ›

The most common way to visit most Stockholm archipelago islands is to take a ferry. There are usually ferries running from Stockholm and Gothenburg to many of the most popular destinations on the Stockholm islands map.

What is the 6th largest archipelago in the world? ›

New Zealand

It is the 12th largest island in the world and sixth largest archipelago in the world.

Where to go in Swedish archipelago? ›

Vaxholm is the capital of the archipelago and considered to be its gateway. History buffs love Vaxholm, as this island offers several museums and galleries which speak to the region's storied past. Visit the Vaxholm Fortress Museum, then explore the charming old town.

What is the most beautiful archipelago? ›

1 – Palawan, Philippines

Palawan is a stunning archipelago that has been ranked as the most beautiful island in the world multiple times. Discover the best things to do in Palawan. Famous for diving, hiking, beaches, and fishing, this is one of the best tropical travel destinations in Southeast Asia.

Why is Bazaruto archipelago a tourist attraction? ›

Declared a National Park in 1971, the Archipelago boasts among its wildlife, 180 species of birds, endemic butterflies, suni antelope and freshwater crocodiles. The protected reefs and beaches support dolphin, dugong, gamefish, giant lobster and several species of marine turtle.

What is Bazaruto archipelago known for? ›

The island, also known as Paradise Island is regarded as the "gem" of the islands forming the Bazaruto Archipelago, which is a proclaimed marine national park. Tourist attractions include sandy beaches, coral reefs, and opportunities for surfing and fishing.

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