As we have only ever been to Malmö (popping over the bridge regularly to do less expensive massive food shops when we lived in Copenhagen – probably the time my cardamom bun addiction first formed come to think of it!) and beautiful Ystad (home to Wallander for those that remember it – and a place you should definitely put on your Visit Sweden list if you like your coastline rugged, full of Viking mythology and with a side order of sacred stones at Ales Stenar to boot!), I have been desperate to visit Stockholm for some time…
When some good friends moved to Stockholm from Munich last summer, it was somewhere I thought would be great to see with the added bonus of personal tour guides – which as it turns out our friends are incredibly good at…
The week before we were due to fly, I began to feel a little off colour. I don’t do ill very well, so went with my usual tactic of ignoring any and all symptoms in the hope they would go away. As the days progressed I gradually felt worse, with a high fever and a nagging pain in my side that began to worry me. Having googled nearly every symptom, I started to imagine a knot in my intestines – or something tropical that would actually be quite impossible for me to have (have I mentioned hypochondria runs in our family?). It was only when I spoke to my youngest sister who said “you know I had a pain in my side when I ended up in hospital for two weeks with a severe kidney infection?” that I thought I had better pop to the doctors. We were flying the next day. The doctor confirmed my sister’s expert diagnosis, and said that I wasn’t to travel anywhere… Not only do I hate being ill, but I probably hate being told what to do more, so I swallowed the first antibiotic, packed as much as I could, and passed out before the alarm clock went off a few hours later… If the antibiotics weren’t going to work, I figured I would much rather be in a Stockholm hospital with hopefully Viking doctors, whilst the rest of my family enjoyed this gorgeous Scandinavian City AND got to see our friends …
Thankfully, after a short flight (and Mr R taking control of all “offspring on a plane” duties – I might start to fake being ill before we get on a plane in future!) I only really lost the first afternoon and evening that we were there, as the drugs began to do their thing and I felt more lifelike again. It did sadly mean that I wasn’t able to toast our visit much with our friends, but at around £10 a glass of wine, that was probably quite a good thing…
By the way, Stockholm is an expensive city, but that doesn’t mean you have to spend a small fortune to enjoy it. With most hotels serving breakfast buffets, ,and plenty of small stores dotted about the place selling slices of pizza and the like, it is easy to survive until dinner time without having to visit a restaurant, and then you don’t have to eat at the most expensive places… If you stayed in an Airbnb, you wouldn’t have to go near a restaurant at all, and could save spending over the odds on a hotel and food… Many museums and attractions are free anyway (including the Modern Art Museum, the National Museum, the Medieval Museum, and the Swedish History Museum), as are a few walking tours, but you should also invest in a Stockholm Pass to save even more.
Stockholm transport is pretty reasonable, but bear in mind that as it’s not the biggest city on the planet – the things most people want to see are well within walking distance… Book your airport transport in advance to get the cheapest price, and consider hiring a bike to get around once there too. Don’t drink much alcohol, cut the caffeine (and in my case – which I sadly failed at) steer clear of any and all Scandinavian Children’s clothes shops. Having said all that, you can’t come to Sweden and not enjoy a spot of Fika somewhere, so set aside part of your budget for at least 5 decent kardamummabuller (cardamom buns)… All in all, just don’t let the expense thing put you off, as is the case with most Scandinavian cities, a stay doesn’t have to be extortionate.
Anyway, whilst I was recovering, Mr R and the Small People made good use of the playground in the exquisite Humlegården park directly opposite our Scandic Park Hotel (which was good by the way. It worked in terms of location – a short hop on the subway to the waterfront and Djurgården with its various attractions. We had a good quiet room, and the only thing I didn’t like was that due to the amount of tour groups staying, breakfast could be a bit of a bun fight – but you can’t win them all. Do make sure you ask at the kitchen counter for pancakes for the children for breakfast. If you don’t have any children, pretend…).
