Everyone has a travel bucket list, those far flung isles that you dream of flying away to, or those places slightly closer to home that you haven’t yet got round to visiting. I have a fair few, some I doubt I’ll ever visit unless there’s a lottery win in my future and some I’ve been lucky enough to tick off over the years before having the girls. One of those places, in my Top 5 places that I have always wanted to visit is Sweden, more specifically Stockholm. I don’t know what it was about this Nordic city that meant I was desperate to explore, but for a long time now I have dreamt of going, so imagine my excitement when we finally booked a weekend away there as a family. We decided that these weekend breaks won’t be so easy when Mads starts school so it seemed like a perfect time.
I love a city break. I am a huge fan of sitting by a pool with a cocktail and feeling the sun on my shoulders, in fact when I’m on a ‘beach’ holiday that’s pretty much all I like to do, (although that has changed a lot with the arrival of two little people!) but I do love a city break too, and I don’t think that has to stop just because you have children. Yes the boozy lunches, long lay in’s and late nights enjoying the not so ordinary food and drink a different city has to offer have stopped, but visiting a city and experiencing new culture’s and exploring the sights with the girls is actually great fun.
And so a couple of weekends ago after a stressful check in at Ryanair at Stansted, we found ourselves on a short two hour flight to Stockholm Stavska airport. Then it was an 90 minute long bus ride to the city of Stockholm. We packed lots into our three days and according to the app on Mr E’s phone walked 26 miles, the equivalent of a marathon- here’s the first part of our trip to Stockholm in words, photos and a video…
We were really impressed when we arrived at our hotel, The Best Western Premier Hotell Kung Carl, a family run hotel situated by Stureplan Square, right in the middle of an upmarket shopping area in Stockholm. We were really impressed with our family room, (the girls loved the bunk beds) and the hotel in general- it was really eclectic in terms of it’s interiors, mixing old with modern, and lots of Swedish art and antiques.
The quirky reception area and bar in the Hotell Kung Carl.
Planning and plotting what we were going to do, Visit Stockholm kindly gave us a big pack full of information, but I also spent ages looking at the Visit Stockholm website before we left. I like to be prepared on a city break and know exactly what we are doing, so I spent a while before our trip sussing out where we should go.
We headed straight out to stretch our legs and get our bearings. Stockholm is full of green areas, more about that later, amazingly so in fact, and we sat in a little park and had some juice and shared an ice cream. Love this photo of my three.
I think the key to a good city break is letting them loose every now and again. I know my two get fed up if they are constantly in the buggy, or being told to hold our hands. A little green space where they can run around does wonders.
I love this photo of the two of them snuggling back at our hotel. They had bunk beds which they loved and because they were so worn out from all the walking and later nights, they slept soundly even though they were in the room with us.
First thing Friday after a yummy hotel breakfast we headed to Junibacken which is in the Djurgarden area of the city, a very green island (Stockholm is made up of islands) housing a lot of the cities museums and attractions. Junibacken is without a doubt the best family attraction we have been too since having the girls. It’s based on the books of Astrid Lindgren who wrote Pippi Longstocking, but to be honest children don’t need to know the books to have an amazing time. It’s interactive, fun, full of play zones like slides, swings, things to climb on, and at the end you go on the Story Train which takes you on a magical fairy tale ride. There’s also a Moomins play area there too which excited us all a little too much!
The restaurant at Junibacken was circus themed and we all loved it, the food was great too. The girls had pancakes finished off with Moomins chocolates, while myself and Mr E had meatballs. When in Sweden after all…
We bought them each a little present from Junibacken, of course Moomin related. Mads got some collectors cards (she loves any sort of card) and LL got a little cuddly Moomin.
Super chuffed with her Moomin.
The next stop of the day was to the Spirit Museum which Mr E wanted to quickly look at. Luckily even though it was obviously for adults, the girl’s still had fun looking around at all the spirits and taking part in some of the interactive elements. There was a great Absolute Vodka exhibition on there.
A photo of the amazing Grona Lund theme park as taken from the ferry we were on. We actually went here on Saturday so more on that later, but it’s a fantastic small city theme park on the edge of the water. It’s kitsch, retro and kind of reminded me what Coney Island in New York would be like, although I haven’t been there myself.
As I mentioned above Stockholm is made up of fourteen islands meaning that the ideal way of getting around is by boat, it’s as normal over there as hoping on a bus, and the ferry transport system is really easy to navigate as a tourist too. After visiting the Spirit Museum we hopped on the Slussen ferry to take us over to the Old Town part of the city. Here they are looking out the window at the Grona Lunc park above.
Beautiful Stockholm taken from the boat. It really is this beautiful everywhere you go and it’s so clean too.
The ‘Old Town’ (Gamla Stan) part of the city houses a lot of the historic buildings in Stockholm and was the original city centre. It’s a beautiful labyrinth of rust coloured houses, old stone buildings and cobbled streets. The Royal Palace is there plus a whole host of galleries and museums. We stopped off for an ice cream the size of our heads in a little tourist area of the Old Town.
I absolutely love this photo of the two of them. I must admit out of all the areas of Stockholm, the Old Town wasn’t our favourite. We appreciated the beauty of the cobbled streets, but we must have stumbled right into the tourist area and it was a little too busy for me as I am not keen on crowds. We did go back somewhere different on the Saturday and loved it, but I took this photo as we went down to the waters edge to escape the busy streets.
When we decided to go to Stockholm, I must admit to being a little worried about eating there. After all everyone has heard the stories about how it’s one of the most expensive places to live. And there’s no denying it is expensive- BUT you have to know where to look. I stumbled across K25 on a Swedish blog before we left and it looked right up our street- it’s basically a big, stylish food hall serving all different types of food, including Mexican, Sushi, street food, Italian etc. All these different businesses have little areas, but it’s all kitted out with industrial and edgy interiors. We were pleased to find it was just down the road from our hotel and so we went to try it out. It was perfect and the food was really reasonably priced. (Top tip- always ask for child portions as even if they don’t advertise them the Swedish are exceptionally child friendly- our meals were about 100 SEK each (about £7.50) whereas two kids meals were 60 SEK (about £5) for both.)
Here is a little video that I made of our time in Stockholm…
I took so many photos that I still have Saturday and Sunday to talk about, Saturday was our favourite day by far, so they will be up either later this week or early next week. We absolutely loved our time in Stockholm so can’t wait to share some more…
NB: Visit Stockholm very kindly invited us to Stockholm and gave us Stockholm Cards which entitled us to free entry to a lot of attractions plus free transport around the city. They also gave us complimentary accomodation, all flights and other costs were paid for by us.