Taking a winter break to visit the Stockholm archipelago

By: Grigorios Georgakis

I am here to prove that winter can be a great time to explore Stockholm archipelago as a student!

The Stockholm archipelago is an amazing place all around the year. It has its beauty in each specific season, summer, autumn, winter and, of course, not forgetting springtime. Do you have any idea at all why it is so attractive to students? First, let us check the semantic aspect of that term in order to understand a little more.

On a ferry to the archipelago

How did the word “archipelago” surface?

The term “Archipelago” comes from the Ancient Greek word ἄρχιπέλαγος – which is my native language – and it is a compound word,ἄρχι- (arkhi-,) that means chief and πέλαγος (pélagos), which means sea. It was “transferred” to Western European languages through the other loyal language after Ancient Greek, which is definitely Latin (Ancient Romance language). The literal meaning of Archipelago is a group of islands or a part of the sea that includes a small number of islands.

A lot of students have told me that Stockholm archipelago is amazing during the summer, but never in the winter. By chance, group of students from Karolinska Institutet invited me to join them for two days in a place called Solvik. Solvik is located on Ingarö, Värmdö in the beautiful Stockholm archipelago which is also a popular spot to kayak. To be honest,  when I first heard of that proposition, I initially thought it as a bad idea because the weather is so cold. Eventually, I decided to go for it – and it was simply the best decision of my life so far, living here in Stockholm.

My 4 favorite things to do in a Stockholm archipelago:

1. Staying overnight in a cottage with friends

We prepared and made quesadillas since all of us came from different countries. Let’s be honest here, who doesn’t like Mexican food? It certainly warms up the tummy when eaten, especially in winter. Then, we belted our hearts out together singing different songs while one of my other friends was playing the piano. It felt so awesome!! And finally, we made ourselves comfortable on the sofas and slept in front of the fireplace. I’d have to admit that those moments were really cosy and nice.

The next day, we woke up and made a healthy but hearty breakfast. Then continued our relaxation by playing some card games.

2: Taking the leap and jumping into icy waters

We also did this thing that is typical of people living in Nordic countries. Did you guess correctly what it is?

Yes, you are right. Nothing is better than having a sauna after jumping into the deep, cold sea averaging zero degrees in the middle of the winter. It’s crazy, exciting, and absolutely refreshing!

3: Disconnecting from social media

Being able to disconnect from social media, or not having to sit in front of the computer all day long is a luxury. I appreciate nature even more so, after we did some outdoor exercises together. Trust me when I say that the archipelago offers peace, serenity and a whole lot of wonder that is not available elsewhere.

4: The barbecue-on-an-island life

We were left with only 3 hours on Solvik before we head back to the city. But that didn’t stop us from setting up a barbecue and gathering around to talk about the experiences we have so far, living in Stockholm. Barbecueing with such a gorgeous scenery in winter and great company is a fantastic experience.

I am positively sure that everyone who was present there will never forget about Solvik.

For me, it was a nice opportunity to be far away from Stockholm, but also close enough to go back as soon as possible. Studying in one of the best universities in the whole of Scandinavia can be quite demanding and at the same time very rewarding, but I figure we all need a weekend getaway to rest our bodies and soul once in awhile. The Stockholm archipelago is a place that has a different character every season, but most importantly it gave me a chance to make new friends and connect with nature.

My suggestion is to try it out for yourselves with your international classmates: It’s an amazing way to discover Stockholm, and you will find friendships in places like these, you never knew existed.