Off the coast of Stockholm lies an archipelago with thousands of islands. The most southern island of that archipelago is Landsort. When I spent a few days on the island in July 2016, Landsort quickly captured my heart. Anyone who takes a look at my Facebook page and wonders where the cover photo was taken… Landsort, from the pilot tower!
The island of Öja
Landsort is a town in the south of the 4 km long and barely 560 meters wide island of Öja and is located about 65 km south of Stockholm. Barely a handful of people live there (there used to be 190 people, now only 27). There are mainly summer houses. When we were there, a completely to be renovated house was for sale for a very affordable price (150,000 SEK or about 15,000 euros). The renovation costs would probably soar as everything had to be transported to the island by boat. Yes, I have considered the purchase (and now I’m sorry I didn’t)!
From Nynäshamn we took the ferry to Landsort. Due to the difficult conditions for mooring with the vessel, there are two inlets on both the eastern and western sides of the island that are used as ports. Depending on the weather, one or the other “port” is chosen.
Landsort comes from Landzoort which stands for “the end of the country” in Old Dutch. It was the Dutch businessman Johan van der Hagen who in 1669 was given the right to provide a lighthouse at this location.
The lighthouse on the island is the oldest Swedish lighthouse still in use. The current tower was built in 1689. First the signaling was done with a real fire. Only later they worked with lenses to amplify the signal. In 1870, another extension was added to the lighthouse, reaching a height of 25 meters. The light from the tower can be seen for over 40 km. Nowadays a lighthouse is no longer useful because of the modern equipment, but no one dares to turn it off. Lighthouses have great cultural value.
You can also visit the iconic lighthouse on request. When we were there, the owner of Lotstornet had a key. To get to the top of the lighthouse you have to climb 87 stairs. From the top of the tower you have a fantastic view of the island. For a good view of the lighthouse and the island, you have to be in Lotstornet, the pilot tower.
There have been “pilots” on the island since 1535. Because of the difficulties to navigate the environment with a lot of shallow parts, those pilots were not an exaggerated luxury. The Swedes left by sea to “go to war” but were often stranded on their return at Landsort.
The secret side of the island
Landsort is also home to one of the most advanced military bunkers, Batteri Landsort. It was mainly placed there during the Cold War as a deterrent. The anti-aircraft guns could shoot up to 25 km. The guide Jaak told us about the strategic location of Landsort. During the Second World War, between 400 and 1700 soldiers were stationed here. During the war, only Swedish civilians were allowed to enter the island. Batteri Landsort is built to survive for a longer period of time. Drinking water is collected at a depth of 100 meters. A fellow traveler wrote this about it.
Spend the night at Landsort
We spent the night in Lotstornet of Åke Svedtilja. A few years ago, this former Swedish top chef chose to stop his popular restaurant in Stockholm, to renovate the pilot tower and to run an accommodation on Landsort. In the meantime he also has a restaurant on the island. You can read more about our wonderful stay at Svedtiljas in a separate article.
After a refreshing night’s sleep, we took an even more refreshing dip in the cold waters of the Baltic Sea. It is here that my love for open water swimming rekindled. Whatever the season, if I have the opportunity to dive in a lake or in the sea, I will certainly not let it go.
How do you reach Landsort?
To travel to Landsort, from Stockholm, you first take the train to Nynäshamn. This will take just over an hour. From here you can take a (taxi) boat to Landsort or you can travel further by bus 852 to Ankarudden where you can take ferry 29 to Landsort for 75 SEK (about 8 euros – prices from 2018). In summer, the ferry sails 5 times a day. In winter you can travel to Landsort 3 times a day. Then sometimes an icebreaker is needed to reach your destination. Total travel time Stockholm-Landsort is approximately 2.5 hours.
And to conclude, a few more pictures to dream away: