In Stockholm there are many things that can be done. Here are just five of them.
On the beautiful island of Djurgården, Skansen is a vast open air museum, dedicated to Scandinavian life, history and natural history. This park hosts a great collection, preserving the old Scandinavia (there are artefacts from Sweden, but also from Norway and other Nordic countries). As such there are fully rebuilt farm buildings, churches and village halls, representing a range of regions and periods of history.
All of this is fascinating and well worth a visit, but Skansen has a lot more to offer, and is a great family day out. Skansen is also home to a collection of Nordic animals, including some that are now very rare. So alongside moose (elk) and lynx, animals reasonably common in the forests no great distance from Stockholm, there are enclosures for wolves, bears and wolverine. Because of the popularity of the animals at Skansen, a more general zoo has also developed that requires a separate ticket to visit. There is also “Lill Skansen” (Little Skansen) which is an animal park for children, that includes rabbits, chipmunks, guinea pigs and kittens.
Skansen also hosts a number of tea rooms and eateries and beautiful gardens (with no shortage of wildlife: red squirrels, blackcaps and pied flycatchers, etc.) There is also a large open air stage and venue that, through the summer, hosts one of Sweden’s most popular TV shows: Allsång på Skansen (literally: Sing-along Skansen). This is an entertainment show where popular Swedish stars lead a family audience in community singing on long summer evenings.
Skansen can be enjoyed on a quick visit of an hour or so, perhaps alongside other Djurgården treats such asGröna Lund or the Vasa Museum; but a family could easily spend the day and find plenty to do.
The Vasa Museum
This museum is breathtaking. While Skansen has size and variety, the Vasa Museum is all about one enormous exhibit: The Vasa.
The Vasa was a 17th century warship which, like the Titanic, had a very unsuccessful maiden voyage. It got nowhere near as far as the Titanic, sinking as it did in Stockholm harbour. It is not known for certain how many died onboard the Vasa: contemporary records suggest around 30. The remains of at least 16 were found when the boat was finally brought up from below the harbour in the 1960s. Some of the skeletons can be viewed in the museum, along with startling facial reconstructions of the victims, along with incredibly detailed information about their lives, gleaned from the archaeological evidence.
The incredible thing about the Vasa Museum, though, is the boat herself. She is 69 metres long, with a stern nearly 20 metres high and ornately carved. The low light and cold temperature, that is designed to help preserve the ship that had been remarkably undamaged by its 300 years at the bottom of the sea, helps create a unique atmosphere. The Vasa is a must see.
FjäderholmarnaVisiting the archipelago, for the most part, involves leaving the city of Stockholm behind. But the first islands are within the city itself, and only a twenty minute boat journey from the city centre. Fjäderholmarna (Feather Islands) should be visited.
A short boat journey from Strandvägen or Slussen takes the visitor out into the open waters of eastern Stockholm and, quickly, to a small group of islands. The regular boats land on the main, inhabited, island, and here visitors can enjoy open air theatre, visit a wide range of excellent craft shops, visit any number of restaurants, or simply stroll in the peaceful woods and get a taste of the archipelago experience.
Gamla Stan is the name given to Stockholm’s old town. It is located on a small island in the very heart of the city. Gamla Stan has narrow streets and attractive squares, most of which have a restaurant or tea room. There are a great number of interesting shops along the island’s charming streets. It is also home to the Royal Palace, the cathedral and Stockholm’s Parliament. Hours and hours could be whiled away here on a dry and warm day, as one is never far from the blue waters of the harbour (or, on the west shore of Gamla Stan, the lake).
Finally, if family fun is what the visitor is looking for, Gröna Lund is the place to go! This exciting family theme park on the edge of the water on Djurgården has a great range of exciting rides for kids of all ages Popular rides include “Freefall” (a drop from an incredible height above the city which, briefly, affords the finest view in Stockholm!) and “Insane”. There are also a number of enjoyable roller-coasters. Gröna Lund also plays host to summer concerts, including big stars like Lady Ga-Ga and, in the past, even Jimi Hendrix! A host of less well-known Swedish talent is also featured, and a number of genres are catered for, from singer-songwriters, through chart dance music to heavy metal. Those who have paid the good value tickets to enjoy the rides all day, get to enjoy the concert as part of that package.
Stockholm has much more to see than this brief article could begin to reveal. If considering a city break, Stockholm should be very high up any travellers list!