summer swimming in Stockholm

Swimming at Rösjöbaden in Sollentuna

summer swimming in Stockholm

Summer at Rösjöbaden looking towards the dive platform

As I’ve written elsewhere, one of great things to do in Stockholm in the summer is to swim in the lakes and open water. When I lived in Sollentuna there were numerous opportunities. One of the ones that can be easier with children is to go swimming at Rösjöbaden.

Many of the swimming opportunities that abound in Stockholm are wonderful directly due to their informal nature, but sometimes, as all parents will know, it’s nice to have that type of experience, but with a few extra facilities or entertainments to keep the little ones happy. I’ve been to Rösjöbaden many times as both a couple and as a family and it works well on both counts.

As you can see from the photo here, there’s nice sand, good grass (and much more of it out of shot here) where you can happily have a picnic or a BBQ or play games with the children. In terms of water activities, there’s great swimming and an excellent tall diving board for the braver. Also out of shot is a large bendy slide which drops into a small swimming pool, toilets, changing rooms, shop and cafe. It’s also a campsite with cabins for those who want to holiday there.

It’s very accessible by either public or private transport and there’s some nice woodland walks in the woods next to the site itself. Being as it’s a commercial enterprise, you do have to pay a small fee for the use of some of the facilities, but that’s the trade off you make. You can read about the full facilities on their website (English and Swedish). In my opinion it’s probably not worth a trip up from central Stockholm (although it’s only 15km as the crow flies) as there are better alternatives, either closer or more well appointed, but if you’re already in the northern suburbs or thereabouts, it’s well worth a visit on a warm day.

Finnhamn Stockholm archipelago

Kayak round Finnhamn in the Stockholm archipelago

As I’ve noted elsewhere, taking a kayak to the Stockholm archipelago is one of the more wonderful ways to see the area. However doing a full kayak trip for several days is not always everyone’s cup to tea, so sometimes it’s just nice to take a quick tour for a couple of hours. You can easily do that in central Stockholm like this in example but sometimes it’s nice to get right out of town into the outer Stockholm archipelago, take a short kayak trip, but also have a decent bed for the night.

Finnhamn Stockholm archipelago

see views like this as you kayak round Finnhamn

One of my favourite places to do this is Finnhamn. It’s quite a long way out from central Stockholm, in that it takes almost 2 hours to get there even on the faster Cinderella boats, but it’s well worth the wait, and in truth, there’s not much better than a 2 hour boat trip through the Stockholm archipelago anyway! Once you’re in Finnhamn there’s not a huge amount to do if you like the city party scene, but if you like tranquility and the sea, then you’re in the right place. You can just about make it for a day trip if you don’t mind the travelling, but many people will stay in the youth hostel there or camp in the camp ground.

I’d recommend the youth hostel myself, as it’s a lovely old traditional building, in a superb position looking out over the water from one of the higher points on the island. They have the usual high quality STF facilities there, which includes some small cabins in the grounds of the hostel, which is where I stayed last time I was there.

In the daytime opening hours you can pop into the main building and hire variety of equipment, including sea kayaks or small motor boats as well. The fees were very reasonable and the kayaks were of good quality. They’re not huge sea going ones that you’d go away on a long trip with, but then they don’t need to be. They’re better suited for a quick tour round Finnhamn itself or the local islands. Saying that it was quite choppy on the day I went out last and the kayak was quite happy in such conditions. It took me about 90 minutes for gentle paddle right round the entire island (it’s that small) and you find the usual lovely beaches along the way, just like the one in the picture here.

If you don’t fancy arranging your own trips manually when you get there, you can book a kayak tour in Stockholm directly here through our partner site.

Edsviken Ulriksdal

Wild swimming at Edsviken near Ulriksdal

Edsviken Ulriksdal

a wonderful small beach on Edsviken near Ulriksdal

As i write this, I’m in the middle of a summer London heatwave and it’s been 30 degrees or so all week. All I wish right now is that I still lived in Sollentuna and that I could nip down the road for spot of wild swimming at Edsviken near Ulriksdal slott. The picture here is of Matilda sitting on the beach early one sunny summer morning in 2009. It’s taken from a tiny beach which is a local hidden secret, ironically though it’s only a few hundred metres from a major tourist site at Ulriksdal Slott.

