Which Stockholm Archipelago Tour is Best?

With thousands of islands in the Stockholm archipelago, narrowing them down for a day trip is challenging!  Most websites mention how incredible a Stockholm archipelago cruise is, but few bother pointing you in the right directionin a single guide.

I figured if I had to spend hours looking into all my options, I might as well share what I learned.  I hope this guide helps you choose the perfect tour or ferry.

stockholm archipelago scenery
Photo by fhwrdh via Flickr.com (used with permission)

Why go on a Stockholm archipelago tour?

First and foremost, most travel guides recommend going on a Stockholm archipelago cruise for the scenery.  That means as long as you go out far enough from town, you’ll likely experience the natural beauty of the estimated 24,000 islands.

But this is also a great place for outdoor-based sightDOING like hiking, kayaking, fishing, and more.  Not your speed?  There are also cute villages, great restaurants, and beaches for swimming and sunbathing.

If you love smaller towns and summers outside, don’t miss Skelleftea in northern Sweden.  It’s a great contrast to Stockholm!

How long should you spend in the Stockholm archipelago?

Consensus is clear: don’t go on the shortest trip (to Fjäderholmarna).  If you’re only on the water for half an hour, you’ll get lovely views of Stockholm, but little of the charm of the archipelago itself.

Several islands make good day trips; in some cases, you might even be able to stop on two in one day.  Other islands have hotels and amenities for overnight stays, something to consider if you have the time.

Where should you start?

stockholm archipelago map
Map by Lidingo via Wikimedia; used with permission

Most tourists choose an island in the central archipelago because it’s closest to Stockholm and thus a little easier/quicker to reach.  There are lots of great options here and reviews of the scenic boat trips are also great overall.

The southern Stockholm archipelago gets fewer visitors, but has some stand-out destinations, like Landshort, so you might want to consider it.  The scenic cruises here are also recommended.

Lastly, the northern archipelago looks different from a visual standpoint.  The islands aren’t packed in as densely, so there’s more open sea.  You’ll get grander vistas instead of narrow sounds.  One isn’t better than the other, but if you’re prone to seasickness, you’ll want to go during good weather to avoid potential sea swells.

The Top Stockholm Archipelago Tours

The two main ways to reach the Stockholm archipelago are with Stromma “Cinderella boats” or Waxholmsholmsbolaget’s boats.  Both offer different options from guided tour to passenger ferry

Archipelago Tour (no stops)

Time Commitment: 3 hours
Price: 270 SEK
This tour is included if you purchased an all-inclusive Stockholm Pass!

If you’re looking for a quick way to see the scenery in the Stockholm, this option will show off a beautiful route through the islands with guided commentary (including English-speaking tours).  The route roughly mirrors the trip to Vaxholm, with a little lingering and detours.  Although you won’t step foot on any islands, you’ll have extra time to spend back in Stockholm.

Vaxholm

Time Commitment: 50 minutes (each way)
Price: 75 SEK (each way) on the ferry or 270 SEK for a round-trip with commentary onboard
This tour is included if you purchased an all-inclusive Stockholm Pass!

vaxholm fortress stockholm archipelago cruise
Vaxholm Fort (photo by cbsahin via Wikimedia; used with permission)

Vaxholm is a popular choice since it’s an easy ferry ride and you can even take the bus back if you’re tight on money.  Once you’re in town, you’ll love the narrow lanes and wooden buildings, but the best known attraction is the Vaxholm Fortress (Fästning).  This is also a great place to find a fishing charter or to join a sailing expedition.

Grinda

Time Commitment: 1 hour 20 minutes (each way)
Price: 150 SEK (each way) on the ferry

Continuing past Vaxholm to Grinda leads to more striking scenery, making it worth the extra time if you can spare it.  Once you’re on the island, you can try cliff jumping, swimming, kayaking, or just try a round of volleyball or bocce.  It’s also less crowded because of the time it takes to reach it.

Sandhamn

Time Commitment: 2 hours 10 minutes (each way)
Price: 170 SEK (each way) on the ferry or 360 SEK for a round-trip with commentary onboard and routing via Stromma Canal

sandhamn stockholm archipelago cruise

Sandhamn is considered one of the prettiest journeys, partly because it’s so far out in the Stockholm archipelago and passes right by Vaxholm and Grinda.  The trip through Stromma Canal takes you through a particularly narrow, shallow passage.  Once in Sandhamn, follow walking trails to the coastline and white sandy beaches.

Thousand Island Cruise

Time Commitment: 11 hour full-day tour
Price: 1235 SEK, including transportation, short tours on 3 islands, and 2 meals

If you’re looking for an actual tour with a few chances to disembark, the 1000 Islands Cruise is the most popular option.  The cruise takes you out past “1000” islands in the Stockholm archipelago and stops on Kymmendö, Bullero, and Sandhamn for about 45 minutes each.

Landsort (on the island of Öja)

Time Commitment: 2.5 hours (each way), with only about 30 minutes of that on ferry
Price: 75 SEK (each way) for ferry

landsort lighthouse stockholm archipelago
Landsort Lighthouse (Photo by Arild Vågen via Wikimedia; used with permission)

Landsort is in the southernmost section of the Stockholm archipelago and is known in particular for Sweden’s oldest lighthouse.  Travelers also love bird watching opportunities and the chance to snorkel in Bredmarsviken.  The bad news is you need to take a ~2 hour bus trip to the port in Ankarudden to catch the short boat trip.

If you’ll be hiking muddy trails, kayaking, or climbing rocks on the way to the beach, the right footwear is important.  Look for sturdy soles and the ability to drain water so your toes don’t freeze or end up blistered.  I personally wear Merrell Water Sandals all over the world.

Where to Stay in Stockholm

If you need a hotel in Stockholm, I highly recommend the Comfort Hotel Stockholm.  It has a great location, super low rates, fantastic service, comfortable rooms, and an impressive breakfast buffet.

I can also recommend the Clarion Hotel Arlanda Airport.  It’s directly connected to the airport terminal so you can walk there instead of waiting for a shuttle and is quite comfortable with a nice outdoor pool.

Lake Mälaren Tours

Lots of travelers mix up the Stockholm archipelago with Lake Mälaren.  While both will provide boat trips, you’re heading in a totally different direction through the inner archipelago and it should be considered an additional thing to do rather than a substitution.  Here’s a quick summary, just in case you’re interested.

Drottningholm Palace

Time Commitment: 1 hour (each way)
Price: 205 SEK for round-trip boat transport
This tour is included if you purchased an all-inclusive Stockholm Pass!

drottningholm palace stockholm day trip lake malaren
Drottningholm Palace (Photo by Nicke L via Wikimedia; used with permission)

See the Royal family residence at Drottningholm Palace, which is a world heritage site.  The grounds are beautifully landscaped and you could spend all day if you plan on a picnic and a stop at the Chinese Pavilion after your palace tour.

Birka

Time Commitment: 2 hours (each way)
Price: 390 SEK for round-trip boat transport, guided tour, and entry to Viking Museum
This tour is included if you purchased an all-inclusive Stockholm Pass!

Birka is a re-created Viking village and living history attraction meant to show off Sweden’s history.  After a beautiful boat ride, you’ll have a guided tour and time to explore on your own.  Events in the Viking village change from day-to-day, so make sure your visit coincides with what you’re interested in.

Sigtuna

Time Commitment: 2 hours (each way)
Price: 365 SEK for round-trip boat transport, guided tour, and entry to Sigtuna Museum

Sigtuna Stockholm

It’s faster to visit Sigtuna by train/bus, so this particular tour is best suited to boat lovers.  Most people come to shop and meander Stora Gatan, the main street, or for Viking history.  The churches are mostly in ruins, but there are some medieval paintings and summer concerts if you time your visit right.

Short on Time?

