From the Middle Ages until the end of the Cold War, the Swedish military has had many troops, ships and fortifications in the archipelago, for the defense of Stockholm.
The local population relied on subsistence fishing and farming, isolated from Stockholm's enormous economic progress in the 19th century. During the 20th century, many islands were de-populated, and transformed to summer resorts, with very small population during winter. Today, most island-dwellers commute to Stockholm for work, and enjoy maritime life as a hobby.
Värmdö (archaic spelling Wermdö) is the largest island in the archipelago, accessible by road. contains suburban neighborhoods as well as deep forests, lakes and beaches. Gustavsberg is the main town. Stavsnäs is the main ferry terminal for the southern archipelago.
Vaxholm (archaic spelling Waxholm) is a quaint, road-accessible island-town, with some shopping, and a major boat terminal.
Sandhamn is a resort island in the outer archipelago.
Grinda is a small rural island, near Stockholm and Vaxholm.
Utö is an outer-archipelago idyllic island with a closed-down silver mine, and remains from the mining industry.
Buses to the northern archipelago depart from Tekniska Högskolan. Buses to Värmdö depart from Slussen. Buses for the southern archipelago depart from Gullmarsplan. http://sl.se/Visitor/Plan-your-journey/
Most of the large islands can be reached on road, at some locations through free-ride car ferries. http://www.trafikverket.se/Farja/Farjeleder/Farjeleder-i-ditt-lan/Farjeleder-i-Stockholm213/
You can also take a boat from downtown Stockholm, see below.
The major shipping companies are the public-transport Waxholmsbolaget, and the private-owned Strömma.
Waxholmsbolaget's regular boats depart from Strömkajen at the Grand Hotel. They stop at most docks, and tickets are comparably cheap.
Waxholmsbolaget also has two old-fashioned steamboats, mainly for dining cruises. http://www.waxholmsbolaget.se/visitor/archipelago-traffic/plan-trip/
Strömma is aimed at major tourist destinations, faster but costlier. Most of their boats depart from Nybrokajen at Nybroplan. http://www.stromma.se/en/Skargard/Stromma-Kanalbolaget/
The Baltic Sea ferries offer an elevated view of the archipelago, though without the opportunity to set foot on any of them.
In general, the further out to the ocean, the more spectacular the view. During summer, sailboats add to the scenery.
Outdoor bathing and hiking. Rod fishing is allowed without a license at most locations.
Most boats in regular traffic have a simple bar, offering regular beer and wine.
Ticks, fästingar, are common in grassy areas of the archipelago.