As I’ve written on other pages on this site Edsviken is full of many wild swimming opportunities and this is another great one. For me I used to walk south from my house, past Silverdal and the police high school along a beautiful lakeside path for about 30 minutes and then you come to this little quiet secluded beach (there’s a map below of the exact location).

This beach is absolutely tiny though, there’s only room for a few families, but the swimming is great as it’s a gently sloping beach where small children can happily paddle quite a long way without getting into trouble. Once you go out about 5 metres though, there’s a bit of a shelf where the adults can kick off from and do some proper swimming. You might also be able to see in the background a small island which the more adventurous can swim over to.

The thing which is strangest though about this beach is that it’s incredibly close to the fantastic tourist site of Ulriksdals Slott. You simply walk north past the slott itself for about 300 metres and you come to this glorious private beach, but noone ever goes there whilst visiting the slott (castle) as who takes their swimming trunks on a tourist castle visit. This is sad for the people visiting the slott, but great for those in the know who fancy a chilled swim. For those with children there are always ducks on the beach as well which adds another entertainment. Sarah describes it to me as “The beach where the ducks are there eating ants” which is pretty accurate.

Finally on the ridge up above the beach is the Ulriksdals Garden cafe (Slottsträdgården Ulriksdal), which is another local secret (in fact I’d call it a local institution) with the most amazing vegetarian buffet lunch. More on this on another post, but it’s definitely worth a visit.

 

Boat to Grinda

Day trip to Grinda in the Stockholm archipelago

Boat to Grinda

what a glorious sunny day in the archipelago

If you haven’t been to the Stockholm archipelago, then you haven’t been to Stockholm as far as I’m concerned! A great way to start your exploration is to take a day trip to Grinda. Make sure you take your sunglasses and appropriate equivalent for the children, look at me squinting here despite my glasses!

The reason that Grinda is a good place to start is several fold:

1. It’s one of the closest islands to the centre of Stockholm.

2. It’s real archipelago, not an inland “pretend” archipelago island

3. There are regular boats from various central locations, both new fast ones and slow heritage ones.

4. There’s good facilities on the island, especially in high season. There’s a high class bistro / hotel. There’s several cafes, lots of beaches, a youth hostel, various accommodation and cabins associated with that. There’s even boat hire and a fully serviced guest harbour (if you’ve got your own boat) with its own bar and restaurant.

My personal favourite is to take a walk to the northern beach. It’s only a small island so it takes about 20 minutes from the main harbour on the south. There is in fact a northern harbour, but the boat service is very rare at this end, unless you’re calling a private taxi boat. You pass some interesting parts of the island on the way whilst you’re walking, and you can always stop off for a coffee or to look at the farm animals that you come across. Once you get to the northern beach though, you’re in your own little west facing paradise; you can watch the sailing boats slip in and out of the harbour round the corner of the bay and if you’re there long enough you’ll be surprised by one of the huge ferries from central Stockholm which suddenly appear from behind the horizon and cruise slowly right in front you on their way to Åland or some other Baltic location. You can even swim out to a fantastic little diving island in the middle of the bay, and take part in some excellent diving opportunities.

Just make sure that you check the ferry timetables home back to Stockholm, and that you don’t miss the last ferry of the day! Fortunately the ferry companies never seem to leave anyone behind, and on the one day when there wasn’t room on the last ferry of the day, they sent along a special boat for just me, my friends and about 4 other people, and we cruised back to Stockholm on our own private boat. It doesn’t get that much better than that!

finnhamn stockholm archipelago

Island hopping in the Stockholm archipelago

finnhamn stockholm archipelago

Killing a few minutes waiting for the next ferry

As I’ve noted elsewhere, the beauty of the islands outside of Stockholm is at times simply jaw dropping. A great way to experience this wonderful area is to go island hopping in the Stockholm archipelago (especially if you haven’t got the energy to go kayaking). It’s always very easy to get ferries around the archipelago, especially in summer, with Waxholmsbolaget, but in the summer they also a special season ticket for those who wish to go island hopping. You can find the details on this link (only Swedish).

