Stockholm is far more grandiose than you might expect with imposing buildings and magnificent classical architecture. It boasts an Old Town that has a decidedly southern European feel about it, a spectacular waterfront and several family friendly attractions specifically targeted at kids. In the summer the Swedish capital is a glorious, sunny place to walk around admiring the beautiful people; in the winter many of the waterways are converted to ice skating rinks for lots of family fun. Here is everything you need to know to visit Stockholm with kids.
The Destination: Stockholm With Kids
Everything in Stockholm is about cool design and beautiful looks. Just walking the city without even entering a building gives one a sense of majesty and awe tastefully integrated with modern aesthetics – the old and the new live happily and seamlessly side by side. Houseboats have been rejigged into floating restaurants, even ugly building cranes redecorated to look whimsical and attractive.
The Activities in Stockholm With Kids
There are several grand streets to explore such as the famous Skeppsbron, Strandvägen promenade and around the Royal Palace. Tours inside the Palace run from Tuesdays to Saturdays.
A good way to get your bearings is to spend an hour or two on a boat tour. The large tourist boats take you all around the waterfront of Stockholm which is an easy way to figure out which parts you want to explore later in more detail and which parts you don’t want to bother with. Stromma runs hop on-hop off boat tours even throughout the winter that are a fun way to see Stockholm with kids.
It’s also worth devoting a few hours to just walking around Skeppsbron and the gorgeous Gamla Stan Old Town with its cobbled streets. There are lots of family-friendly restaurants and cafes, touristy shops and you can see the Nobel Museum. Because the streets are cobbled and can get very crowded you should only bring a sturdy stroller and it’s worth considering using a safety harness if you are on vacations with toddlers. Otherwise you will need to keep a very tight hold of the kids in Stockholm’s old town at peak times as they can get lost easily.
[For more travel tips on how and why to use a safety harness for toddlers, see the suitcases&strollers story here.]
Sweden prides itself on its local children’s literature and a visit to Junibacken is a must if you are in Stockholm with kids. For anyone who has read any Pippi Longstocking, Moominmama or Emil in Lönneberge, this is a truly delightful place to visit. This is a kids’ wonderland for those who love books or just letting their imaginations run wild. Upon entry you will receive a ticket indicating the time you are allowed to enter Storybook Square and get in line for the Storybook Train. In the meantime, head through the large bookshop and on the otherside is a real wonderland playground of themed townships where kids can play at being patisserie owners, train drivers, catch a flick in the teeny tiny “cinema” or otherwise slide down the treeslide.
Once you enter Storybook Square proper there is more of the same – very detailed and fun play areas dedicated to famous Swedish children’s literature. This is perhaps the only place in the world where parents will queue obediently while the kids run crazy in the play surrounds. To avoid the long lines, it’s worth waiting until later in the afternoon to take your single ride on Storybook Train (a sweet retelling of three famous characters in miniature) once the rush is over.
There are also live shows and a Pippi Longstocking playhouse as well as a large café that serves free self serve water. You cannot take strollers inside and this is really more suitable for toddlers upwards – infants won’t get much from the experience and it can be pretty crowded inside.
If your kids are serious book worms there is also Rum For Barn (“Room For Kids”), a dedicated children’s library that has storytelling in English, dance workshops as well as lots of other activities for kids.
Grona Lund theme park will be a hit especially with older kids as there are plenty of crazy rollercoasters and lots of noise and excitement. There are rides to cater to all age groups including a couple specifically that under 4s can do on their own. There are also dedicated picnic areas so you can bring your own food to save money on snacks and lunch if you are traveling on a budget.
[For more travel tips on how to travel on a budget with kids, see the suitcases&strollers story here.]
The theme park has two distinct areas – ask the staff at the entrance about how to move between them with your stroller so you don’t have to carry it up the stairs. Euros are accepted within the park but you will receive your change in Swedish krone.
[For more travel tips on the best theme parks with kids, see the suitcases&strollers interview with Theme Park Guy.]
Djurgarden is the island where you’ll find Junibacken and Grona Lund as well as several parkland spaces perfect for running around or planning a picnic. Here is where you will also find Skansen, an open air museum which also houses the zoo and a funicular ride. Skansen is a historical site meaning the staff dress in heritage clothing and all the buildings have been preserved to give a sense of stepping back in time. There is plenty to see and do including farmsteads, an old fashioned market street and a dedicated section for wild native Swedish animals.
