I just returned from 5-days in Sweden for my first TBEX conference in Stockholm. Before the conference weekend kicked off, a few travel writers and I were invited on a 24-hour “Pre-Bex Tour” of Vaxholm to experience Sweden outside of what “the capital of Scandinavia” had to offer.
A ferry ride of just an hour from Stockholm central brings you to Vaxholm, the picturesque capital of Stockholm’s archipelago. The ferry service prices at 75 – 110 SEK (~$8.75-$12.85) depending on the type of boat and time. I found the boat to be both relaxing and scenic.
Vaxholm’s proximity to Stockholm, with frequent ferry service between the two points, makes it easy to stay for the day or night if you want to experience the highlights of the island by taking a break from the hustle and bustle of a big international city. We spent the night at the historical Waxholm Hotel, which is right at the harbor. The rooms were quaint, but cozy, and it sure was nice to have an actual key instead of a key card for once.
Vaxholm attracts both locals and tourists for archipelago experiences all year round. Cute and colorful fisherman cottages meet turn-of-the-century restaurants, villas, and stunning scenery. For over 400 years, this herring fisherman community served as Stockholm’s defense and the citadel fortress still stands strong over the strait to serve as a memory.Vaxholm is a small, yet incredibly-scenic community that can be explored entirely by foot in under an hour. During the walk, you’ll pass historical colorful cottages that look like they belong in a children’s book – picket fences, bicycles with baskets, and gardens of beautiful flowers.My favorite spot for breathtaking scenery was Norrhammnen – the town’s original fishing harbor that’s still lined with colorful fishing cottages and boats of all sizes.It’s also home to Vaxholm’s famous cafe – Hembygdsgarden Cafe which is an absolute must for “fika”. In Sweden, fika refers to the act of enjoying a break from life with close ones and savoring pastries, light snacks, and coffee. The pastries at Hembygdsgarden Cafe are not only freshly-baked and delicious, but they are a piece of art themselves! The berry crumble pie is to die for (and so Swedish!).Right across the water, you’ll find a small beach called Norrhamnsbadet, which is Vaxholm’s most-central bathing spot, where families picnic, sunbathe, and take a dip in the water. Vaxholm’s also has a lively center city that’s filled with municipal buildings, small boutiques, restaurants, and all that a small town needs. It’s where the town seems to gather during the afternoon.
If you’re looking for a truly romantic and exceptional experience (and this honestly was the highlight of my trip to Sweden), consider dining at Husmor Lisa, which literally translates to “Lisa’s House”.
To get to Husmor Lisa, you’ll have to arrive by boat or by water taxi and enjoy a scenic 20-minute ride through the archipelago.
Imagine a multi-course home-cooked traditional Swedish meal prepared from scratch in the comfort of the chef’s own home overlooking the water with ingredients literally grown in the backyard. You can taste the passion Lisa puts into her meals.
The food was simply incredible, and each course comes with optional wine pairings (prepared to be tipsy – at least you don’t have to drive afterwards!). This was one of the better meals in my lifetime, and the whole experience from start to finish was truly spectacular.
I 100% recommend dining here if you want to experience something that’s unique and exceptional in Vaxholm. My only regret was not sharing this incredible evening with somebody special!
Overall, I am so happy that I was introduced to the incredible small fisherman-village of Vaxholm, Sweden. For a destination just an hour away, It felt like I was ways away from busy Stockholm, and I really enjoyed seeing a different side of Sweden.
Have you ventured to Vaxholm before or taken any short trips outside of Stockholm during your visit?
*In full disclosure, my experience was courtesy of Visit Stockholm. I owe them a world of thanks for giving me an incredible local experience away from a big city. All opinions and stories are my own, of course.