Island-Hopping in the Capital’s Front Yard
There are a number of ways to see Sweden’s archipelago, a latticework of some 24,000 islands and smooth glacier-polished outcroppings that dot a 150-mile stretch off its eastern coast. You can travel by ferry, vintage steamer, three-mast schooner, private sailboat, or yacht.
But the most important thing is not to miss them: they are one of the country’s most important natural attractions and its wild frontier. Only 6,000 people live on 1,000 islands; the rest are uninhabited.
Sweden’s summer is brief but glorious and this is the place to celebrate it – kayaking, picnicking, biking, and walking the unpaved island roads. Take a thirty-minute ferryboat ride from Stockholm out to the well-known restaurant Fjaderholmarnas Krog, accessible only by boat, for a leisurely lunch of just-caught fish, perfectly prepared. Alternatively, stay on board one of the steamers for the scenery: skerries (skärgärden, the Swedish word for archipelago, means “garden of skerries”), islets, flower-bedecked fishing cottages, landing stages, meadows, farms, beaches, and a late evening sky of changing pastels.
Writers and artists have traditionally been drawn to Vaxholm, while the boating crowd firmly favors Sandhamn, hub for the prestigious annual Royal Regatta.
The archipelago has two environments – the wooded, protected inner part and the barren, wild outer archipelago, the latter home to seabirds, seals, and a few very hardy fishermen. Take a leisurely, blissful sail and you’ll understand a lot more about Stockholm, built on fourteen of the archipelago’s islands, and its connection to the sea.