I tried once, a few years ago, to go to Vaxholm with my sister right before Christmas, by taking one of the boats. We got up early with plans to catch an early boat to maximise our day, only to discover that the sea ice was already too thick for the boats to go there.
This time I didn’t make that mistake (well, it was summer). We jumped a boat in the city and headed out for a day of looking around Vaxholm. Check out Vaxholmsbolaget for more details on the boats, schedules, prices etc.
We passed a beautiful boat under full sail on the way, which was one of the many fabulous views we had as we left the city, alongside Gröna Lund the amusement park, Djurgården, Lidingö….
Vaxholm is on the outskirts of Stockholm, but on the inner edge of the Stockholm archipelago (see a map here). It is a picturesque little town, although often referred to as a city, of somewhere near 5000 inhabitants. It can be accessed by boat and also by bus from Stockholm. People commute from Vaxholm into the city for work every day. In summer, it becomes quite a draw card for those wanting to get out of the city and into the archipelago, without having too much time to do so (Vaxholm is really only the start of the archipelago). Most of the houses are wooden because until 1912 wood was the only material allowed to be used for building there, presumably to preserve the characteristic look of the town.
We stopped and enjoyed fika (coffee and cake) at a small cafe, that was very busy. It had a buffet of cakes to choose from – yum! We managed to avoid the days only downpour by lingering over fika, before heading back out into the sunshine to take a few hours to look through the museum at the fortress.
It is also famous for its fortress, which was the last (first?) line of defense between Stockholm and invaders coming in via the archipelago. It was originally built in 1544 by Gustav Vasa (who was Gustav Vasa?). However over the years it has been added to and greatly changed. Today it houses a museum showcasing Swedish Coastal Defense and Navy, as well as the defense offered by the fort over the years. It was a good strategic placement for defending the city because the narrow strip of water beside it was the main entry point into the inner archipelago and thus easily defended. This museum came complete with movement triggered noises which did make a person jump the first time they were encountered, and clearly a kid-friendly aspect to it also.
We ended our museum outing (another museum, good work mum and dad) by finding a quiet spot to sit in the sun, eat our picnic lunch and enjoy watching the boats cruise by. Very relaxing – in fact, so much so that we almost missed the last small boat of the day connecting the fort to Vaxholm, whoops! But we made it. We took the bus back to Stockholm to get a different view of the route to Vaxholm.