I hadn’t quite appreciated the size of Stockholm until we arrived in the Swedish capital in early September 2016. Spread across 14 islands with 57 bridges, there’s a lot to see. From world-class museums to theme parks, a Royal Palace and 800-year Old Town, we had three days there and left feeling we needed to come back and see more. Stockholm was the final stop on our road trip which had begun in Oslo. If we were planning the trip again, I would begin in Stockholm. With two children in tow (including a three-month-old baby), I think we had a touch of travel fatigue but still appreciated the unique, child-friendly city. Here’s a run down of what we did in three days in Stockholm.
We arrived in Stockholm by train from Uppsala where we’d spent the night, dropping off the hire car we’d driven from Gothenburg. It was a straight forward 50 minute train journey. After checking into our hotel (the Radisson Blu near Central Station) we wandered over to Stockholm’s Old Town taking in some of the sights on the way including Stockhom’s Parliament and Royal Palace.
As detailed in my previous post, Gamla Stan failed to wow me as much as other European old towns. No doubt the large amount of tourists and unexpected warm weather contributed to the experience. Oh, and the two children in tow! We found some respite in Stockholm Cathedral which is worth a look. We wandered back to the hotel eating some overpriced sushi on the way.
Making use of our Stockholm pass, we got up fairly early on Saturday, walked up the road from our hotel and caught the hop-on hop-off bus which was included in the pass. Our destination was the Vasa Museum located on Djurgården island. I’d read much about the museum which contains the world’s only preserved 17th century ship. It was on my Stockholm must-see list and it surpassed my expectations. The size of the ship is incredible and amazed us all. We spent around one hour there. Find out why the Vasa Museum needs to be on your must-see Stockholm list here.
Next door to the Vasa is the children’s museum, Junibacken. Dedicated to children’s literature with Sweden’s largest book shop, it mostly centres on the author, Astrid Lindgren, who wrote the Pipi Longstocking stories. The Stockholm pass came into its own here and we all got in free. Otherwise it would have cost SEK139 (£12.50) for children and for adults SEK159 (£14). We had to ditch the buggy in a designated area and I popped Cheeky in the KangaWrap. Baby carriers are available to hire. There’s also lockers and hangers for coats.
We first went into a large play area with quirky, fairy tale structures to explore as well as objects for role play including a shop and hot dog stall.
Then there is the ‘story train’, an indoor ride which takes you on a journey through Lindgren’s books and characters. It wasn’t very linear so if you’re unfamiliar with her works it won’t make a lot of sense (it didn’t to us anyway). You do get the option to listen in 15 different languages though so technically it should make sense!
Mrs T enjoyed watching the intricate models of scenes as the carriage ‘flew’ over them. Until the dragon appeared. Then the thunder and lightning came and there was mention of someone dying which left us answering a few questions from Mrs T. Fortunately, we were off the train and she was busy exploring a huge house and dress-up section before we had time to formulate an answer. We eventually dragged her away on the promise of lunch. The Junibacken museum was a bit strange in my adult mind and could do with a bit of updating but Mrs T really enjoyed it. There’s also a cafe there.
As we’d done my sightseeing picks, I let my husband’s take on the tour guide duties for the afternoon. He had read about the island of Södermalm and its vibrant, trendy credentials and good food. We got the boat (included in our pass) but then (following his lead) ended up going in the wrong direction. Twice. He then had to lift the pram up two flights of steep stairs in the pouring rain. At least we got a good view at the top though!
We were definitely in need of some insider knowledge to get to the heart of the area. We made it to an indoor market where we had something to eat but left a little disappointed. We eventually found the right bus to take us closer to our hotel.
One of my friends lived in Stockholm for a couple of years and recommended we take a boat tour of the archipelago. With the sun shining and a free tour included on our Stockholm Pass, we were sea bound, boarding the boat close to Stockholm’s Opera House. The boat tour was a great way to see the city and its surrounding islands – 30,000 of them in all!
Colourful wooden houses line the shores of the bigger islands. The inhabitants can commute into the city on the government-funded ferry.
At close to two and a half hours, my daughter’s patience was wearing thin towards the end. Our guide was excellent though and in between getting Cheeky to sleep in the KangaWrap and keeping my eye on Mrs T, I managed to get an overview of Stockholm’s history and watch the boats sail next to us.
Our final day ended with us having a wander around the shops and going for a superb dinner at Sturehof, a sleek brasserie serving delicious seafood. It was our best meal in Stockholm and, although pricey, was worth it.
So ended our Scandinavia trip. If we had an extra day in Stockholm and good weather, we would have paid a visit to Skansen, the world’s first open-air museum. Mrs T also looked longingly at the Gröna Lund amusement park as she spied the huge carousel and fairground rides. But, you can’t do everything and when in Stockholm, you need to prioritise. The ABBA museum will have to wait! I feel we got a good overview of the city and variety with something specifically for Mrs T thrown in too.
Where we stayed
We stayed at the Radisson Blu in a family room located next to central station. The hotel was in a good location and as we were arriving by train was very convenient. The friendly staff produced a soft toy for Mrs T on arrival but I wasn’t hugely impressed with the room. It was big enough with a living area, large sofa bed for Mrs T and a good amount of storage. However it was an inward facing room so had no daylight! The windows we had looked down on the breakfast room. Yes, really!
As we were there over a weekend, the hotel was very busy and the buffet breakfast rather chaotic. It included in the room price though and we stocked up on sandwiches for lunch. On the Monday it was far calmer. On the whole Swedish hotels are expensive and it’s not uncommon to forgo daylight. We paid around £180 a night.
Valid for 48 hours from when it is first used, we used the two day Stockholm Pass (one and three day ones are available) which lets you into over 60 of Stockholm’s attractions and gives you free bus and boat tours. Adult two day pass costs 795 SEK (£70) Child (6-16) SEK 398 (£35). If you are planning to visit a few of the attractions and want to get the boat and sightseeing bus, look into getting the pass as it is very likely to save you money. Children under 6 are free.
*We were kindly given a Stockholm Pass free of charge to use during our time in Stockholm. All opinions are my own.
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