A while ago we booked a cruise to Stockholm to have a mini family holiday. The ships between Helsinki and Stockholm have a fair amount of entertainment to offer: In addition to the ones I’ve already blogged about, some favourites this time were running up on the 12th floor with a good view to islands and other big ships, Moomin tattoos, Moomin disco and Moomin morning gymnastics (yes, Moomins are everywhere). We also had a bit of a laugh about paying for the buffet breakfast of our 3yo who pretty much ate two wieners but not paying for our 2yo who ate 4 (!) adult portions (where does the skinny boy put all the food?!). I guess the sum of it was worth paying for.
The A day in Stockholm -cruise means checking in on the boat at 4pm in Helsinki, arriving in Stockholm at 10am, having the day there and then heading back overnight again after check in at 4pm. Stockholm is a lovely city and easy to get around in, so for adults that gives a fair amount of time to do shopping or sightseeing. Kids under 6 (I think) travel free in public transport and I think we paid 270SEK for a day ticket for two adults. When travelling with toddlers, the cruise schedule gives enough time to do some and then to happily head back exhausted and leave other things to explore for the next time.
When we travel, we can be pretty sure that our kids will not be in sync with their sleeps; this time the 3yo, who in general does not sleep during the day, woke up after a late evening at 5.30 am and wanted to go to sleep by breakfast time. Which means she will wake up when her little brother is due for his day sleep, which means that we have to rethink when we try to have lunch if we don’t want to sit in a restaurant pretty much the whole day always with somebody too tired, too grumpy or too bored (please don’t tell me we are the only ones travelling with babies/toddlers facing this scenario constantly…). The good thing with travelling just with your own family and without a specific purpose is that you CAN change the plan over and over again without feeling guilty on somebody’s behalf because of the hassle. AND you can still have a good day.
So our original plan was to start by going to Södermalm to find a nice place to have lunch in – it is a suburb that does not have a lot of sights, but has great cafes and restaurants and overall a chilled atmosphere. My husband hasn’t been there before, and that was the suburb I spent most time in when I spent a summer working in Stockholm about a lifetime ago. Since there is no such thing as getting in and out without getting dressed or undressed in the winter, we were all still stuffed from the buffet breakfast, and we would have somebody sleeping in the stroller, we decided to go for a quiet stroll in Gamla stan, the old town, instead. Gamla stan is beautiful, has a number of sights including the King’s palace, plenty of cute and tourist priced places to eat or shop in. Before Christmas there is also a small Christmas market we visited.
As I mentioned, Stockholm is very easy to get around in. Coming by Silja Line, the easiest way to get into town is to do the short walk to the closest subway stop Värtahamnen. That line can take you to Karlaplan, which is the closest stop to Djurgården, the heaven for travelling families (more about that later but there is also a bus from T-centralen that actually takes you on the island), T-Centralen, the main bus and train station connecting to everywhere, Gamla stan, and Slussen on Södermalm (with a great lift next to).
After Gamla stan we decided to head for Djurgården. On Djurgården there is a number of things to do, and I think Skansen is the place we’ve frequented most when in Stockholm. There is an entrance fee and the prices are, well, Swedish ;), but you can easily spend a whole day in Skansen; there is an open air museum with staff that dresses up for festivities according to the old times, a zoo with Scandinavian animals, cafes, restaurants, events, and before Christmas the biggest Christmas market in the city. On Djurholmen is also the entertainment park Gröna Lund, only open in the summer time but then also hosting great concerts, in the summer time pretty rose gardens and other nature areas, the National museum and the Vasa museum (one of the museums I’ve found quite interesting, a picture of the museum that is built around the sunken ship below) and Junibacken. To mention a few things.
We went to Junibacken, a museum with play for children (and adults. Honestly, us parents had fun too!). The whole idea is placed on the tales of Astrid Lindgren that, I believe, everyone in Scandinavia grows up with. The entrance for our family was about 30e (the youngest one was free so the age limit is probably 3), which in my mind was very reasonable. First you go into a descent sized room with houses from most of Lindgren’s stories represented (and the Moomin house). They are built for children, so they can go into all of them, play with all the stuff in them, take the slides etc. Some of the characters are also there, e.g. Karlsson on the roof flying around. After that is the entrance to the story train, which we thought was well done – and my husband didn’t even know the stories from before and still liked it!
There may be a queue for the train, so with small children you may want to check it out before you stay and play too long. The story train takes you through all the most known tales and nicely built miniature scenaries of the tales in one story. There is Emil in Lönneberga, Madicken, Ronja Robberdaughter and many more. A few parts are quite scary, though, but not so scary that I would have regretted taking our kids there. Also, you can choose the language for the story from 12 options. The story train ends at Villa Villekulla, the house of Pippi Longstocking, a great playhouse. Her horse (out of wood) is also there, happy to let kids sit on and brush him. Next is the restaurant with child friendly food and prices typical for these kind of establishments, and then there is still one room with a mini city for kids. There are streets with signs and houses big enough for children to play in. The houses represent various occupations, and again, it is all for kids so any jewelry from the jewelry makers shop kids can play with. Naturally there is also a shop selling books, CD’s and other associated items at the end.
We spent a good few hours at Junibacken and could have stayed longer but then the younger one, who refused his day sleep normal time, was about to collapse, so I took him out to fall asleep in the stroller. That gave me time to take a few pics of Stockholm for you to look at before heading back to the boat, back to Finland and back to our extended family to celebrate Christmas Eve wi.
Even though it was grey, Stockholm, to me, is beautiful. And these aren’t even the best parts of the city!
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I am so impressed you did all that with little ones! The sleeping schedules are hard to keep when on the go I totally agree. Mine are older now, however, I do remember the days of tired, grumpy kids who didn’t get enough sleep. I really must get to Stockholm……maybe when the boys are in college 🙂
…or just send your boys to college in Scandinavia, good free schools for well traveled boys, and you’ll have a reason to visit 😉
Excellent idea!! 🙂
I have been to Stockholm when I went to Sweden 2 yrs back. Been to Gamla Stan but was at night and it was beautiful. Your cruise pictures look so much fun! And yes you are not the only one with kids sleeping different times scenario. It’s hard to time their sleep and worse while travelling.
Gamla stan is great at night too!
So happy to here we are not the only ones not nailing the sleeping schedules when travelling!
That is a very full day!
We’ve never experienced two children napping at once as our eldest stopped napping (at two) before our youngest was born, but the travel certainly does throw out their sleeps and we definitely end up having to change the plan! And sitting down to lunch with grumpy/tired/bored children is not fun.
I also think it’s funny how the younger kids often eat free when two year olds have some of the biggest appetites in the world!
We’ve slept loooong after the trip though, that is the good part!
The cruise sounds great! And you did so much in Stockholm in just one day! 🙂 I spent only one day in Stockholm too, I only saw the Noble museum.
How was the noble museum? Haven’t been there.
I was there about 10 years ago. It was great, I liked it, but I don’t think it would be interesting for kids 😦
So maybe on the to do list for the time when we regain more of our independence then!
This is great! We have been talking about going to Stockholm and it looks beautiful.
Also, we are constantly in a state of waiting for Z’s nap so we can eat lunch or do other things. It is tough with one toddler, I can’t imagine with two. 🙂 Seems like you guys are able to handle it well though.
It’s all about the attitude 😉
(And it helps when there are two parents helping each other)