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Saturday, September 8, 2012

48 Fun Hours on a Budget in Stockholm 9.8.12

In this blog series I show you how easy it is to budget travel anywhere and I also give you a quick overview of a new city each time in a brief 48-hour itinerary.
My lovely friend Naomi lives in Sweden and she gave me some great suggestions – and photos – for visiting Stockholm over a short break. The city is super easy to walk and is great for couples, solos and those with children. Naomi has three kids of varying ages and they took a day trip into Stockholm and had a wonderful time. Not only does the city exude a historical feel, but there is a quiet beauty that many European cities have. Here are our ideas melded together to spend 48 hours in Sweden’s capital.

Photo credit: Naomi Olofs-son
Day 1
You aren’t going to get away with dining super cheap in Stockholm, so start your day off with a fika fix. Fika is coffee and the Swedes drink it by the barrel. Stop in at Grillska Husets Konditori for a strong cup of Joe and a pastry to get you going for the day. Head to the first-floor terrace for a lovely spot to relax before heading on your way. The café works with a homeless organization, so proceeds go to fund good things!

Photo credit: Naomi Olofs-son
Tour medieval Stockholm. Gamla Stan is Stockholm’s heart and the buildings still stand from the 1200s. Wander the historical streets early in the day to avoid large crowds. This is a great place to take photos, since everywhere you turn there is something to marvel at – churches, the Royal Palace, tiny walkways. When you’ve done your own touring head to the Museum of Medieval Stockholm and learn the history behind the city you just explored. Admission is just around $10 per person and those under the age of 19 are free!

Walk up the hill from Slussen to Herman’s Trädgårdcafé for lunch and an amazing view. You can see all the major landmarks and ships while enjoying a delicious vegetarian buffet. The average price per person is right around $25.

If you like museums, then the Moderna Museet is where you’ll want to visit next. This art museum that debuted some of the greats like Andy Warhol and Robert Rauschenberg now delights visitor with works of art from Dali, Picasso and Pollock, among many others. Admission runs around $16 per person, but every day you can get in on a guided tour in English and those 18 and under are free! Plus, if you’re visiting with a baby (or several), you can also get a special guided tour specifically for those with infants traveling with them. Tours are included in price of admission, so bonus!

Photos of Pontus!, Stockholm
This photo of Pontus! is courtesy of TripAdvisor

Not sure what sounds good for dinner? Head to Pontus! for three different choices in one restaurant. It’s a three-floor eatery that features an oyster bar, a modern brasserie and a seafood/sushi bar. There is something for every taste and every budget. From baked cod to juicy lamb, you won’t leave disappointed in the selection. Depending on what you’re in the mood for, you could plan to spend about $35 per person.

Photos of Djurgarden, Stockholm
This photo of Djurgarden is courtesy of TripAdvisor

Day 2
Today is a great day to spend on Djurgården, the The Royal Game Park, so pack some snacks for breakfast to enjoy in one of the many green spaces there. You can get to Djurgården several ways. You can walk, take the tram from Sergels Torg or a boat from Nybroplan, Skeppsholmen or Slussen. There are so many things to do on the island, so make sure you wear your walking shoes and possibly a backup battery for your camera. Eat your breakfast fare near Isbladskärret, a beautiful lake where you can bird-watch if you desire.

Now that you are fortified for your day, head over to Skansen. It’s the world’s oldest open-air museum that also contains Stockholm’s only zoo. The object of the museum is to show the different parts of Sweden and the founder, Artur Hazelius, bought 150 houses from across the country and had them shipped piece-by-piece to the island and reassembled. Each house is open to the public and you can watch craftsmen demonstrating traditional occupations, such as tanning, shoemaking and baking in a village setting. Admission is $10-16 per adult, depending on the season and children are $4-8.  

Photos of Djurgarden, Stockholm
This photo of Djurgarden is courtesy of TripAdvisor

Explore a piece of Swedish history at the Vasa Museet. The Vasa was Sweden’s largest warship, built in the 1620s to go to war with Poland. It unfortunately sank within 20 minutes of its maiden voyage due to the top-heavy cannon and gun decks. It dipped to one side, filled with water and about a third of the sailors on board died. Luckily, it wasn’t carrying its full load of soldiers, so the immediate defeat was not as big a blow as it could have been. The ship was recovered and now resides in the Vasa Museet where you can view the ship from many different levels and even view the skeletons of some of the men who died, which is highly unusual. This is a great exhibit for boat enthusiasts and small children. The museum has daily guided tours and also offers more than just the Vasa and its history. Admission is just $16 per person and free for 18 and under.

Don’t leave the museum for lunch. Instead, enjoy some fabulous Swedish lunch specialties made from fresh, local ingredients in the on-site restaurant. It offers fun maritime décor – in honor of its best exhibit, the Vasa – and views of the sea. Expect to pay around $15 per person for a full lunch.

Photos of Grona Lunds Tivoli, Stockholm
This photo of Grona Lunds Tivoli is courtesy of TripAdvisor

Time to explore more of the island!
If you like theme parks, check out Gröna Lund, an amusement park built in 1883 with more than 30 attractions. It is a popular place for summer music concerts and also features lovely 19th century houses that the park was built around. You may appreciate the old-school rides like the Tunnel of Love and the funhouse in between thrill rides. Admission is fairly affordable at $14 per person. It’s free for 6 and unders, but you may pay more if concerts are going on.

If you have little ones with you or just like fairy tales and still have time before dinner to check it out, then you’ll want to visit Junibacken, a children’s museum that revolves around story book characters and a very popular tourist attraction. The museum features different Swedish children’s authors and has a railway station, which you can board and ride through Astrid Lindgren’s tales, ending in Pippi Longstocking’s hometown, Villa Villekulla. Junibacken also contains the largest children’s bookstore in Sweden. You’ll pay a hefty $21 | $18 for admission, but kids absolutely love it.

Photos of Bistro Bestick, Stockholm

This photo of Bistro Bestick is courtesy of TripAdvisor

Make reservations ahead of time for the cozy Bistro Bestick and choose from the ever-changing seasonal menu. There are less than a dozen tables, so don’t just show up and expect to get a seat. Previous diners claim this to be a true hidden gem of the city and consistently go back. That’s how you know a restaurant is worth your time and money! Dining here is on the affordable side. Look to spend about $20 per plate.

Go back to the hotel and rest your feet before you head out tomorrow!

Photo credit: Naomi Olofs-son
This two-day break would set you back $200 per adult and much less for children. If you wanted to pack a bit more in, you could always invest in a Stockholm Card. A two-day pass will cost you $92 and gives you access to all of the above attractions and more. You could purchase it to use for the above itinerary and save a whopping dollar and have all your activities paid for, skip the ticket queues and only have to worry about one card per person and not a bunch of cash or credit card receipts. Hey, a dollar is a dollar!

Do you think this sounds like a fun way to spend two days?
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