…Lots to do and stunning scenery, just take a full wallet.
We’ve just spent a beautiful weekend the gorgeous city of Stockholm, and if you don’t mind splashing some cash I’d certainly recommend it to all families. It’s a fantastic city break suitable for children of all ages and if you, or the kids, like a bit of travel photography then it’s a must visit destination.
We originally picked Stockholm as our first Single Adventure Mum destination of 2018 due to some incredibly cheap flights. I paid just £7 each for us to fly from Stanstead to Stockholm Skavasta Airport on Friday evening. As the flight was 8pm it was perfect as Luka only had to miss an hour of school (I so miss him only being in part time and being able to take him out when I want to!) Flights back on Sunday afternoon cost just £27 each, and we could have flown back at 10am for just £12!
TOP TIP – If you don’t have a destination in mind, head over to Skyscanner and select fly from UK to Everywhere and see what comes back for your selected dates, there are some huge bargains to be had!
We flew with Ryanair and I’ve heard all the horror stories but I have to say I was actually pretty impressed. For a bargain price, buying the tickets and checking in online was easy. We reserved window seats, for free which is a rarity, and with their new policy we took our small cabin bags on for free and it cost £5 each to take our bigger (cabin sized) bags in to the cabin. We only did this on the way out as we were getting in late, on the way back we just put them the hold for free. In fact the only issue I had really was the food on board, or lack of. Look online, and in the inflight magazine, and there’s a huge range of food available from lasagne to chicken nuggets and chips. However on the flight out there was only two types of sandwiches available, and on the flight back a massive three. I’ll be eating beforehand in future just in case!
The budget flights in and out of Stockholm go into Skavsta Airport which is around 80 minutes drive from the city centre. A taxi ride one way would cost around £200 (not a budget option!) so we booked the bus. A return journey cost me about £24, children under 8 travel free. I was a little concerned about the bus journey, especially as we were flying in late on the Friday night, but it was so easy. The bus was waiting just outside the airport, they schedule them by the incoming flights, it was clean and warm, and the extra 40 minutes journey in comparison to flying into Stockholm’s main airport is well worth it when you’re saving hundreds of pounds on flight cost.
Because we were arriving late, added to by the fact Stockholm is an hour ahead of us, I opted to get a taxi from Cityterminalen, where the bus arrives, to our hotel, which was a 25 minute walk away. But beware taxi’s are expensive! I’d done some research and read not to go with the taxi’s that are parked right by the bus stop, and it was right, they wanted 300 krona (about £27!) for a 5 minute taxi ride. Instead we crossed over the road to the train station and got a taxi from there. The yellow taxi’s have signs on which say how much the journeys should cost but I found this a bit confusing (it was late and I was tired) and couldn’t be bothered to haggle so just jumped in and paid around £18 instead. Still incredibly expensive and if I was flying in at a more practical time I would definitely walk (which we did on the way back) or take public transport.
As I knew Stockholm was an expensive city I was pleasantly surprised to see some of the hotel prices were actually reasonable and there’s a huge range from hostels with shared bathrooms to luxurious hotels. However once I saw the Rygerfjord Hotel and Hostel I knew it was the one, as it’s a boat! I mean what 5 year old wouldn’t want a floating hotel!
I love to keep some surprises for our trips so I didn’t tell Luka about the hotel until we pulled up outside and his little face when he saw where we were staying made the whole trip worthwhile. The hotel itself was lovely and the staff were really friendly. We’d opted for a comfort cabin, which had a beautiful view over the water, with a private bathroom which cost £137 for two nights. The cabin was, as expected small, but fine for the two of us. If there’s more of you travelling, or your little adventurer is a little bigger and you want more room, there are also superior cabins with more space. Or if you’re looking to push the boat out (no pun intended) their suite looks amazing! If we go back to Stockholm I’m totally going for that option.
Breakfast is not included in the price but is relatively reasonable for a hotel breakfast, around £13 for us both. It was continental and there wasn’t a huge amount of choice in all honesty but was ok. I wasn’t hungry so just paid £4 for Luka to eat and they told me to help myself to a cuppa for free.
After breakfast we decided to head out on our adventures. We hadn’t booked anything prior to getting there but had a couple of idea’s in mind, however in the end we did none of them. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I’m not a planner!
There’s just so much to do in Stockholm for people of all ages it’s impossible to do everything. Hop on, hop off buses are a great option to see the city though, it’s around £27 for a 24 hour pass and children under 12 go free. One thing I noticed in Sweden is it’s particularly good for kids in terms of free transport which is a great bonus for saving money in a more expensive city.
Because it was such a beautiful day however we opted to walk and as my plan was to head to Djurgården to go to Skansen we hopped on the ferry (under £4 for a single trip, again children go free). It was worth every penny just for the views of the stunning city. Having a blonde moment I actually got off at the wrong stop though, but we decided rather than wait for the next ferry we’d do some walking. Which I’m actually really glad we did, we went right around the stunning waterfront looking at the boats, Luka had a whale of a time jumping in the piles of snow while I got to photograph the crown on the Skeppsholmen Bridge.
The waterfront of Östermalm is full of cafes and bars which were shut as it was winter but if you travel during peak season I’d definitely head there for a glass of wine by the water.
