Even though Stockholm has plenty of stuff to do and see, a major part of the culture of the city is to take a trip to the Stockholm archipelago. With over 90,000 islands, it can be overwhelming on where to start. I was only in Stockholm for three days, so I was limited to where I could go just for the day. There are several great options for day trips and I narrowed down my choices to Fjäderholmarna and Vaxholm. Both are very easy to get to from Stockholm but for no reason in particular my friend and I chose to go to Vaxholm.
While you can drive to Vaxholm, ferry is definitely the way to go. Cinderella, a tour boat company, makes trips up there, but the cheaper option is the local Waxholmsbolaget ferry. Their website is fairly useless for English speakers so your best bet is to just go to where the boats leave from at Strömkajen in central Stockholm. It’s very close to the King’s Gardens and directly across the canal from Gamla Stan. The red sightseeing boats also leave from here, but walk past those to find the Waxholmsbolaget stand (the logo is blue and yellow). There is a large display sign with the departure times. I recommend going a bit early, or even checking in the day before, because in the middle of the day the boats don’t run as often. We showed up at 11am and ended up having to wait until 12 to leave. Luckily, the King’s Gardens are right there so we just sat and people watched for a bit. If you have any questions about routes or times, just go inside the booth and there is someone at the window to help you out.
Now, you do buy your ticket on the boat, so you don’t need to do anything ahead of time except be prompt. From Stockholm to Vaxholm it was 79SEK (about $9 USD) and they take card and cash. We waited until about half way through our trip to go down and buy tickets and there was only a couple of people in line. Definitely don’t wait until right before you get off because it gets way more crowded and then you delay the boat and everyone gets annoyed at you. The journey took about 90 minutes, which is a little longer than usual because we were on this awesome steamer boat from 1911. The ride is beautiful and definitely get up and walk around the boat to get different views (and find the best seats).
The boat drops off right next to Vaxholm’s main street. We didn’t really have much of a plan except we knew we wanted to eat lunch. I looked online and Vaxholms Hembygdsgards Cafe looked like the level of quaint we were after. It’s on the water and has a nice garden to eat in. However, this being late May and what is considered “shoulder” season, the cafe hadn’t yet opened up yet. So we continued our quest through the (adorable) streets of Vaxholm and found Bistro Magasinet, which has a lovely terrace and premium fort views. Plus free salad and dessert. I got fish with potatoes and kept it classy with a glass of rose.
After lunch, we spent the rest of the afternoon exploring the streets of Vaxholm. The town has a very Cape Cod vibe, which means lots of cottages, white picket fences, and lilac filled gardens.
At one point, we caught a glimpse of some people in the water next to a small, secluded beach. We basically walked through the streets in that general direction and stumbled upon a quaint little alley that look us to the water. We kept walking and found a whole park along the water, hidden from the rest of town. We noticed it was elevated compared to everything else, which we discovered was because it used to be the gun battery. There are several benches at the park to sit and enjoy the sunshine and some boat watching.
We then headed back towards town to check on return boat times and treat ourselves to some ice cream. Again, just check the board near the boat docks to check on times. After figuring out we needed to be on the 5pm return boat, we went to Glass på Hörnet, which is next to the Waxholms Hotell. Let it be known, the Scandinavians know what they are doing when it comes to ice cream. I got lemon cookie ice cream, and, whoa, was it amazing.
After ice cream, it was time to get back on the boat to Stockholm. The return ride was only about 60 minutes as we were on a newer boat this time.
A note about the Vaxholm fortress. It is definitely the most iconic thing to do in Vaxholm, but we chose to not do it as we didn’t really want to pay 80 SEK to go. I’m kind of meh about forts anyways and we preferred to spend our time seeing the town. If you do want to do the fortress, check times before you go as it changes depending on the season.
From the research I did, Vaxholm is definitely one of the more built up areas but it makes the perfect day trip and introduction to the Stockholm archipelago.