Updated on January 22, 2017
Let’s Call It Vacation Before We Call It Home
Our AirBNB host gave us the advice that we should pretend to be tourists for a few days and see all the attractions in Stockholm. We knew that once we got into a routine here, we might not take the time to get out and see all the museums, churches, etc. Come to think of it, I have still never been to the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville…oh well. So on day two of being in Sweden, JoEllen and I pretended that we were on vacation and hit the town. We decided to each buy a three-day Stockholm Card that would allow us to use the public transportation and get into all of Stockholm’s 80+ attractions.
Gamla Stan (4/5 stars) -The first stop on our Stockholm “vacation” was a walking tour of Gamla Stan (Old Town). It was our guide’s first day, and some of what she said was hard to understand, but it was good to have someone show us around the city and tell a few stories. The best part about doing this tour first was that it gave us a better understanding of how the city is laid out and how to get around.
Vasa Museum (4/5 stars) – Awesome. This is a must see. It’s a Swedish warship that sank in the Stockholm harbor on its maiden voyage in 1628, then lifted out of the water in 1961. It was then preserved and moved into the museum site. It is HUGE!
Next stop: Boat tour!.. Wait it just sold out.. Well, City Hall is close by, let’s just walk over there.
City Hall (5/5 stars) – Stadshuset (City Hall) ended up being my favorite attraction in Sweden. This is the place where the Nobel Banquet is held every year. Though the outside is nice, the architect did an incredible job designing the inside. He had lots of personality that showed through in his work. Doing a guided tour here is my number one recommendation to anyone visiting Stockholm.
Globe Arena Skylift (2/5 stars) – Globe Arena is the largest spherical building in the world. It is used for concerts, sporting events, etc. A few years ago they put clear bubbles that glide up to the top. JoEllen and I got into one of these and saw Stockholm from above. Not too shabby.
Boat tour of Kungsholmen (1/5 stars) – Boo. There was no guide on this tour. We got on an open air boat and listened to a bad recording tell us about the island of Kungsholmen. Not recommended, but at least it was sunny.
Skansen (4/5 stars) – Lemurs! (100/5 stars)- Skansen is an outdoor museum on the island of Djurgarden. The majority of the park is dedicated to showing what towns and houses all through Sweden looked like through the centuries. They even have little village people walking around doing daily tasks from life back when. It is also part zoo; locals and tourists visit to see animals that live throughout the wilderness in Sweden. Locals point out that the wolves are never out. Many visit Skansen throughout their life and never see the wolves. JoEllen and I had no luck spotting them either. If you visit, try your luck!
The best part of Skansen (or maybe all of Sweden) was the Lemur exhibit! There were three babies that constantly play fought with each other. One little guy was particularly meddlesome and kept throwing his hands up in the air then pouncing on his siblings and pulling the tails of adults. The adults just sat in big groups and cuddled with each other. These guys made me laugh out loud; I could have watched them all day. As JoEllen said, I found my spirit animal at Skansen.
Nobel Museum (1/5 stars) – Time for a little self pity. After Skansen, the clouds started rolling in and the rain began to fall. Though JoEllen took the week off from work, she had some issues pop up that needed her attention so we ducked into a café for free Wifi and to commiserate a little. We started to miss the sunshine, friends, family, and the comfort of home. On top of that, I was starting to feel a little puny; because of the excitement and stress of moving to a new place, I hadn’t gotten more than a few hours of sleep each night in almost a week.
After leaving the café, we headed across the street to see one of the sites I was most excited to see, but it was closed. After a few wrong turns in the rain, we eventually made it to our next stop, the Nobel Museum. JoEllen enjoyed this, but I was just not feeling it or feeling well. I eventually left the tour to get some fresh (and rainy) air. We were supposed to do a pub crawl that evening but I asked JoEllen if we could just go home and do it another time… that’s how you really know I wasn’t feeling great.
On the way home it was freezing and rainy outside, we were quite miserable. In keeping in tradition with our luck of the day, we just missed our bus and had to wait in the cold for nearly 30 minutes for the next one. We were very thankful to my mom, who gave us both North Face raincoats last Christmas; our day would have been even messier without them. We went to bed not looking forward to a Swedish winter. Maybe I can go cuddle with the lemurs when things get extra cold?
Swedish History Museum (3/5 stars) – On the way in we made a friend! It didn’t surprise me that she was from Wisconsin, I swear she could have been a missing Rote sister. This was a cute museum that had a Viking exhibit, asked you to reflect upon very deep issues, and gave a year by year history of Sweden which JoEllen and I accidentally did backwards… oops. There were also lots of kid-friendly games outside, which of course we played too.
Riddarholmen Church (3/5 stars) – One of the more iconic landmarks of Stockholm and Sweden’s oldest church. It’s on a little windy island just outside of Gamla Stan, you can’t miss it. The inside, where several royal family members are buried, is worth a visit.
Photography Museum (3/5 stars) – Though this is nothing I would typically be excited about, JoEllen was excited to go and I am glad that she was; this was a great stop. There were three exhibits when we were there. My favorite was on endangered animals in Africa. (Shout out to our friend and wedding photographer, Jenna Brie Henderson – come visit so we can take you!) One of the best parts of the photography museum is the cafe on top of the building. The view of Stockholm here is impressive.
Royal Palace (4/5 stars) – Our Stockholm “vacation” ended with a tour of the Royal Palace. We were surprised at how much we enjoyed this; it doesn’t look like much on the outside but is fantastic on the inside. Since we arrived just before it closed, we had to run through. I look forward to going back someday and spending more time wandering through the rooms.
We really enjoyed seeing some of the major sites of Stockholm and look forward to showing them off to our friends and family who visit.. especially the Lemurs!