Stockholm: A family guide to visiting the Swedish capital

Where else in the world can you visit spectacular palaces, a Pippa Longstocking museum, view a stunning boat and gain a Nobel Prize? Stockholm has it all. This Scandanavian gem is a great city to visit with families. We spent 5 days there are barely scratched the surface.

Getting there

Stockholm is very well connected by air, road, rail and boat. We drove the 630km from Copenhagen to Stockholm. Whilst it is a relatively easy drive; it is long. It took over 7 hours and is considerably longer than our 2-3 hour maximum in Rosie. If we had our time again we would probably stop for the night half way.

Previously, Doug and his friend took the train. They caught a bus from Copenhagen to Malmo and then the overnight train from Malmo to Stockholm. I understand that the cabins were bijou and there was little or no food service. So if you are taking this option then stock up before jumping on the train. Apparently, it’s a bit of a party train so maybe not option if you are travelling with kids.

By air, Stockholm has four airports however it’s important to note three of them are nowhere near Stockholm! From the UK, it is likely that you will fly into Arlanda (37km from central Stockholm) or Skavasta (100km from central Stockholm). There are good public transport links between the airport and Stockholm.

Accommodation

We stayed out at an out of town campsite, Ängby Camping (https://angbycamping.se/en/home/). It was pretty basic and mostly catered for those who wanted to stay in wooden cabins. That said, it was close to the train station into central Stockholm and had shops nearby so it served our needs. We never made it to the beach but the woodland walks that we did were beautiful.

Getting around

We stayed in the suburbs and travelled into Stockholm by train every day. This as easy to do, clean and timely. Once you get there it’s a relatively walkable city as well but we used the hop-on-hop-off bus and boats as a way of crossing the harbour (see below).

To City Card or Not to City Card?

Like Copenhagen, Stockholm has a city card which enables you to gain entry to 60 attractions as part of the price of the card. They do 1-day, 2-day, 3-day and 5-day passes and you can opt to include public transport.

 https://www.stockholmpass.com/

We opted for a 3-day City Card without transport. At the time of writing, the prices for these are 1250SEK (£102.50) per adult 625SEK (£51.50) per child. There is no financial benefit to getting the transport included and as we wanted to include the train into Stockholm we bought our train tickets separately. It’s also worth noting that children under 7 travel for free with an adult travel card and this is extended at the week to children under 12 (Friday 12noon – Sunday 1159) so we didn’t need to pay for transport for Issy.

Are they worth it?

In deciding whether or not to get the card we looked at the price of the attractions that we wanted to see separately. Bare in mind that some of the attractions are only open some of the year so it’s worth doing your homework.  

The two deciding factors for us were being able to use the hop-on-hop-off bus and canal tours for the duration of the card (individually priced at 740SEK per adult, 370SEK per child) and the ability to jump the queue. We were there in the height of the Northern Hemisphere’s summer and with school holidays in full swing attractions like the Vasa and Junibacken had long queues.

For us, it was worth it, for us to visit all the attractions and hop-on-bus and boat tours without the Stockholm pass cost 1725 SEK; so we saved 475 SEK(approximately £40.00).

Our top 5 things to do

It seemed like we did loads but looking at it now, we only did 3 of the top 10 things to do. That said, with Issy in tow and staying out of town, I don’t think we could have done much more. This is something to consider when looking at the Stockholm Pass; if feeling like you’re not getting value for money is going to annoy you then err on the side of caution.

Vasa Museum (150SEK, Under-18 Free)

The Vasa is Stockholm’s version of the Mary Rose. Like it’s English counterpart, it sunk on it’s maiden voyage and was painstakingly salvaged from Stockholm’s harbour. There are regular guided tours in English but we chose to make our own way round the museum. This gave us a bit more freedom to decide where we spent our time.

Junibacken (185SEK, 155SEK)

A museum dedicated to Angrid Lungstrom (author of Pippa Longstocking to you and I). I can’t help thinking that we would have got more out of this museum if we had known some of her other books. Having said that this was big hit with Issy and she particularly liked the optical illusion room and we spent far longer her than I thought we would. It’s situated right next door to the Vasa Museum and so was a welcome anecdote to learning about a sinking ship!

National Museum of Science and Technology (150SEK, 100SEK)

This is about a half an hour walk away from the Vasa Museum but for us it was definitely worth the walk. We all loved it and could have easily spent the whole day there. The MegaMind and the Play beyond Play were awesome. Issy and I caused great amusement as we had a face off and tried to move a ball with only the power of our mind.

Hop-on-hop-off bus and boat combo (740SEK, 370SEK)

We use these both as a mode of transport to get from A to B as they have the advantage of stopping near the main attractions but also as a way of learning a bit about Stockholm. My preference is to do a walking tour as it’s a bit more personal but I know Issy likes these as she can use the ride time as a bit of a break.

Nobel Prize Museum (130SEK, Under-18 FREE)

How many 7 year olds can say that they have a Nobel Prize? Well Issy can. It was in that well known category of navigating her way round the museum. But as she says she’s going to take the win and there was a ceremony and everything!

Other things to do
Royal Palaces (185 SEK, 80SEK)

A visit to the Royal Palaces is kind of a must even if it’s just to have a nosy at how the other half live. You get the added bonus of being able to look at the Swedish crown jewels and we saw the changing of the guard at 1100am. For an extra fee you can look at the Royal Apartments.

Grona Lund Tivoli (130SEK)

This is one of Europe’s oldest amusement parks and Stockholm’s answer to Tivoli in Copenhagen. Whilst entry to the park is included in the Stockholm Pass, the rides are an additional cost. There are rides to suit everyone from the most timid to the most adventurous. It has to be said, since I get motion sickness on the kids teacups this wasn’t really the place for me!

Police Museum (60SEK)

As it’s name suggests, this was a relatively small museum about the work of the Swedish Police. It didn’t take very long to go around, and to be fair I think Issy’s favourite bit was riding the Police go karts round outside the museum.

Other things to know

The traffic in Stockholm is horrendous. Leave plenty of time when travelling to the ferry terminal. Despite leaving, what we thought was plenty of time, we almost missed the ferry to Helsinki because we were stuck in a gridlock.

It’s worth noting that the Museum of Science and Technology, the Police Museum, Maritime Museum and Sports Museum are all in the same complex. That said, I doubt you would be able to visit them all in one day

When planning your activities it’s worth noting that some of the smaller museums close on a Monday. We missed visiting the Maritime Museum and Sports Museum as they were closed on a Monday.

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