Compared to the normal ferry cost it’s quite extraordinary value, 420 SEK for 5 days unlimited travel at the time of writing. There are innumerable great places to go throughout the archipelago, whether your budget is large or small. Just because the ticket is cheap, you don’t have to stay in youth hostels and camp if you don’t want to, when there are fantastic establishments such as Grinda Wärdshus, and several others of the same quality spread far and wide throughout the islands.

However there’s no doubt that there’s something quite appealing about the nature of grabbing your rucksack and heading for a few days of backpacking throughout the archipelago. The picture above is taken back in 2007 when I went out for a few days peace and quiet after my dad died. I distinctly remember the time on this beach, which is at Finnhamn, where I killed a happy quiet hour in the sun, waiting for the next ferry. Finnhamn is a truly special place and one which you’d be well worth considering, especially if your tour is in the northern part of the archipelago. There’s a fantastic restaurant and a great youth hostel there, along with a wide variety of the usual healthy outdoor activities. I hired a kayak and cruised around the area one day, and it was a peaceful and restful place, especially slightly off season in early June when I went.

There are of course an almost infinite number of itineries that one could take, but I took a long weekend like this:

Day 1 Depart Stockholm – ferry to Grinda – camp on Grinda

Day 2 Depart Grinda – ferry to Finnhamn – youth hostel in Finnhamn

Day 3 Stay on Finnhamn and enjoy the outer archipelago – dinner in the bistro restaurant in the evening, before going back to the youth hostel for the night

Day 4 – Depart Finnhamn and cruise slowly back to Stockholm (it’s a couple of hours even on the express boat)

All in all strongly recommended.

If you don’t want to book all the independent travel yourself, you can book Stockholm package trips through our partner site.

 

stockholm archipelago kayak

Stockholm archipelago kayak tour to Ängsö

stockholm archipelago kayak

25km kayak through the archipelago later, dinner is welcome whilst watching the sunset

One of my favourite experiences of my time in Stockholm was an archipelago kayak tour to Ängsö and back which I did with Kayak och Uteliv. These guys are a great school / organisation to travel with if you want to do a guided tour, but they’re also really good (or they were when I was there) if you want to just hire some equipment and set out on your own.

I did a number of courses with them over the years, including some excellent kayak safety courses where myself and Sarah practiced various emergency recovery techniques and the like. These were really valuable in our overall development, but our favourite trip had to be the 2 day tour to Ängsö starting out from the home base of Kajak och Uteliv.

We did the classic Stockholm archipelago kayak trip, which I sometimes struggle to find so accessible in the UK. We rocked up to the organisers, packed some camping stuff, filled up our water bottles and packed lunches, and set off for the the islands!

We paddled about 25km each day and we saw many amazing sights. I still remember a group of seals surfacing next to us, and on the other extreme we had to watch out for the massive Stockholm party ferry boats which ply their trade up the main shipping channel near Ängsö as well.

You can’t camp on Ängsö itself, so we set up the tents on an island a couple of kilometres to the east, which in itself is an amazing reflection of the Stockholm kayak experience. You can just rock up to any old island and pitch your tents and not be breaking any laws or trespassing, itäs how the outdoor life ought to be. (You just need to watch out for the ticks which are pretty common in the summer around there – I had to pull a few out of awkward places!)

As you can see from the photo, we had a lovely camp site looking west towards the sunset and there were also good swimming opportunities for those brave enough to sample the early June water temperatures (that’ll be me). There’s a few more cool photos in this flickr set

If you don’t fancy arranging your own trips manually when you get there, you can book a kayak tour in Stockholm directly here through our partner site.

edsviken kayak

Kayak from Brunnsviken to Edsviken

edsviken kayak

Graham kayaking on Edsviken near Tegelhagen

When I lived in Tegelhagen I was always thrilled by the fact that 15 minutes walk through the woods from my house was the amazing lake of Edsviken. Just beyond Edsviken if I took the bus or cycled a little further was the connected lake of Brunnsviken, and one of the things I loved to do was hire a kayak at Brunnsviken kayak club and kayak from Brunnsviken to Edsviken, stopping at a beach for lunch.

