In my last post, I left you on Day 2 of our family trip to Stockholm where we’d spent the day exploring the lovely Gamla Stan (Old Town) area of the city, had a boat ride around the Strommen and watched the sunset from the viewing point at Monteliusvagen on Soderlamn island. Part 2 of our trip begins on the third day of our stay, which was actually my birthday….
SUNDAY (also my Birthday)
We awoke early on Sunday morning and were greeted by a very excited toddler who was still giddy about the fact that we were all sharing the same room. I opened my presents and we had a lovely breakfast in the hotel restaurant then we set off on the days adventures. Luckily it was another dry day, even with some spots of sunshine so we were able to see the city at its best.
I know it’s quite a cliché thing to do on holiday, but Stuart and I are a sucker for an open top bus ride. I used to scoff when he made us go on them when we first got together, but we’ve been on many over the years, we actually really enjoy them and find them a really good way of getting acclimatised with a new destination. So first stop was a visit to the open air market at Hötorget and a hop onto the open top bus which was included in the price of our Stockholm City Pass.
After doing a full loop of the circuit where Ettie had great fun shouting ‘Hiya’ to all the cars down below, we hopped off at Stryrmansgatan and walked over to the Djurgården area of the city.
Djurgården is Stockholm’s greenest island and is great for children as it’s home to the majority of the city’s museums and attractions. After enjoying a little walk along the waterfront and a visit into the Spirit Museum, we found ourselves at Grona Lund, a fabulous retro fairground overlooking the water. As luck (or non luck) would have it, it was actually the end of summer festival on the day we stopped by meaning our Stockholm City Pass wasn’t valid for entry. We considered paying to get in anyway, but because we were pushed for time and the rides seemed a little to old for Ettie, we settled for a hot dog and some churros on the outskirts instead and made vow to revisit Grona Lund if we ever found ourselves in Stockholm again.
After our hot dogs we continued our walk along the waterfront and headed to the main attraction of the day Junibacken. Junibacken is a children’s museum based on the stories of Swedish writer Astrid Lindgren who wrote the Moomins and Pippi Longstocking (not to be confused with the American film starring Lindsay Lohan!) amongst other things. Junibacken was so much fun with lots of interactive play areas for children to enjoy, including a mini village with tiny houses and shops. Ettie had a brilliant time playing amongst all the little toy sets, it reminded me a little of Willy Wonkas Chocolate Factory (but without the chocolate!).
Access to the second floor was via an indoor story train which was designed to take children on an enchanting journey between each of the Swedish fairy-tales. The sets on display throughout the journey were so detailed and intricate. It was as if we were flying high over the streets of Sweden and was really magical although I found the story a little sad. Luckily Ettie didn’t really understand what was going on and popped off the train smiling, happy with her experience and ready to take on her next adventure.
On the second floor there was an almost full size version of Pippi Longstockings house with more opportunities for interactive play, and a huge horse which Ettie loved sitting on top of. Absolutely everything was geared up towards capturing a child’s imagination and letting them discover the magic that can be found between the pages of a book.
The only piece of advice I would give to anyone thinking of visiting Junibacken, is to give yourself more time than you think you’ll need. We factored in a couple of hours, but there was so much to do and see, we actually ended up rushing the last bit which was a bit of a shame. The cafe looked like so much fun and continued on the fairytale theme, so I think if we ever go back to Stockholm we will be paying Junibacken a second visit.
After leaving Junibacken there was just enough time to stop into the Vasamuseum, a huge indoor museum on the waterfront which houses a real life royal warship the ‘Vasa’ which capsized on its maiden voyage in Stockholm’s harbour in 1628. The ‘Vasa’ is the worlds most well-preserved 17th century ship and is absolutely incredible. The carvings on the ships stern are so intricate and detailed, it was like stepping onto a Pirates of the Caribbean movie set, although we had to keep reminding ourselves that this was actually real life and the Vasa warship did actually set sail.