The Scandinavians don’t mess around when it comes to playgrounds. Forget the often sad offerings that can pass for UK equivalents, in Sweden they are usually stuffed with huge sandpits complete with masses of toys, lots of playground equipment for various ages, bikes, ride on toys, diggers the lot. This one had a large hut for bad weather, where you could help yourself (on an honesty box system) to tea, coffee, and nappies if you have forgotten to bring any… After thoroughly wearing the toddler out and not able to take any more sand in their shoes, my little family ventured further into the neighbourhood until they stumbled across the super good Mom’s Kitchen. Here they chatted to owner Christian over plates of finest home made Swedish Kotbullar (meatballs), mashed potatoes and lingonberry jam… A place that should definitely be added to any “great food on a decent budget in Stockholm” list…
Our first stop the following morning (after a brief tour of our friends gorgeous apartment overlooking the city’s rooftops) was Stockholm’s Swedish History Museum that was holding a special Viking Experience. Given that our friends are Danish, and our older two are well versed in all things Viking thanks to their early years in Copenhagen, this was right up their street. So, whilst we grown ups got to catch up, the children were able to decipher Rune Stones, make viking bread, do a spot of archery, wallop each other off a pole with feather stuffed pillows (can’t imagine vikings doing that in all honesty!), make necklaces, and typically lose at tug of war. The toddler, who is a bit of a thug at the best of times, was completely in his element, tormenting his older siblings as they tried to concentrate on various tasks, begging for bits of their bonfire baked bread, and spending an inordinate amount of time carefully following this intricate stone maze, where he would stumble to the middle until he reached what he announced to all and sundry was a chicken (If anyone can shed any light on what it really is, I would be most appreciative!).
Afterwards we headed down to the water for a walk, and a bit of a guided tour along the way =- passing the imposing Nordic Museum, the wonderful Junibacken, Vasa, Gröna Lund, the Absolut Vodka Museum (who knew that was Swedish?), and the most gorgeous tiny wedding on a Viking boat in the harbour – finally settling at an outside table at the very sweet Villa Godthem, – a restaurant with a huge garden by the water, just in time to capture the last of the day’s sun…
Our friends are not only magnificent tour guides, but they are also fantastic cooks, and later that evening they treated us to our very own Swedish Crayfish party for which we managed to crack and slurp our way almost through the entire lot.
Once the children had eaten and retreated worn out by the days wanderings we enjoyed an evening full of the things that had made us good friends in the first place, fabulous food, lots of laughter, plenty of reminiscing over our time in Munich, and that shared common history that life abroad can bring, before bundling everyone home in a taxi at the end of the evening. As an added bonus, the toddler slept for the entire evening (we took a nifty little pop up travel cot with us!), so it was nice not to have to worry about any beautiful Scandinavian lamps getting destroyed, or him disappearing through the vintage pre-safety tests balustrade of their balcony!..
We met again the following morning for a boat trip out to Fjåderholmarna, a small island a twenty minute boat ride, taking in a lot of the sights along the way. Out in the archipelago, Stockholm takes on a whole different vibe away from city life and back to a much slower paced nature filled one instead. There are lots of little workshops and craft shops to visit, plus a few good restaurants, and it’s somewhere you should really visit if you have an extended Stockholm stay (expect a more in depth photo heavy post soon!)…
As they had work and school the next day, we bade our friends a sad farewell – making them promise to come and see us very soon, and had me wracking my brains as to what on earth we can make them for dinner that would be equally as impressive as the crayfish (a table full of Yorkshire puddings, a giant mound of scones with clotted cream??). Afterwards our little tribe headed to Gamla Stan, to explore properly and to contemplate what we would do for the rest of our time in this magnificent city now our tour guides had retired… More soon…
Best Hose says
Lovely pictures, they are simply bursting with colour and energy. Looks like an amazing place to visit :) Thanks for putting so much effort into writing this blog post.
Thanks Mike! (:
Plutonium Sox says
Oh I would so love to go to Stockholm! Hopefully one day in the not too distant future! Some great tips on what to do and how to save money, the playgrounds sound incredible! Particularly useful to know about everything being in walking distance, it’s natural to assume that you’ll need to use public transport in a city so that’s helpful. Thanks for linking up to #familytraveltips
Thanks for the lovely comment! Hope you get there really soon! :)
Laura H says
Looks like a wonderful city! I’ll save up a bit before visiting since you say it can be a little pricey.