BKK is a great club as it’s easily accessible by public transport or road and has great equipment for hire at good prices if you’re not a member. If you’re a beginner or short of time you can just hire for an hour and paddle gently round Brunnsviken itself. There’s a couple of cafes and beaches and some lovely spots and views.

If however you’re feeling a little more adventurous, then you can head under the bridge which is actually the E18 road and you’re in open water. If you turn right you’ll come down to the main harbours for the large international ferries, and you can effectively paddle right out to sea from there (watch out for the ferries though!).

However if you turn left, you turn north into Edsviken, which is closed water and you can paddle up to one of the many lovely beaches along the way, or you could even stop at Ulriksdals Slott, where there are wonderful gardens and a castle, and a couple of great cafes as well.

Here’s a map showing where BKK is where you can pick up the kayak, and you can see that the exit from the lake is on the eastern side under the E18.


View Larger Map

Just watch out as you go under the bridge as there are boat traffic lights there, and it’s a very narrow channel. Watch out for bigger boats coming the other way! Depending on your paddling speed you can easily get well up into Edsviken in about an hour. I’d recommend one of the beaches on the west side, at either Ulriksdals Slott or a bit further north, but basically you’re free to pull in wherever and that’s the joy of kayaking in Sweden. Just remember to take a packed lunch!

If you don’t fancy arranging your own trips manually when you get there, you can book a kayak tour in Stockholm directly here through our partner site.

boat tour around Stockholm

Boat tour around Stockholm with Waxholmsbolaget

One of the things that any tourist guidebook will tell you is that you need to take a boat tour around Stockholm, for a city on water it’s an essential thing to do. I completely agree with this, but I would advise you to ignore the standard tourist boats which depart from the centre of town (they’re nice, I’ve nothing against them) and instead take a trip on one of the waxholmbolaget ferries which depart from the same quays. To be fair, Stromma, the company which run many of the sightseeing tours, also run some absolutely excellent lunch and dinner cruises on some amazing boats, and also some archipelago sightseeing tours. Each has their place, but Waxholmsbolaget is so much more immediately accessible. It always reminds of taking the number 38 bus through London as opposed to getting on the sightseeing buses!

boat tour around Stockholm

2 boats from waxholmsbolaget waiting for passengers in Stockholm

I still remember the first time that I took my uncle on one of these when he came to visit and he was almost struck dumb by the beauty of the trip. He kept saying things like “I can’t believe all this is here, I just had no idea”. The thing about these boats is that they actually service all the islands in the archipelago for commuter traffic, for want of a better description. In the summer there are many more routes with higher frequency, but I’ve also taken friends visiting me on them in the middle of a snow storm in winter. The views are still great, but you might not want to sit on the outside deck! I also used to take my daughter on them to just hang out and watch the views.

To me there’s no comparison with the tourist boats which ply their trade in and around the centre of town. I guess on the tourist boats you get a commentary and the like, but that’s really the only advantage. If you take a waxholmsbolaget ferry, you get to see all the inner city stuff that you do on the other boats, but you also get to go somewhere, Vaxholm or an archipelago island for example, and on the way you get to see all the inner archipelago and all the beauty it contains. Being as it’s a commuter boat, you can simply hop on, buy a ticket on demand, go somewhere, get off , grab a coffee or some lunch and then hop back on to return to Stockholm. That’s just a single idea for using them as a viewing platform, but there’s much more that can be done with them in summer, using them for island hopping and weekends away, and searching out hidden beaches for the day. Check out some of the other categories and tagged posts to read about those ideas.

kayak trip to Västra Vidskär in stockholm archipelago

Kayak trip to the Stockholm Archipelago

If you want to see the true magic of the outer islands of Stockholm, then there’s no better way than taking a kayak trip to the Stockholm archipelago. Depending on your experience you may need to take a guided trip, of which there are many English speaking providers, or if you’re more experienced a confident, you can just hire a kayak and equipment from one of the same providers, or alternatively from one of the kayak clubs or hire shops who don’t provide guides.

