Did you know that Sweden is the country with the most islands? But, which ones are a must-visit? Let’s start exploring!
Having lived in Sweden for over 5 years, I’ve come to deeply appreciate the vast expanse of its natural beauty and the intricacies of its culture. Sweden is teeming with exquisite islands that serve as the perfect escape for those seeking to immerse themselves in serenity and the embrace of nature. Set within the Baltic Sea, these islands aren’t just peaceful retreats; they also provide a genuine insight into Scandinavian life.
Each island has its own story, deeply rooted in centuries-old Scandinavian traditions. With so many islands waiting to be explored, every trip promises a unique experience, shedding light on the captivating aspects of this region.
In this blog, we’ll delve into the must-visit Swedish islands. I’ve gathered a few insights that might come in handy for your next trip. I’ve sifted through the information; now it’s your turn to discover and enjoy!
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How Many Islands Are There in Sweden?
Sweden is home to an impressive 267,570 islands, according to the official statistics. Of these, 8,093 Swedish islands are inhabited in some form, but only 984 of them have a permanent population.
That’s a lot of islands with untouched beauty and potential adventures waiting for explorers! So, whether you’re keen on experiencing vibrant island communities or discovering secluded corners, Sweden’s islands offer a diverse range of experiences.
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The Best Swedish Islands to Visit
Sweden’s vast archipelago holds countless gems. With each island offering its unique charm, it can be tough to decide where to start. To guide you, here’s a curated list of the must-visit islands that show off the best of Sweden. And if you’re planning your trip, be sure to also check out the best travel planner apps to have to make your trip seamless.
Fjäderholmarna is a small archipelago located just outside Stockholm, Sweden, and is a popular day-trip destination. It is known for its stunning scenery, with beautiful beaches and forests, making it the perfect destination for a weekend getaway or family holiday.
You can also explore a wide range of activities and amenities such as restaurants, markets, and art galleries. The island also offers plenty of opportunities to go fishing and kayaking in its crystal clear waters.
With its unique mix of history, culture, and nature, Fjäderholmarna stands out among the Swedish islands as one of the country’s most unique destinations. It’s a must-visit for anyone looking to experience something truly exceptional in Sweden!
Every season brings its own charm to Fjäderholmarna. While the island is captivating throughout the year, winter stands out with its special boat tour. This tour offers a glimpse of the island’s icy seascape, turning the surroundings into a winter wonderland.
How to get to Fjäderholmarna
You can use these boat lines to reach Fjäderholmarna.
Gotland, the largest island in the Baltic Sea, is a blend of historical wonders and natural beauty. Its heart, Visby, is a UNESCO World Heritage site, featuring medieval streets and robust city walls.
Across the island, ancient stone churches echo its storied past. But, Gotlgand is not just about history; it’s alive with sun-soaked beaches, vibrant summer festivals, diverse wildlife, and clear, starry skies for those who seek nature’s magic.
How to get to Gotland
To reach Gotland, options include a ferry journey of just over 3 hours, a quick flight of about 30 minutes, cruising, or even traveling with your own boat.
Vaxholm is a little island in the Stockholm Archipelago of Sweden. Whether you’re up for some adventure or just want to relax, this place covers you. Beaches, hiking trails, tasty local food, and loads of culture – Vaxholm has it all.
Plus, with 70 islands around and just an hour’s ferry ride from Stockholm, there’s always something new to check out.
The town itself has these really cute pastel-colored wooden houses that give it a unique charm. And a fun fact: Vaxholm used to be a fort to protect Stockholm. Now, that old fort is a museum where you can learn more about its history.
How to get to Vaxholm
For a scenic route, you take boats like S/S Stockholm, M/S Östanå I, or the Cinderella Boats.
Alternatively, the SL bus route from Söderhamnsplan in Vaxholm to Tekniska Högskolan in Stockholm is available, with a travel time of roughly 45 minutes.
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Marstrand, known as Sweden’s sailing hub, is the go-to spot for anyone looking to catch some waves or just relax by the sea near Gothenburg.
Picture a tranquil setting: delightful neighborhoods, car-free streets, and the gentle symphony of ocean waves. It truly feels like an absolute dream, doesn’t it? And depending on when you drop by, you can either join the lively nightlife or find a quiet nook to just chill.
While you’re there, don’t skip the Strandverket Konsthall. It’s an art museum with a cool focus on photography and local culture. If you’re planning to visit in June, the Carlsten Fortress hosts these awesome fortress games that are a must-see. So, whether you’re into art, history, or just a good old beach day, Marstrand’s got something for you.
How to get to Marstrand
To get to the scenic Marstrand, a 45-minute drive from Gothenburg will land you at Marstrand färjeläge. From there, hop on the Line 322 ferry for a quick 2-minute ride to the island.
