Stockholm by Kayak
Kristin Lund shares her scenic view of Stockholm from her kayak.
It’s 10pm on a late August night in Stockholm.
The sun set around eight o’clock – already so much earlier than it did in July. The sky is dark but lights from Stockholm glow across its 14 islands.
Earlier in the evening, I set out from Rålambshovspark in Kungsholmen with my weekly kayak group. Our goal was to paddle to Södermalm and then celebrate the successful kayak season with a barbecue on the beach. We paddled under Väster Bridge, across Riddarfjärden, and swung around the island of Långholmen. Keeping Södermalm on our left, we passed Reimersholme and Hornstull, and paddled our way to the beach our leader had picked out.
The sky, which had looked stormy all day, miraculously cleared and the wind died down. Lake Mälaren felt cool but not cold. I trailed my hands on either side of the kayak to ward off blisters.
Freshwater Lake Mälaren always feels special to me probably because after two years living in Stockholm, I still expect it to be salt water.
I always forget that it is a lake and continually mistake it for the Baltic Sea with which the bay connects. Mälaren’s water is dark, cool, and mysterious…filled with feeling; as if you are connecting with its history.
As if you can feel the Vikings sluicing off to go discover North America.
To view Stockholm from the water is to see this photogenic city from another angle.
By day, you can admire Stadshuset (City Hall), The Royal Palace, and winding alleyways of Gamla stan as you glide by. My favorite thing to do is pick out the waterview apartment I will live in. The fact that those apartments are actually not for sale doesn’t dent my fantasies. My apartment is right on the water at the very top of the building.
From my balcony’s French doors, I can see for miles…
When the sun finally does set, Stockholm is lit up like jewels. Bridges string its islands together like dazzling necklaces. Naturally, the coast guard discourages nighttime kayaking and for good reason.
My group stayed a little too late but we were well-prepared with head lamps and reflective vests. We kept a wary eye out for other boats but there were very few out on that last Thursday of August.
There’s something very special about night kayaking. Just like swimming at night, it feels like a whole other ballgame from the daytime variety. Slicing silently through the canal-size space between Reimersholme and Långholmen, I felt like I was transformed into a sleek efficient sea creature.
Maybe a seal or a dolphin at one with the water. Magical realism at its best.
Stockholm by kayak is not to be missed. You can rent kayaks on your own for a few hours or hire a guide to show you the best views of the city from the water. You’ll avoid crowds, tourists, and queues and win an unparalleled view of one of the prettiest cities in the world.