If you are very time poor, there is a vintage tram that does a loop around Djurgarden before heading back into town that you can catch to get a quick overview. The café tram version can be a fun way to keep the kids fed and happy while still taking in the sights.
Tom Tits Experiment (about 30 minutes drive out of Stockholm) is a giant four-storey building dedicated to interactive learning about science and technology. Also known as the Swedish Science Centre, there are activities to cater to all ages from very little children through to adults. You can bring your own food and picnic in the gardens or in the medieval knights’ dining room or there is a buffet lunch restaurant. The entire museum is very stroller friendly and there are also dedicated stroller parking areas on the first and third floors.
If you’re after active holidays for children, in the winter Stockholm with kids becomes a snow paradise as the city actually boasts it’s own downhill ski resort. Hammarbybacken has four slopes, two lifts and offers ski school classes for kids aged four years old and up. With its unique aspect overlooking Stockholm city, it is a fantastic place to learn to ski with kids.
[For more travel tips on downhill skiing and snowboarding with kids, see the suitcases&strollers story here.]
Food: Family Friendly Restaurants in Stockholm With Kids
Stockholm is a truly international city so there are food offerings from most different cultures to satisfy even the fussiest eaters.
[For tips on feeding kids on family vacations, see the suitcases&strollers interview with the expert on everything to do with kids' and baby food Annabel Karmel.]
Sandy’s Kaffe & Mat are simple cafés serving delicious sandwiches, cakes and smoothies. They are good for a quick and easy stop in between exploring.
Brasserie Elverket is a trendier bistro that doesn’t attempt
to target families, but will be pleasant and helpful for parents who do show
up. This is a fantastic option if you want to sample local bistro style food in
the kind of environment you might have forgotten all about since having
children, but it’s not so pretentious that you will feel uncomfortable hanging
out there with a beer in hand and child on your knee. Think moules, meatballs
and lots of bread for dipping.
Shopping in Stockholm With Kids
Sweden is known as a powerhouse of design, so there are plenty of trendy kids stores to check out (as well as lots of the usual tourist fodder in the Old Town).
In the heart of old Stockholm, Vildapplen Juicebar and Design is a cute little store that sells colourful accessories such as Rice melamine and trendy, modern clogs that teenage girls will love.
Gooey Brand has organic cotton clothes that have been locally designed – think cool urban tees with trendy motifs such as pirates and Vikings. Watch out for their upcoming interior designs for kids.
Krabat 53 has funky interiors, wooden toys and other accessories to dress up any kids’ room.
The English Bookshop sells English language versions of all the Swedish children’s classics and makes for a good alternative if you haven’t been able to source what you wanted from Junibacken (many of the books in their shop are only in Swedish).
Family Friendly Accommodation in Stockholm With Kids
Lady Hamilton Hotel is a heritage hotel conveniently located right in the heart of Gamla Stan, the old quarter of Stockholm. The entire design of the property is historical which gives it a very charming feel. There are some particularly quaint apartments on offer which comes with full kitchen and laundry facilities that can make it feel like you are actually living in the city. The one downside is that heritage buildings come with heritage facilities – some apartments, for instance, can only be accessed via staircase as the lift doesn’t go all the way which can be problematic with lots of luggage and a stroller.
For another unique and memorable form of family friendly accommodation, book to stay at the Anedin Hostel, a cruise ship that has been converted into accommodation. This heritage marked ship provides all the fun of being able to sleep in a cruise ship without actually having to go on a cruise. Because this is a real cruise ship, the rooms are actual former cabins which means they are not particularly spacious.
[Cruises actually make for fantastic family holiday activities. Unconvinced? Then check out the suitcases&strollers story 10 Reasons to Choose Cruises For Families.]
The Practicalities of Stockholm With Kids
Public buses are free for parents with strollers in Stockholm. Enter through the large doors in the middle of the bus and – provided the bus isn’t too crowded – there should be space for you to keep your stroller open and child inside.
Images: suitcases&strollers, Alexis Daflos/Royal Academy, Ola Ericson, www.gronalund.com, imagebank.sweden.se, Sara Ingman, Helena Wahlman