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.

South Africa: Let the adventure begin

Mention South Africa and the conversation usually goes something like this…South Africa was your first stop? Wait you took your kid, are you crazy? Absolutely, but not because we chose South Africa as our first stop.

Cape Town was a non-negotiable stop for Issy. She wanted to see Table Mountain for herself, I needed no encouragement having and I’ve been threatening to take Doug ever since we met. It just never quite made the top of the destination priorities.

There is no denying that the rainbow nation has its issues; poverty, racism, crime and the “water crisis of 2018” to name a few. However, it’s English speaking, has a great year round climate, little or no time difference from the UK and they drive on the left. That’s before I even get to the people, mountains, beaches and wildlife that you greet you when you get there. It definitely remains one of my all-time favourite destinations.

The "S" word...safety

To date the only person to make me feel genuinely uncomfortable in South Africa is tourist in 2003. Bad things do happen in South Africa and I’d be naive if I didn’t address the issue of safety in this post.  Yes, you need to be alive to it but don’t overthink it. We took sensible precautions; we didn’t drive after dark, never left our stuff in the car unattended, weren’t flashy with jewellery, watches, phones or cameras and followed our instincts. To date this approach has kept us safe wherever our travels have taken us.

Whilst I never felt unsafe there were two incidents which bought the safety issue home. The first was in Plettenberg Bay where Issy had been playing with a child who cut his foot. Having called the ambulance his mother took him to the ambulance and then came back for her handgun which she’d left on unattended on a rock at the beach. I was gobsmacked. The other was a fight between locals in Gordon’s Bay but the shopkeeper asked us to stay inside until it was resolved.

Getting Around

With 3 of us it made financial sense to hire a car and we had the freedom to travel where and when we wanted. They drive on the left and broadly speaking the road rules are the same as the UK which meant that driving was easy.

In 2003, I used the Baz Bus which provides a viable alternative for independent travellers and those who want a door-to-door service between hostels.

Accommodation

We stayed in a mixture of hostels, farmstays and budget hotels. We used a mixture of the booking.com, hotels.com and recommendations to find and book our accommodation. We were travelling off season and therefore other than our first 5 nights in Cape Town we didn’t pre-book our accommodation more than 24 hours in advance. 

It’s worth picking up a copy of the Coast to Coast Backpackers Guide from any hostel or tourist information.

Our Route

Like many before us, we followed the Garden Route between Cape Town and Port Elizabeth  taking in some of South Africa’s finest beaches, wineries and forests. We extended our trip in both directions heading down to the Cape Peninsula and up to Cinsta on the Wild Coast. 

We took 4 weeks but you can certainly do the Garden Route in 7-10 days and visit the major attractions.

Our favourites
CAPE TOWN

I love Cape Town and all she has to offer. I could write an entire post just on Cape Town but many have set off down that path before me and so I’ll keep it brief.

The partying antics of Long Street were swapped for the more family friendly area of Green Point and Big Blue Backpackers. Situated a short walk from the V&A Waterfront, the Urban Park and the aquarium. The backpackers has a pool, bar, great staff and it’s one of the stops for the Baz Bus.

We grabbed a combi-ticket for the Table Mountain cable car and 2-day big red bus tour and set about finding out what makes Cape Town’s heart beat. We took in the beautiful vistas from the top of Table Mountain, visited the District 6 museum and Bo-Kaap, had lunch at Mama Africa and ran around the playgrounds at the Victoria and Albert Dock and the Urban Park, the beaches at Camps Bay and so much more. Our splashout experience was a helicopter ride over Table Mountain (thanks Uncle Chris!) and if you can I’d definitely recommend doing it.

SIMONSTOWN, BOULDERS BEACH AND CAPE PENINSULA

You can do this as a day trip from Cape Town but if time allows I recommend that you stay in Simonstown and drive out to the Cape Peninsula National Park.

We arrived in Simonstown with no accommodation. The place we were supposed to be staying didn’t have a bed for Issy so with other guests saying run whilst you have the chance, we scarpered. As luck would have it, we stumbled on The Blue Lantern (www.bluelantern.co.za) with it’s quaint little holiday cabins overlooking the Ocean and was perfect. We sat watching the whales, albeit a long way out at sea (my track record for whale watching currently stands at 5 attempts – 0 sightings) and enjoying the tranquillity and lack of Wi-Fi.

Boulders Beach houses the South African penguins (aka Jackass penguins). Although we visited the sanctuary, nobody seemed to have told the penguins they were supposed to stay in the sanctuary so we saw just as many whilst we were out bouldering, rock pooling and clambering over the cliffs. There was even a sign at the entrance to the holiday park saying please close the gates to keep the penguins out ( a source of great amusement for Issy).

Within the Cape Peninsula National Park you will find the Cape of Good Hope (most South-Western Point of Africa) where the Indian Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean meet and Cape Point as well as an array of wildlife and fauna. It was definitely worth the early start and for all you geography geeks we parked in the most southerly car park space in Africa #winning #geographygeek

Hermanus

Hermanus is synonymous with one thing, whale watching but alas not in late April. There was not a whale boat in sight so we had to occupy ourselves with more land-based activities.

Issy completed her first proper hike round Fernkloof Nature Reserve which has a variety of well marked trails which offer spectacular views overWalker Bay.

Hermanus is also home to SANSA (South African National Space Agency) which runs various events and tours. Unfortunately there wasn’t a tour during our stay but if you are interested the best thing to do is to check out their web-site (www.sansa.org.za).

We stayed at the Hermanus Backpackers which provided a nice rest stop with a pool (not that anyone apart from Issy and Doug were using it) and a friendly Chameleon on the washing line.

Swellendam

We picked Swellendam purely as we needed a stopping point between Hermanus and George and it had really cheap accommodation little did we know what an effect it would have on us from the little farm stay to the fairy sanctuary; it quite literally fed our souls.

