Do you live in Stockholm and want to get away – but not really get away? Are you visiting Stockholm and looking to experience more than what the confines of the Baltic gem have to offer?
If your answer to any of these questions is yes, then it might be time for you to take a good old fashioned daytrip, and the four listed below will make you feel like you’re on a pretty rad vacation without traveling too far or digging too deeply into your pockets.
Viking kitsch is everywhere – in books, films and even plastered on the helmets of an American football team. These clichéd marauders of old actually existed, though, and if you were to travel back to the 750s, you would likely find a load of Vikings milling about Birka – also known as Sweden’s first city. Located on Björkö in the glittering waters of Lake Mälaren, Birka is a UNESCO World Heritage Site replete with guided tours, a museum and the opportunity to take a peek at some of the island’s ongoing archaeological excavations. Wandering around without a specific goal is an option, too, because just like everywhere else in Sweden, Björkö’s rustic nature is wide-open and inviting.
Birka is also fairly easy to reach: boats to Björkö depart frequently from the dock near Stockholm City Hall. The journey time is about 2 hours.
Before Christian missionaries arrived in the 12th century, Uppsala was Sweden’s ritualistic center i.e. a hotbed of pagan activity (and if you’ve ever been there on Walpurgis Night, you might be inclined to say that some things never change). These days, however, Uppsala is best known for being home to one of Sweden’s premier universities as well as a breathtaking cathedral (Uppsala domkyrka), charming small-townish buildings and trendy shops, restaurants and cafes. Gamla Uppsala and its grave mounds, which lie 4km north of the modern city, are also not to be missed and if you feel particularly energetic – not to mention in the mood to viscerally experience all the pagan/Christian juxtapositions – then you can hike Eriksleden: a “pilgrim’s path” connecting Gamla Uppsala with Uppsala Cathedral.
The only trip by land listed here, Uppsala is an excellent destination for a day away: it’s only a 40 miutes train ride from Stockholm Central Station. If you have more time than money – and a valid Stockholm public transport travel card – it is possible to take the Pendeltåg to Uppsala – but be aware that you have to pay an extra fee for traveling over the county border. For more info contact Stockholm Public Transport.
Vaxholm, with its lovely collection of turn of the 20th century wooden houses, is one of the most popular gateways to the Stockholm archipelago – in summer, for example, you’ll find the harbour so packed with boats that the water is barely visible. The second of two boat trips from central Stockholm listed here, Vaxholm also boasts surprisingly cool shopping : there are quite a few funky little boutiques and art galleries to peruse if you’re hunting for something chic or out of the ordinary. No trip to Vaxholm is complete, however, without enjoying a drink or meal at Waxholms Hotell , where you can enjoy stunning views of the archipelago in the glow of the (almost) midnight sun.
A highly popular spot for Stockholm daytrippers, arriving at the island of Grinda is often described as coming to a place where the world stands still. Located just one hour from central Stockholm, visitors can find the greatest peace and quiet. On the island there is a sandy beach, as well as cliffs upon which to bask in the sunshine. There is also a beautiful inn, Grinda Wärdshus, where weary sunbathers can dine in style or grab a quick (less formal) bite at Bistro Framfickan. For those who want to stay longer there is the inn, a hostel and self catering cottages available on the island. There are canoes available to rent and visitors need not be idle with the opportunity to learn rock-climbing or archery during your stay.
Featured Image: Björn Tesch/imagebank.sweden.se