In terms of sailing grounds, Sweden and Finland are probably best known for their Baltic Sea Archipelagos. However, both of these countries have also thousands of lakes and most of the largest ones can be visited with a sailing boat. This season we sailed to Lake Mälaren, which is the third largest lake in Sweden.

We only spent two nights at Mälaren, so we cannot really say that we would know this 120 kilometres long lake area inside out. However, during the two days we got taste of fresh water sailing.

From the Baltic Sea, Lake Mälaren can be accessed in two ways: via southerly Södertälje canal, where the lock is located at the center of Södertälje city. Another way to come to Mälaren with your own boat is via Hammarby lock, which is located in Stockholm. Both the canals have only one lock, and as the average water level difference between Baltic Sea and Mälaren is only about 0,6 m, the locking is fairly easy and the rise or fall of water level is barely noticeable.

These two waterways to Mälaren mean that you can make a nice ring route and have a new landscape all the time. There is quite a lot of motoring expected especially when going to / from the lake, but the changing scenery makes also these legs interesting. For example, we have been in Stockholm many times before, but it was interesting to approach this large capital city from the Mälaren side for the first time.

The winds were light during our stay so we had to motor both the days when on the lake. We did not find information on official wild anchorages, but as the wind was light on the first night, we ended up dropping the anchor just close to the shore and had a nice and peaceful evening and night with great views over to the lake.

Is the Lake Mälaren worth the visit for a cruising sailor?

Well, I guess that the answer depends. The history of the area is long so there is definitely interesting places to visit and see. We only stopped at Birka Viking village and in the idyllic Mariefred town, but there probably would have been many more places to see. On the other hand, for those who are looking for staying in a wild postcard anchorages by the rocks, Stockholm Archipelago, Åland Islands and the Archipelago of Turku offer much more options for this kind of cruising.

For someone who have sailed in Stockholm Archipelago for many years, route via Lake Mälaren offers a nice alternative, as you can go south from Stockholm via the lake and then come back north via the Stockholm archipelago (or the other way around as we did). On the other hand, if you are first-timer in the Baltic Sea Archipelagos or planning to sail here from further away, in my opionin these great archipelagos offer so many beautiful harbours and anchorages, that one or two months is not going to be enough to even scratch the surface of this area.

Trees are growing over the lake like in a jungle. Lush forests look nice, but are difficult to walk!

Unlike in Stockholm Archipelago, even the small islets are full of trees

Hammarby lock 

Opening bridge at the lock

Södertälje canal

Locking is easy and rise of water is barely noticeable

Trosa is a nice picturesque city in the east coast of Sweden (Baltic Sea). Located about 30 nm away 
from the Lake Mälaren, it is a good stopover place to / from the Södertälje canal route.

The Birka Viking village (Björkö) has an interesting history. The actual village is nicely reacreated, but apart from that, there’s not that much to see. Also the facilities were not that great so we only paid a short visit.  

We really liked the idyllic small town of Mariefred

Gripsholm’s Castle, Mariefred

The castle is located close to the harbour
Approaching Stockholm

Harbour under the bridge. Västerbrohamnen is located in the Mälaren side of Stockholm, and is a good option to crowded Wasahamn or Navishamnen. The harbour has some guest berths.