Stockholm is a city built on 14 islands, so you are never far from the water. Stockholm is a beautiful city but what surprises some visitors is the extent of the water. There's as much here as there is in Amsterdam and Venice. As we explored the city we crossed several bridges to different islands and enjoyed spectacular views across water to other islands and to a huge collection of water craft from old sailing boats to ferries and private pleasure craft.
The Stockholm archipelago is one of the world's most spectacular. Stretching 80 kilometres east of the city, the archipelago comprises 24,000 islands, islets and rocks. If you take the time you can explore islands with restaurants, youth hostels and country stores, or entirely deserted islands.
Stockholm is located where Lake Mälaren, Sweden’s third largest lake, meets the Baltic Sea. It thus straddles a boundary between fresh water and the sea. The waters of Stockholm have given the city beauty and life, provided it with clean drinking water, and earned it epithets like ‘the Venice of the North.’
Stockholm started on one island now known as Gamla Stan but over the years the buildings of the capital spread to other islands and to the surrounding mainland, and bridges were built to link the different parts of the city. Stockholm thus became a city on water. Stockholm is one third water, one third green belt and one third built city. The island of Djurgarden, the world's first National City Park, is only a short walk from the inner city.
The city is also interesting because each neighbourhood has its own unique "personality," so a short promenade sometimes turns into a long walking tour. Start walking from the City Hall along the waterfront and you pass significant landmarks such as the Opera House and the National Museum before you eventually reach Nybroyiken. This is a hub for water transport such as the Hop-On Hop-Off ferry and also where some of the water tour boats leave from. Along the way you may have been tempted to cross one of several bridges to Gamla Stan or the bridge to Skeppsholmen. If you did you would find continuing opportunities to enjoy water views and great photo opportunities.
We concluded that Stockholm has to be seen from the water as it sparkles in the sunshine. If you can’t afford the time for a tour, at least take a ferry to one of the islands. If you have a Stockholm Card you can enjoy unlimited free trips on the Hop-On Hop-Off sightseeing boat where there is a commentary in Swedish and English. During the summer, the Card also provides discounted sightseeing on the Historical Canal Tour which takes you around the island of Kungsholmen past Langholmen, Sodermalm and Gamla Stan. You also receive a discount on the century-old steamer which sails to beautiful Drottningholm, the Swedish Royal Family’s private residence.