Stockholm, Sweden’s capitol, is surrounded by an archipelago of some 30,000 islands. Some are no more than rocky outcroppings while others boast year-round residents, and those that are inhabited are reached by the region’s intricate ferry system.
Since there are no roads, only packed gravel paths, there are also no cars.
Just a five-minute ferry ride from the mainland lies the 100-acre island of Tranholmen. Fewer than 400 residents live on Tranholmen, which boats views of the Baltic Sea and mainland Sweden at nearly every turn. It is a place both rustic and sophisticated. There are no cars, no roads, no streetlights or shops, but the houses range from simple cottages to grand homes.
Most residents live on Tranholmen and work in the city, taking first the ferry and then the metro into downtown Stockholm. Children on the island attend school in Stockholm where they are transported not by bus to school but by boat.
Since there are no roads, only packed gravel paths, there are also no cars. However, every resident owns at least one boat. No shops mean that groceries must be ferried onto the island, and if you care to go out to eat, there are several restaurants a quick boat ride away.
On Friday nights, a makeshift pub opens up in one of the common buildings at the center of the island. Families bike or walk from all ends of the island to gather at the end of the week and share a beer or an ice cream and talk and catch up while the children play deep into the Scandinavian night.
Still, it’s not always summer in Sweden where the skies stay light until after midnight during the warmer months. In winter the sun dips below the horizon by 3PM, and the Baltic freezes over between the island and the mainland. With the waterways frozen and no boat access, a floating bridge is assembled to connect Tranholmen to the mainland. For some, it’s just as easy to cross-country ski over.
And yet, as the long shadows creep slowly across summer’s sky, marking the slow descent from afternoon to evening to Scandinavian twilight, it’s hard to imagine Tranholmen any other way than sun-kissed, with the Baltic spreading serene and blue before it.