The farmstay was incredible. Situated just outside Swellendam and with the nearest neighbours being the cows that had produced the fresh milk in the fridge when we arrived and no wi-fi it was glorious. The house itself had a quaint, rustic style but the large open fire provided the perfect backdrop to toast marshmallows, chat and play cards. We also had a little visitor in the form of a pipistrelle bat which had taken up residence in Issy’s room which added a little bit of excitement at bedtime.

I can’t explain to people the effect the Fairy Sanctuary had on me. A lot of the messages we kept seeing were things that mum had said and I left with a renewed feeling of peace and acceptance about her death.

George, Oudtshoorn and Knysna

We used George as a base whilst going out and doing a lot of day trips. The only things that we did in George itself were the Transport Museum, Red Berry Farm and the beach at Herolds Bay.

Redberry Farm was a firm favourite with Issy and we visited on several occassions. Situated just outside George it boasts the largest permanent hedge maze in the Southern Hemisphere. About an hour and several choice words later we had seen every centimetre of the 10,000m of pathway, some on more than one occassion, we escaped triumphant. 

We took a day trip from George to Outdtshoorn to see the Cango Caves (www.cango-caves.co.za).

For the more adventurous amongst you there is the option of doing the Adventure Tour which takes you deeper into the cave system and requires some nifty manoeuvring through holes as small as 27cm but this was a little too much for us. We decided on the more sedate but equally beautiful Heritage Trail.

Our other day trip was to Knysna Elephant Park. Had I planned it better we could have done it on the way to Jeffrey’s Bay as you drive past the door. Issy and I love our elephants and so the opportunity to get up close and personal with one was too much to pass on. Although, it is very much staged I’m still glad we did it.

Colchester and Addo Elephant Park

Colchester is one of those non-descript places that you drive through when driving the Garden Route but I can’t recommend stopping here enough if you want to do Addo. We did a self-drive round Addo and for us it was the fact that it was only 10 minutes from the Colchester Gate meaning that we could arrive as the entrance gates opened.

Addo Elephant Park is perfectly accessible and driveable without a guide. We saw everything that the guided tours saw but we were on our timescale and for an incredible ZAR210 (approximately £12.00) per adult we had park access for the day. I still get emotional when I talk about the family of about 30 elephants walked metres from the car.

The only other thing to do in Colchester is the river cruise which we duly did. We were busy cruising down the river nearing the sunset when the captain said “we’ve made good time, anyone fancy some sandboarding?” Well you can imagine whose hand went up faster than a firework on Guy Fawkes. Twenty minutes later she’d climbed the dune and was hurtling in the direction of the river!

Cinsta

The first thing Issy will tell you about Cinsta is that it’s where mummy got her leg stuck in a bridge. When I say stuck in a bridge, I mean totally stuck; it took 3 adults and 2 dogs to get her out and we had to pull up the wooden slats.

However, there is so much more from the views over the lagoon, kayaking to the sea, and the soup kitchen project which is funded by Buccaneers to support the local Xhosa village to feed the local children and support education.

It wasn’t long before Issy discovered that there was very little difference between her and the local girls and she sat laughing and joking about school, comparing who had the strictest teacher and playing dodgeball. Having initially been a bit hesitant, we literally had to drag her away so we could beat the tide back to the hostel.

HOGSBACK

After nearly 14 years, I finally got to take Doug and Issy to my favourite backpackers. Whilst a lot had changed, I still believe there are fairies at the end of the garden. After all they caught me when I decided to fall 4 feet into the Madonna and Child waterfall. Unbelievably, I didn’t break my hip or hit my head. The worst injury was my severely bruised pride!

With it’s hobbit-theme, friendly staff and bath-tub views over Hogsback Away with the Fairies is one of the backpacking gems of South Africa. For us, it was another opportunity to go hiking and we did several long hikes over the course of our stay. 

East LONDON and KIDD'S BEACH

This marked the end of our South African leg and we couldn’t have asked for a better way to finish than our stay at Villa Panorama. This guesthouse is great if you need to be near the airport. 

Sharon and her menagerie of dogs, geese and peacocks were so welcoming. Let’s face it, it’s not every day you can say that you’ve driven on a race track and cuddled a goose! 

Rather than head into East London, we headed out to Kidd’s beach, which  we loved so much we went as far as looking at houses. We met up with some other home educators and Issy spent the afternoon playing in the lagoon and searching out the Leopard that reportedly lives nearby.

OTHER PLACES TO VISIT WHILST YOU ARE IN SOUTH AFRICA

We stopped at so many places it would be impossible to put them all in but if you are in Gordon’s Bay, Elouise and her team at 47 Gypsies gave us some great recommendations and made us feel very welcome. 

Jeffrey’s Bay was great for a stop to tick it off but as we’re not into surfing it’s a bit lost on us. 

Unbelievably it  is 18 months since our South African adventure but I can’t help thinking that there will be more South Africa adventures to come.

Genoa; the hidden gem in Northern Italy

Talk to people about Northern Italy and they will wow you with talk of Milan, Turin, Venice and Lakes  but very few will mention Genoa. In fairness we too had dismissed it as another large port town and were planning to leave after a night’s sleep when fate stepped in.  

We had high expectations of Italy and for the most part it fell short. Don’t get me wrong, we met some lovely people and made some amazing memories but by enlarge it was a struggle.  Unlike Spain and Portugal, where driving, parking and motor home services weren’t a concern, Italy was been an exercise in careful planning, researching and then getting to places and finding services weren’t available or accessible. The driving is shocking and the other major for us was the amount of rubbish. We’d stop somewhere stunningly beautiful and it would be overshadowed by the bottles, nappies and household waste scattered everywhere.