We spent so much time admiring the warship that they were practically kicking us out of the door at closing time, although it was still early evening and we weren’t quite ready for home yet, so we decided to take a stroll further round the island into what used to be the royal hunting grounds of Djurgården. This area of the city was so peaceful and tranquil with some breathtaking views out into the harbour where we could see the huge cruise ships sailing in.
From Djurgården it was really easy to see how the sea forms such an integral part of life in Stockholm. At any one point in the city you’re never more than a few meters from the waters, be that the edge of the sea or one of the many lakes dotted around the islands.
I absolutely love this photo of Stuart and Ettie, even though its a silhouette, you can still just about make out the cheeky grin on her face.
The day ended back at our hotel room with a take out salad bowl from the 7 Eleven and a couple of cold beers to celebrate my birthday. It might not have involved a fancy cocktail or a roof top bar, but it was the perfect way to end the day, just me and our little family.
We awoke early on Monday morning fresh after our rather early night and ready for adventure so we jumped on the Metro and travelled about 20 minutes outside of the city centre to Globen, home of the SkyView.
SkyView is the worlds largest spherical building, with two gondolas (similar to those on the London Eye) which take you up to the top of the sphere every 10 minutes. From the top there are outstanding views out across the whole of the city and the whole thing lasts about 20 minutes. It was pretty quiet on the day visited so we were able to arrive and go up really quickly, but I imagine the ques would be much longer during the summer months. Again admission to this was included in the price of our Stockholm City Cards.
One of the tourists in our Gondola gave Ettie a little white Balloon and she was so excited with it, we had to carry it around with us for the rest of the day!
Once we’d finished our ‘flight’, it was still relativity early so the plan was to head back to the city centre and visit Skansen, an open air museum on Djurgården island. However what we failed to realise was that most of Stockholm’s attractions are either closed or close their doors early on a Monday, I suppose it’s the Swedish equivalent of a Sunday in England. Because Skansen is an all day activity, we decided to change plans and visit Kungstagarden in the heart of the city instead.
To get there we took a stroll along the harbour and managed to capture a real taste of Swedish life. Everyone was so friendly and oozed class and sophistication. There was such a lovely atmosphere, I imagine it’s full of beautiful young people in the summer, sipping on their G&T’s and looking out to the yachts in their moorings.
Little funny face!
Stockholm is full of green area and large open spaces. Kungstagarden is the cities central park which is used for open air concerts and events in the summer, and a huge ice rink in the winter. It’s also lined with lots of outdoor cafes and bars making it a really cool place to hang out. Because we visited between seasons, the square was empty so we had lots of fun climbing on the big lions and watching Ettie run around, trying to catch the falling leaves.
At 7pm it was time to head back to the hotel, our little mini break to Stockholm almost over. We got the metro back to the hotel and then boarded the airport bus – from the correct stop this time, back to Arlanda airport.
I think you can tell from my account of the trip,that although we had four days in the city, it felt like we didn’t even scratch the surface. I’d love to go back again in summer and visit all of the places we had to miss this time round. It’s such a vibrant, child friendly city and so easily accessible with a buggy. Plus despite being warned about it being one of the most expensive places in Europe before we left, we really didn’t spend that much money. The City Passes were pricey but we got our moneys worth and there were reasonable places to eat if you just looked around. If you are concerned about pricing, I’d liken it to a weekend break in London. Obviously that’s a lot more expensive than anywhere else in England but dooable for a special occasion. Another thing to consider is that our trip didn’t really involve alcohol or food in fancy restaurants so I imagine that would have pushed the price up a bit too.
Overall I had an excellent birthday break in Stockholm and would thoroughly recommend travelling to Sweden with a toddler. I know some people might be put off by taking a little person on a city break, but it really was amazing having Ettie by our side as we explored a new destination and we’ll definitely be planning more city breaks with her in the future.
If you’d like to find out more about our trip, you can find the first instalment of our break here: Birthday Break to Stockholm Part One.
Wrapping Ettie up in a towel and a turban after her bath and she thought it was absolutely hilarious, She’s such a funny little character.