Stockholm is often considered as a snobbish city. I won’t deny the cliché, but Stockholm has a very different side too. It is surrounded by numerous bigger and smaller reserves and parks, which are crossed by a number of hiking trails. I know of few cities built on islands in the sea, where in winter you can go ice skating on the same sea where you take out your paddle in the summer. And this is what made me feel at home here for the past two years.
Setting out to the archipelago immediately sounded somewhat overly brave as I am not an experienced paddler. I gave myself some practice this summer on the waters in and around Stockholm. These made up for wonderful days touring on lake Mälaren. Most kayak rentals are open only during a short period in the summer, but as it turns out some on the Stockholm outskirts have kayaks available all year around.
So finally I made it down the next item on my Stockholm bucket list: a paddling tour in the archipelago. Busses run east from the city center and can bring you as far as halfway into the archipelago. On the island of Ingarö and next to the Björnö national park bus stop lies a kayaking rental from where you can set out to the islands nearby.
As soon as it becomes September most people seem to abandon their paddling plans and set for coffee in the city instead. A shame, because this tour was by far the most impressive of the year. Paddling around Kungsholmen is nice, but it is nothing compared to the views and space around Ingarö. Even though it was officially the beginning of fall, it was still incredibly sunny and warm on the water so you would almost need the trees turning yellow as a reminder that summer is over and fall is coming.
I actually think this is the perfect time to set out: there were far fewer people and boats out there than in the middle of summer. As the day approached its end and we paddled our way back at sunset, the wind fell down and everything turned so quiet that Stockholm felt about a thousand kilometers away. We lied still on the water for a while to enjoy the scenery and the feeling of nothingness. The mental state of zen only got interrupted for a second when my paddling companion stranded his kayak on a rock near the water surface.
We initially set out with he idea of making it an overnight trip, unfortunately that didn’t work out so with low enthusiasm we returned to the bus. The ride home gave us about an hour of time to plan an overnight canoeing trip in October to compensate for our loss on this one.
If you come to Stockholm, you are a fan of paddling and you’re eager to do something else than most tourists, set out to Kajakeriet and spend a day in the archipelago. It is one of the most intense and beautiful things you can experience in and around the city.