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.

 

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.