Genoa is different. Even as we drove off the boat it was noticeable. There isn’t that chippy edge that you find in so many Italian cities, the roads are wider and the drivers more considerate and it’s clean! Genoa is the first place I’ve seen a native dog owner pick up dog poo since we left Spain and I think it has Italy’s entire allowance of rubbish bins (they are everywhere).

The birthplace of Christopher Colombus, Genoa gained wealth and power by virtue of the port which has exported honey, leather and wood since the Roman Empire. Having been heavily damaged during WWII, it was rebuilt post-war and this has enabled it to reinvent itself as a major European port for both passenger and freight ferries as well as a modern cruise liners stop.

Accommodation

We stayed at the Belle Vue Hotel, next to Piazza Principe station.

It cannot be described as glamorous and the facilities are basic but what it lacks in decor, it more than makes up for in service and location. The staff are friendly and helpful without being overbearing and our room is huge. When my bag was taken by the taxi driver, they were helpful in trying to get it back, going to the lost property at the station and the taxi rank for me. I never got it back but you live and learn.

Piazza Principe is the major hub for train travel across Europe and connections to both the airport and ferry terminal so it’s ideal for families who only have to negotiate the steps or the ramp up to the hotel (it’s less than 50m). It’s also close to a myriad of cheap food options.

Getting to and from Genoa

Genoa is well connected. We arrived by boat from Sicily and there are regular passenger ferry connections to Corsica, Sardinia, Sicily, Tunisia, Morocco, Algiers, Malta and Spain in addition to the cruise liners which dock.

We flew back to the UK, and it appears that there are several budget options. We found flights for as little as £35.00 one way with British Airways (hand luggage only but we get 23kg each!) A word to the wise, we were delayed for 4 hours and shipped to Pisa on our way home because the plane was unable to land. A fate which only seemed to affect BA flights as everyone else was able to land and take off. Whilst, we’ve only done it once, I’ve heard this is a regular occurrence so it might be worth flying Ryan Air after all.

Attractions

Genoa’s pride and joy is the family orientated water front. It has the same feel as the Darling Harbour in Sydney.  There are various museums, family attractions and eateries situated here and as we found out it seems like every family in Genoa was there at the weekend.

Aquario Di Genova

It’s billed as the biggest and best aquarium in Europe. We’ve visited most of them and confirm that it lived up to the billing. It was huge! We were there for over 3 hours and it seemed like 5 minutes. Issy’s favourite area was the touch pools where she stroked rays, skates and other fish.

My advice, if you can avoid the weekends as it was very busy.

The Biosphere

A mini-Eden project on the water, it houses a number of Ibis and rainforest plants.

The Bigo Elevator

A rotating viewing platform at the waterfront allowing you to see the whole of Genoa set out before your eyes. It is here that you get a full appreciation as to just how big and beautiful Genoa is. The pastel coloured buildings set out in layers before you.

The Old Town

The Old Town is full of narrow lanes and quirky alleyways which we loved just heading down in search of great food and coffee. They come alive in the evenings as people gather after work.

Basillica della Santissima Annunziata Del Vastato

We found this stunning church by accident. From the outside it looks like nothing special, in fact we’d walked past it about 5 times before we happened to be going past and the door was open. My curiosity took over and in we went. Wow, it was incredible!

Piazza di Ferrari

We were exploring the lanes whilst looking for somewhere for lunch and suddenly having seen a pretty building found ourselves standing in the Piazza.

Funicular Railway

Genoa is built on a series of hills and the upper residential areas can be accessed by a series of funicular railways. We headed up to Granarolo where we go spectacular views of the city looking down. 

There is something strangely endearing about Genoa. I can’t really explain it. In so many ways, it’s no surprise we love it, it has everything we look for; history, culture, a stunning marina and mountains close by, and yet there is something else, unexplained. It will always be a city which has a place in our hearts.

Lisbon

We arrived in Lisbon at the start of December with Praço do Comércio looking resplendent with the huge Christmas tree up and lights shining up and down the main streets. Whether it was this, meeting up with friends or the warm winter sun Lisbon stole our hearts. 

We weren’t the only one’s in town. On our third day, the Chinese president was visiting. Whilst a Chinese state visit is something a bit different, here’s our guide to the more usual things to do in Lisbon.

Accommodation

One of the highlights for us was how Lisbon embraced the campervan lifestyle. We spent €20 on 6 nights accommodation opting to stay in aires sites on the Targus for the majority of our stay. Officially they have a 48 hour limit but we were off-season so nobody cared. 

Free Aires: Belem Ferry Terminal

Co-ordinates

N38 41’ 44.49”

W -9 11’ 52.84

We spent 3 nights here and although there were reports it could be a little noisy as it’s right next door to Belem station we weren’t disturbed at all. There are no facilities but who cares you are spitting distance from the Jardin de Belem, Jerónimas Monastery and Padrão de Descombrimentos. That’s before I even get to the glorious sunsets over the Targus. 

€5 Aires: 254 Avenida Brasilia

Co-ordinates

N 38 42’ 18.0”

W-9 9’13.82”

The listing on Park4night said there was a €5 charge however no-one collected it from us for the time we were there. 

For exploring central Lisbon this site was awesome as you just follow the river until you get to Praço do Comércio. However, it was noisy and after a run in with some partying twenty-somethings we left in the early hours of the morning! You win some, you lose some I suppose.

If you are looking for a parking spot during the day this is definitely the spot to use but if you are a light sleeper I would head to the Belem site.

Lisboa Camping and Bungalows

ACSI discount:            €20 (€40 in high season)

This ACSI registered site is a comfortable out of town option. Out of season most of the facilities were closed but they looked amazing and the price reflected the available services. 

Although there was a bus stop close by we gave up trying to get the bus into town after an hour and took the motor home and parked it at the aires above.

Getting around

We spent most of the time cycling or walking along the Targus riverbank. This is a great experience in it’s own right. 