Alternatively, you can catch the MarsEx bus from Nils Ericson terminal or, during summer, enjoy a guided boat tour from Gothenburg.
Visingsö, nestled in the heart of Lake Vättern within the Jönköping region, carries with it tales of yore. Legend has it that the island was formed by a giant, aiming to provide his wife with a stepping stone. Today, this historical island pulsates with life, reminiscent of its vibrant past.
History enthusiasts will appreciate the remnants of Visingsborg Castle and the serenity of Kumlaby church. The island’s oak forest stands as a testament to the harmonious balance between nature and mankind.
For a unique mode of exploration, a horse and carriage ride offers a touch of tradition. Gastronomically, the Solbacken restaurant provides culinary delights, and Glasshuset offers a sweet pause. And for those who have an affinity for alpacas, Visingsö proudly presents a special attraction, positioning itself as an unparalleled destination to encounter these gentle creatures.
How to get to Visingsö
To visit Visingsö, you have to take the ferry leaving from Gränna.
Väderöarna (The Weather Islands)
Tucked away in the Bohuslän archipelago lies the captivating Väderöarna, also known as The Weather Islands.
As the furthest outpost of Bohuslän, Väderöarna emerges like a stunning oasis in the midst of the ocean, promising unmatched beauty in every season, be it summer’s warmth, the golden hues of autumn, the pristine white of winter, or the rejuvenating touch of spring.
Getting to this paradise is both quick and comfortable, with boats readily available to whisk visitors away from Hamburgsund or Fjällbacka, ensuring a seamless journey to the islands.
Once in Väderöarna, the Inn at the Weather Islands beckons travelers with its delectable dining experience and snug rooms, making it an ideal escape for a few days. Whether you’re looking for an intimate getaway or a novel locale for innovative corporate gatherings, this is the place to be.
But the magic of Väderöarna doesn’t stop there. Situated near Hamburgsund in Western Sweden, this archipelago is not just a testament to nature’s beauty but also a sanctuary for wildlife. A thriving colony of seals has made the islands their home, adding a touch of wild wonder to the already enchanting Väderöarna experience.
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Nestled amidst the serene beauty of the archipelago, Finnhamn invites travelers to revel in the majesty of changing seasons. Whether you’re seeking a tranquil retreat or planning a larger gathering, this picturesque destination caters to all.
Finnhamn also boasts three distinct ports, each with its own unique charm. Paradise Bay, a classic choice, offers over a hundred berths at the jetty, hugging the rugged cliffs, and comes equipped with amenities like electricity, water, and complimentary WiFi.
For those looking to stay closer to the island’s amenities, the Hostel Bay provides a cozier harbor environment with 20 berths, situated near the restaurant and country store.
If you want a more secluded experience, the floating jetty at Söder Långholm, located on a separate island to the east of Finnhamn, offers an undisturbed retreat amidst the archipelago’s beauty.
A part of the Southern Gothenburg Archipelago, Brännö is car-free, like many other Swedish islands, making it a perfect place for quiet contemplation, hiking, and cycling.
Trysunda Island, located on the distant fringes of the High Coast archipelago, is a serene retreat known for its scenic beauty and rich history. The island became a national park in 1987, encompassing not only Trysunda itself but also the nearby Skrubban and several smaller islands. Visitors are treated to stunning views across the sea, promising peace and tranquillity in the lap of nature.
The island’s charm is further accentuated by its idyllic fishing village situated by the harbor. This village holds the distinction of being the best-preserved fishing village along the entire Ångermanland province’s coast. For those wishing to soak in the ambiance a bit longer, hostels and cottages are open for accommodation during the summer months.
How to get to Trysunda
You can catch a ferry to Trysunda from Köpmanholmen. In the summer, boats run every day. However, there are fewer trips in the winter.
Hidden Gems: Lesser-Known Swedish Islands
Sweden is a beautiful Scandinavian country full of incredible scenery, and its lesser-known islands are no exception.
While the mainstream tourist spots offer their own allure, these tucked-away treasures present a unique blend of nature, history, and serenity, perfect for those seeking an off-the-beaten-path experience.
Öland, situated just off the southeast coast of Sweden, is a hidden gem ready to be discovered. Recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site and the second-largest Swedish island after Gotland, Öland offers a captivating blend of history, nature, and regal elegance.
On the west coast, you’ll find the majestic ruins of Borgholm Castle, showcasing its architectural resilience since the 12th century. Nearby, the enchanting Solliden Palace serves as a summer retreat for the Swedish royal family, surrounded by extravagant gardens.
However, the true essence of Öland lies in the south, where the Great Alvar extends into the horizon. This expansive limestone plain is a thriving hub of biodiversity, boasting an incredible range of flora, including some highly rare orchid species.