It can be, but don’t let it put you off! :) x
Zena's Suitcase says
I would love to visit Stockholm and I love all the tips here. It would be my worst nightmare to fall ill before a trip but I’d do exactly what you did I think. Glad you were able to enjoy your visit
Thank you so much Zena! (:
Lisa (Travel Loving Family) says
You are so right, Stockholm is such a vibrant fabulous city and yes a tad expensive too but great tips for keeping the cost down!
Ohh I’m sorry you were ill, it always happens at the worst time doesnt it! Glad you got to have a good time and enjoy yourself though xx
Thanks Sarah. Definitely a case of Sod’s law! :D xx
Ting at MTM says
Oooh I’ve wanted to go to Stockholm for an age now and this has made me want to go even more! I like the sound of those buns!
Thanks Ting. Can highly recommend the buns! (:
Stockholm isn’t usually one of those places that ends up on top of your list of places to go but it looks lovely and I’d definitely be interested in visiting the museums!
I have a thing about Scandinavia, so it’s always been high on mine! Thanks Kira! (:
Sarah Ann says
Stockholm is high on my list – it looks beautiful. And the food looks delicious too.
Thank you Sarah! (:
Candice Nikeia says
The food looks amazing! So glad you had such a fun time!
Thanks Candice! (:
Ashleigh Dougherty says
I haven’t been to Stockholm (yet!) but it looks so lovely! I love the colourful little locations too.
Tanya Brannan says
I have wanted to visit Stockholm for as long as I can remember! This post just makes me want to go even more. It looks so beautiful and clean and inviting. I WILL get there one day!
It really is all of those. Thanks Tanya! (:
emma white says
It’s awful when you’re not feeling well and your traveling but glad to see and hear it didn’t stop you having a great time
Thankfully not. Thanks Emma (:
Erin Ek Rush says
Ohh.. looks amazing! I’ve been to Sweden long before kids & would love to go back. Really helpful tips on saving a bit of ££ because that’s something that has always put me off. I think I could do all of them except give up coffee but I could smuggle some in with me ;)
To be honest, I think the coffee I had there was worth the dollar! :D Thanks Erin! (:
Jemma @ Celery and Cupcakes says
I’m so glad you started to feel better to enjoy your trip! Stockholm looks an amazing city, I’d love to visit!
Thanks Jemma! (:
Nichola - Globalmouse says
Oh wow, your photos are beautiful and Stockholm is somewhere I am desperate to visit so this has given me serious wanderlust. I’m so pleased your illness passed and you were able to enjoy it. What an amazing looking place (off to google flights!!).
It’s really really worth a visit. Thanks Nichola! :)
This has been high on my list of places to visit for a long time. It just seems like such a cool city with a really arty vibe about it.
Definitely how I would describe it too. Thanks Danielle! :)
Lucy | Real Mum Reviews says
Looks like a fabulous trip. I would love to visit.
It’s worth a trip for sure! Thanks Lucy! (:
Aw, Stockholm looks like such a cute city! I really want to go there! <3 It looks like an amazing place to take kids as well, the parks sound amazing! :) I hope you're now feeling much better! xx
I am, thanks Chrissy! (:
Emily Leary says
Yikes, glad to see you got diagnosed early, well done to your sister! Stockholm looks rather fabulous x
Thanks Emily, yes I am pleased I listened to her (for once!) :D x
Baby Isabella says
Some great ideas to have a relatively cheap visit in Stockholm. Love your photos x We’ve always been put off because it was so expensive.
Don’t let it put you off, honestly! I would book an Airbnb and look for some cheap flights, and go for it! :) x
Sorry to hear you were poorly to begin with but I’m glad you got to go and explore Stockholm it looks absolutely breathtaking. I would love to visit the Swedish history museum as I love to learn more about Vikings. I did a history degree. Up it was more medieval based.
