We started our first and long anticipated trip to Sweden with a visit to Vaxholm, a lovely village in the Stockholm Archipelago. We arrived at the Stockholm-Arlanda airport where we picked up our rental car and it was only a 45 minute drive to Vaxholm.
Making it a nice day trip when you’re staying in the city. There’s also a bus service between Stockholm and Vaxholm. During the summer months there’s even a better way of travelling to Vaxholm: by boat!
Vaxholm is a small but truly picturesque village, well known for its wooden houses and surrounded by water. So as soon as we got there we jumped out of the car to walk around this village.
Colourful Wooden Houses
Immediately I was intrigued by all the beautiful wooden houses, the colours and the views. Like this beautiful house, imagine living there and enjoying that view every day!
Lovely Swedish windows, so well preserved.
Oh, and this was the first of many dream houses we saw in Sweden!
Falu Red Houses
House number 14 was painted in the well known Swedish Falu Red colour. In Swedish: ‘Falu rödfärg’.
Sweden is famous for its red coloured houses and barns, especially in the countryside.
Falun was home to Sweden’s largest copper mine and it was one of the largest in Europe. By the 16th Century the mining and smelting methods started creating a thick red sludge around the mine. It contained, amongst other things, copper, zinc and silicic acid.
When this sludge was heated with rye flour and linseed oil it was discovered to be a perfect anti weathering paint for wooden houses.
When the copper mining industry died at the end of the 17th century they cleverly looked at other ways to make use of the byproducts of the mine and Falu Red Paint made from the mine was used on many country houses and barn. It mimicked the red brick in a way of the rich dwellers in the cities.
Today it is a romantic vision of buildings and life in Sweden. The use of Falu Red on wooden buildings spread throughout Europe and even to the big red barns of USA.
After walking through the village we ended up at the quay and we were stunned by this view of fortress Vaxholm. We immediately decided we should go there.
We boarded the small ferry to take us to the small island of Vaxholm Fortress (Vaxholm Kastellet), only a few hundred meters away.
The water around the island used to be the main route from the sea to Stockholm. So in 1544 Gustav Vasa built the first buildings of a fortress to defend the city of Stockholm from naval attacks. The island was attacked by the Danes in 1612 and the Russians in 1719.
The ferry leaves every 15 minutes between May and September. The waterway is quite small, so all boats have to follow a one way route around the island. This gave us the perfect opportunity to see all sides of the island and the fortress from the water!
The Vaxholm Fortress Museum is located in the main buildings around the central area of the island. Outside we saw a lot of canons, all from different periods in time.
In one of the buildings of the fortress a B&B is housed: the Kastellet Bed & Breakfast, must be a great place to stay.
Unfortunately the ferry doesn’t run all evening from the village of Vaxholm to the island. But then again, you’ll have to whole island to yourself during the evening, night and early morning. That does sounds nice, right?
I love how they were creative with this bike and flowers.
After taking a look around the buildings of the fortress, we decided to walk around the island.
There’s only one path, so that was quite easy. Along the way the views around where amazing, we saw some beautiful boats sailing by!
Back in the village of Vaxholm we could also see the little island called Badholmen.
Later on we found out you can rent this island for your own private party. Imagine having a party there on a long summer evening….
While walking around Vaxholm we kept our eyes open for nice places to have lunch or dinner. After climbing a hill near the water this view caught our eye.
The white building houses the Vaxholms Hembygdsgårds Café, a popular place to go for a meal or just a drink and enjoy the sun and the views on the terrace outside.
We ate a very tasty lunch at Bistro Sva Marga Mat where they serve delicious food, all made with fresh and organic ingredients. The best place to go if you’re looking for a vegetarian meal.
Afterwards we continued our walk along the water and we passed the beaches of Vaxholm. Unfortunately it was a bit too cold to go for a swim.
Unfortunately there was some rain too. But it was short and nature always makes it up to you with a rainbow!
We stayed at the lovely small Vaxholms Bed & Breakfast, just a 5 minute walk from the main village. I can highly recommend this B&B! It’s located in a quiet area, with your own terrace outside and a kitchenette inside. Perfect for a romantic and quiet getaway.