Fair warning: epic post ahead!
Before I even get to editing any of the big camera photos, I thought I’d do the usual and write down all the info on what we did in one place for reference and in case our experience is useful to anyone!
We stayed on Södermalm, the South Island and the location was ideal. This was our Airbnb. We were 5 minutes from a direct train to the airport which was good so travelling with the luggage was minimal. Apart from that we didn’t take any public transport and just walked everywhere. We stayed mainly on Södermalm and Djurgården, the island with all the attractions on, and in the way to that walked through Gamla Stan (the old town) most days. It took us about an hour to get to Djurgården at a leisurely pace with Ellis in the buggy and Milo on the boogie board.
Weather wise we were pretty lucky. The forecast always seemed to be for rain but it was wildly pessimistic and always changed at the last minute and was mostly really nice. Two beautiful bright summer days, a couple with sun and cloud and a couple with some minor showers, and one proper shitty day where it rained all day and we were also sick, so we’re ignoring that day anyway!
Here’s the actual things we did:
* The Vasa, a 17th century ship that sank almost as soon as it left the harbour and was preserved by the saltwater and excavated in the 1960s. It’s 98% original, and it was amazing to see all the detail. We thought this would be more of a hit than it was with Milo though, after the initial excitement of it being a BIG ship had worn off he wasn’t really that interested and just wanted to tear around, which given that it gets really busy was not ideal. We got there at 9.15 (it opened at 8.30) when it was pretty quiet which was just as well because by the time we left about 10.30-11.00 it was just insanely crowded.
* Skansen, an open air museum with buildings representing all the different parts of Sweden at different time periods, and park bits with native animals. We went there on one of the cloudy but sunny days and it was perfect, because you do a lot of walking around outside and we stayed there all day. It’s really set up for kids as well.
* Junibacken, a theme park based mainly around Astrid Lindgren’s books. We hadn’t originally planned to go, as Milo’s only exposure to AL has been watching The Pippi Longstockings once which he wasn’t really fussed about, but we went on the last day and it was a great thing to do and ideal for Milo’s age. There’s three indoor rooms with slides and dress up and kids things to do, one has bits from lots of different books, one has Pippi’s house Villa Villekulla and one is Moomin themed (the Moomins are temporary). In the Moomin room they have a small theatre and we went to see a puppet show in there, in Swedish! The boys both loved it and it was fun trying to figure out the plot (it was this one). There’s also a story train that takes you through Astrid Lindgren story models. You get a wristband to go in and out of the museum so we were able to have lunch elsewhere and go back in. We spent pretty much all day there.
* Photography museum. The two big exhibitions on just now were really good. I will do a post of its own about one of them, the other one was by Bryan Adams the singer who is a famous photographer these days, who knew. You get a great view out of the windows of the cafe, and the best part is that they are home storm windows so they are very safe, it was quite a muggy day that day and it still looked very impressive.
* Transport museum. This was quite a random one, we went there on a rainy day, it’s on the south eastern tip of Södermalm and seemed to mainly used by local parents to entertain their kids. We only had 45 minutes in it as it was closing early because it was a Sunday, but it would have been good to have a bit more time. As it was, Milo was beside himself with excitement at the mini train, a miniature underground train that takes you through the museum. You only get to go on it once, but he kept following it back and forth.
* The beach in Langholmen. We had planned to take a boat trip to one of the archipelago islands, but with the unreliable weather forecast we didn’t want to risk it, plus Dave was worried the boys might not like being on a boat and we would then be stuck with them being unhappy for an hour, so went to Langholmen instead which you can walk to. It’s a pretty tiny island and the beach is also very bijou, but we had such a nice time. There’s a lovely cafe but it was closed by the time we got there and they had a wedding or something on. It was actually amazingly the first time either of them had been in the water on a beach. We go to the beach all the time, but never in the water because Scotland, and we’re not really beach holiday people. Through actually this has made me think we should probably do a more standard holiday to a hot country so they have that experience because they loved the water!
Those were the main sightseeing things we did: food wise we didn’t go anywhere too exciting (although bla porten and urban deli were nice), but we did have some excellent coffee and a lot of kanelbullar! The best coffee was at Drop Coffee and Johan and Nystrom who were both conveniently located within about two minutes of our flat. Also the hot chocolate at Chokladkoppen was lovely!
Other notable non sightsee-ey things:
* SoFo – This part of Södermalm (South of Folkungagatan) is the hipster area. There is streetart and vintage and design type shops and a slightly higher concentration of bars and cafes than elsewhere, and a farmers market. The kind of area our younger selves would have spent days in, but with the buggy (people didn’t go for the slightly worrying leaving-your-baby-outside-shops-while-you-go-in like in Copenhagen) and Milo’s excitement we went into hardly any shops. It was a beautiful day when we went and we mainly hung out in Nytorget square, which has a big fountain Ellis did his best to launch himself into, a good playground and some nice old wooden buildings on one side.
* Parkleken – we spent a lot of time that week in the local playground, or parkleken, björns trädgård. Parkleken (parkleks?) are big playgrounds with clubhouses from which they run playgroups and activities for children (and apparently you can also get basic food and drink from?). The great thing for us was that they had lots of brio bikes and trikes for people to use, and Milo had a breakthrough with the pedalling, which he’s never really got before – he’s had a pedal bike for ages but it was initially a bit too big for him and it put him off trying. This playground was always nicely busy (to a large extent with ten year old boys hunting pokemons, they were everywhere. No girls though, bizarre!) but not too busy. Some of the other Parkleken also have things like petting zoos, so worth googling the nearest rather than settling for a smaller playground!
And a final note: It is bloody expensive, no doubt about it. I really tried to think of things in the local context rather than translate it into pounds because it would have been too depressing, but buying any stuff (as opposed to food/drink/tickets) wasn’t really a goer. I guess Scandinavia has always been on the expensive side, and post Brexit vote the exchange rate has tipped it over the edge. Thanks Leave voters, I hope you’re proud of yourselves!*
That’s about all I can think of, if you’re still reading, hope you enjoyed this long post!
* Resisting the urge to rant further here