How to Plan an Affordable Family Trip to Stockholm, Sweden
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Stockholm is known for its stunning cityscapes, waterways, architecture and green spaces, but it also has great kid appeal with many attractions from museums to parks to playgrounds catering to younger travelers.
Although visiting Sweden’s capital can wallop your wallet, you can stretch your travel budget by booking a hotel on points (more on that later) and purchasing the Stockholm Pass, which offers free entry to more than 60 area attractions. It’s also good for unlimited travel on the hop-on, hop-off sightseeing buses and boats. You can buy a one-, two-, three- or five-day pass online, at many hotels, or the Stockholm Visitor Center in Sergels Torg (Sergel’s Square) upon arrival.
One-day tickets cost about $61 for adults and $31 for kids 6–13.
If you plan to use public transportation regularly during your visit, add on a Travelcard when you get your Stockholm Pass. The Travelcard is good for unlimited travel on trams, buses, the Tunnelbana (metro) and commuter trains. Kids under 7 travel free when accompanied by a Stockholm Pass holder with a valid Travelcard. On weekends and holidays, kids 12 and under are free with an adult. A one-day Travelcard costs about $14 for adults and $10 for children ages 6–13. A 72-hour pass is also available.
And don’t forget to charge your in-country expenditures to a rewards card with no foreign transaction fees.
Points-Friendly Places to Stay for Families
Finding conveniently located accommodations without breaking the budget should not be a problem as Stockholm has several hotels bookable with points. If you’ve got Marriott points, look to the Sheraton Stockholm or Courtyard Stockholm Kungsholmen. Both are Category 5 hotels that will run you 35,000 points per night or use the up to 35k free night certificate that comes with the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card and Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card. Alternatively, transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to your Marriott account at a 1:1 ratio.
World of Hyatt members can use points at the Bank Hotel, a Small Luxury Hotels of the World member or stay at the Radisson Blu Viking Hotel (Category 7; 70k Club Carlson Rewards points per night).
On the less expensive side of the spectrum, the Nordic C Hotel (from 16,000 Choice Privileges points) and its world-famous Icebar are near the train station and within easy walking distance of Gamla Stan, the pedestrian-friendly Old Town where your family can tour the Royal Palace and watch the changing of the guard, visit the Royal Stables to see the horses and carriages, and explore the Royal Armoury including its Play and Learn Room to dress up as knights or royalty.
A Chilly Experience
You don’t have to stay at the Nordic C to book a reservation for the Icebar, which was created entirely from ice harvested from the Torne River in northern Sweden. Year-round during school holidays, the venue offers a special Ice Kids experience with nonalcoholic drinks served in glasses of ice. They are also deputized as “ice heroes” to protect the environment and water quality. The bar features many ice carvings — ideal for photo ops — and will provide necessary cold weather gear. Your kids will feel like Arctic explorers.
Don’t Miss the Museums
Many museums, including the Swedish History Museum, Swedish Museum of Natural History and the Medieval Museum, are free. Others charge no admission for children under a certain age, and most offer special programs, tours and activities for kids.
Explore By Boat
Where Lake Mälaren flows into the Baltic Sea, Stockholm sprawls over 14 islands in the Stockholm archipelago. A fun way to explore is through a sightseeing tour by boat. Tours, as well as ferry service, are offered year-round (more options in warmer weather), including to Vaxholm and other islands in the archipelago.
A Green Oasis
Djurgården, a park-like island accessible by bridge, ferry and tram, has a number of popular attractions. Many — including the Vasa Museum, which houses the Vasa, the world’s best-preserved 17th-century ship — are free with the Stockholm Pass. The 69-meter-long wooden warship sank in the harbor on its maiden voyage in 1628.
Kids can sail a ship by computer, inspect original artifacts and learn the stories of the doomed crew members. Follow the Family Trail or the Vasa Piglet Trail (for younger kids, based on a children’s book) for a fun museum experience.
Also on Djurgården, Junibacken pays homage to Astrid Lindgren, author of the Pippi Longstocking stories. Kids can explore Storybook Square before boarding the Story Train, which travels through scenes from Lindgren’s fairy tales and ends at Villa Villekulla, Pippi’s house.
Even if your kids don’t know ABBA, they’ll enjoy the ABBA Museum’s many interactive exhibits, including recording a song at the Polar Studios, mixing original music, performing on a hologram stage with ABBA or dressing up (virtually) in the pop band’s legendary costumes. Although among Stockholm’s pricier attractions, admission is free for kids under 7 with a 20% discount (includes audio guide) for adult Stockholm Pass holders. The family ticket, covering admission for up to two adults and four children, ages 7–15, is an especially good bargain (about $63 USD).
Djurgården also has the Nordic Museum, a cultural history museum of Swedish life from the 16th century to today, and Gröna Lund, Sweden’s oldest amusement park, which opened in 1883. But the most popular family attraction is the Skansen Open-Air Museum, a 75-acre museum with costumed interpreters, 150 historic buildings spanning five centuries and a zoo with Nordic animals. Although open year-round, additional activities, such as traditional Swedish folk dancing and guided zoo tours, are only offered in summer.
Both the open-air museum and Skansen’s Aquarium are free with the Stockholm Pass. Along with the latter, on the museum grounds, is a tropical zoo offering close encounters with many rainforest species including lemurs, monkeys and snakes.
Although you may get your fill of fresh air and nature on Djurgården, Stockholm has a number of creative playgrounds, including Uggleparken (oversized sculptures of plants, insects and owls for climbing) and Bryggartäppan (kid-sized 19th-century village). Rålambshovsparken, adorned with superheroes and storybook characters, features learn-by-play activities about numbers, letters, gardening and other skills. Older kids will like the skate park and climbing wall.
Other hands-on museums to check out are the Police Museum, Postal Museum and the National Museum of Science and Technology, all of which encourage imaginative play as kids “drive” vehicles, act as postmaster and complete challenges.
Stockholm can be quite affordable if you take advantage of cost-saving options including the Stockholm Pass for activities, Travelcard for transportation and free entry to museums and playgrounds across the city.
Has your family been to Stockholm? What did your kids enjoy the most?
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