Stockholm, Sweden’s capital city, doesn’t seem to top a lot of lists for what’s hot in family travel – but it should!
Every neighbourhood is different, the attractions are world-class (in an understated way, typical of the city itself), it’s very easy to get around and almost everyone speaks perfect English.
Plus there are few places that are more genuinely kid-friendly than Stockholm. You don’t have to especially seek out kid-friendly dining options here. Almost every restaurant has high chairs – generally a stack of IKEA Antilop classics, of course – and a kids’ menu. Staple foods include meatballs, potatoes, and hot dogs. And kids are simply accepted as part of life, so they’re welcome pretty much everywhere. In fact, your kids will have the astonishing freedom to make noise and generally be kid-like. Really.
With this in mind, here are some of the best places to go with kids in Stockholm.
Junibacken is part museum, part library, all fun. It’s dedicated to Astrid Lindgren – the beloved author of Pippi Longstocking – and Swedish and Scandinavian children’s literature in general.
Whether you’re acquainted with Pippi or not (yet), your kids will adore this place. You can ride Pippi’s horse, take a ride on the magical Story Train for a whirlwind introduction to Swedish classics for kids, have a delicious meal at the cafe, and look out over the water. And kids are happy to play for hours in the different exhibitions. Don’t miss it.
Junibacken, Galärvarvsvägen 8, 115 21 Stockholm, Sweden
Millions of people visit Vasamuseet each year – for good reason.
If you aren’t impressed by the Vasa, you should probably check your pulse. Vasa was built in 1628 as a grand warship that unfortunately sank on its maiden voyage. It lay in the harbour for 333 years until being raised in 1961. It is remarkably preserved and displayed. There are special exhibits aimed at children but the ship has a wow factor that needs no explanation.
Top tip: Buy your ticket in advance, particularly in summer when queues can be long. Vasamuseet is Stockholm‘s most popular attraction.
Vasamuseet, Galärvarvsvägen 14, 115 21 Stockholm, Sweden<
3. Gamla Stan
Gamla Stan is Stockholm‘s beautifully preserved old town. The narrow cobbled streets are romantic and delightful, as well as irresistible fun for kids. Spend an afternoon getting lost, climbing stairways to footbridges, taking in the views, and enjoying “fika” (something sweet to eat in the afternoon) for a truly Swedish experience.
Skansen is an open-air museum and park that offers a beautiful insight into Swedish life and traditions. It’s perhaps best imagined as Sovereign Hill with animals – there are bears and moose, among others, as well as traditional buildings and craftspeople.
It’s not just for tourists either – local families all have memberships so they can visit year-round. You can easily spend most of a day here.
Skansen, Djurgårdsslätten 49-51, 115 21 Stockholm, Sweden
The House of Culture is a public library that features an entire floor for kids including art activities that don’t require bookings.
This is the place to be on a wet day in Stockholm – it can get busy but the traffic lights on the outside of the building tell you whether you’ll get in or not. Green light means you’re welcome, orange warns there could be a wait, and if there’s a red light you’re best to think of something else to do. Simple but effective, like most things in Sweden. Entry is free; there’s a small charge for the additional art activities.
Kulturhuset Rum För Barn, SERGELS TORG 7, 111 57 Stockholm, Sweden
Chokladkoppen has apparently the best hot chocolate in Stockholm and overlooks sunny Stortoget, the oldest square in Stockholm. A big sugar hit to start the day.
Chokladkoppen, Stortorget 18, 111 29 Stockholm, Sweden
7. Caravan selling stromming
A recommendation from a Stockholm local for an authentic Stockholm dish – herring, potato, coleslaw and knackerbrot.
Bakfickan is the small counter restaurant in the beautiful Opera House. The food is great quality and cheap, and comes from the same kitchens as the grander, more expensive Opera House Dining Room.
You sit around the small wooden bar and get served all the bread you can eat plus traditional Swedish food – I order Swedish meatballs, delicious with lingonberries.
Note it only seats 28 guests so visit in non-peak hours. In the summertime, open air seating is also available facing Jakobs Torg and the grand park Kungsträdgården.
Bakfickan, Operakällaren, Karl XII:S torg, Box 16090, 103 22 Stockholm
9. Sundbergs Konditori
Sundbergs Konditori in Gamla Stan is the oldest konditori in town with pale green and gilded walls. There is always a long line, but the blueberry and raspberry tart is worth the wait and a nice way to soak in the sumptious surroundings.
Sundbergs Konditori, Järntorget 83, 111 29 Stockholm, Sweden
Ostermalms Saluhall is apparently one of the top 10 markets in the world. It is housed in a beautifully vaulted building and full of lunchtime crowds sitting down to more herring.
Ostermalms Saluhall, Östermalmstorg, 114 42 Stockholm, Sweden
A cute toy shop which sells lots of fun things like pirate swords, moose toys and dangling spider mobiles. I fall in love with their miniature kitchen items and buy an adorable little wooden breadbox which fits about three slices of bread.
Kallika, Sandsborgsvägen 44, 122 33 Enskede, Sweden
Nordiska Kompaniet, Hamngatan 18-20, 111 47 Stockholm, Sweden
My favourite store, full of unique Swedish design. Older kids will love the funky interesting gadgets, such as the items I put in my shopping bag: battery-charging appliance scoop, stools which fold up to the size of a large book, screw on tubes which turn a plastic water bottle into a watering can, silicon food-loops and sporks – spoon, fork and knife in one. I bought these 10 years ago and still have and use them all!
HOT tips for travelling in Stockholm with kids:
- The underground train system, or Metro, is easy to use and kids under seven don’t need a ticket. You can buy tickets for a set period of time; for stays of more than three days you can buy a card to top up.
- Stockholm also has good tram and bus networks, as well as ferries, but make sure you have your ticket before you get on board. You can buy tickets at stations or newsagents.
- Speaking of ferries, these are a great way to get a look at Stockholm from the water without paying for a tour. The ferry from Slussen to Djurgården can be useful for getting to Junibacken and Vasamuseet.
- There are korv (hot dog) vendors on almost every street – these are a cheap, kid-friendly option for a lunch that doesn’t cost the earth.
- Many restaurants offer a lunch buffet – these are usually great value and on top of food, they typically include coffee, tea, bread and a biscuit. Ask if there’s a discount for kids – they often pay half-price.
- Airbnb is a great way to book accommodation in Stockholm when travelling with kids. If you’re watching your budget it’s great to have a kitchen so you can eat breakfast at home and prepare some dinners if your kids go to bed early.
- As in many cities you can buy a card that includes discounted or free entry to many attractions as well as some public transport.
Guest writer Erika Jonsson has travelled to Stockholm numerous times, including three trips with her two kids.