Stockholm Archipelago

The amazing Stockholm archipelago: The best islands near Stockholm to visit

The Stockholm archipelago is one of the most popular places to visit, for global visitors and Swedish locals alike. The largest cluster of islands in Sweden, and the second-largest in the Baltic Sea overall, the Stockholm archipelago is a melting pot of unique experiences and cultures.

Known as Stockholm’s skärgård the Swedes, the archipelago is one of many miniature groups of islands dotted around the coast of Sweden.

While there are around 260,000 islands located around Sweden, only around 1000 are inhabited, and the majority of those belong to the Stockholm archipelago.

Today, we’re going to introduce you to everything you need to know about the Stockholm archipelago, from the number of islands you can find in the group, to how you can visit some of the most popular locations.

What is the Stockholm archipelago?

Let’s start with the basics. The Stockholm archipelago is a unique destination off the coast of Stockholm, Sweden’s capital city. There are tens of thousands of adorable islands to explore here, as well as some of the top vacation spots for Swedish locals.

Swedes like visiting the Stockholm archipelago during the summer months to help them get away from the chaos and bustle of city life for a little while. While the Stockholm archipelago isn’t the only archipelago in Sweden, it’s the largest, with the widest range of inhabited areas to explore.

How many islands are there in Stockholm’s archipelago?

There are around 30,000 islets, rocks and islands located in the Stockholm archipelago, which runs from Landsort in the south, to Oregund in the North.

Each destination has its own unique charm and character, so you can find spaces with sandy beaches, maritime appeal, wooded forests, and rocky cliffs. There’s even the option to take a kayak between some of the islands and explore the water.

How many islands of Stockholm archipelago are located within the Stockholm municipality?

The islands in the Stockholm archipelago are named as such because they belong to the Stockholm municipality. Similar rules apply to the other archipelagos in the region. The actual number of islands in the space can be difficult to define, because it depends heavily on how you identify an “island”.

Some experts say there are around 24,000 islands here in total, while others count up to 30,000.

Do people live in the Stockholm archipelago?

The Stockholm archipelago isn’t just a popular vacation spot for Swedish locals — it’s also the place many call home.

Around 4,000 people live on the main islands within the Stockholm archipelago, including Uto, Sandhamn, Moja, Runmaro, Ljustero, Orno, Yxlan, and Bildo, according to the Swedish Country Administrative Board.

Crucially, the majority of the islands are uninhabited, so make sure you check for life before you visit.

Stockholm Archipelago

How to visit Stockholm archipelago islands

Figuring out how to get to Stockholm archipelago islands can be pretty straightforward, depending on where exactly you want to visit. Some destinations have their own bridges from the mainland, so you can drive straight over to check out the local events.

Alternatively, there are a variety of busses, trains, and other public transport options to get you around Sweden.

The most common way to visit most Stockholm archipelago islands is to take a ferry. There are usually ferries running from Stockholm and Gothenburg to many of the most popular destinations on the Stockholm islands map.

If you want to see as much of the archipelago as possible in one go, your best bet is to sign up for a Stockholm archipelago tour.

Here are some options for visiting the island:

Stockholm archipelago ferry

There are several boats serving most of the largest islands, and they depart from the Stockholm city center in most cases. The Waxholmsbolaget Company runs the most common public transport boats.

You can buy your ticket when you arrive on the boat, and we’d definitely recommend a season ticket for the length of your stay, as this can save you some extra money in the long-term.

Water taxis and day trips

If you don’t want to take a public ferry, you can find water taxi companies to take passengers out to more remote islands. This could be a good option if you’re hoping to visit some of the islands not as accessible by the main ferries and boats.

Trains and busses

Taking the bus from the north or south of Stockholm should help you to visit a number of Stockholm archipelago islands with their own bridges into the mainland. Almost all tickets will be loaded onto an SL Access card, which is a kind of smart card Swedish people use for public travel.

Check the SL homepage to plan your journey.

Stockholm archipelago cruise

If you want a bit of luxury when exploring the Stockholm archipelago, but you don’t necessarily want to spend the night on one of the islands, a cruise could be the perfect choice.

The Seabourn Stockholm archipelago cruise is one of the most comprehensive options. You can also find information about tours at your local visitor center.

Stockholm archipelago tours

Tours come in a variety of sizes depending on how you want to spend your time at Sweden’s archipelagos.

You can hop onto a boat to visit multiple locations in one day, or you can look into more action-packed alternatives, like a Stockholm archipelago kayak tour to travel between islands yourself.

Travel by car

If you want to travel by car to the islands connected to the mainland via road ferries and bridges, this is an option too. You can usually find some advice at local tourist offices if you need help on how to drive between the available islands.

The best islands on the Stockholm archipelago map

A map of the Stockholm archipelago will show you a variety of great locations to visit. However, it’s worth noting some options are definitely more popular than others.

Each destination among the Stockholm archipelago islands has its own unique benefits to offer, including great camping spots, fishing landscapes, and places for spotting wildlife.

