The best Stockholm boat tours and cruises

Stockholm stretches across fourteen separate islands, which are separated by twisting canals and open waterways. No matter where you go in the city, it seems like you’re never too far from the shoreline.

Alejandro (CC)

Because so many locals commute from one island to another, ferries make up an important part of the public transport network. There’s also a thriving boat tour industry, with dozens of colourful boats taking tourists out onto the water to get a different view of the city.

With Lake Mälaren to the west and a vast archipelago to the east, there are loads of different boat trips you can take from Stockholm.

Some take less than an hour and some are much longer, offering you the chance to enjoy a full day of sun, sea and sand. If you do decide to hop on a boat tour from Stockholm, there are a few things to keep in mind.

Choosing the right type of boat tour

There are so many different boat tours and cruises on offer that you might want to start narrowing down your options early on. The first step is to work out much time you have.

Stockholm boat tours and cruises

A brief tour of Stockholm’s inner waterways will take less than an hour, while a longer trip to the Stockholm Archipelago will take at least three hours, if not the whole day.

Next, you should think about which direction you want to head in. Do you want to head west towards Lake Mälaren, go east beyond the city limits, or stay nice and central to get a feel for Stockholm’s different neighbourhoods from the water?

Another thing to bear in mind is the content of the tour. If you want to see Stockholm’s highlights from the water, there are dozens of tours that circle around Stockholm’s canals and introduce you to the city the way it was meant to be seen, from the deck of a boat.

On the other hand, if you fancy a day of wandering cute streets, chomping through yummy kanelbullar (cinnamon buns) and drinking in lovely panoramic views, you might want to head to one of the archipelago islands close by, such as Vaxholm or Fjäderholmarna.

Another option, if you’d prefer to delve into Swedish history, is to roam among Viking ruins and 17th-century palaces on a boat tour of Lake Mälaren.

Tips for taking a Stockholm boat tour

– Wear something warm and waterproof; it can get chilly, even during summer
– Pack sunscreen during the summer (the UV levels can still be high, even in Sweden)
– Consider taking a private tour: there are options for sailing and kayaking
– Bring cash and cards, just in case
– Don’t forget your phone/camera!

Where do the boat tours depart from?

There are harbours all over the place in Stockholm, but if you’re joining a boat tour then the chances are that it will depart from one place in particular: Nybroviken in Norrmalm.

There are three neighbouring docks here: Nybroplan, Nybrokajen and Strandvägen. Different tours depart from different docks.

Strömkajen is another popular harbour in Norrmalm. It’s at Södra Blasieholmshamnen 11. Many tours that stay in the city limits, such as the Royal Canal Tour, depart from here.

Boats heading west to Lake Mälaren, Drottningholm Palace or Birka depart from Stockholm City Hall at Klara Mälarstrand 2. Other ports of departure are Gustav Adolfs Torg (at the Opera House), the Royal Palace (Skeppsbron 2), and Nacka Strand.

The departure points are always subject to change, so be sure to check your ticket to see which one your trip is departing from.

Do Stockholm’s boat tours run all year?

Summer (roughly April–September) is high season for boat tours in Stockholm, thanks to the much warmer weather and the fact that the waterways are completely finally free from ice at this time.

However, some cruises and tours (like the Royal Canal Tour, for example) are available much longer, often until mid-December or whenever the water begins to freeze.

Likewise, tours may start earlier in the spring if the weather is nice and warm. Tougher public boats run out to parts of the Stockholm Archipelago all year round (see this guide for more details on some of the islands you can visit with these boats).

And of course, there are atmospheric winter cruises that run through the year, provided there’s no ice.

Where to get tickets

It’s usually cheaper and less hassle to book the ticket yourself. You can buy tickets for all tours online up to one hour prior to departure time.

After that, you can either buy tickets at tourist information centres or Strömma’s ticket offices at Strömkajen, Gustaf Adolfs Torg, Stadshusbron and Nybroplan.

On some boats, such as the ferry to Vaxholm, you can even board without a ticket and buy one onboard.

The Stockholm Pass

If you’ve got a Stockholm Pass, a ‘hop-on, hop-off’ boat tour is included in the price of your pass. To find out whether the Stockholm Pass is right for you, check out this handy guide!

Stockholm boat tours

15 of the best boat tours and cruises in Stockholm

Under the bridge

Keep things in Stockholm with this sightseeing cruise especially made for tourists. The boat will take you under bridges to the main landmarks (audio-visual tour onboard).

This two-hours and 15-minute cruise will take you from the Baltic Sea to Lake Mälaren, under bridges and to the main landmarks of the Old Town, Södermalm, Stora Essingen, Hammarby Sjöstad and forested Djurgården.

Check prices


Royal Canal Tour

Have less than an hour to spare and just want a sneak peek of Stockholm from the water?

The Royal Canal Tour glides around the peaceful Djurgården canal and introduces you to this historic island’s landscapes with an audio guide in 11 languages. It’s one of the most popular boat tours going.

Check prices


The ‘hop-on, hop-off’ boat tour

See Stockholm at your own pace with the unique hop-on hop-off boat tour.

Your boat ticket is valid for 24-hours so you can hop on and off wherever you like: popular stops include the Royal Palace, the Vasa Museum, Skansen and the Abba museum.

This is a quick way to see all the city’s major highlights, a boon if you’re pressed for time.

The hop-on, hop-off boat is included in the Go-City Stockholm Pass. For more on whether it’s worth buying the pass for your trip, see our guide to the Stockholm Go City Pass: is it worth buying?

Check prices


Explore the archipelago by kayak

This fun full-day kayak tour takes you out to the quieter parts of the archipelago by kayak. Glide along the coastline, admire Stockholm from the water and explore the smaller islands and waterways of the archipelago.

Dry suits, lunch, hot drinks and Swedish fika are included too, to keep your energy levels up as your paddle.

Check prices


Vaxholm

Charming Vaxholm is one of the most popular islands in the archipelago, with a picturesque town, narrow alleys, shops, galleries, and the 16th-century Vaxholm citadel.

You can either get there by fast boat which takes about fifty minutes or opt for the atmospheric classic wooden boat, which takes about 90 minutes.

Either way, you can easily spend a whole day exploring Vaxholm town before heading back to Stockholm.

Check prices


Dining cruises

If your goal is not to sightsee, but just to relax and enjoy a fine meal on Stockholm’s gorgeous waterways, go with a dining cruise.

There are brunch, lunch and dinner cruises, as well as a buffet dinner cruise with live music.

There’s even a special ‘shrimp boat’, a three-hour sunset tour of the archipelago with all-you-can-eat shrimp included.

Check prices


Fjäderholmarna

Head out to Fjäderholmarna, the archipelago islands closest to Stockholm. Here you’ll encounter glassblowers, smiths, potters and shops selling all sorts of artisan handicrafts.

It’s just a 30-minute cruise to get there – spend a lazy afternoon and catch the boat home before it gets too dark (which is around 10pm in the summer!).

If you’ve got a Go-City Stockholm Pass, the boat trip to Fjäderholmarna is included.

Check prices


Birka

History aficionados will love Birka, a once-thriving Viking settlement dating back to the 750s. It’s Sweden’s first city and a fascinating Unesco World Heritage Site.

You can wander as much as your heart desires among the Viking ruins and the open-air museum, and then sample authentic Viking food made from locally sourced ingredients at the themed Särimner Restaurant.

Check prices


Drottningholm Palace

Another popular destination for cruises to Lake Mälaren is Drottningholm Palace, residence of the Royal Family and a Unesco World Heritage Site.

Its beautiful parks, landscaped gardens, historic theatre and Chinese pavilion are well worth a look if you’ve made it as far as Stockholm.

You can buy a combination ticket that includes both the one-hour boat ride and entrance tickets to the palace grounds. Or you can just buy a return boat ticket, or travel one-way by boat and return by metro.

There’s more info on visiting Drottningholm in this guide. The boat-trip to Drottningholm is also included in the Go-City Stockholm Pass

Check prices


Amphibious bus tour

Now, here’s a fun way to see the city by land and water. The amphibious bus tour known as the Ocean Bus starts with a drive through Stockholm’s historic centre before taking to the water and exploring this city’s sights from the sea.

Once in the water, the ten-tonne amphibious bus cruises past the Vasa Museum and the islands of Södermalm and Skeppsholmen, where you get great views of the Royal Palace.

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Lake Mälaren by kayak

This full-day guided kayak tour explores Lake Mälaren, paddling past the picturesque Steninge Palace and the royal Rosersberg Palace, as well as the iron-age settlement at Runsa. 

After paddling around 12km, and stopping for a picnic lunch on a deserted island, you’ll visit the historic town of Sigtuna.

Check prices


Stockholm winter cruise

Just because the weather is bad doesn’t mean you can’t take a boat trip. In fact, seeing the city from the water, its buildings covered in snow with ice on the shores is even more atmospheric than seeing it in summer.

And you don’t need to worry about the cold – reindeer skins are provided to keep you cosy, and warming bowls of traditional Swedish pea soup and hot Glögg (mulled wine) can be bought on board too.

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Sail round the Stockholm Archipelago

Spend the day sailing round just a few of the Stockholm archipelago’s 24,000 islands. 

An expert captain will take you round some of the uninhabited and lesser-visited islands – and you can even have a go at steering and crewing the yacht yourself.

A Swedish lunch and drinks on-board are included.

Check prices


Take the ferry to Djurgården island

Not exactly a boat tour, but this guided tour of Stockholm’s main sights includes a ferry trip over to the island of Djurgården.

You’ll explore the old town and hear all about tis history before taking the boat over to Djurgården and visiting the impressive Vasa ships museum.

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Take a RIB ride round the archipelago

This hour-long blast round the archipelago takes you as far out as the island of Fjäderholmarnas. You’ll see the sights of Stockholm from the water before reaching speeds of up to 40 miles an hour as you whizz out to the farther islands in the Baltic Sea.

Check prices

Take a boat trip to Helsinki

For the ultimate boat trip from Stockholm, why not head to Helsinki on this three-day mini-cruise to Finland?

You’ll spend two nights on board the boat, with a buffet breakfast included and six hours on land exploring the fascinating Finnish capital Helsinki.

You get great views of both cities as you arrive and depart, and there are restaurants, karaoke and even a sauna on-board.

For all the low-down on taking this fun trip, see our guide to taking the ferry from Stockholm to Helsinki.

Private boat tours

And if you fancy splashing out on a really cool way of seeing the Stockholm Archipelago, why not charter your own private yacht for you and your friends or family?

This three-hour yacht charter for up to six people includes your own fully qualified captain plus lunch or dinner served on-board.

And because you’re in charge, you can choose where to go and which islands to visit.

For more on renting your own boat, see our guide to the best boat rentals and yacht charters in Stockholm.

See also:
The Stockholm Archipelago: six of the best islands to visit 
The best boat and yacht charters in Stockholm
Ten of the best boat tours and cruises from Helsinki

 

TOURS AND ACTIVITIES IN STOCKHOLMMORE TOURS

 


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