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The Stockholm archipelago: Your guide to Sweden’s secret world of islands

GUIDE: Unique in size, number of islands and accessibility, the archipelago of Sweden is a must-see if you pass by the Nordic. And it's likely you'll have the better part of an island to yourself -- curiously few ever venture outside the boundaries of Stockholm. The Traveling Reporter has picked out the five best islands in Stockholm's archipelago to get you started.

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As summer approaches, recreational skippers from all over head to their laid-up boats and yachts along the country’s long coastline to wash, polish, repair and prepare their vessels for the upcoming high season. The boating and sailing community in Sweden is alive and prosperous, with tens of thousands of small vessels that every summer head out in the archipelago to find peace and serenity.

möja, moja island, in stockholm's archipelago

A fishing boat at the island of Möja. Photo: Erik Bergin

But judging from numerous trips around the great collection of islands just an hour or two away from Stockholm, rather few tourists ever venture outside the boundaries of the capital. That’s too bad, for it is both easy and rewarding to set aside a day or two for a field trip into what could be described as one of the world’s largest and most unique archipelagos.

 

A Waxholmsbolaget ferry makes a call.

The Stockholm archipelago consists of somewhere between 30.000 and 35.000 islands, a world unique environment spread over a vast area stretching from Arholma in the north, featuring a former military base turned into a museum, to Landsort with its landmark lighthouse in the south. A large part of the waters in between is covered by two commuter cruise lines, Waxholmsbolaget and Strömma, the later running its ferries under the brand name Cinderellabåtarna (Cinderella Boats).

These two ferry companies – of which at least Waxholmsbolaget, named after idyllic summer hotspot Vaxholm just north of Stockholm, is operating all year around as long as ice conditions during winter aren’t too bad – are a lifeline for residents among the islands. But the ferries also open up this secret world to visitors.

 

With the main ferry departures and arrivals hub located in the middle of Stockholm City, at the Strömkajen jetty at a bay called Nybroviken, there are really no good reasons – other than bad weather – for visitors not to take the chance to experience this place of beauty and tranquility. Ferries are fast enough for day trips, but there are several hostels and even a few good hotels with restaurants that can keep you satisfied over a weekend.

To get you started, below are some of the most visited destinations, each with its own speciality. More information on how to travel around the islands can be found at Visit Skärgården (Visit the Archipelago). Waxholmsbolaget and Cinderellabåtarna also offer information in English, including details on all major destinations in the archipelago.

More: 5 Best Destinations

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The editor of the Traveling Reporter works as a business news editor, and is a frequent traveler. When not doing any of that, he spends time on his boat and tries to figure out where to travel next. Two of his top destinations are the Philippines and San Francisco. Email Erik! Follow the Traveling Reporter at Stumbleupon, Tumblr, Chime In, Pinterest, Google+, Weibo, Storify, Facebook, Traveldudes, Myspace.