Here are some of the best Stockholm archipelago islands to visit:

Stockholm Archipelago

1. Grinda

Frequently listed among the most beautiful of the Stockholm archipelago islands, Grinda is an ideal place to visit in the summer. The location is part of a nature reserve, so you’ll find plenty of flora and fauna to snap pictures of.

There’s also a range of almost untouched beaches with crystal-clear water where you can rest for a while and take in the views.

Grinda is great for sunbathing and swimming in the summer. There are also various activities visitors can check out here, such as kayak rentals, or volleyball courts.

Don’t forget to stock up on some delicious cinnamon buns before you leave. It only takes around 1-2 hours to visit Grinda, and there are great places to stay too, like the Hotel Grinda Wardshus.

Stockholm Archipelago
Credit: alvaroprieto

2. Utö

A small island on the Eastern side of the Stockholm archipelago, Utö is a great place to visit if you’re looking for nature.

Far removed from the bustling city of Stockholm, this island stretches along the coast of Stockholm County, and offers everything from adventurous hiking trails, to luxurious restaurants where you can try some fresh meals.

It’s only around an hour away from central Stockholm by car or ferry, and there are endless things to do. You can enjoy a Swedish Fika with freshly brewed coffee, check out the amazing beaches, go on a fishing tour, or even hire a moped to check out some of the beaches.

You can find some options for accommodation in the Stockholm archipelago such as Hostel Utö, here.

Stockholm Archipelago

3. Vaxholm

The capital of the Stockholm archipelago, Vaxholm is considered a gateway to the history of Sweden. There are tons of museums and galleries to explore if you want to learn more about the region.

For those who prefer sight-seeing, the pastel-colored wooden homes around Vaxholm are definitely enough to take your breath away.

Vaxholm offers a number of restaurants and cafes where people can enjoy a spot to eat before travelling back to the mainland. You can even visit from the roadways into the Swedish mainland, so there’s no need to take any boats or ferries.

Try the Waxholms boutique hotel for a unique experience when visiting the island.

Stockholm Archipelago
Credit: Bengt Nyman

4. Ljusterö

Situated in the northern part of Stockholm’s archipelago, Ljusterö is a great place to visit if you’re looking for well-preserved historical environments and architecture.

You’ll be able to check out beautiful farmlands, visit local nature reserves, and even rent bikes to cycle along the coast.

The location is pretty popular during the summer months among locals, because it’s convenient to travel to (about an hour from Stockholm by car). There’s also a range of activities available for visitors, like tennis, golf, boating and even sunbathing.

Hotels can be a little tricky to come by, but you can always try hiring an Airbnb or this holiday home.

Stockholm Archipelago
Credit: Brianna Laugher

5. Svartsö

Located a little further away from Stockholm than some of the islands on this list, Svartsö will take a little longer on the ferry to visit, but it’s definitely worth the time.

The destination is widely regarded as one of the greenest in the Stockholm archipelago, with tons of forested areas to explore if you like getting out into the wilderness.

In summer, you’ll have countless trails to explore and bike through. It’s also worth visiting as summer turns to autumn, as it’s beautiful to watch the trees change color. There’s only a handful of around 100 people living at Svartsö, so you’re not going to have to worry about crowds.

Check out this Svartsö hostel for accommodations.

Stockholm Archipelago
Credit: Bengt Nyman

6. Moja

One of the most popular islands in the archipelago for boaters and travelers alike. Moja is easy to access via ferry, and it’s a great place to consider visiting if you’re looking for a traditional experience in Sweden.

The idyllic island is lined with tiny villages to explore, as well as some wonderful harbors where you can still go fishing.

The Moja landscape is packed with rich cultural heritage and history. You’ll be able to find a couple of hotels to stay at in this region, but you might struggle to find anything too luxurious.

Stockholm Archipelago

7. Fjäderholmarna

Don’t be put off by the complicated name, Fjäderholmarna is a beautiful and accessible location in the Stockholm archipelago — well worth a visit. You can visit the island within 20 minutes on a ferry, making it one of the easiest islands to get to.

In the main island, there are stores and cafes where you can grab a bite to eat.

When you’re ready to go exploring, check out the shore, where you’ll see the boats bobbing along on the crystal-clean water. You can also find a range of artists’ studios in Fjäderholmarna where you’ll be able to get your hands on a unique gift, or something special to take home.

Try Hotel J for local accommodation with breakfast included.

Stockholm Archipelago
Credit: Bengt Nyman

8. Arholma

A legendary island in the Stockholm archipelago, Arholma is a place located towards the northern part of the island cluster, within the Norrtälje Municipality. What makes this destination particularly special is its vibrant cultural community, and beautiful maritime towns.

There are lots of well-preserved houses and farms to explore, as well as various places to check out nature.

Arholma is a great place to go if you want to hire your own boat for a while. You can also check out the local nature reserve, managed by the Archipelago Foundation. Here you might spot some deer, as well as various different kinds of birds and other grazing wildlife.