The Lisboa Pass includes public transport for the duration of the pass and includes the train out to Sintra. We didn’t venture on the trains but the buses were more reliable than the UK and well used by the locals.

Attractions

These can be broadly split up into 3 categories; Belem, Central Lisbon and Parques das Noções

Belem

As we stayed in Belem let’s start there. 

For those of you staying more centrally then you can catch the No15 tram or the train to Sinatra from Cais do Sodre. It’s worth spending a day or two exploring the Belem attractions.

Belem Tower

A defence tower built between 1514 and 1520 and starting point for many of the voyages of discovery. It has also been a customs house and a lighthouse.

Jerónimas Monastery

Built to commemorate Vasco Da Gama’s voyages to India and houses Vasco Da Gama’s tomb. It’s a stunning building.

We visited just after the new ticketing system was introduced and it was a bit of a nightmare. You still need a ticket to go into the monastery even though it’s included in the Lisbon card.

National Archaeological Museum

We were that impressed with this. Again the ticketing was a nightmare, and over zealous staff meant that we left.

Jardin de Belem

This was a really nice park with a decent playground for children and there is also an antiques market here on a Sunday.

Padrão de Descombrimentos

Built to commemorate the 500 year anniversary of the death of Henry the Navigator, it celebrates the Portuguese Age of Discoveries and rich history of exploration, it looks impressive. 

The views from the observation deck are spectacular, although I’m not sure Issy and Doug would agree.

Planetarium

Despite the mediocre reviews on tripadvisor, this was one of the highlights for Issy who is space mad. We watched the show about Hubble and how it revolutionised space photography. Issy sat agog and I don’t think she moved throughout the 30-minute show. The combination of comfy seats, dark and soporific music and Doug and I fell asleep on more than one occasion.

Pillar 7 Museum

Situated between Belem and Praço di Comércio .

A museum about the Ponte 25 Avril bridge which is Lisbon’s answer to San Francisco’s Golden Gate bridge. The museum takes you through the construction of the bridge and culminates in an elevator ride up pillar 7 where again the views on a good day are stunning.

Central Lisbon

We hit a bit of travel fatigue by the time we reached central Lisbon and there was so much more that we wanted to do. We missed out the São Jorge Castle, the Pink Street (historically the red light district it has now reinvented itself as the place to be for the young, cool and trendy) and several of the national museums. Here’s what we did manage to do…

Praço do Comércio

This impressive square houses originally housed the Royal Palaces and was almost completely destroyed in the great earthquake of 1755. It is now home to a raft of expensive restaurant and coffee shops, the world’s sexiest toilet and the tourist information. 

Lisboa Story Centre

Situated in Praço di Comércio this interactive museum takes you on an individual tour through Lisbon’s history from pre-Roman times to the modern day.

Despite not being great with loud noises or virtual reality, Issy really enjoyed it and the fact that she could control the volume on the headphones and go at her own pace was definitely an added bonus. 

Arco da Rua Augusta 

Originally the bell tower, it was re-built as an arch to celebrate the city’s re-birth following the earthquake in 1755  and looks out over the Praço di Comércio.

When faced with the opportunity to ring the bell Doug simply couldn’t resist! 

World’s Sexist Toilets

A visit to Praço di Comércio wouldn’t be complete without visiting the world’s sexiest toilets! I for one am undecided, so if you need to spend a penny then they are as good as any, but I wouldn’t make a special trip.

Tram 28

This is one of the iconic Lisbon experiences. A tourist tram which takes you from Campo Ourique to Martini Moniz. It’s a good way of gaining an overview of Lisbon as you trundle up and down Lisbon’s ridiculously steep and narrow back streets.

A little word of caution, Tram 28 is also renowned for pickpockets so make sure you keep an eye on your possessions as it would be a shame to tarnish your visit by losing your wallet, camera or phone.

Parque das Noções

This is a re-developed area of Lisbon similar to Docklands which houses the aquarium, the science centre, a cable car, a large shopping centre and a plethora of dining options ranging from McDonalds to 5-star dining.

We caught the bus from Praço di Comércio but you can also get the metro to Oriente Station.

Oceanarium

Billed as Europe’s largest indoor aquarium it had a lot to live up to and it didn’t disappoint. It was brilliant and we spent hours wandering round and enjoying the exhibits. For our mini-marine biologist it was spell-binding. 

The major criticism is the price of entry but at 15€ for adults and 10€ for kids (Lisboa card entitles you to 15% discount). I thought it was brilliant value for money and it’s certainly a lot cheaper than the London Aquarium or Birmingham Sea Life Centre.

Pavilhão do Conhecimento (Science museum)

One thing that Portugal does really well is science museums. We’ve been to loads of them but this topped the lot. It was Issy’s favourite place in Lisbon (even meeting up with Thatcher and the aquarium fell short of this!)It was amazing and caters for all the family big and small. It’s not huge. It’s hands-on, interactive, physical and fun; what is not to like! 

Upstairs is mainly physics based and there are lots of experiment stations involving light boxes, electricity and motion. Doug and I were captivated by sandbox display to illustrate how rivers, lakes and mountains were formed. As you moved the sand around the box the contours change and landscapes changes. 

Then there is the circus area which allows children to explore motion. The highlight of which has to be the balance bike on a tightrope. Yes, Issy really did ride a balance bike across a tightrope and back (you need to click on it to make it full screen to see her do it).  

Downstairs was dedicated to the senses of animals with various challenges to complete.

Lisboa Pass

The Lisboa pass is a multi-attraction pass for various sites across Lisbon (offering either “free” entry or discounted entry).  We got 72 hour passes (€42 for adults, €22.50 for 4-15 year olds). Despite not really using public transport, we still got good value from them. It’s worth noting that you use them on the train to Sintra and Cascais as well. 

As with other city passes, the key is to it down and what you want to see and then work out whether it’s worth buying the pass. When calculating the value always underestimate what you can cover in a day.

