I love swimming, the Swedish way, in a cold lake at an odd time of the day, or night. Always my swimming costume and a towel in my bike basket, never too cold. Stockholm are full of official and unofficial swimming spots, and legally speaking, you are allowed to swim pretty much everywhere, meaning that the best way to discover this particularly charming aspect of Stockholm is to bring your swimming gear and explore your surroundings.
Personally, as I live just at the south edge of the city centre, my staple is Vinterviken. This is a short walk or bike ride from my place, and I often find a moment before or after work, or in the afternoon as my children are playing. As spring matures into summer, these dips become longer, with the rising water temperatures. If the cliffs by Örnberget (take the tunnelbana to Örnsberg, or your bike) are too busy for you, you can follow the coast all the way to Klubbensborg (there’s a café there, by the way), and find several spots on the way where you can swim. Further down the coast, you find Mälarhöjdsbadet, which is more of a traditional badplats, with a sandy beach and pontoons. Great for families and teenagers.
For a full day out with my family, we travel to Lövhagen just outside Nynäshamn. This is a recreational area along the coast, great for walking, picnicking, fishing and swimming. You can get there by driving, or taking the pendeltåg (commuter train) from central Stockholm to Nynäshamn. The great thing is that you can take your bike on the train, and cycle along the coast. As my children are still small, we rarely have the opportunity to explore the whole area, so we usually walk to Knappelskär, a large rock joined to the mainland with a pebbly beach. The beach in itself is lovely, sheltered from the wind and relatively shallow (but freezing). We normally sit down there to play and enjoy our packed lunch and explore the rocks later in the afternoon. These are quite steep, and an exciting landscape for small and big children, full of crevices and climbing trees. There is even a cave!
Another day trip is to Stendörren Naturreservat, close to Nyköping. You need a car to get here, but I would say it’s worth renting one for the occasion. Beware of how popular the place is, you can’t arrive in the afternoon and expect to find somewhere to park. This nature reserve comprises a number of small rocky islands. Some are accessible by boat only but others you can reach by using small suspension bridges. Most people come for the day, bringing food and drink, swimming gear and a good book. Find yourself a good spot in the sun, and use this as a base camp for the day, to enjoy the beautiful landscape of sea, pine, and bilberries. There are no beaches nor ladders, and it can be a bit slippery due to seaweed. I normally bring aqua shoes and an inflatable mattress to make the most of it.
If you are a lake enthusiast, I also recommend Largen, a small lake one hour’s drive from Stockholm. I think it’s also reachable by SL bus, although it might take some time to get there. There is a designated badplats, with some substandard facilities and a pontoon, and there is nothing particular with the forest around it. However, this is one of the cleanest lakes in Sweden, and the water in itself is spectacularly crystal clear. On a sunny day, you can see the lake floor several metres down. To make the trip worthwhile, you can also stop at Wira bruk for a coffee and a stroll.