Stockholm’s Archipelago: Gällnö and Sandhamn

Three nights in the Stockholm archipelago, my third visit in four years.

The Stockholm archipelago being a relatively unknown part of the world baffles me. It couldn’t be easier to access from the mainland, given the efficiency and comfort of the Waxholmbolaget boats, and it’s a really green, natural, unspoiled landscape, with English widely-spoken (have you ever met a Swede who couldn’t speak English with near-fluency?) I’ll admit, the climate isn’t quite as reliable as alternative holiday destinations, the water’s bloody freezing, and everything costs that little bit more, but still I hope that this third visit won’t be my last.

Travelling by Waxholmsbolaget boat from Stockholm city centre into the archipelago.

Travelling by Waxholmsbolaget – each boat is named after a different archipelago island.

This was my second time on the island of Gällnö (I visited Årholma last year) – my friend Emma spends summers and winters in a house built by her great-grandad with an amazing sea view and its own access to the water.

She picked me up from the island’s main jetty on a quad bike (no cars!) and we headed straight for the water. Yep, it was a shock to the system and I got straight out, but Emma’s hardened to it and splashed around a bit longer. I went in again a couple of days later, but nothing more than a very quick dip! We spent one afternoon at the beach, reading books on the rocks, I went for a jog another day (I wish I had enough luggage space for trainers; running in Converse – not ideal!), and we spent evenings watching films, eating sweets, and listening to badgers fighting!

The jetty of Gallno, or, Gällnö, an island in Stockholm's archipelago.

The island’s jetty.

The afternoon spent on Sandhamn was perfect. Emma’s friends own a speedy RIB boat and we all got kitted out and set off to enjoy some live music on this far more built-up island. Millionaires’ yachts lined the harbour and beautiful Swedes were drinking expensive beer in the sun, with the main attraction being some old rock star, a Eurovision veteran apparently. This is the life.

Making Swedish rice pudding.

The most delicious rice pudding, packed for minimum waste. Win!

The day ended just about perfectly; a typical Swedish BBQ (pork chops, potato salad, garlic sauce, rosé) with a dream sunset view, and me trying to make sense of the herdy gerdy conversation!

It was one of those experiences I could only have had by visiting a local – not really a standard day in the life of a backpacker, and not a lifestyle I can let myself get used to (on this trip, anyway)!

Looking out across the Stockholm archipelago from the island of Gällnö.

BBQ backdrop. Perfect.


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