One last thing...

Whilst you don’t have to worry about siesta time, a lot of the national museums are closed on a Monday so bear this in mind when planning your itinerary.

Venice: We’re going on a lion hunt in the world’s greatest maze. What’s not to like for families?

If I’m honest Venice has never really been on our radar but we thought whilst we were in Italy we’d better go and check out what the fuss was about. I’m so glad we did as it’s been one of our favourite places. It offers so much more than the overpriced romantic weekend away we thought it was and it’s a great city to explore with kids.

Accommodation

Venice isn’t built for cars let alone motor homes. This coupled with the fact most of the camping grounds are closed until the end of February meant our options were limited. Our original plan had been to stay in the camperstop out near Parco San Giuliano however Doug and I took one look around and left. It wasn’t for us and I wouldn’t recommend for families but each to their own.

Plan B was Camping Fusina on the other side of the lagoon. As it turns out it was an excellent choice, and with an ACSI card, for the same price as the camperstop, we got access to excellent showers, knowledgeable staff, hours of fun watching the cargo ships go in and out and beautiful views into Venice. In high season, it has a swimming pool, various restaurants, kids club and a tourist information bus but these were all closed while we were there. It also has it’s own ferry between the campsite and Zattare. 

 

Getting around

Venice is the original car-free city and a good pair of walking shoes is the first thing that should go in your case. For Issy, the maze-like warren of tiny streets, canals and squares was a dream come true. Armed with the map, a camera and her scavenger hunt (see below) we set out to explore what Venice had to offer.

The other budget option is the water taxis or valporettas. At the time of writing, the prices range from 7.50 euros for a one-way ticket to 60 euros for a 7 day ticket. We opted for a 24 hour ticket (20 euros) and used this to cruise the Grand Canal and island hop to Burano, Murano and Isola di San Giorgio Maggiore. This is considerably cheaper than a boat tour to cover the same islands.

The 2019 rates for gondola rides are 80 euros for 40 minutes for up to 6 people (100 euros for 40 minutes after 7pm). Whilst being, quintessentially Venetian for us it was a budget buster.

A cheap alternative remains the traghetti which at 2 euros per person for a crossing give you the bragging rights of riding a gondola on the Grand Canal without breaking the bank. 

What to do when you get there
Lion-Hunting

When I said to Issy we were going on a lion hunt in Venice, she didn’t know whether to be scared or just back away slowly. However, as those of you in the know can attest there are winged lions everywhere due to it being a symbol of St. Mark, one of the city’s patron saints. If the lion is holding an open book then the building or sculpture was built at a time of peace and if the book is closed the building or sculpture was built at a time when the Venetian Republic was at war.

St Mark's Square and St Mark's Basilica

When it comes to famous squares, St Mark’s square is up there with the world’s most recognisable and it certainly didn’t disappoint in the flesh.

Whilst pigeon chasing is a fully accepted sport, pigeon feeding is not, and I understand that the penalties for doing so are high. Both they and the enormous albatross-like seagulls are a pest and need no encouragement to bully or pester anyone who dares to sit down with lunch.

Entry to St Mark’s Basilica is free. The queues tend to be at their lowest at lunchtime and we took our opportunity. As a result, we only queued for the security check which took about 10 minutes (off-season). There is a small fee to go into the museum and climb out onto the Loggia (balcony) but it’s definitely worth it for the views over the square, and to be able to look down into the Basilica itself.

We didn’t do it, but the other viewpoint in the square is St Mark’s Campanile (belltower). I chose an alternative viewpoint so as to include St Mark’s (see the Chiesa di Georgio Maggiore).

Palazzo Ducale (Doge’s Palace) and The Bridge of Sighs

When I put a post out saying we were in Venice this topped the list of recommendations and I would agree.

The Doges basically ran Venice whilst it was a republic. Apart from being an iconic bit of architecture, the history of Palazzo Ducale is fascinating. Whilst investigating how to get tickets, I stumbled across the secret itineraries tour and I highly recommend it.  This “back stage” takes you into the secret world of the Doges’ and their administrative staff via prison cells (including those of Casanova), torture chambers and the offices of Venice’s rich and powerful. Due to the physical nature of the tour (there are loads of steep stairs), it’s probably not one for families with small children but Issy (aged 8) thoroughly enjoyed it and of course put all the adults to shame!

You can cross the Bridge of Sighs from the Palazzo Ducale into the prison. So named because of the sighs of the prisoners as they crossed from the newer municipal prison to the interrogation rooms and court rooms of the Palazzo Ducale.

Rialto Bridge

Another one of the must-do sights in Venice. The Rialto bridge is the oldest bridge crossing the Grand Canal and is generally considered to be the heart of Venice. It connects the areas of San Marco and San Polo.

Islands hopping (Burano, Murano and Isola Di San Georgio)

We used our Valporetta tickets to go island hopping catching the number 12 from Fondamente Nove out to Burano and Murano.

Burano, a traditional fishing island, is about 40 minutes from Venice central and is famous for two things; it’s colourful houses and lace making. The houses and beautiful canals are a photographer’s dream. Apparently the tradition originates from a desire to demarcate property and so that the fisherman could easily identify their houses from the sea. Whilst the men were out fishing, traditionally the women of Burano made lace and whilst most of the lace on sale is machine made there are a few places which still specialise in handmade lace on the island. A word of caution, global warming is taking a toll on this outlying island and in winter it suffers from severe high tide flooding. Visit whilst you still can!

Murano, is slightly closer to Venice, and is famous for the colourful glass produced here. In a forward-thinking move the glass-makers were banished from the main Venice hub in 1291, in the name of health and safety, due to the fire risk from their open furnaces.

