Stockholm was founded on islands between a large inland lake with many branches and one of Europe’s largest archipelagos, with an amazing 30,000 islands.
Water is ever present with channels, harbours and marinas apparently round every corner. Of course the marketing men get hold of this and come up with phrases like “the Venice of the North” to try and sell it. But this is the Baltic and it doesn’t need the overkill, the glacial islands and architecture by the waterside have their own attractive character.
Many years ago I had the privilege of a midsummer’s day cruise out round the islands when the sun never really set. But in winter the longer archipelago cruises only go out at the weekend, during our trip we were only able to take the Winter Cruise which goes out for just over an hour and sails through some of the inner islands. In the chilly weather it was still a great way to take in some of the sights and the glasses of warm mulled wine (known as glogg) were delicious.
Some highlights of my gallery include:
The country houses of Djurgarden.
The island of Djurgarden is a garden island that almost links the city to the archipelago. At the city end it is more built up with a number of museums and an amusement park. But as we passed out seawards the island we could see why the island is loved for walks and picnics and increasingly how it is was home to some of Stockholm’s most valuable houses. Some of them are now galleries, schools or embassies but many are home to the rich and famous seeking a country house just a boat or bike ride from the city.
Stockholm’s waterfronts from the sea.
We were treated to grandstand views of the differing Stockholm skylines and waterfronts. It was particularly good on the way back in when occasional bursts of sunlight lit up the buildings. The cruise lets you see all the landmarks like the old city of Gamla Stan and the Parisian styled Strandvägen. Young travellers don’t miss out on Stockholm’s interesting hotels too, the lovely ship on the waterfront is one of a number of floating hostels on the harbour. Great idea.
I love sailing into a grand city like this, it is a unique entrance route. There is that lovely flight of the imagination when you could imagine how visitors came to a new country or a new city in earlier times. Much more exciting than the airport.
However probably best to avoid what one visiting foreign navy did. When they grandly sailed into Stockholm for a state visit they knew that the Royal Palace was on the harbour, so they duly saluted the most imposing building on the way in. Which is, and always was, a rest home for Stockholm’s elderly residents.