Saturdays have become my ‘tourist’ days. One whole day a week dedicated to exploring Stockholm and its surroundings. Except last Saturday: It rained, and I hadn’t bought an umbrella yet. So, I shopped instead. My favourite ‘Sightseeing Saturday’ so far has been a boat trip to the town of Vaxholm in the Stockholm archipelago. You can travel to and from there by bus using your SL card. I would, however, argue that you should at least take the ferry one way, even though it is slightly expensive. Why? Well, since a photograph is worth a thousand words, please find below my 3000-word essay on why ferries are the best form of transportation when you find yourself in the vast Stockholm archipelago with its 30000 or so islands and islets.
The first thing you may notice when arriving at Vaxholm, apart from a boat petrol station, which is startling to an inland native like myself, is its fortress. It was constructed under King Gustav Vasa in the 16th century, though most of it was rebuilt in the 19th century. It protected Stockholm city successfully from the Danes in the 17th century and the Russians in the 18th (sounds like they had a lot of downtime between invasions). There is a museum within the walls though it is only open in the summer season. However, in my opinion, the importance of this fortress lies neither in its aesthetic features nor in its deeply-rooted history. It is the connection to my favorite childhood heroine: Pippi Longstocking. Indeed, this was the filming location for the pirate stronghold in the Pippi in the South Seas movie. As you can see, I am a pretty high-brow individual.
The best thing to do in Vaxholm is to simply stroll around. No purposeful walking allowed in this idyllic location. Stroll along the harbour. And then stroll some more through the older parts of town (good strolling shoes required). Admire its picturesque, well-preserved wooden houses in colors as cheerful as red, yellow or pink. You may be rewarded with one or two surprises throughout the day – like a sculpture garden.
Last, but emphatically NOT least, there is a lovely place to go for coffee. Wherever one goes in Sweden, one must always ascertain on where to ‘fika’. We found this cute little café called Café Silltruten on the main port which had not one, not two, not three…but ten or so different cakes to choose from. I went for carrot cake, an old classic. But that raspberry almond cake I didn’t go for still haunts me. Life is full of tough decisions. 🙂