Another island worth visiting is Isola Di San Georgio with its beautiful church and viewpoint Chiesa di Georgio Maggiore. I caught the number 2 valporetta from Zattare. Entry into the church is free but people really come here for the viewpoint which costs 6 euros. This makes a great alternative to St Mark’s Campanile for families with young children as there is an elevator to the top.

Other quirky things to do in Venice

The Libreria Acqua Alta (high tide bookshop) is reminiscent of something out of Diagon Alley with it’s books piled high on or in anything that comes to hand from an old gondola to a bath tub.

The area of Dorsoduro remains the home of the gondola workshops in Venice. We stumbled across one by accident whilst trying to find something for lunch and just watched the painstaking work of the gondola craftsman at work. However, I understand that the place to go if you want to investigate this properly is Squero di San Trovaso.

Mention Venice and masks come to mind. Whilst Issy found some of the masks a bit scary and sinister, the artwork involved in making them is something to behold. They are sold in the shops throughout Venice and there are also mask-making workshops if you have an artist amongst your group.

Scavenger Hunt

There are a number of tour companies that do kid-friendly tours and many of them do scavenger hunts but the cost of these was prohibitive on our budget. So with the help of Pinterest and Google, I made my own for Issy to complete, and she seemed to enjoy it. Please feel free to download a copy from the link below.

 

Living the Sicilian Dream

We arrived in Sicily at 630am with the sun rising over the horizon and this set the tone of our Sicilian adventure. In some ways, mainland Italy hadn’t lived up to expectations but in contrast Sicily exceeded them. 

The first thing we noticed was, like most islands, there is a slower pace of life. There is none of this arriving at port sat in your car, disembarkation took over an hour. The second thing we noticed was that whilst the driving was just as crazy there’s not so many cars giving the impression that it is more orderly. Don’t be fooled!

Accommodation

For the most part we free camped throughout Sicily. It’s far more accepted than on the Italian mainland and there are so many incredible spots to chose from. 

We did visit a few campsites. Most notably, in Agrigento where all the reviews said that the owner would try and sell us wine. He did and less than 5 minutes after arriving we were the proud owner of 4L of wine and a sample of the family Olive oil! 

Getting There

Sicily is well served by boat and by air. 

We arrived on the boat from Naples to Palermo and had intended getting the ferry from Messina to the mainland. However, with Brexit hanging in the balance we caught the ferry from Palermo to Genoa instead.

Palermo

The general consensus is that if you can get over the rubbish and grimy appearance then this is a wonderful city. By Italian standards we didn’t think the rubbish was too bad and once we headed into the city we discovered a charming city with stunning churches and piazzas, panoramic views from the cathedral roof and beautiful city gates.

Beaches

Doug and I aren’t really beach holiday people. Issy on the other hand could spend her life on a beach and we watched as she visibly grew before our eyes. However, even I have to admit there is something special about waking up and going to sleep with the sound of the waves crashing against the shore, and the stars were something to behold. 

Macari, close to San Vito Lo Copa, is easily in the top 3 places we’ve stayed. It’s a beach overlooked by mountains and is absolutely stunning. We only went to investigate why so many motorhomes were there and 3 days later we were still there. There are no services but for 5€ you can empty the toilet and grey waste top up the water in near by San Vito Lo Copa. Issy spent hours of the day playing in the rock pools and going off on little adventures (or not so little adventures when she disappeared with the handheld 2-way radio).

Alcamo was another favourite. We spent all day watching the locals arrive with a menagerie of kids, dogs and parents and then the horses arrived! 3 lads turned up with what looked like a removal van with 2 horses and galloped them down the beach.

Ruins

In my opinion, Agrigento, Selinunte and  Syracuse all rival Pompeii and Herculaneum in terms of visiting ruins. Due to it’s position, Sicily has some of the finest examples of Greco-Roman architecture in existence today and it’s in remarkably good condition. We had huge fun climbing through the ruins and imagining what life would have been like. 

Beautiful Towns

We fell in love with the gorgeous Toarmina. If you come to Sicily, and do nothing else you should visit Toarmina. It has everything; great shops, beautiful beaches, a Greco-Roman amphitheatre with views across to mainland Italy, views over nearby Mount Etna and  great food. As a word of warning for anyone in a motorhome, leave it at the bottom (we camped in nearby Guardini Naxos) and catch the bus up. 

Syracuse was another of our favourites. It has a very different feel to Toarmina but we loved mooching round the old town. It’s narrow streets suddenly open up into a huge square and we sat in the sun opposite the Ortigia Market listening to our friends Twin Circus busking with a coffee.  There are definitely worse ways to spend the day! Also on our top recommendations are the Catacombe di San Giovanni. These were incredible and we wound our way through a sub-terranean world that housed 10,000 tombs.

Piazza Armerina has a beautiful but not motorhome friendly old town as we discovered to our cost. But for the kindness of strangers, our only way out would have been a Police escort and all because we took a wrong turning. If you’ve got anything bigger than a smart car then I would advise it’s one to visit on foot! 

Mt Etna

You can’t come to Sicily and not visit Mount Etna. A live volcano, she was smoking throughout our visit. There are a plethora of organised tours up to the top but we drove up with the intention of staying on the volcano for the night. It wasn’t to be, a weather alert for snow and heavy snow at 9pm at night saw us heading back down to the lower slopes. When the wind hit at 3am the next morning and we woke up to see how much snow had fallen we were glad we’d made the decision to come down. 

We did manage to take a 3km hike around the lower lava fields and came across this stunning little church. If Doug and I were ever to renew our vows this would be a contender.

San Pietro

We discovered San Pietro after a day of frustration trying to find somewhere to park the motor home for the night. This was our sixth attempt! The aires is next to an abandoned church and apart from a small cafe and playground next door the town is practically deserted. However, for us it was perfect. 

Having seen a sign warning of snakes, I gave myself the fright of my life when I saw a discarded leather belt in the grass and it’s not often I get to say that I’ve been kept awake all night by the resident owl.

