Only by going alone in silence, without baggage, can one truly get into the heart of the wilderness. All other travel is mere dust and hotels and baggage and chatter.
The Swedish wilderness is calling and I must go! Those long summer nights under the endless skies of the Baltic sea attract thousands of day-trippers and holidaymakers alike, yet the place still feels exclusive between those wooded islands, rocky cliffs and sandy beached islets.
The endless skies of the Baltic Sea keep watch over the Stockholm archipelago, which comprises of 24,000 islands in a radius of eighty kilometres of the Swedish capital with Öregrund in the north and Landsort in the south. The climate is surprisingly pleasant in summer, with sunny days and temperatures around 20 degrees Celsius. When the sun is high in the sky, the archipelago in the Gulf of Bothnia is an ideal destination for a week of fun in the water, whilst in the cold winter months, ice skating from the Swedish capital to different islands is the in thing to do.
Sandhamn, and Utö Blidö are some of the larger islands, where you will find hotels, restaurants and shops. Ideal for stocking up on supplies and/or partying the night away, if that is your thing.
However, I recommend minimizing human contact as the illusion of remoteness is what makes these islands so special. Starting from Stockholm with a kayak, sailboat or yacht you can reach the Swedish wilderness in no time. The islands are close to shore and yet feel secluded. Most are small and uninhabited, sometimes they consist of no more than a few bare rocks. Nobody bats an eye if you decide to skinny dip, although men be aware that the water temperature might affect the visual grandeur of your manliness. But that shouldn’t stop you getting wet, as the only ones that might be watching tend to be those of the furry or feathered kind. Martens, eagles, cormorants, lizards, seals and as many as three species of snakes are free to roam the archipelago. Occasionally the peace and quiet in the animal kingdom are shattered, by humans of course.
Freedom to roam
Both the Swedes and foreign tourists can freely enjoy all the beauty that nature has to offer, including that what is privately owned. That means that no license is required for most outdoor activities, nor that money may be charged for:
- Gathering and picking berries, mushrooms and flowers, as long as these are not protected species;
- The temporary set up of a tent as long as it is set at a reasonable distance from homes and cropland;
- Fishing (with a rod);
- Walking, skiing, cycling, skating or boating on Swedish territory.
So you can set up your tent almost anywhere, light a fire to barbecue your own fish. Ideal in a country that otherwise seems rather unaffordable.
Unfortunately, nature has a dark side as well. Dangers and annoyances in the Swedish archipelago are ticks, snakes and lots of mosquitoes:
- Insects can be annoying and their bites can cause significant swelling but are otherwise harmless.
- Tick bites may cause Lyme disease and other infections, such as tick-borne encephalitis (TBE), this is a brain (fleece) inflammation. Therefore, check your skin every night (and that of your children) for ticks.
- It is unlikely that you will be bitten by a snake. A bite from a Swedish viper is poisonous, but usually not fatal.
Sun and water
- Because of the reflection of the sun on the water, you will burn faster than normal. Protect your skin by using sunscreen and wear a hat or a cap.
- Wear dark sunglasses on the water against strong glare.
- Take lip balm, because the combination of sun, wind and water dries your lips.
- Everything in Sweden is expensive, even food costs much more than in the rest of Europe, with the exception of other Scandinavian countries.
- Alcoholic drinks are extremely expensive, in a restaurant or pub, a beer will set you back at least six euros (source).
- Even though imported fruits and vegetables carry a high price tag, they are tasteless. Local seasonal fruits, especially berries are delicious.
- Sweden is almost a cashless society. Cards are frequently used, even for small purchases, such as a cup of coffee. In some places, it is not even possible to pay with cash.
- In the short Swedish summer the weather is often beautiful, however, it does rains regularly and on the islands, the winds can be fierce.
- The archipelago often has slightly better weather than the Swedish mainland.
- To get to the larger islands, you can hire a taxi or take the ferry.
- Tickets and timetables of public transport can be found here (in English).
The internet in the Stockholm region is excellent, even on the archipelago you are in 4G range.
You can sleep in the wild, on your boat, in a tent or if you prefer to sleep in a hotel, hostel, apartment or B & B click here for the different lodging in the archipelago options.
Flights to Stockholm
Stockholm is served by three airports. Arlanda is the largest airport, most flights go towards here (SAS, KLM, Norwegian airlines). The other two airports are Skavsta and Bromma.
With thanks to Helena and Tobias for their kind hospitality, without you, we would never have gotten to know the beauty of this part of the world.