Most of these are full-day trips, so if your time is short in Stockholm, you’ll have to choose one and hope for the best.  Even if you only have a single day in the city, remember that Stockholm itself is on islands, so you’ll get a little taste of the archipelago even if you never hop on a boat!

17 thoughts on “Which Stockholm Archipelago Tour is Best?”

  1. I have one day in Stockholm and I’m trying to decide what the best things are to do/see… Is the boat tour definitely worth it (specifically the 3 hour one) or would I be better off doing something else? Any recommendations are appreciated! Thanks!

    1. @Niki, It’s always hard to answer because I don’t know anything about your interests. In my opinion, if you have something specific that caught your eye so you don’t have time for a boat trip, by all means — go with what excites you! But it is absolutely beautiful on the water so if you do have extra time to spare, I highly recommend it.

  2. Hi, ur tips on tourism were of great help for planning tour of Stockholm for 4 Days. I will b staying near Arlanda n ur tips on Hotel were good as my flight out is early in morning. Thanx

  3. This was really helpful, thank you! It takes ages to check up all the information on the internet so this saved me time. Iwas looking for a smaller, less crowded island and after reading your post decided for Grinda. Best choice ever! Lovely trip (1h 40 min), great views, you can walk over whole island in approx. 2 hours (but do take more and enjoy it!). It has natural trail which takes you through the forest and offers some amazing views on the sea side. Plent of peaceful palces to sit down and have lunc/read book etc. Do bring food, offer on island is limited (caffe shop with some basic stuff) and the only restaurant is expensive one. Waxholm boats are a bit cheaper (no restaurant, but they have small bar so for such a short trip should be enough) than CIndarella (95 kr vs 130 kr from Stockholm). The ship pasess by Vauxhall so you can see it on the way+most of people go off the boat there so there is plenty of space on deck. Highly recommend! I stayed 3 days and managed to fit in this trip, worth the time.

    1. Thanks for you info. I am heading out to Stockholm in a couple of weeks, and the boat tour to Grinda is on my list. The length of time on the boat, there and back, seems doable for a good day out, but how long do you have to be on the island before the return to Stockholm? I’m more interested in the Archipelago, than a long stay on an island. Thanks for any info.

      Sue

  4. Hi it’s wonderful page helped me alot for planning my day in stockholm, but i need some more suggestions i would be staying in helsingborg for week 18-23 sep and planing to visit for Stockholm for 1-1.5 day i am fond water and seeing set on beaches, can i have tour that can give night stay at any nice island and morning back to stockholm. Please guide me to plan some exciting 1-1.5 tour. Thank you

  5. Hi, what boat tour do you recommend? We are a couple in our late 50’s Love nature and I am a Photographer, we like longer trips so the shorter trips 2-4 hrs dont really excite us
    was wondering how you liked the thousand island 11 hrs cruise if you went on it ?
    Please let us know your thoughts

    1. @Rob, I think you will find it more enjoyable to go to Sandhamn (about 2 hours each way, with lots of beautiful scenery along the way to photograph). That would give you enough time on the island itself to explore and take pictures compared to the Thousand Islands cruise which only gives you brief visits.

    1. @Elizabeth, Pack a jacket for wind and rain (just in case) and you’ll probably have better luck with the local ferries than a packaged tour which don’t have many spring options.

  6. Mandy Janine Lopez

    Hi, My partner and I are going to be in Stockholm from the 27th June and planning on spending 4days island hopping around archipelago. We still can’t decide which order to follow as the timetables are limited to late night travel and we would like to stay overnight on two islands. So far we’re thinking Vaxholm, Grinda, Sandham, Uto (either order), is this do-able as we need to be in Uppsala by the 1st July?

    1. @Mandy, I think a lot of the beauty/culture of Swedish islands is the slow, relaxed pace of life — so by hopping around to 4 islands in 4 days, you might be missing out on that. I would recommend narrowing it down for simplicity’s sake. Since the schedules change every year, I’m not sure if it’s possible to do all 4 or not.

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