Nicknamed “Sweden’s smallest landscape,” the island effortlessly blends the past with the present, making it an absolute must-visit destination. Prepare to be captivated and inspired as you explore Öland’s wonders.
How to Get to Öland
Getting to Öland is easy. The island is conveniently connected to Kalmar on the Swedish mainland by a road bridge that spans the Kalmar Sound. Whether you’re driving or taking public transport, this bridge serves as the primary access point, making the island easily reachable for those who want to explore Öland.
Nestled in the heart of the Archipelago outside Värmdölandet, Gällnö is a serene escape, a mere 90-minute boat ride from bustling Stockholm. This untouched gem retains an old-world charm, with well-preserved archipelago structures narrating tales of yesteryears.
Nature showcases its purest form; from grazing animals in meadows and captivating forests to tranquil beaches welcoming visitors. Gällnöstigen explores the rich history and diverse flora and fauna.
With the sun’s warmth, the island comes alive: international guests flock to its hostel, boats dot the picturesque Torsviken, and the village transforms into a lively hub. By autumn, as tourists recede, the island unveils a muted charm with forest walks, fishing sessions, and sauna baths.
Winter wraps Gällnö in quiet beauty, with residents commuting to Stockholm or relishing the island’s hushed allure. Gällnö, with its enchanting beauty, is a must-visit for those seeking a unique archipelago experience.
Gotska Sandön, a remote and mesmerizing island in the Baltic Sea, is one of Sweden’s hidden gems. This national park, far from the mainland hustle, is a nature lover’s dream with its vast sand dunes, ancient pine forests, and untouched beaches. The landscape is reminiscent of a coastal desert, an unexpected sight in the midst of northern Europe, with shifting sands continuously reshaping the island’s topography.
The island boasts a rich biodiversity, from a plethora of bird species that find refuge in its serene environment, to unique plant species that have adapted to its sandy conditions. But it’s not just nature that intrigues visitors. Gotska Sandön’s rich history, including tales of shipwrecks and age-old lighthouses, adds another layer of allure. Whether you’re keen on hiking, bird-watching, or simply seeking solitude, Gotska Sandön offers a tranquil retreat from the modern world, a place where time seems to stand still.
Tours and Activities in Sweden
FAQs About Sweden Islands
How do I get to the Swedish archipelago?
To get to the Swedish islands from Stockholm, take the Waxholmsbolaget ferries, which run all year and serve the entire archipelago. Plan your trip using their journey planner and buy tickets onboard with Visa/Mastercard or get period tickets for extended travel.
Alternative options include Strömma Kanalbolaget cruises, SL shuttle boats, taxi boats, or for select islands, by bus or car. Walking and biking are popular on the islands.
What’s the best time of year to visit the Swedish islands?
The ideal time to visit the Swedish islands is summer, with mild, sunny weather and warm temperatures. This season is perfect for exploring nature reserves and enjoying prolonged, picturesque sunsets.
What activities can I do on the Swedish islands?
Sweden’s islands have beautiful scenery, wildlife, and lovely towns. You can go kayaking, walk around villages, or visit history museums. No matter what you choose, you’ll have a memorable time on Sweden’s islands.
What are the must-see Swedish islands?
Sweden has many beautiful islands. Three top picks are Gotland, known for its history and arts; Fjäderholmarna, close to Stockholm and rich in culture; and Vaxholm, a historic and scenic spot. These places show the best of what Swedish islands offer.
Can I stay overnight on the Swedish islands?
Yes, you can stay overnight on the Swedish islands. There’s a range of places to stay, from local guesthouses where you can experience island life to luxury hotels. Whether you’re looking for something unique like glamping tents, cozy B&Bs, or a plush spa hotel, Sweden’s islands cater to all preferences.
What are some historical events of note on Swedish islands?
In the Iron Age village of Sandby Borg on Sweden’s Öland island, a sudden massacre occurred 1,500 years ago. Archaeologists found 26 male bodies showing violent death signs. Valuables were left untouched, and no women’s remains have been discovered. The motive for this brutality, likely driven by revenge and power, remains partly speculative. The village was subsequently abandoned, possibly deemed cursed, offering a unique window into this ancient event.
Final Thoughts: Sweden’s Islands
Sweden’s islands offer an abundance of natural beauty, activities, and unique experiences. It is a place where you can adventure outdoors by day and relax in comfort by night. Whether you are looking for a romantic getaway, a family vacation, or simply something to do on the weekends, Sweden’s islands have it all.
The best way to experience the true spirit of these islands is to explore them yourself. The people who live there welcome visitors with open arms and you are sure to be charmed. So if a trip to Sweden’s islands is in your future plans, don’t hesitate! You won’t regret it!