Sprawled across 14 islands where Lake Mälaren meets the Baltic Sea, Stockholm is surrounded by water. The city’s many waterways are among the cleanest in the world, making it possible to swim right in the urban core.
Stockholmers make the most of the long summer days, flocking to beaches and cliffs all over the city to soak up the sun and enjoy a refreshing dip. Here’s our pick of places to go if you want to take a break from sightseeing and cool off with a quick swim or a day at the beach.
Stockholm’s many hours of summer daylight draw bathers to the sun-warmed cliffs that slope down into Lake Mälaren at the western end of Kungsholmen. At Fredhällsbadet there’s easy access to the deep water (there are no shallows here) via steps and jetties with ladders – if you can avoid stepping on the sun worshippers splayed out on every available patch of rock, grass or wooden deck. There’s a snack bar if you get hungry, though you’re also welcome to bring a picnic.
Fredhällsbadet closes in the early evening, but if you want to linger late – or if the official swimming area is too crowded – there are plenty of other cliffs nearby where you can grab a spot to enjoy the gorgeous city views, watch boats pass by, and carefully descend to water level for a dip. On a fine summer evening, Fredhällsklipporna (as the cliffs are called) are a lovely spot to watch the sunset over Lake Mälaren.
Urban beaches don’t get much more central than Smedsuddsbadet, located on Kungsholmen next to Rålambshovsparken. There’s a soft-sand beach in a cove on the west side of the small headland called Smedsudden, and plenty of grass where you can spread a blanket or towel and settle in for the day. A walking path runs a fair distance along the water in both directions, and there are kayaks and stand-up paddleboards for rent on the east side of Smedsudden, facing Västerbron (the Western Bridge), which runs from Kungsholmen to Södermalm.
“Smedis” gets very crowded on fine summer days and can turn into a bit of a party spot in the evenings and on weekends, so don’t come here expecting tranquility. With the crowds come occasional problems with litter or overtaxed facilities. That said, the prime location, sandy seabed, and shallow water near shore make this one of Stockholm’s most popular swimming areas for all ages.
Come early to beat the crowds at this family-friendly swimming spot on the north side of Långholmen. Here you can wave at the boats passing by on Lake Mälaren as you picnic on the lawn, build a sandcastle on the small sandy beach, or bob in the deep water close to shore. If not for the high-rise apartment buildings across the water, you might find it hard to believe you’re still in central Stockholm. With toilets onsite and food available nearby, it’s easy to linger for hours – just don’t expect to have the place to yourself on a warm summer day. Unusually for city-center beaches, there’s also parking nearby.
Tucked away along a small cove in a park near the eastern end of Långholmen, this secluded swimming area has no facilities or services, but there are smooth rocks for sunbathing, plenty of trees for shade, and short stretches of beach where you can enter the water, which quickly becomes quite deep. And it’s hard to beat the view. To the left are the soaring arches of Västerbron. Look to the right, and you’ll see Stadshuset, Stockholm’s distinctive red-brick City Hall, and the church spires of Gamla Stan. One important thing to note: this swimming spot is as popular with four-legged visitors as two-legged ones, so if the thought of dogs scampering about unleashed makes you uncomfortable, you’ll want to head elsewhere.
Sometimes a swim doesn’t have to be more complicated than a dip from a jetty extending into a pleasantly cool lake. That’s what draws Stockholmers to this bathing spot on the small island of Lilla Essingen, opposite the Fredhäll cliffs. There’s just a single jetty with a ladder, but plenty of room to spread out on the grass in the park. The water gets deep right away here, so good swimming skills are essential.
Södermalm is one of Stockholm’s trendiest neighborhoods, so no surprise that it’s also home to one of the city’s most popular beaches. Located on Årstaviken, which separates central Stockholm from its southern suburbs, Tanto Strandbad is part of the large Tantolunden park, with walking paths and more than 100 allotment gardens with quaint little cottages.
Tanto is a family-friendly beach with bathing jetties and a jumping tower, as well as a climbing wall, a beach volleyball court, and a minigolf course. Kayaks and stand-up paddleboards can be rented in summer. With so much activity, Tanto often gets crowded, especially later in the day. Come early to stake out a good spot and enjoy some relative peace before the masses descend.
To escape the urban bustle without going far, head to this beach on the eastern shore of Brunnsviken, a brackish lake just north of central Stockholm. Popular with families, Brunnsviken has a small beach with a floating jetty and a raft, as well as grassy areas and smooth rocks. The main area by the beach can get quite crowded, but it’s easy enough to find more peace and privacy by walking along the path that leads through the woods along the lakeshore. Be aware that if you head north there’s a naturist bathing area 300 meters (almost 330 yards) up the shore from the main beach.
The water in Brunnsviken is often a bit warmer than at downtown beaches, and the western orientation and natural surroundings make this a great place to soak up some afternoon sun and maybe even catch a beautiful summer sunset.
You may also like:
The best things you can do for free (and nearly free) in Stockholm
How to get around in Stockholm
The best neighborhoods in Stockholm