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Lake Mälaren


A huge expanse of fascinating lake lies just to the west of Stockholm. Many people get just a taste of it rushing between Södertälje and Stockholm, but we spent some more time exploring it. Despite the weather we had, its a great area. There are many guest harbours, fewer, but still interesting nature harbours, and a few large towns. The character is different from the archipelago, with many islands with the trees coming right down to the water and less boat traffic. We visited early, where everything was open, but often we were the only visitor.

Malaren MapMälaren is criss crossed by a number of bridges. Pretty well all the fixed bridges are at 25m height, except for an 18m one at Staket, on the way to Sigtuna. The rest lift, usually once an hour, from about 0700 to 2100 or more. The opening times are specific for each bridge. You need the Upplev Mälaren guide to tell you when they open. You can however talk to the bridge operators on VHF.

You can access Mälaren either via the Södertälje canal (one lifting bridge, one lock), or via the Hammarby waterway from Stockholm Harbour (two lifting bridges, also one lock). Cost is currently 140 SEK, paid on exit.

Mariefred
Mariefred

If you have time for only one stop in Mälaren, then Mariefred, or rather Gripsholms Slott, is probably the place. The guest harbour (stern bouys) is more or less in the Castle moat, right opposite the famous Värdshus restaurant. The town lies less than five minutes away, has bags of character, and a pretty good supermarket. Between the harbour and the castle lies a Narrow Gauge steam railway, open during the summer.

The castle houses the Swedish National Portrait collection, and has been preserved more or less as Gustav III lived in it. A guided tour is available in English, but the guide book does just as good a job. The castle is worth seeing for the stunning miniature theatre alone.

Strängnäs
Strangnas

A few miles away by road, but twenty by sea (and two lifting bridges) lies the rather larger town of Strängnäs. The guest harbour, just beyond the bridge is a pretty setting (but give the Greek restaurant a miss). The town itself is nothing to write home about although all ammenities are pretty close to the boat. However, turn left before getting to the town and walk up 'Swedens prettiest street' (Gyllenhjelmsgatan) towards the huge church, which towers over the area for miles around. This part of Strängnäs is another world altogether and you can walk back along the lake shore.

Sundybyholm
Sundbyholm

Sundybyholms slott, about 10 miles south of Västerås, has been turned into something of an all-purpose romantic destination, just right for your wedding. However, its not been overcommercialised, and, in good weather, it is a glorious spot. The whole area is meticulously tended. The Slott itself is now a decent restaurant. The hotel is extensive with separate suites as well as rooms, and the guest harbour well appointed (including a sauna and Wireless Internet to the boat). The hotel runs floating picnics for its guests. The best part however is Broudden, a 1km promontory which hides a superb bathing beach and a large number of picturesque barbeque places. Well worth visiting, but likely to be a bit busy in summer.

Västerås
Vasteras

Reputedly Sweden's sixth largest city, Västerås is what Ryanair laughingly call Stockholm (only 70 miles away). Its a curious mixture of concrete shopping centre and olde worlde Sweden, but its done with charm and some style. The guest harbour is a little light on water (we - 1.7m - ran aground) but facilities are excellent (including a sauna). The harbour is a bit of a walk from the main shops, but not an unpleasant one. The prettiest part of Vasteras is to the left of the river when approached from the sea - leave the shopping centre for when you need it.

Kolarudd
Vasteras

Tucked away in a fjord at the northern part of Mälaren is Kolarudd. This is the HQ for Enkopings Sailing Club, but is a Guest Harbour as well. The club has set it up with some nice facilities. There is an indoor grill platz ( a sort of hut with a grill in the middle - much better than it sounds) and an excellent wood burning bastu. The setting, though rather remote, would be stunning in the right weather(!)

Sigtuna
Vasteras

Next to Mariefred, probably the best known destination in Malaren. To get there means negotatiating Staket, a narrow channel and swing bridge with a maximum height of 18m, but Sigtuna is worth it. Not as commercial as I expected, the town dates back to the 800s and is compact with some real charm. The floating 'Boathouse' resturant is excellent.

Useful resources
North Sea Passage Pilot

Upplev Mälaren

Essential free guide on guest harbours and bridges. Available from Tourist Offices

Baltic Sea

The Baltic Sea

Has some information on Mälaren

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