Some travel writers would call this place words like “quaint” and “charming,” but I like to call it “living.” It’s one of those towns where people really live and appear to enjoy life, where they thrive and delight in a sense of community. Spending time with a few of the locals, you can see that they respect and honor the cultural traditions of their ancestors. They do things the “old way”, the way people have done them for hundreds of years.
Their “way” is a natural approach to life in harmony with nature and the sea. Good health, good food and clean living.
Utopia in Vaxholm, Sweden
Vaxholm, Sweden is just an hour ferry ride from central Stockholm, but certainly a world apart.
The people here live in brightly painted wooden houses on the edge of nature with cool breezes, flocks of sea birds, and picket fences … not just white picket fences, but deep red and dark green ones.
Bright pink and yellow ones, too. I even saw a forest green picket fence with yellow tips!
There’s a lot of variety in colors, but similar in styles, so the neighborhoods all work well with each other. I came across one house with a light blue front door and a yellow staircase leading you up to the front porch. There were small white wooden tables scattered around the neighborhoods with matching wooden chairs and a pot of flowers on each of them at various homes.
I noticed that folded newspapers still get delivered to the post boxes nailed to the picket fence gates. On my early morning walk, I watched old Swedish women come out of their dainty houses to get the morning read. The sounds of a bird’s crow were heard loudly in the background air. I walked with amazement about how beautiful the flowers and nature can be here in the summertime and how it works so well in harmony with the Swedish people.
The roads were filled with distinguished, older Swedish women walking their dogs and their bikes, literally uphill because the village of Vaxholm has mildly steep hills.
I sat on a bench by the sea. I heard the sounds of birds all around me, flocks of them sometimes. They were loud, but pleasant squeals and squawks. Then I heard the lapping of the sea water and the feel of the cool breezes as I sat on that bench. Sailboats were gliding by. Kayakers were in the ocean water. Flowers were blooming everywhere. People were walking with hiking sticks to get exercise. I literally saw children singing songs in the street, mothers pushing baby carriages as well as old women pushing walker’s alongside their spouse (probably of 50 years) who was pushing a bike. It is hard for me to believe that places like this exist: pure utopia!
What would a trip to any city be without me mentioning the history and culture of this ancient land? Vaxholm’s churches and cemeteries were scattered throughout the town as I continued on my morning walk. In only a few short hours I got a real sense of community here. Where the people respect their ancestors, maintain a good working community, and intertwine nature and good health into their daily lives.
And then there is the food …
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention a few amazing restaurant experiences I had on the archipelago from two delightful and strong women chefs/owners. And I don’t mention this because they are women, but because the restaurants are marvelous, delightful, and brilliant in every way. They actually add to the charm of this town.
Vaxholms Hembygdsgards Café
This is where sumptuous homemade cakes, brownies, and various pastries await your taste buds with eye-catching beauty. They have an outdoor garden by the sea where you can enjoy a glass of champagne or wine with lunch and, of course, a delectable dessert. I have not seen desserts looks so pretty in a very long time, and not just one but at least 25 different types to choose from!
It is a rare occurrence to eat in someone’s personal home, but not just any home, a home restaurant that has risen to one of the top restaurants in Vaxholm. You can arrive to the beautiful setting by a taxi boat to Lisa’s pier.
Miss Lisa welcomes you to her fine home dining experience with open arms and a refreshing elixir made right from her garden of violet water, herbs, local infused vodka and champagne!
You will sense her passion immediately upon arrival. She then invites you in for a 6-course dinner that she has prepared for you. In her kitchen, she not only follows the seasons with her cooking, but she even grows and searches the woods for many of her ingredients. She uses local and organic products as much as possible.
She speaks of using “the old ways of the archipelago” by using the techniques of drying, smoking, pickling.
And there you have it. Vaxholm in a nutshell, and only an hour ferry ride from Stockholm! I call it Utopia in Vaxholm, Sweden!
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