Enjoy an interesting cabin-style experience at Arholma Nord if you’re spending the night.

Stockholm Archipelago
Credit: Hey Tiffany!

9. Ornö

The largest island in the southern half of Stockholm’s archipelago, Ornö is situated close to the equally popular island of Utö. To visit, you’ll need to hop on the ferry known as “Ebba’s Dream”, named after the countess Ebba Stenbock.

Ornö has an abundance of wildlife to explore, and there are plenty of cycling trails if you want to check out some of the unspoiled wooded areas.

We’d definitely recommend dedicating some time to the local museums and libraries, where you can get an insight into Swedish culture. It’s also worth taking a look at this archipelago in winter, as there are some great skiing destinations too.

The Ornö Skärgårdshotell hotel is a good place to stay if you’re looking for accommodations.

Stockholm Archipelago

10. Sandhamn

Otherwise known as Sandön, Sandhamn is a decent way away from Stockholm, but it’s worth the journey if you’re looking for a great experience. Getting the ferry will take about 2 hours, and it will give you an excellent opportunity to soak up some stunning sights on the way.

You’ll be able to view a number of the Stockholm archipelago islands as you sail past.

Sandhamn combines the standard Baltic Island landscape you’d expect from Sweden with a little unique flair. You’ll find a high number of beautiful restaurants and café destinations to explore while you’re relaxing at Sandhamn.

Have a look at the Sandhamn Segalarhotell if you need a place to stay.

Stockholm Archipelago
Credit: Robert Nyman

11. Runmarö

Widely regarded as the “author’s island”, Runmarö is one of the easiest islands to visit in the Stockholm archipelago. The lively location is full of beautiful nature, known for inspiring countless artists.

The boat trip to Runmarö from Stavnas only takes 10 minutes, and boats go all around the year. In summer, the meadows contain more than 27 different species of orchards.

Runmarö has its own collection of nine lakes, as well as the magical silver swamp. There are tons of things to do when you visit too, such as renting kayaks, checking out theatre performances, or just exploring a range of bakeries and shops.

Check out Idöborg cottage rental for an interesting place to stay.

Stockholm Archipelago
Credit: Bengt Nyman

12. Gällno

Though sometimes considered one of the stranger islands in the Stockholm archipelago thanks to its unusual layout, Gällno is a destination well-worth a visit while you’re in the area. There are various protected natural anchorages, as well as a beautiful and well-preserved landscape to hike through.

You’ll find beautiful huts in traditional Swedish colors and hills for rambling too.

There’s also a very small hotel in the region which only has one room, so you’ll probably have to consider going back to the mainland if you’re going to be staying somewhere overnight. You can also hop from Gällno to Karklo if you want to check out some local agriculture.

What to do when visiting the Stockholm archipelago

As you can see from our list of Stockholm archipelago islands above, there are plenty of different things to do depending on where you’re going to be visiting. We’d definitely recommend brushing up on some of the activities in the local area before you arrive.

In general, some of the most common activities you’ll encounter include:

Stockholm archipelago tours

If you want to learn about the Stockholm archipelago islands, you can sign up for a tour where a local will walk you around and provide insights on your Stockholm islands map.

Tours are frequently included when you pay for a Stockholm archipelago cruise, but you can also purchase tour tickets elsewhere.

Museums

Most of the islands in the Stockholm archipelago will have their own museum or historical destination to visit. Here, you can learn about the history of Sweden, as well as exploring specific topics like art or science.

Kayaking

Kayaking is one of the most common ways to get from one island in the Stockholm archipelago to another. You can also use a kayak to check out some of the beautiful, crystal-clear waters around Sweden.

Hiking

The majority of the islands in the Stockholm archipelago will have their own dedicated hiking trails. You can find picturesque meadows and forests, shorelines and mountains, or anything else you can think of.

It’s definitely worth booking a hiking tour if you’re a beginner, to ensure you don’t end up in danger.

Cycling

Swedes, like many people within the Scandinavian region, love cycling. If you want to explore a lot of an island, and you don’t feel like walking everywhere, you can usually hire a bike from the tourist spots in your chosen island.

Eat and drink

You’ll have no trouble finding cafes, restaurants, and other ding spots on most of the archipelago islands you visit. Most are home to amazing local dishes, as well as fantastic fresh fish and seafood.

If you want a real taste of what life in Sweden is all about, get yourself a great meal.

Remember to try soaking up the culture too. There are plenty of people in the islands who will be happy to chat with you and share information about the Swedish way of life.

Visit the Stockholm archipelago

If you love the idea of visiting Sweden, but you want to go a little outside of the mainland and Stockholm, visiting the Stockholm archipelago could be an amazing opportunity.

Among this unique selection of islands, you’ll discover endless things to do and see, as well as tons of opportunities for learning, and relaxing.

Remember to plan your trip in advance, and take your time to figure out which transportation options you’re going to use, and where you’re going to stay. If you plan correctly, you’re sure to have a magical trip throughout the islands of Sweden.

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