Our journey ended where it started in Palermo as we caught the boat back to Genoa. Little did we know then, what fate had in store for us…read our post When life gives you lemons to find out more.

Northern Spain; Santander to Gijon

Santander and turn right

We had no idea what to expect from Northern Spain and people would ask us what our plan was and we’d say we’re just going to get off the ferry at Santander and turn right. If they thought we were bonkers when we embarked on our big worldwide walkabout they really thought we’d lost the plot now.  It was a little scary but also a testament to how far we’ve come. For the first time, the plan really was there is no plan. My aunt very kindly gave us a copy of the lonely planet guide to Northern Spain and we headed down to Portsmouth to board the boat.

Santander
Calle Marino Fernandez-Fonteca near Santander University

N 43° 28’19.91, W -3° 48’ 10.58”

Free

 

As it happened we ended up spending our first night outside the aires parking as it was full. We just joined the long line of motor homes parked on the street just outside. The advantage of having an excited 8 year old is that she wakes up early so come the morning we waited for someone to leave and took their spot. This was our base for 3 nights. In high season there is a 48 hour limit on staying but this isn’t enforced in the winter and as we discovered it is only really full when a ferry arrives. If this is your first experience of free camping, then it sets the bar high as there are excellent services and it’s a great spot. For those travelling with kids there are several playgrounds in the parklands below. The main one which is directly opposite also has a cafe and toilets making a good choice for all the family.  There are also easy cycles routes and wide pavements into Santander, the beach, and supermarkets nearby. 

Cabarceno
21 Barrio de Cabarceno Corraliza

N 43° 21’ 30.6”, W -3° 49’ 7.89”

Free

Situated about 30 minutes from Santander is the village of Cabarceno and the Elephant Park. The car park next to the Elephant Park is a free aires site. Let’s face it, it’s not every day that you can wake up, take a 150m walk and watch the elephants feeding at a waterhole. Well here you can!

If the services at Santander were one of the best facilities we stopped at, here were some of the worst. Really the only usable service was the grey waste so make sure you empty the toilet and refill your water tank before arriving. There were toilets in the car park but they were closed and if the inside was anything like the outside I was not volunteering to use them!

Cobreces
Parking Las Hazas, Barrio Los Corrales, 39320 Cobreces

N 43° 23’ 20.04”, W -4° 12’39.56”

12€ for 24 hours including electricity

We used this as a stop over point between Santander and the Picos and to have a shower (our first since arriving in Spain some five days earlier). This small and relatively new site is a gem. The owners are lovely and the price reflects the available services (electricity, showers wifi and services). There is only one shower/toilet but it’s great if you have younger children as there is plenty of room to supervise without getting soaked yourself.

This isn’t a long term stop and a lot of people stayed one or two nights. There are some lovely cliff-top walks or bike rides and the village isn’t far either but once you’ve done them then there’s not much else around.

Posada de Valdeon
60 Calle del General Mola

N 43° 9’ 10.08”, W -4° 55’ 2.13”

10 € for 24 hours including electricity

How have Spain been hiding the Picos de Europe from us? We both have a pretty good grasp of geography but when someone said to us you have to visit the Picos, we were like the Picos de what? We took the advice in the Lonely Planet guide on where to visit and chose Posada de Valdeon.

I can confirm it’s beautiful but in November it’s cold (we had snow) and we were the only ones stupid enough to camp in a motor home in November. On the plus side we had unfettered views of the surrounding countryside and all of the wifi!

This is one of the places I want to go back to in the spring or early summer so that we could take full advantage of the walking routes around. It’s a great base for walking the nearby Cares Road.

Leon
1 Calle Bordon

N 42° 36’ 15.46”, W -5° 35’ 4.06”

Free (if you park in autocaravanas spaces)

A lot of people we met overlooked Leon on their route preferring to stick to the coast or head straight to Gijon from the Picos and in my opinion it’s a shame. We loved it and it had one of the most the best aires sites in terms of facilities and location. There are 10 dedicated motor home spots and the main historical centre of town is easily accessible by bike or foot and there is a small playground next door. Within easy walking distance there is a Mercadona (supermarket), a laundrette and upstairs in the shopping centre there is an excellent bazaar store. I got stocked up on school supplies and we bought things like melamine plates, a wok and a wok lid (all things we didn’t realise we needed before we set off).

Gijon
3 Camino Mimosas

N 43° 32’ 51.0”, W -5° 38’ 11.0”

Free

When we arrived in Gijon and we could see why so many people loved it. It was the first places that stole our hearts. We loved everything from the beautiful beaches, cycle paths and wide promenades, parks, public art displays, the aquarium and the old town. It also has the best Mr Minute (key cutting store) in the world! (I broke the key to our main door in Leon and he not only managed to cut a key from the broken pieces but also found a piece when Doug dropped it on the shopping mall floor).

We stayed in a car park out of town and used the bikes to head back to visit the aquarium and explore what this great little town had to offer. It was a good 20 minute cycle with Issy into the Old Town but with loads of cycle paths and very polite drivers it was easy to navigate and when she needed to cycle on the road it wasn’t a problem. There’s even a bread van that comes round every morning; it’s so incredibly civilised. The only thing that stops this from being perfect is the lack of services. There was a toilet but it worked intermittently in the 3 days we were there. That said, there is a service dump on the other side of town and at the football stadium both of which are less than 15 minutes drive.

Within 5 minutes walk there is a playground and it was close to the beach for rock-pooling and playing. There were people swimming but it was a far too cold for me! Whether you tell the kids or not is up to you but McDonalds is about 5 minutes drive (10 minutes walk away). We went as it was raining and Issy managed to come off second best to a fixed metal pole in the soft play area but that was down to user error rather than a manufacturing default.

