Family Adventures in Stockholm

On to Stockholm!

After nearly three great weeks in Norway we were eager to continue our European road trip in neighboring Sweden.  Our destination was Stockholm, the capital of Sweden and the largest city among the Nordic Countries.

For most of our time in Stockholm we were joined by our IntrepidFamily Oma and “Yaya” (aunt) and it was great to spend time with them after a couple of months with just us five in close proximity!

There are many great family activities in and around Stockholm.  Here are some of the best ones we experienced.

Skansen

The first attraction we decided to explore was Skansen, a historic park located on an island near the center of the City.  Skansen is both an open-air museum and a zoo, which makes it a perfect place to learn about the history, culture and wildlife of Scandinavia.

The open air museum includes historical buildings from across Sweden, including this windmill.

A traditional storehouse.

The zoo portion is predominantly made up of Nordic animals including wolves, bears, birds of prey, wolverines, elk and more.

It was fun seeing the wolves and learning about efforts to maintain a stable population of wolves in the country.  

 

Vasa Museum

The Vasa is a grand warship that was completed in 1628 and was to be used in Sweden’s war against the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.  Unfortunately, the design of the ship was deeply flawed and it sank almost immediately after launching.  It remained at the bottom of the sea just outside of the Stockholm harbour until it was raised in 1961.

We wondered why a ship that was such a spectacular failure was deserving of a museum but these questions were put to rest when we entered the museum and caught a glimpse of this magnificent vessel.  The ship is a true work of art, adorned with hundreds of detailed carvings.  Largely preserved in the cold waters, the ship is a time capsule nearly 400 years old.

These ornate carvings were originally painted.  The museum includes an exhibition of the original pigments that were used.

A model of the ship depicting a scene of the day it was launched.

One area of the museum has hands-on activities where the kids learned about different skills that were required to sail ships.

When the ship was raised 15 skeletons were found inside.  The skeletons underwent a great deal of forensic analysis and one fascinating section of the museum is focused on these people; what jobs they likely had, health conditions, what they ate, and so on.

National Museum of Science and Technology

Stockholm’s Tekniska Museet is an expansive museum focused on (you guessed it) Science and Technology.  There are multiple floors of exhibits suitable for kids and adults.

In front of the museum there’s a “Mathematical Garden” that includes this maze that has to be solved by making right turns only.

The bottom floor of the museum houses an exhibit on mining, an important industry in Sweden.

The special exhibition “Play Beyond Play” was all about video games.  There were vintage consoles on display, various games to play (including a VR game) and exhibits on the process for creating games.

We stayed at the museum until closing time then played a bit longer outside.  This ladder/slide is designed based on the Fibonacci sequence. 

Swedish History Museum

The Swedish History Museum (Historiska) is an excellent (and FREE) museum dedicated to telling the history of the country.  When we visited there was an exhibition in the courtyard called “Meet the Vikings” where we learned more about Viking culture.

In one tent the kids tried their hand at making flour from oats, then they made simple loaves of bread from the oat flour.

At another tent we learned how blacksmiths shaped iron into weapons and tools.

We also got to try our hand at a game that the Viking people may have used to settle disputes. 🙂

We barely scratched the surface of what the museum had to offer and we could have easily spent several more hours going through the many excellent exhibits!

Stockholm Old Town

Stockholm’s old town (Gamla Stan) is well worth exploring.  We enjoyed walking through the ancient alleyways past charming shops and restaurants in what once made up the medieval city center.

Walking through the alleyways.

Stortorget square is the picturesque historic center of the city.

Vikingaliv – a True Adventure

Not far from the Vasa museum is Vikingaliv – a museum solely dedicated to telling the history of the Vikings.  The museum is rather small but it does have some good interactive exhibits and guided talks.

One interesting piece is the recreation of an actual Viking.  A forensics team used the skeleton of a real Viking as the basis for this model, using techniques similar to what the FBI uses to identify victims from skeletal remains.

There’s a small children’s area where the kids learned what it was like to be a child in the Viking times.  Children were put to work at an early age, assisting with household and farming tasks. 

The bottom floor of the museum has a rather cheesy ‘ride’ that took us through the story of a Viking that had to go raiding in foreign lands to raise funds for his daughter’s wedding.

Vikingaliv was interesting, but given how small it was, it was not worth the price of admission compared to some of the other museums we visited (particularly the excellent and FREE Swedish History Museum).

 

ABBA Museum

Annette and her sister visited the ABBA museum on their own since the Intrepid kids aren’t big ABBA fans (yet).

ABBA in wax form.

The museum featured a large collection of the actual outfits that ABBA used while touring.

There were also recreations of studios that ABBA used to write and record their music.

The museum featured several fun interactive exhibits, including a karaoke game, music video and quizzes.  In one, Annette danced and sang with ABBA (in hologram form).  A video of the performance was available afterward on the ABBA museum website!  Overall, the museum was a lot of fun and very informative, even if you are just a casual fan of the band.  We highly recommend a visit when in Stockholm.

Vaxholm

During our stay in Stockholm we took a day trip to Vaxholm, about a 30 minute drive from central Stockholm (it is also possible to visit via a ferry). We enjoyed walking through the town before enjoying a Swedish “Fika” (coffee break) at the waterfront Hembygdsgårds Café.

The pancakes and waffles were delicious.

Afterwards we walked around some more, taking in the view of the Vaxholm fortress. 

Accommodations

Our home during our stay in Sweden was a lovely family home in the suburb of Järfälla that we found on AirBnB.  The home had plenty of room for the seven of us, as well as a pool and outdoor deck with a terrace covered with grapevines.  We prefer staying in AirBnBs because they are usually more cost-effective than hotels (especially since they usually have self-catering facilities), and they provide a much sense of what it is like to live as a local.

If you’ve never stayed in an AirBnb you can use this link to get $40 in travel credit on your booking (we’ll get $20 in credit also).

Summing Up

We had an amazing time in Stockholm and would love to return!

In our next update, we cross the Baltic Sea and begin our exploration of the Baltic States (Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania)!

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