Family Travel Forum's guide to how to get around, what to see, where to stay, and where to eat in Sweden's charming capital of Stockholm.
To prove just how family-friendly the Swedes are, children under 7 always ride free when accompanied by an adult. On weekends (starting Friday at noon), a single paying adult can bring along up to six children under 12 at no extra cost. Pram ramps and lifts make it easy for the entire family to get around, and one adult always travels free with a stroller on buses!
A Brief Walking Tour of Stockholm
Having said that, we urge you to take a long walk or bike ride around this architecturally beautiful and historic city and its waterfront. The very grand Royal Palace (46 8 402 60 00) offers a Changing of the Guard ceremony daily at 12:15pm in summer, and Wednesdays, Saturdays (at noon) and Sundays (at 1pm) in winter. We found the huge fireplaces and treasury most impressive among its open rooms.
If the Changing of the Guard doesn’t tickle your fancy, you can always check out Drottningholm Palace (46 8 402 62 80). This gorgeous castle is one of the UNESCO’s World Heritage sites, where the gardens, grounds, and palace interior are simply too beautiful to be ignored. This attraction may not be as interesting for younger children but is definitely worth looking into.
One way in which to drum up children’s excitement in Stockholm would be with the help of the Kid’s Guide to Stockholm. This sightseeing tour of the city is conducted by three cartoon characters. The pack includes an illustrated map and booklet that helps to bring the sights to life and make touring more exciting. Be sure to plan ahead, though, as the packet must be ordered online and then delivered.
Another great walk is through the narrow cobblestone lanes of the old quarter of Gamla Stan, flower-bedecked in summer and candle-lit in winter, when illuminated street decorations and shop windows enliven the long nights. Although many houses have become crafts and souvenir stores, some of the best shopping is during the Advent month of December, when a Christmas Market featuring straw and yarn craftspeople and food vendors sell special holiday gifts.
Fun for the Family Year-Round
Stockholm’s museums and other attractions arrange activities, tours and various workshops that are designed to appeal specifically to a young audience.
Skansen (46 8 442 80 00), an open-air museum for the entire family on the island of DjurgÃ¤rden, is Stockholm’s largest and most popular attraction and was established as early as 1891. This cultural-history park contains 150 buildings of historical interest, including houses, farms, and crafts workshops, where re-enactors demonstrate long-lost skills. Special historical vignettes of Swedish rural life can be seen. Wildlife typical of Scandinavia, such as elk, wolves and bears, can be seen in the park, while the Skansen Aquarium features exotic snakes and primates. Lill-Skansen is a children’s zoo with goat kids, hedgehogs, small pigs, ducks and kittens, all waiting to be petted. Because Stockholm’s climate is surprisingly mild, this is a delightful winter outdoor excursion, especially when the costumed interpreters are showing off Scandinavian Christmas traditions.
“The Vasa” (46 8 519 548 00, Galarvarvsvagen 14 Djurgarden Stockholm, Sweden) is an almost entirely preserved rigged warship from the 17th century. The smell of tarred timber, exhibitions about sailing during that area, and interesting artifacts that were rescued from the ship can all be found in the Vasa Museum, which fascinates visitors of all ages.
Nearby, the rows and rows of baby carriages you will see lined up outside of the Junibacken (46 8 587 230 00, Galarvarvsvagen, Stockholm 115 21
Sweden) are apropos as it is the Children’s Museum of Stockholm. This place is just bubbling with adventure and things to climb and twist and turn. In the center of it all is the story train – a journey into the storybook world of Astrid Lindgren. Story train rides are available in Swedish, English, German, Dutch and Finnish, and Lindgren’s delightful Pippi Longstocking books are for sale in their gift shop. Kids might also enjoy the waterside amusement park, GrÃ¶na Lund (46 8 587 501 00). New family-friendly rides and the roller coaster, The Broomstick, should keep kids of all ages entertained for hours.
For older children (we recommend over age 9), the Museum of Science and Technology, or Tekniska Museet (46 8 450 560 00, MuseivÃ¤gen 7, 115 93 Stockholm, Sweden) provides as many interesting gadgets outside the museum as inside. Exhibits are educational and interactive. Favorites include: The Mine and The Beloved Telephone and, recently opened is Stockholm’s first 4D Theater: Cin04. Also, Teknorama features three galleries where children can have hands on experience with science experiments featuring kaleidoscopes, eye sockets as well as simple machines. As elsewhere, signs are usually in Swedish, Finnish, and English, and cell phones are ubiquitous.
