We spent 3 nights in Stockholm as part of our 10 night trip around 3 Scandinavian capitals–Copenhagen, Oslo, and Stockholm via plane, ferry, and train!
Our time in Stockholm didn’t run quite as smoothly as our other destinations, mostly because of flight and luggage issues with Norwegian Air Shuttle. The flight delays weren’t their fault. Our 1 hour hopper flight from Oslo took off on time. About 30 minutes into the flight, with both kids asleep for a quick nap, they announce that Sweden’s radar system is down and airspace is closed and we’ll have to circle to see if it opens back up. We circle a bit and then they announce we have to go BACK to Oslo to refuel and wait. So we land back in Oslo right about the same time we should have been landing in Stockholm.
DD wakes up and goes, “We’re in Sweden!” to which I have to tell her, “Actually, we’re back in Oslo.” She burst into tears! Poor girl just desperately wanted to be in Sweden! Us too! Then they announce that we won’t be refueling. They are cancelling the flight and we have to go to customer service in the airport to get a new flight.
Now, the nice thing was before we even got into the airport, we each got a voucher for the equivalent of about $35 per person for dinner. Automatically given to each passenger! We get into line for our new flight and aren’t too far back–maybe 8 people in front of us? But then the guy calls out, “Anyone with kids come to the front” and we got to jump the line! They got us on a 7 pm flight (it was 5 pm at this point). We think, “Ok, not so bad. We’ll get some food and get on the plane.”
Except that flight is then delayed until 8:30 pm. And the really fun kid play area is on the domestic side and we can’t get there. Why the international side doesn’t have a kid area, I don’t know! We finally land in Stockholm and discover our luggage has not made it! UGH! We’re at our AirBnb, it’s 11 pm and we only have what’s in our carry on.
Now, this is where it is Mommy for the WIN! I always pack our carry on to make sure we could handle a night somewhere without our stuff. So the kids had everything they needed for bed from pjs to toothbrushes to baby monitor to noise machine to lovies. They had clothes for the next day (and so did I). If you’re interested in knowing more about what we pack in carry-on, read here!
The next day, Hubby stays home all day waiting for our luggage. They’d told us the night before that our stuff would arrive first thing and be delivered and they’d call us at 9 am. But they didn’t. And no one was answering on their end.
Kids slept way in (our AirBnb was very cool and the bedrooms were underground and pitch black which we LOVED! I hate staying places with flimsy curtains that let in all the light and my kids wake at 6 am). I went to the grocery store and a bakery. Then explored a bit on my own. Later the kids and I explored some and did a playground. While DS napped, DD and I did a photo walk. Our luggage was finally delivered about 7:30 pm!! So DH had a relaxing day in the AirBnb reading and chilling, but only 1 real day in Stockholm.
We stayed in a building on Gamla Stan, the old town part of Stockholm on a very cool island very centrally located. It was the PERFECT location and one I highly recommend to others. Our AirBnb was this one but there are many choices. It had 3 bedrooms downstairs in basement (no windows, curving stair case) and the ground floor had the living space and bathroom. Very tiny kitchen and tiny bathroom. But the location was perfect!
Gamla Stan is full of tiny winding cobblestone roads, lots of history, old buildings, bakeries, and restaurants. I essentially spent all day exploring it and still didn’t get down every road!
Day 1: Arrival–We didn’t land until about 9:30 pm at night. So all we did was get to our AirBnB and sleep!
Day 2: Gamla Stan
I didn’t go inside any of the buildings and just spent a free day wandering Gamla Stan. Sometimes with the kids and sometimes without. It’s not that big an island, so it was easy to pop in and out of our AirBnb. We grabbed lunch at the very kid friendly (though not very thrilling) Burger King and at it at our house. DS2 napped in the afternoon with DH and DD and I did a photo walk.
We played at a playground (Junotäppan) and stopped at a delicious bakery (Bageri Skeppsbro) on the water. I picked up food to go from The Hairy Pig for dinner which was literally just around the corner from us. They didn’t necessarily do take away officially, but they were willing to work with me to get it to go!
Day 3: Museums!
Our 2nd full day in Stockholm, we took the ferry across to Djurgården to see the Vasa Museum and the Junibacken Museum. From Gamla Stan, go to the ferry dock named Slussen kajen and take the Djurgården ferry to Allmänna gränd. Boats typically depart every 10-20 minutes starting at 9 am until 7 pm. Djurgården houses many many museums, so odds are you’ll go there! We bought a one way ticket at the dock via a kiosk. Kids were young enough they were free!