I’d originally planned to go to Skansen but Luka had spotted an aquarium across the water and as it’s his obsession (I’m sure he’s going to be a Marine Biologist) we decided to head there instead. I actually thought that paying less than £19 for us both to get in was quite good value, I’ve paid much more at others, however it was tiny and we were done in less than half an hour. There’s only 4 area’s to go through, with not much in them in all honesty, but Luka enjoyed it all the same. If you’re not expecting much it’s fine for a quick visit but I’d head to the aquarium at Skansen next time instead as there’s so much else do there.
Unless you’re in the city centre the one thing I noticed is the lack of places to just pop and grab a quick light lunch. There’s not many café/pub options, apart from the street vendors where you stand outside and eat which wasn’t really an option at zero degrees.
So we headed to Pop House. Unfortunately it’s not somewhere I would recommend to eat while in Stockholm. Despite going in over 2 hours before lunch service ended they seemed surprised we were there, I wondered if it was because I had a child with me but there were others in the restaurant. The food and drinks were expensive but I was expecting that and it did look good. There was no children’s menu proffered so I thought I was going to have to buy Luka an adult meal at over £20 but when we were ordering the lady did say there were children’s offerings and we were able to select something from what she said instead. However then the wait started. Now I’ve worked in the service industry and fully understand waiting times in busy restaurants but most people were finishing up their meals not starting them and I only saw one meal come out while we were waiting. It took 40 minutes for Luka’s food to be served and an hour before my burger arrived! What annoyed me more was that a table of 6 arrived between Luka and my food arriving, were immediately given a bread basket, which we weren’t, and their main meals arrived just 10 minutes after mine. Because of the wait we were given a 15% discount off our 375 krona bill (around £34) but even with that it was expensive for two glasses of juice, some meatballs and a burger and chips that we’d waited so long for.
Pop House is where the ABBA Museum is and while as a massive ABBA fan I really wanted to go in (entry is around £22 with children under 7 free), I decided it probably wasn’t going to be too much fun for Luka so we gave it a miss. However I have heard rave reviews from others so if you’re going with older children, or grown ups, and you like a bit of ABBA, I’d definitely take a visit.
Instead we headed back over the water to Gamla Stan, the old town, which is just picture perfect. Think cobbled streets, surrounded by tall colourful buildings packed with interesting little boutiques and some tourist shops thrown in. A lovely place to have a wander around and pick up some goodies.
It was -1 by this point and the sun had set so we headed the ten minute walk back over the bridge to our hotel for a warm up and cuppa. Top tip – learn the Swedish for milk if you like a tea, it appears the Swedish don’t take milk and it’s not provided with it when you order.
Then it was time for some food. Now when we’re abroad Luka loves a McDonalds (don’t judge!) as he thinks it’s funny to see the difference in menus and toys to when he has it at home. So we headed up the hill behind our hotel to the area of Hornsgaten for tea. It was cheap (only a couple of pounds more than it is in the UK), easy and made for a happy 5 year old so it was a win for this single adventure Mum! Plus they have salted caramel Daim McFlurrys so you know…..
After another night aboard the ship, we headed out to find some breakfast and stumbled upon a total treat when we discovered Princess Konditoriet. Not only did we get a HUGE semlor (a Swedish cream cake), juice and tea for less than £8, we got to join the lovely owner at her table and Luka became instant best friends with her wonderful 97 year Dad Charlie, and they spent a very happy hour chatting away with each other in their respective languages without a clue of what the other was saying. It was such a lovely family feel that it was actually my favourite moment in Stockholm.
After sadly saying goodbye we headed back to the Rygerfjord (check out isn’t until 11am which is a great bonus), grabbed our bags and walked back to the city centre to catch the bus, stopping to see the sights along the way. If you like your known brand shops and restaurants this is the area to be, with Pizza Hut and Hard Rock Café’s etc, in fact until reaching this area the only chain brands (that are recognisable from the UK) I had seen was the one McDonalds and a random Specsavers shop! Though personally I had enjoyed being away from all that and seeing something different from your usual British high street.
Again the bus was easy to get, though make sure you get in the queue inside early. You’re not allowed to wait outside, which I hadn’t realised and within 5 minutes the queue had gone from 10 people to 100 and I had a huge panic when the bus filled up with us still 20 people from the front and drove off. Luckily another one was waiting behind it and we boarded that but there were a few people left on the pavement once it was full and I’m not sure what happened to them! As you just book a single/return ticket with Flybussarna rather than a particular timed journey they don’t know who will be travelling when so get there early to make sure you get a spot.
Again I hadn’t heard great things about Skavsta Airport and it is basic but as long as you go expecting a local city airport to wait in rather than Gatwick you’ll be fine. There’s one shop, which was actually quite cheap for an airport, and a restaurant and the staff were friendly so it was a fine place to wait until we had to say Adjo to Sweden.
All in all I would have to say Stockholm is a great city trip for a family, if you’re prepared that it won’t be a bargain break once you get there. There’s so much to do (see below for some ideas) and while I didn’t find the majority of people overly friendly, they were polite and helpful especially as beyond a very few basic words I couldn’t speak any Swedish to help me communicate.
While I wanted a winter break to Stockholm, in the hope it may snow, if we went again I would opt to go in the Summer to see a different side of the city where there’s more places open and things to do.
Have you been to Stockholm? Did you enjoy and what would you recommend people do when they go? Let me know in the comments.
Other things to do and places to go with the kids in Stockholm:
Gronda Lund (Only open April to September)