It’s not uncommon for you to see paddlers cruising round the centre of town in amongst the main shipping lanes, which is certainly a great way to see central Stockholm from a different angle, but my personal opinion is that you need to get out into the real outer archipelago to experience the best that the area has to offer.

kayak trip to Västra Vidskär in stockholm archipelago

a lovely camping spot for the evening

This photo is taken from Västra Vidskär on a trip I went on one summer. We picked up our kayaks in Runmarö and then paddled across the sea, hopping from island and island to make the open water stretches short, before stopping off here for the evening and setting up camp. It was a truly magical experience. We’d been chased by thunder storms on the way out but they were so small and localised that we managed to avoid them. As the sun set over Stockholm in the evening, we watched them pass by our little island, which is what the above flickr link shows.

The good thing about kayaking in this area, is that even if you’re a beginner, if you’ve got a guide with you, the open water stretches are short and you can get right out into the true archipelago without feeling at risk.

Typical companies which run this type of trip would be:

www.stockholmadventures.com

or maybe

http://www.kajak-uteliv.com

I’ve travelled and hired kit from both of them. Stockholm adventures caters more to the short term visitor tourist trade and runs from the centre of town and will arrange packages, whereas kajak uteliv are based up in the northern archipelago and have more Swedish guests (although they do of course speak English). I did a couple of safety courses with them as well as few years back. When I was last there they were also good for just hiring kayaks and camping gear as well.

If you don’t fancy arranging your own trips manually when you get there, you can book a kayak tour in Stockholm directly here through our partner site.

if you fancy just having a quick go around town or in the suburbs, then you can hire kayaks for just a couple of hours from many places, 1 of which is

Brunnsviken Kayak Club

I was a member here. These guys are very close to the Stockholm university and are based on the edge of Brunnsviken which is a nice quiet lake to practice on, however it has access to open water if you want to go further afield. Their website isn’t targetted at tourists, but their prices are some of the best on town, especially if you fancy just practising for an hour or 2. As I mentioned in this other post you can even paddle up Edsviken easily from here for an hour or 2 and come to some great beaches and swimming places.

 

 

 

 

 

open water swimming at Edsviken

Swimming at Edsviken in Sollentuna

One of the most glorious things about Stockholm in the summer is the near constant possibility to go swimming in open water, either in one of the many lakes or in the sea off one of the many islands of the archipelago.

open water swimming at Edsviken

A glorious view south across Edsviken

This picture is taken at a wonderful lake in Sollentuna which is in the northern suburbs of Stockholm. The lake is called Edsviken and it stretches north south more or less for about 20 km, before it actually reaches the sea. There are numerous individual spots where people can just turn up and have a quick dip, and there’s loads of other activities to be had along its borders, which I’ll detail in other posts. For example, on other occasions I’ve hired a kayak (swedish only site) in town and paddled up to this and other swimming spots. But that’s a bit of a full day commitment and one for another post! The particular spot marked on the map below is one of my favourites as because of the rocks here, meaning that there’s great opportunities to jump in from a few feet up. This is always great fun in my mind, but for the less adventurous, there’s an easy path down to the edge of the water and nice shallow sections where you can just wade in and out if you don’t want to actually swim. Just be careful though, as rocks above tend to mean that there’s rocks below and as with all open swimming you need to be careful as there’s no lifeguards to save you should you get into trouble.

Here’s a map of the actual location. You can walk , drive or get the bus there, it’s fairly accessible (or kayak of course which is the truly stylish way to arrive!). There’s no facilities there though, as it’s just one of many little public spots all along the edge of the lake, so make sure you take some food and drink with you if you’re planning on staying a while, and remember that there are no toilets as well!


View Larger Map