From the dock, we walked north to the Vasa Museum. It took about 8 minutes. The Vasa was an 17th century warship that sunk 10 minutes into its maiden voyage in the Stockholm harbor and then spent over 300 years at the bottom until it was raised and is now in the museum. To read more about its history, go here.
The museum doesn’t open until 10 and we were early. Which was good because crowds arrived! Kids ran around and we waited in line. The Vasa Museum allows strollers, though the elevator was very slow and there are 7 floors. We ended up carrying ours up and down flights of stairs rather than waiting. Many people without strollers or wheelchairs were using the elevators because of the number of floors so we often had to wait for space. There is stroller parking if desired. There are also free lockers, which was handy because we had layers to remove and store! Admission was 150 SEK ($16) for adults and kids under 18 are free.
The museum has a kid movie about a pig who joined the Vasa. We started with the little film and then wandered the museum. DH did another film geared towards older kids and adults and said it was good. The museum was PACKED and getting to displays was difficult. It was fascinating, but not my kids’ favorite museum. Though we did get a great kid book at the gift shop about the Vasa that they really enjoy.
After the Vasa, we went over to the Junibacken, which was next door. This is a children literary museum that focuses on Swedish authors. The only one we knew was Astrid Lindgren and her creation of Pippi Longstocking. But the building is awesome and full of things for the kids to play with and do. It was crowded, but manageable. Very imaginative place. Not cheap to visit though–kids under 2 are free, ages 2-15 are 155SEK ($16) and adults are 185SEK ($20). $72 for a family is a lot!
There are two main play areas, a 15 min “story train” ride through a story land (we didn’t know most of the characters, but it was still cute), and a model of Pippi’s house. They also do theater productions, though I think most are only in Swedish.
We ate lunch in their cafeteria, though found the choices a bit unappealing to us for the most part. The kids had pancakes and I had meatballs with mashed potatoes. They had a lot of sweets as well. Here is their menu. If we were to do it again, we’d have maybe done the restaurant at the Vasa Museum instead.
When done, we did the 30 minute walk back to Gamla Stan over the bridges rather than take the ferry back. It was a fine walk, but we probably would have enjoyed the ferry more.
Once back from the museums, we went back to the playground we enjoyed the day before. Along the way, this window display caught their eye. They LOVED watching the trains go around and around!
The previous day, the playground was packed as we had visited during school hours and they use it for recess. But today we had the place almost to ourselves except for a few families. The kids LOVED it and we spent a long time playing. This tractor was DS’ favorite part of all! He is obsessed with tractors and being able to sit on a real one (even one that doesn’t move) was a thrill.
Day 4: Departure We had an 8:30 am train to catch to Copenhagen on our final day, so we got up and walked to the train station. It was just 1 mile so we had decided to walk. This was a bit trickier than planned as my suitcase broke during the flight to Stockholm and one wheel was wonky and the handle wasn’t working. 1 stroller, 2 kids, 4 carry on bags, and 2 checked bags going a mile over cobblestone isn’t the easiest. But we made it!
The train station was easy to navigate. Large with food choices and shopping. We got ourselves to the proper track, only for an announcement to come on. We didn’t quite understand, but everyone started to move. A nice lady by us asked if we were headed to Copenhagen and then explained that the departure track was changed and we had to move. We then hauled all our stuff back to where we had started!
The train was operated by SJ and was not supposed to require changing trains (a big plus). We had tried to book directly through them and were having website issues so booked through GoEuro. Turns out, GoEuro just assigns seats while SJ’s site allows you to pick your own. So we ended up sitting by each other, but facing backwards. I can’t stand facing backwards in moving vehicles–it makes me motion sick! It also makes DD feel sick. So we spent a lot of the train ride trying not to feel sick. Definitely recommend using their direct site and picking seats!
We bought lunch on the train. They have a little cafe and I got a chicken caesar wrap that was good. They had a pasta and chicken kid dish and then microwaves to heat it up. The kids split that and enjoyed it.
The only snag on the train was that for some reason it couldn’t go over the bridge to Denmark and we had to change trains in Malmö, Sweden just across the border. Changing trains wasn’t a big deal, but the train we got on did not have assigned seating and was full and we were struggling with where to put luggage (particularly our stroller) and where to sit. Luckily some very nice people moved so that we could sit all 4 together because the kids were freaking out about sitting 2 and 2.
We didn’t see all of Stockholm by any means! It was the last stop in our 10 night trip and we were definitely a bit museumed out by then. We enjoyed wandering and exploring and playground time! Definitely would like to go back and spend more time.
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