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How to visit the Stockholm archipelago by boat? We tell you all about it!

stockholm eau

When we were planning our stay in Stockholm, we quickly realized that it was a city that looked out over the Baltic Sea. We’d also seen reports extolling the beauty of theStockholm archipelago. We were really looking forward to exploring this corner of Sweden, with its many islets and colorful wooden houses surrounded by greenery.

So we carefully planned our boat trips, with the help of expatriate friends in the Swedish capital. Below, we detail the different options for exploring the Stockholm archipelago by boat, and what we think of them.

Stockholm archipelago

How to visit the Stockholm archipelago by boat? [carte]

Spread over 14 islands, Stockholm is also known as the Venice of the North. TheStockholm archipelago has around 25,000! So it’s not a fjord like many in Norway, but an archipelago of islands.

We learned from our guide on the free walking tour that anything that sticks out of the water and isn’t covered by the tide is considered an island.

You have several options for visiting the Stockholm archipelago by boat, depending on how much time you want to devote to this activity. If you’re in a hurry, you can opt for an organized cruise or a short tour with the public ferry buses.

If you’d like to devote 1 day to the Stockholm archipelago, you can opt for a boat rental or take a private company to the nearest island, Vaxholm, or to Grinda. We’ll explain it all below!

Guided archipelago cruise

By boat

To save time, you can opt for an all-organized cruise lasting 2.5 hours, which will give you lovely views of Stockholm and take you deep into its verdant archipelago.

Your guide will tell you all about the Swedish capital and its beautiful archipelago. This is an excellent option if you only want to devote a few hours to this activity.

This is the quickest and easiest option, even if it can get crowded depending on the season. It’s worth noting that, even if some routes are frozen, others remain open all year round, so you can take a cruise during your stay in Stockholm in winter.

We have fond memories of this cruise among the islands of the Baltic Sea.

By amphibious bus

We discovered these amazing buses that run through the center of Stockholm. You won’t want to miss these big buses painted with a blue or pink whale effigy, which roll through the city streets and then transform into a “boat” for a cruise along the coast of Södermalm Island.

We looked it up online, and for 1 hour the bus takes you through the streets of Stockholm and its archipelago. According to the reviews, it’s a surprisingly pleasant experience. If you try it out, let us know what you think in the comments.

Bus boat with public transport

Given the exorbitant price of a ticket (€3.5), we opted for a 72-hour package with unlimited access to all public transport and ferries. They are used like boat buses, connecting the islands to each other.

So we took advantage of the opportunity to take a short tour on the boat bus to test things out. This requires a bit of organization, as the first trip didn’t take us anywhere near where we wanted to go.

We’ll tell you all about it (route in pink on our map), bus 82 took us from the historic center (Slussen kajen stop) to the Tivoli Grona Land amusement park (Allmänna gränd stop), on the museum island of Djaurgarden. You can also stop off to visit Stockholm’s various museums, including the Vasa Museum and Skansen Park.

We then took the 80 bus to the Frihamnen terminal. The weather was great, and it was a pleasant little 30-minute stroll (so very quick). We saw some beautiful houses, moais, and even a giraffe! But we didn’t get deep enough into the archipelago for our liking.

If you don’t want to bother figuring out how public transport works and avoid making mistakes like we did, you can opt for the multi-stop buses and/or boats that will take you straight to the sights in Stockholm. You can get on and off the bus/boat as you please.

Day trip from Stockholm to the island of Vaxholm

I (Floriane) took this option on my first city trip to Stockholm. This is one of the must-do activities around Stockholm. To get to Vaxholm from Stockholm, Waxholmsbolaget ferries run regular services between several islands in the archipelago, including Vaxholm and Gringa.

Payment is made on the boat. The terminal from which the company’s ferries depart is “Strömkajen” (orange dot on our map), south of the Norrmalm district and next to the Gamla Stan district.

Vaxholm: Stockholm’s closest island

Vaxholm is the best-known and closest island, about 1 hour by boat from the historic center. We advise you to take a close look at the online timetables on the company’s website, as it’s not easy to find your way around on site. (ticket price approx. €15, to be paid on board by credit card).

Once there, you can visit the small town of Vaxholm and its fortress, then head along the coast to explore part of this wild island. Weather permitting, you can take advantage of the opportunity to swim on one of Stockholm’s most beautiful beaches. The colorful wooden houses are always beautifully decorated. We loved wandering around this natural, verdant setting. You can even pick a few berries for a well-deserved break. Sweden is definitely a delight for nature lovers. Allow 1 day for this getaway!

Day cruise in the archipelago

If you don’t feel like organizing this excursion yourself, you can also opt for a day cruise around the archipelago aboard a magnificent sailboat (max. 10 people).

Getaway on Grinda Island

We had hesitated with Grinda Island (same company), which is further away (2 hours from the center of Stockholm, including a 4-hour round trip), as it is possible to rent kayaks to circumnavigate the island. Here’s some information shared by an expat friend (thanks, Coline, if you’re passing by) that we’re keeping preciously for our next stay in Stockholm. Boats depart from this point (shown in purple on our map)

Private boat rental

The best thing to do is hire a private boat, so you can explore the archipelago at your own pace and enjoy a swim (if you’re not too chilly) in complete peace and quiet.

Don’t panic if you are new to sailing, you can rent a boat with or without a license and with or without a skipper. In short, you’re bound to find a formula to suit your needs.

To rent your boat, we recommend that you use the Samboat platform. It’s very simple, they have the most complete offer of boat rental and their website is very easy to use!

You enter your“Stockholm” location, then your dates, then you can filter by type of boat (motorboats, houseboats, small boats…), with or without a license, with or without a skipper: in short, you’re spoilt for choice.

Stockholm archipelago

Where to sleep in Stockolm?

To get the most out of your stay, we recommend that you sleep in the Norrmalm and Östermalm districts of Stockholm. For smaller budgets, the Södermalm district may be a good alternative.

Our best addresses

Favourite ♥: Hotel Birger Jarl, Noormalm district (the best place to sleep in our opinion): the hotel’s location is perfect for visiting central Stockholm on foot. In a beautiful, completely renovated building, our accommodation was spacious with a mini fridge and carefully decorated, excellent value for money where you’ll feel right at home. We would definitely go back.

Cheap € : City Backpackers Hostel, a nicely decorated youth hostel, certainly the best value for money in Stockholm, €75 for a double room in the trendy Sodermalm district (one of our favorites). I stayed there on my first visit to Stockholm (Floriane).

We wish you an excellent trip, and don’t miss Stockholm’s museums, where you can learn while having fun (yes, it’s possible)!

Feel free to leave us a quick note or 5 stars below, to tell us if you’re planning this trip, to ask any questions you may have, here or on Instagram, we’ll get back to you with great pleasure.

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My name is Floriane, and I've been an adventurer and travel enthusiast since I was very young. More than anything, I love sharing our travel stories and tips with you. We love short getaways as well as long trips. This blog was born after our backpacking trip around the world. We also went on a family tour of Europe.
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