Featured exhibits are always changing at the Swedish Museum of Natural History (46 8 519 540 00, FrescativÃ¤gen 40, Stockholm, Sweden). Just beside the museum, at the Cosmonova, five different films are shown in Omnimax, the world’s largest film format. In another more musical vein is the Musikmuseet (46 8 519 554 90, Sibyllegatan 2, Stockholm, Sweden), popular with families. While adults enjoy the well-labeled exhibits on contemporary and historical music, children can try their eager hands at many demonstration instruments.
Be sure to make time for the National Museum (46 8 519 543 00, SÃ¶dra Blasieholmshamnen, Stockholm, Sweden). The Studio is the place where children and adults alike can get their creative juices flowing. A guided tour and food are given to visitors who then get to test their skills and create their own masterpiece.
Globen Arena (46 8 508 353 00, Globentorget 2, Stockholm, Sweden), the city’s year round sports venue, is extremely popular during the winter hockey season. If you want to combine a meal with a game, make a reservation at the Globen Hotel’s dining room, whose glass walls overlook the home team’s goal.
There’s a lot of excitement and entertainment at the Kulturhuset (46 8 508 315 08, 3, Sergels torg, Stockholm, Sweden), a contemporary cultural center in the heart of the city. Besides several small theaters offering cabaret, Swedish comedy acts and sometimes the Euro avant guard, there’s a lively Internet cafe, several shops, and a children’s library upstairs. Admission to the library is free and they offer a wide variety of English language books.
Fun Islands for Summer Visitors
A convenient and comfortable boat trip, with several departures every day, will take you out into the Archipelago right from downtown Stockholm. You can take a day-trip, enjoying lunch in a pleasant Archipelago inn and return to the city by evening. Or you can stay a little longer, overnighting at a hotel or even camping.
The Archipelago islands offer excellent cafes and restaurants, as well as grocery stores. Sailing to the attractions on DjurgÃ¤rdvÃ¤rgen and Skeppsholem with the DjurgÃ¤rd ferry, while enjoying the beauty of the city from the water, brings out the explorer in everyone. Contact the Stockholm Information Office (see below) for information on ferry schedules in winter, when many waterways are icebound.
Hearty, Healthful Dining in Stockholm
Sweden’s healthful cuisine has adopted many international styles to its classic staples of fish, meat stews, and smorgasbords of herring and hearty grain breads, and Stockholm now boasts more restaurants per capita than any city in Europe!
Kids will find a lot of familiar foods, and most places heartily welcome children to their long plank tables and “family-style” service. At the Cafe Bla Porten (46 8 663 87 59, ), or Blue Door, opposite Skanssen on DjurgÃ¤rdvÃ¤rgen, we had wonderful soups from their gourmet cafeteria while toddlers toddled everywhere. It is not unusual to find several baby carriages and strollers — filled with sleeping babies — parked in the heated doorways outside these restaurants!
If you get hungry walking around the old quarter of Gamla Stan, you’ll probably enjoy the pytt i panna, a robust peasant dish of chopped potatoes, ham and fried eggs, and fish soup we had at Slingerbulten at Stora Nygatan 24 (46 8 107 622). For a special evening meal, pick one of the classic Swedish cuisine restaurants housed in a historic building (we loved Berns, 46 8 566 322 22), then book a table early enough so your kids won’t disturb the young couples who dine later.
Families will especially enjoy a lunchtime visit to Ostermalms Saluhall (Ã–stermalmstorg, 114 39 Stockholm, Sweden), Stockholm’s historic food court, where dozens of stalls sell take-home groceries as well as ready-to-eat foods and beverages.
If Mom and Dad are looking for a night to themselves, they might want to check out ABSOLUT ICEBAR (46 8 50 56 31 24), where everything is made out of ice. Guests are wrapped in a fur cape and gloves to protect against the cold temperatures, but be warned, this luxurious getaway fills up fast, so it may be smart to boo k ahead. Maybe, while Mom and Dad were out the kids were especially goo. So, as a special treat for the kids, you might think about visiting Xoko (46 8 31 84 87), Sweden’s premiere dessert restaurant.
Stockholm Trip Planning Details
We stayed at the business-y and modern Scandic Sergel Plaza (+46/(0)8 517 263 00) at Brunkebergstorg 9, 103 27 Stockholm, Sweden, which was right in the heart of the new city action and close to all the sights. It is also – shhhh! – around the corner from Stor & Liten (it means “Large and Small”), a fabulous toy store. The Langholmen Hotel (46 08 720 85 00) also comes recommended; it is a converted prison with simply furnished, small rooms which are moderately priced and include breakfast.
On a money-saving note, the Stockholm Card, granddaddy of all city passes, is widely sold and a great value, providing free admission to over 75 museums and attractions, free sightseeing by boat (weather permitting) and free public transportation. A child’s price is available.
For additional information about visiting Stockholm, contact Stockholm Information Services at .
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