Vaxholm: former defense base of Stockholm


In the Baltic Sea to the east of Sweden lies the Stockholm archipelago, consisting of 24,000 islands of various sizes, including Vaxholm.

Vaxholm is a popular tourist destination that many people visit by ferry from Stockholm.

However, until the 19th century, the island served as a military base for defending the inner city of Stockholm, and the fortifications used in those days still remain today.

In this article, I would like to explain about the Swedish island of Vaxholm, which offers a unique blend of colorful, beautiful cityscapes and sturdy fortresses.

What is the island of Vaxholm?

The island of Vaxholm, situated 20 km northeast of Stockholm, Sweden, is located at the entrance to and exit from the Baltic Sea.

The open Baltic Sea is home to approximately 24,000 islands, collectively known as the Stockholm Archipelago, and Vaxholm is one of them.

As a resort area that attracts both domestic and international tourists, Vaxholm is located on the main route from the Baltic Sea to the city of Stockholm.

However, it is worth noting that Vaxholm Island was actually founded in the 16th century as a defense base to prevent foreign enemies from invading Stockholm.

Vaxholm Fortress as a military base

The island of Vaxholm is situated along the sea route leading from the Baltic Sea to Stockholm.

Due to its strategic location, from the 16th to the 19th century, Vaxholm Island played a critical role as a maritime fortress, defending the capital city of Stockholm against invading powers from across the sea.

The Vaxholm Fortress, with its sturdy outer walls and armed cannons and weapons, is located on the eastern side of Vaxholm Island.

The first fortress on Vaxholm Island was built in the 16th century, and the current Vaxholm Fortress was constructed over 150 years ago in 1863.

Once a formidable fortress that defended the sea route to Stockholm, it is now open to the public as the Vaxholm Fortress Museum.

The museum displays cannons, shells, and military documents from that era, describing successive Swedish battles.

Resort area visited by many people

With its armed fortifications to prevent invasion by the enemy, the island of Vaxholm may have had the staid atmosphere of a front-line military base a century ago.

However, today the island has transformed from a battlefield defense base to a popular resort destination with colorful streets and a peaceful, cheerful atmosphere.

On the southern side of Vaxholm lies the city center, bustling with wooden houses, quaint cafes, and handcrafted stores.

The island of Vaxholm is easily accessible from Stockholm, with only about an hour away by ferry.

Although it can be reached by land via bus or car, taking the ferry is still the recommended mode of transportation as it offers great views of the city of Vaxholm from the sea.


Vaxholm Island is hardly a shadow of its former military base and is now a resort-like place with an idyllic atmosphere.

On sunny days, many people can be seen sitting on the terraces of cafes, leisurely enjoying Fika while sipping coffee and savoring pastries.