There was also a really good motor home shop just outside Gijon, Caravans Costa Verde. Whilst they don’t speak much English, they were very helpful, had reasonable prices and even manufactured a part for our broken heater. We bought a bits we needed to do running repairs after Rosie lost a fight with a jagged cliff edge on the way through the Picos.

Read our next article which talks about the journey from Gijon to the Portuguese border

Denmark: How to visit without breaking the bank?

Denmark, like it’s Scandinavian counterparts, is often missed off the European tour trail because it’s expensive. Whilst, this is definitely the case, as we proved it can still be a destination for the budget traveller. 

So here’s a few reasons why you should add Denmark to your travel wish list.

The Danes

In the ten days we were there we didn’t meet an unkind or unhelpful Dane. Everyone was welcoming, kind and spoke almost perfect English. 

Getting around is easy

With wide roads, high driving standards and only two toll roads driving in Denmark is a dream compared to the organised chaos of driving in Italy. With the exception of Copenhagen, we didn’t see much traffic. In fact, on the drive from Ribe to Billund we saw more cyclists than cars! 

Whilst, we can only speak for Copenhagen, we found the public transport system to be clean, reliable and easy to navigate. Doug had previously taken the sleeper train from Copenhagen to Stockholm and found it to be the same. Be aware that there was no food carriage on his train so you should take food and drink with you.

For the more active of you, there are cycle paths everywhere and they are well used. The Danes love their outdoor activities and clean, green living

There is something for everybody

For a boy’s weekend away, there is the Carlsberg museum, for Issy great kid-friendly campsites and museums, and for me, I loved Roskilde and Legoland.

Places to Visit
Ribe

Denmark’s oldest town Ribe, and more specifically it’s Viking Centre, was the reason that Denmark hit our radar. 

As we were still in the tent, we stayed at Ribe Camping (a DK registered camping and motor home site). It’s family-friendly and excellent facilities made it a great base. 

The Viking Centre was awesome. As you enter the main entrance you are transported back in time to the Viking settlement of Ripa where re-enacters carry out day-to-day viking trades as they would have been done; glass bead making, coins making, boat making and animal husbandry. The re-enacters are passionate about their skills and most speak very good English.

Issy had a treasure trail to follow and there was also a brilliant falconry display however the highlight for Issy was undoubtably the warrior training. Armed with a shield and a sword, and under the watchful eye of a Thor look-a-like (a nice bit of eye-candy for mummy) she charged around the training like a pro.

 

Legoland, Billund

No family visit to Denmark is complete without a trip to Legoland, Billund. About an hour’s drive from Ribe, we did it as a day trip but there are several options for staying at the Legoland hotels. There’s even a motor home park.

As a kid, mum had wanted to bring me here and in someways its bittersweet that she never saw the look of kid-like wonder and excitement on my face as we arrived.

Whilst, being an expensive day out, it didn’t disappoint and I think we got great value. From the underwater zone to the African safari drive Issy was in her element. She marveled at the amazing world sculptures and then there was the rides. She went on her first roller-coaster (by accident), dived and forward-rolled through the laser obstacle course (as did mummy) and we all got soaked in the water zone. 

The on-site food, as you would expect is expensive, however like many others we packed a picnic and sat in the plentiful benches around the park. 

You can also save money by booking your tickets in advance and on-line. You can save 10% if you book 7 days in advance and there is also an option to buy a meal ticket on-line.

Copenhagen

Copenhagen is probably my favourite of the Scandanavian capitals, a view which is shared by many as it was recently voted Lonely Planet’s top city to visit in 2019. It’s also one of the most expensive. 

For us, our major saving in Copenhagen was the purchase of the Copenhagen card. We bought a 72 hour pass and it cost 96 euros each for Doug and I (you get 2 children under-10 free with each paying adult so Issy was free). These are a combination of free transport and entrance to eighty-six different museums and attractions in Copenhagen and Roskilde. According to the  web-site calculator we saved a massive 218 euros based on the attractions we visited and three days worth of transport.

In three days, we visited the

  • The Aquarium
  • Tivoli Gardens
  • Canal Tour
  • Amalienborg
  • Circus Museum
  • Hans Christian Anderson Fairy-Tale House
  • Ripley’s Believe it or not
  • Roskilde Cathedral
  • Viking Ship Museum 

There was still loads that we didn’t get to see and I’m pretty sure that we will head back to Copenhagen at some point, maybe for the winter markets, who knows.

Our other money saving tip is to stay outside the main city. We camped at DCU Camping Absalon and got the train into Copenhagen. We were in a tent but they have a variety of accommodation on site including bungalows and cabins.

I’ll be honest, living in a tent during a Scandanavian summer wasn’t one of our brightest ideas. The almost permanent daylight killed us as none of could sleep and it was the final push over the edge into motor home ownership.

Roskilde

Friends had recommended that we take a trip out to Roskilde and I’m so glad we did. The cathedral was stunning and we had huge fun at the Viking Ship Museum.

Whilst, our entry into the museum, was included in the Copenhagen card, we did an additional Viking sailing experience which was great. 

Other money-saving tips
  1. Recycle you plastic bottles and cans. There are good financial incentives to recycle in Denmark and it’s easy. You simply take your plastic and cans to the local supermarket and feed them into the machines. They need to be uncrushed and still have the labels on. If accepted then, you get a receipt which is redeemable against your shopping. We were collecting about 2 or 3 euros per week which doesn’t sound much but it contributed to Doug’s beer fund.
  2. Buy as much as you can before entering Denmark. If you are driving then stock up on food and drink just before entering Denmark because it is considerably cheaper in Germany. Near the border, there are a raft of supermarkets and they are full of Danes taking advantage of the lower prices.
  3. Go self-catering. We saved a lot by taking sandwiches, drinks and snacks out with us. We ate breakfast and dinner back at the campsite. If you are staying at a hostel/hotel then make sure it includes breakfast and stock pile snacks for later in the day.