Stockholm’s Archipelago with Kids
Editor’s Note – You really don’t need to head to the tropics to enjoy Sweden’s own brand of island living in the summer. The city of Stockholm itself is built on 14 islands and ferries such as Strömma Kanalbolaget and Waxholmsbolaget regularly shuttle travelers around some of Stockholm’s 28,000 archipelago islands such as Fjärderholmerna, Vaxholm, Sandhamn, Drottningholm Palace (Lovön island).
If you’ve got kids in tow, here’s one of the best itineraries for three days around Stockholm’s archipelago with kids.
Morning departure by ferry at Strömkajen (city center, in front of the Royal Palace) to Vaxholm. In the summer it’s possible to take old steam ferries (Norrskar and Storrskar). They are very pleasant and slightly slower. An insider tip – go and sit immediately at the single table on the front deck, do not worry about the wind, the boat will turn … If it is already taken, there are folding chairs that can be used once the gateway is returned.
Get off at Vaxholm and cross the old resort town with Waxholms Hotell on the right, branching off to the right in the alleys. Do not miss the Swedish Archipelago deco atmosphere shop and garden of the Grand Hotel right on the street that goes up Strandgatan Magasinet. The lanes to the right of Fiskaregatan are all lovely. They lead to a beach and the old fishing port.
Have lunch in the prettiest restaurant and tearoom of the archipelago, Vaxholms Hembygdsgårds Café in the old fishing port (check their opening hours on their Facebook page). Desserts are lovely!
Sleep in the B & B of the beautiful castle-museum of war on Vaxholm’s island: Kastellet Bed & Breakfast. Ask for rooms with a sea view for the best sunsets and sunrises during the summer.
Warning: If you don’t have a private boat, you are dependent on ferries which cross the channel between the port and the castle. During the day, it’s free, but in the evening it gets really expensive (it cost us € 100 / SEK 925 round trip for six people). So ask at the B & B about ferry schedule or bring food and picnic in the castle with you.
The next day, take a ferry to Södra Grinda. Cross the island towards the hotel Wärdshus, Gästhamn. Have coffee in the most beautiful café along the waterfront. Coffee is hidden behind red cabins on the left front of the hotel. It is possible to rent kayaks – a guaranteed hit with the kids. Sublime floating sauna with indoor lounge, and fireplace, but totally overpriced (more than 300 € / SEK 2,775 instead of 12 € /SEK 110 elsewhere)
You can sleep on the island at the Hotel Grinda Wärdshus or in a stuga (same management). The most renovated stugas are those immediately on the left arriving at the dock on Södra Grinda: dry toilet outside, no water, dish washing with a hose, and the beach.
To leave the island, cross the forest towards Norra Grinda (15 minutes) to take the “secret” ferry that is not in the schedule booklets around 5 pm (inquire directly with the Waxholmsbolaget company). On the dock, put the semaphore to make the boat stop.
Sleep in Finnhamn, in the prettiest Archipelago’s inn: Finnhamn Vandrarhem. When booking, ask for rooms overlooking the sea (prettier and cooler especially in summer, others are west orientated with a sun that never sets). Know that there are only single beds or bunkbed but the hostel is equipped with a rare commodity in the archipelago: normal flushing toilets. There are also stugas (huts) without kitchens or toilets that depend on the Inn (you have to go to the main building). Do not rent in Sommargarden, the stugas are not expensive but they are old. There is a shared kitchen in the large inn (buy food at the grocery store on arrival) and restaurant (book in advance as it is small).
In the morning, enjoy the best archipelago sauna experience with panoramic views of the Baltic Sea(again, book in advance). Do not forget to bring water to drink because there is no tap. If you book for 11am just before the Swedish lunch hour, there will be nobody after you so you can laze on the dock. No shower in the sauna, keep towels from your rooms and have a shower in the inn’s ground floor.
Return by ferry at Stockholm late in the evening (arrival around 10pm) and enjoy the midnight sun over the city.
For an extra day: Do not hesitate to extend your stay in Finnhamn. The island is beautiful (in fact it is several islands connected by a bridge ), you can rent kayaks, visit the local store to buy food, possible make your own barbecue, and swim in several places including the aptly named “Paradise Cove”.
Editor’s Note – For more itineraries around Stockholm’s archipelago with kids, read Virginie’s full guide which includes the far southern archipelago.