Definitely a place for you to visit then Kirsty! Thanks! :)
Leah Lander-Shafik says
I’m sorry you felt unwell, nothing worse! I have never been to Stockholm and it really is somewhere I would like to visit. I have heard it can be expensive so glad for the tips to keep the costs down x
Thanks Leah, yes, you really don’t have to spend a fortune! (:
Super Busy Mum says
Wow, Stockholm is somewhere I have never been but it look beautiful!
It really is lovely! Thank you (:
Carrie -Flying With A Baby says
I have been looking at Sweden a lot recently, and this makes me want to explore even more! The boat trip to the island sounds breath-taking and the crayfish very appetising! Plus you are right, those playgrounds are fabulous! #familytraveltips
I will have a post on the island up shortly Carrie! Thank you! (:
Corey with fifi + hop says
I’ve never been to Stockholm but have always wanted to visit. Glad you were able to go on your trip despite everything! And still see so much! #familytraveltips
So glad I insisted on going! Thanks Corey! (:
This looks like such an amazing trip, could I please borrow your friends to show me around too?! The playground looks fantastic. I’m so sorry you were poorly though, glad the antibiotics worked in time for you to enjoy your trip.
Thanks Rebecca. Yes, I am sure they wouldn’t mind! :D
Claire at Tin Box Traveller says
What a fabulous trip despite the rocky start. I think I’d be visiting those friends more regularly if their cooking is always like that!
I know, I am going to look at more flights as soon as they have been to visit us! :D
Lovely post – makes me want to go back straightaway!
So beautiful isn’t it! I love how we have followed each other around this year, where are you going next?? :D
I managed to visit Stockholm in March and enjoyed it big time, it was a tad bit expensive but so worth it. I made so many wonderful friends
So glad you had a good time! Thanks Anosa! (:
Katy S says
Wow – Stockholm is absolutely gorgeous and your photos are stunning! I love that the playgrounds are so well thought out – my kids would just love it! The streets are so pretty and I bet it is beautiful at Christmas!
Thanks Katy! I bet it’s beautiful, and freezing! :D
Ah wonderful Stockholm! We spent four nights here when we had our fortnight’s fly-drive round the country. Absolutely loved the city and the Absolut Vodka SpritMuseum was my favourite museum of all time!
Cam’t think what you mean about your toddler being a thug? *rubs leg*
I am saving the Vodka Museum for a childfree visit. It sounds fabulous! Yes, sorry about that! :D xx
Nell (Pigeon Pair and Me) says
I remember Wallander, and I’d love to visit Ystad! Stockholm looks pretty great too, though. Sounds as though you had the perfect time with your friends (apart from the lurgy at the beginning…..)
One of the best trips we have had in a while! Thanks Nell! (: x
Sarah Bailey says
What an absolutely amazing looking place to get to explore, it looks like there is so much going on in Stockholm. It is a shame it is an expensive city, but great you don’t need to fall into the trap of paying for things.
You definitely don’t have to spend a fortune here. Thanks Sarah! (:
Cathy (MummyTravels) says
Stockholm has always been one of those cities I’d like to visit some day but has never quite been top of the list – having read this, I think I have to change that very quickly. Not least for cardamom buns and Vikings!
I think you would love it Cathy! Thank you! (:
Tania @ Larger Family Life says
It looks like there is just so much to do there. You’d need more than one visit to fit it all in I think – not that I’d mind! #familytraveltips
I am definitely planning many more visits! Thanks Tania! (:
Sounds like a great trip. Useful to hear how to save money in Sweden, the cost has put me off a bit but as you say there are ways around it. #familytraveltips
Definitely lots of ways around the cost issue. Thanks Annabel…
Stockholm is definitely on my list, but I’d definitely want to save up and ‘do it proper’. Especially since the exchange rate isn’t the best at the mo. Looks like a great city though and at least most things are within walking distance :)!
I can highly recommend doing it proper… I was always amazed at our visitors when we lived in Denmark, they would come back in shock about how expensive things could be, and then I would ask them where they had been and wouldn’t be surprised! You can visit these places on the cheap, but not if you don’t have to! :D