A day trip to Vaxholm – Stockholm archipelago

Summertime in Stockholm is perfect for exploring the archipelago. With almost 30,000 islands and regular ferries to most, choosing the perfect island can be difficult.

Last weekend, I had visited Grinda – a really pretty and quiet island about two hours away. This time, K was also coming along and we decided that Vaxholm, also known as the capital of the archipelago, would be a nice island to explore – as his first visit to the archipelago!

Although Vaxholm is an island, it’s connected by land from Stockholm. This means that it can be reached by road as well as by ferry. We decided to skip the ferry this time and take the car instead. When traveling with Mia, driving is always easier biut I totally recommend taking the ferry for the real archipelago experience. There are also local buses that connect Stockholm and Vaxholm.

The journey took just under an hour. Driving in Sweden is very pleasant as there is hardly any traffic during the weekends, especially on Sundays. Parking in Vaxholm was also painless. There are a number of paid parking lots all around the town centre that allow parking anyway between 2-8 hours and more.

Vaxholm is a lovely little island, dotted with cafes, shops and colourful houses. It’s very different from Grinda and some of the other islands in that it’s more inhabited. It’s definitely more built up and is more town-ish as compared to Grinda, which was definitely more remote and open. So if you are looking for something more forested with hiking trails, pick another island. But if you’re after a nice place to stroll while people watching and lunching, Vaxholm is the place!

There are a ton of cafes and ice cream shops overlooking the harbour. Some of the side streets house quaint shops selling pottery and home knick knacks – my favourite when it comes to browsing.

Vaxholm Fortress

Just across from the harbour, is the imposing Vaxholm Fortress. Built in the 16th century by the head of state, Svante Nilsson, the fortress was meant to thwart attacks on Stockholm via the strait. The fortress can be visited via a ferry that leaves at regular intervals from Vaxholm.

For lunch, we picked a bistro called Magasinet (dog friendly of course) – a recommendation from a friend. It houses a home store as well as a cafe on the terrace, with lovely views of the water. The atmosphere was very relaxed and the food was lovely. We shared the quintessential Swedish starter, toast skagen (creamy prawns/shrimp served on toast) and a chicken sandwich. Both were finger-licking good.

After lunch, we browsed around in the store and came out with a hand woven carpet and a nice new bust for my French antique table!

Having completed two very essential jobs – eating & shopping, we decided it was time to just stroll around the island and take in the beautiful views. We walked over to the Batteriparken, for some lovely views. For a while Mia contemplated whether making a dive for the water from the hill would be a good idea. But I’m glad that better sense prevailed and she stuck to watching the waves with us instead!

We checked out some more of the town before stopping for fika (coffee break) in one of the many cafes. Only later I read about the famous Hembygdsgårds café which offers the most amazing range of cakes and pastries. Ah well, another time perhaps!

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