Stockholm's archipelago is simply brimming with fantastic nature, pleasant atmosphere and great food, so what could possibly be better than setting out and discovering some of the best islands in Stockholm? Different islands offer different experiences – some hide authentic archipelago communities far removed from the bustle of the big city, surrounded by enchanting forests and fishing waters, while others boast a broad range of restaurants, colourful nightclubs and intimate pubs.

    If you don't want to stray too far from the city, you can simply take a boat out for a half-day adventure in the sun. Or perhaps you'd rather set off for a whole weekend away from the mainland, surrounded by ancient history and gorgeous nature?

    1

    Vaxholm

    Enjoy the archipelago even when time is short

    Vaxholm is often called the capital of the Stockholm Archipelago and this seems like a fitting title given all that the tiny town has to offer. The idyllic small-town vibe and the many old houses, charming streets, enticing cafés and welcoming restaurants attract numerous visitors each year. The island is also home to Vaxholm Fortress (Vaxholms Fästning) where you can learn all about the area's history.

    Vaxholm's location close to the centre of Stockholm makes it the perfect place to visit if you're short on time. You can reach the town in just 40 minutes by car from the centre of Stockholm. Alternatively, a more exciting way to reach the island is to hop on board a boat at Strömkajen Ferry Terminal, in which case you can expect a journey time of around about an hour.

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    2

    Sandhamn

    Nightlife and nature at the far reaches of the archipelago

    Sandhamn, despite the slightly farther distance away from Stockholm, is a popular archipelago destination with plenty to see and do as well as a vibrant nightlife. The island sits on the outer band of the archipelago and can be reached in a few hours by boat from the capital. Once there, you'll find an idyllic island community with charming shops, restaurants and cafés as well as some fantastic beaches, excellent bathing rocks and gorgeous pine forests. Walk along one of the hiking trails, enjoy a picnic on the sun-kissed rocks or simply settle down on one of the beautiful sandy beaches you can find all around the island.

    Sandholm is often associated with life, movement and festivities. Dance the night away in a night club or sip on a drink in a cosy piano bar.

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    3

    Möja

    Breathe in some fresh air on a genuine, old-timey island

    Peaceful Möja is a great place to enjoy a genuine archipelago experience replete with gorgeous nature and a slower pace of life on an island which is still very much alive. Möja is one of the larger islands and boasts hundreds of permanent residents as well as a school, a post office, shops, several restaurants, a church, a local history museum, guest harbours and several types of accommodation.

    The island is the perfect spot to relax with much focus being placed on paddling, hiking and cycling rather than late nights in busy pubs. The forests are also rich in berries, and many visitors come for the great fishing spots around the island. Möja's location at the outer reaches of the archipelago's centre means that the boat journey from Stockholm takes approximately 3 hours.

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    4

    Utö

    Enjoy endless views and incredible bathing spots

    The popular island of Utö attracts many visitors with its great bathing spots, delicious food and fantastic accommodations with unbeatable views. The island also has a history of mining and military activities which you can learn all about at the Mining and Local History Museum (Gruv- och Hembygdsmuseet). For an incredible view over the island and the sea, climb up to the top of the windmill.

    Utö is also a great island for exploring by bicycle. You can go from north to south in just about an hour. Stop off at Gruvbyn (lit. Mine Town) for a bite to eat before rounding off the day with a dip at one of the sandy beaches on the southern part of the island. Utö can be reached from central Stockholm in just less than 3 hours.

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    5

    Finnhamn

    Swim, hike and shop organic

    Finnhamn is a classic of the archipelago and any visit here is sure to lead to incredible nature, a refreshing dip and great food. Craggy rocks, pine forests and oak groves await, with plenty of opportunity to enjoy a swim in salt water, gorgeous hiking trails and exciting cycle routes. Many who come to the island choose to rent a canoe and set off to explore this beautiful environment from the water.

    Finnhamn is also home to an organic farm shop where you can pick up some organic veggies and homemade delicacies to enjoy at the weekends. Finnhamn's location on the outer reaches of the archipelago means that the boat trip from central Stockholm will take about 2 and 1/2 hours.

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    6

    Grinda

    Explore nature, historic landscapes and architecture near Stockholm

    Grinda's unique nature and close proximity to central Stockholm (just an hour away by boat) make it one of the most popular islands in the archipelago. The entire island is a nature reserve and home to agriculture, animal husbandry, rocky outcrops and both deciduous and pine forests where you can enjoy relaxing walks. The island is great for families with kids as there are lots of animals such as hens, cows and sheep to look at as well as plenty of swimming spots, both from the beach and from rocks.

    Grinda also offers opportunities to appreciate interesting architecture. For example, check out one of the archipelago's biggest and most beautiful stone houses in art nouveau style, which is currently home to Grinda Guest House (Grinda Wärdshus).

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    7

    Kymmendö

    Experience classic archipelago vibes in a picturesque environment

    Kymmendö can boast varied nature, rural charm and small-scale vibes far from the stress and bustle of the city. The island is a proper archipelago island in every sense of the term with living agriculture, grazing horses and sheep, multiple wet meadows and gorgeous flowering meadows as well as some beautiful hazel and oak hills. The island's single combined shop and restaurant only opens in the summer, so if you're visiting off season be sure to pack a picnic basket and enjoy your lunch outside on the island.

    In the spring, summer and autumn months, you can reach Kymmendö via the Vaxholm Ferry from Dalarö. In the winter the only way to get here is by taxi boat, provided the water hasn't frozen over!

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    photo by Ankara (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified

    8

    Fjäderholmarna

    Escape the crowds without leaving the city too far behind

    Fjäderholmarna is the closest archipelago island to the city and a great place to enjoy beautiful environments, tranquil bathing spots and great cafés. Located just 20 minutes away from Nybrokajen, this island is the perfect destination for an archipelago day trip. You'll find tranquil rocks where you can sunbathe and swim all around the island and if you feel like something to eat or drink on your visit, you won't be hard pressed to find just what you want, whether that's a hearty meal or just a gelato.

    Fjäderholmarna can also boast its very own chocolate factory where you can sample some handmade pralines. The island is also home to a number of craft stores and workshops selling products made from wool, glass and clay.

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    9

    Svartsö

    Visit a lively archipelago island rich in cultural offerings

    The pastoral island of Svartsö is a relatively large island with hotels, eateries, shops and a school. A good way to explore the island is to lace up your shoes for a hike or a run, or why not rent a bicycle and whiz past meadows, lakes and pastures speckled with grazing animals? If you're visiting in the depths of winter, strap on a pair of cross-country skis for a unique exploration experience. Culture vultures will find that Svartsö offers plenty of concerts, lectures and exhibitions as well as a culture week which takes place every summer.

    Svartsö is located in the central part of the Stockholm Archipelago. The journey here takes about 2 and 1/2 hours from central Stockholm by boat.

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    photo by Guillaume Baviere (CC BY-SA 2.0) modified

    10

    Arholma

    Discover history and adventure on an authentic archipelago island

    Arholma is one of the biggest and more well known islands in the Stockholm Archipelago with genuine architecture, several interesting sights and some great cycle and walking trails, not to mention craggy rocks and sandy beaches for a dip. Sights include coastal batteries and rock shelters which hark back to days gone by when the island was used for defence purposes and are sure to intrigue history buffs. Or if it's more adrenaline you're after, check out the island's zipline or whoosh your way along mountain biking trails in the forest.

    Arholma is located in the northern section of the Stockholm Archipelago and is served daily by boats from Simpnäs. The journey takes just 15 minutes. Boats also run from central Stockholm and Norrtälje in the spring and summer months.

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