Stockholm Waterworld

Stockholm is built on 14 islands linked together by 57 bridges. It is bordered to the west by the huge Lake Mälaren and to the east by an archipelago of thousands of islands. Here are some tips on the best way to experience this watery paradise.

City center kayak

Start your trip in Pålsundet, a tranquil sound lined by leafy trees and beautiful old wooden boats. Continue past the old Reimersholme distilleries, around the island of Långholmen and out into Riddarfjärden. Ahead you will see Stadshuset, with its crown-topped tower, an iconic Stockholm landmark.

Långholmen is in the center of Stockholm between the larger islands of Kungsholmen and Södermalm. It was once a notorious prison island. Today it's a green lung and one of the most popular destinations in the city for swimmers attracted by the rocky points, jetties, sandy beach and large grassed areas.

Långholmen is a perfect place from which to discover the city from the water. It takes around an hour or so to paddle way around Långholmen and the neighboring island of Reimersholme at a gentle pace.

You can also extend your outing by stopping off at one of the many restaurants and bars along the waterfront, such as Cul de Sac in Gröndal, a charming, hippie chic café or the Caribbean jetty bar Loopen Marina at Hornstull.

Other eating options include the former prison on Långholmen, which now contains a hotel, youth hostel, café and inn. While the cozy garden cafe Stora Henriksvik serves home-baked cakes and light lunches on a veranda with views of the water. In the fall, the menu includes vegetables, berries and fruit harvested from the 18th Century café gardens. Or you can take a picnic and find your own favorite spot on one of the many rocky outcrops on Långholmen.

Getting there

Långholmen is situated between Kungsholmen and Södermalm. The closest metro station is Hornstull. The 4, 66 and 54 buses also stop close by. Rent kayaks from langholmenkajak.se

Castle cruise

It's hard to imagine a more appropriate way to approach Skokloster Castle, which sits majestically on the shores of Lake Mälaren between Stockholm and Uppsala, than by boat. This indeed was how guests arrived in the 17th Century.


Skokloster is one of the largest baroque castles in Sweden, with 80 rooms and one of the world's most important 17th Century museums. It was built during Sweden's golden age, commissioned by Count Carl Gustaf Wrangel and today you can see the count's bedroom, dining room and the other rooms exactly as they looked over 350 years ago.

Children particularly enjoy the photography point where visitors can dress in 17th Century frills and wigs.

The guided cruise here is an experience in itself. The boat trip takes 3.5 hours, starting from the City Hall in central Stockholm, and heads through Mälaren, Sweden's third largest lake. There are countless sights to see along the way including manor houses, swing bridges, ancient monuments, several more castles, including Rosersberg and Drottningholm and beautiful nature.

During the voyage, there's time to catch some sun on deck and enjoy a classic (if expensive) coffee and cinnamon bun. Along the way, knowledgeable guide Emma Frid explains Stockholm architecture, the growth of the suburbs around the capital and the medieval trading town of Sigtuna.

There are several other places worth seeing in the area, such as Skokloster kyrka, the second oldest brick church in Sweden.

And in Bålsta you'll find Åbergs Museum, which contains art, cartoons and toys plus one of the world's best collections of Disney artifacts.
The boat makes several stops along the way, including Sigtuna, a fascinating small town with a remarkable history.

The castle cafe serves pastries, sandwiches and lunches. You can eat in the old kitchen or outside in the castle grounds. Other places to eat here include Sjövillans café and Macken, a former gas station with a simple café and restaurant.

Getting there

Strömma operates the Stockholm-Skokloster Castle route daily in summer. You can also get there by train and bus from Stockholm.

Archipelago escape

The Stockholm archipelago has over 24,000 islands, islets and skerries. To get a good feel for the area, one of the best islands you can visit is Gällnö, an un-spoilt island in the central archipelago.

The island has classic red and white houses surrounded by lilac arbors, cow pens and meadows. It's a 15-minute walk to Gällnö village from the harbor along a car-free gravel path, past a well-preserved human sculpted landscape with livestock grazing freely in lush meadows.

The natural place to meet in Gällnö is at the Gällnö Bar, under some gnarled apple trees by the little marina. This summer restaurant has a barbecue in the gardens and tables on the jetty. The adjacent general store and delightful café enhance the feeling of having landed in a Swedish summer idyll. In the bar, you'll see old wooden wine chests, beer from the Nynäshamn steam brewery, homemade elderflower cordial and “A Midsummer Night's Dream” with gin, Gällnö lilac and sweet wine.

A little further away is the youth hostel. It has been voted the best youth hostel in Sweden. The main part of the hostel is in the island's old school and it is styled with old school memorabilia and wild flowers. In the old teacher's quarters one floor up, you’ll find the smallest hotel in the archipelago, the single room Frans August, named after Herr Frans August Hermansson who donated the land to the island school in 1902.

The youth hostel cabins nearby are the epitome of rural Sweden, painted in traditional red and white and backing on to pine tree copses and meadows.

On the 4km Gällnöstigen trail you can learn more about the history of the island and its flora and fauna. At Torsviken there's a well-preserved giant hole in the rock, formed during the last Ice Age 10,000 years ago.

If you fancy a swim, you'll find a sandy beach and rocky points. There's also a very hot sauna and football pitch on the island.

For eating, the delightful archipelago restaurant is worth a trip in its own right. There's also a charming cafe and a summer bar here

Getting there

The Cinderella and Waxholmsbolaget boats both go to Gällnö. The journey takes about 90 minutes.

More archipelago islands


A vibrant archipelago island with plenty of things to do and see. There's a food store, dance floor and several lovely restaurants and cafés to choose from. Möja has an idyllic country road running from north to south that's perfect for cycling. Don't miss stopping at Wikströms fisk in Ramsmora, which serves its own catch, straight from the water.



Fjäderholmarna is the closest group of archipelago islands to Stockholm. The journey from Slussen in the center of town takes less than 30 minutes. Once here you'll find delightful archipelago restaurants, places to swim, a Viking tavern, brewery, old boats, arts and crafts stores and a chocolate maker.



Winding cycle paths, wild nature, cozy restaurants, the best bakery in the archipelago and wide, sandy beaches – Utö in the southern archipelago has all the ingredients for an idyllic summer holiday. If you want to stay the night, accommodation ranges from youth hostels and cottages to hotels. Seafood restaurant Båtshaket on the neighboring island of Ålö is well worth a detour. Rent a bike at the tourist office or Cykelboden in the harbor and pedal there.


More watery adventures

Thousand island cruise

Join a full day tour through the best of the Stockholm archipelago. The cruise includes lunch, afternoon coffee and dinner.


Amphibious tours

Combine land and sea on a sightseeing trip through central Stockholm on an amphibious bus. An eye-catching way to travel, to say the least.


Steamboat to Mariefred

Take a trip on the S/S Mariefred, a 100-year old steamboat, along Lake Mälaren to Mariefred, a delightful small town and Gripsholm Castle.


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