Family Vacations to Stockholm, Sweden

Stockholm, Sweden
STOCKHOLM: Sweden's capital city boasts historic architecture, quaint streets, and lively family activities (Digital Vision)

Stockholm Highlights

  • See the dazzling crown jewels.
  • View a real 17th-century warship.
  • Ogle Viking gold at the Museum of National Antiquities.
  • Travel back in time to the 18th and 19th century at Skansen, a living history museum.
  • Take a boat ride to explore other islands.

Sweden's capital, Stockholm is built on 14 connected islands. Bridges and waterways lace the city, and in summer, with daylight lasting until around 10:00 p.m., the streets remain lively with strolling families, couples, and students.

A good place to start your visit is in Gamla Stan, the Old Town, whose narrow, winding streets date to the 13th century. On a walk, the aroma of grilled waffles pulls you into an eatery for a snack. Along with cafes, boutiques and art galleries line the cobblestone lanes.

An Old Town highlight: Kungliga Slottet, the Royal Palace. The 600-room baroque masterpiece, completed in 1754, has its share of ornate ceilings and elaborate tapestries. Kids, however, are more likely to want to spend the most time in Skattkammaren, the Treasury, which displays crowns encrusted with diamonds, pearls and emeralds. The Livrustkammaren, the Royal Armory, another must-see, features fairytale-like antique carriages and coaches, some adorned with gilt and jewels. For more pomp, attend the changing of the guard, held daily in summer.

The island of Djurgården has several family-friendly attractions. The Vasamuseet contains the Vasa, a commanding warship that sank in 1628 almost as soon as it left the dock because it was too tall and too heavy to sail. The ship's wooden hull was preserved by the Baltic mud and salvaged in 1961. Carefully restored, the massive Vasa once again looks fierce with its ornate gargoyle-like sculptures. The museum, built around the ship, also showcases coins, tools, and other items reclaimed from the sea.

Skansen, an open-air living history museum, features more than 150 buildings from various Swedish periods. Among them are an 18th-century farmhouse and country church, a mid-1850s town with a shoemaker, glassmaker, and potter. Young children familiar with Pippi Longstocking and friends, characters created by Swedish author Astrid Lindgren, may want to ride a train through storybook settings at Junibacken, an indoor amusement that also offers children's plays. This summer the park hosts added exhibits as part of the 2007 centennial anniversary of the beloved author.

On nearby Östermalm, at the Historiska Museet, the Museum of National Antiquities, head straight to the Gold Room on the ground floor for the dazzling collection of Viking gold and silver coins, necklaces, rings, chains, and other treasures. The Viking Gallery features more coins as well as drinking glasses, swords, bracelets, and models of Viking ships, which had narrow hulls and shallow drafts so they could sail Scandinavia's inland waterways.

The Stockholm archipelago consists of more than 24,000 islands, some merely skerries—small rocky patches of land jutting above the water. Take a wind-in-your-face boat or ferry ride to Vaxholm, about 45 minutes from downtown Stockholm. Enjoy fishing and a tour of the Vaxholms Fästnings (Fortress) Museum, a stone fort begun in the 16th century. About an hour from Stockholm, Grinda, a nature preserve, is a good place for easy hikes.

Tip: Buy the Stockholm Card and receive entry to 75 museums and attractions as well as public transportation's resident family expert Candyce Stapen has written the book on family travel, having authored some 1,400 travel articles and 27 books, 26 of them on family travel. She is the winner of the 2004 "Caribbean Travel Writer of the Year for North America" award and a three-time winner of the Society of American Travel Writers' Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism award. Her articles have appeared in publications including Nick Jr , FamilyFun , Parents , Better Homes & Gardens , Conde Nast Traveler , National Geographic Traveler , and the Family Travel Network , among others. Her book, the National Geographic Guide to Caribbean Family Vacations is available from

Published: 26 Nov 2007 | Last Updated: 8 Aug 2012
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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