We are still in Stockholm. The best activity so far for the children has been Skansen. Then, we went to Junibacken and they loved it just as much. Skansen is the world’s oldest open air museum. You can see Swedish homesteads representing different geographical regions and eras. Like time capsules, these homes and the farms around them have preserved the specific details of Swedish culture. Actors dressed in traditional garb for their period and location will tell you the story of that particular homestead.
They also have a petting zoo and then another zoo dedicated to Nordic animals like brown bear, elk (or moose), reindeer, lynx, wolf, wolverine, owls etc. The kids spent a lot of time in front of the huge tank for seals, as the seals jumped out of the water a couple of times. For really small children, they have an area called Little Skansen, with indoor-outdoor play zones also filled with animals like rabbits and hens.
Their restaurants offer vegetarian options. We had lunch outside nearby a pond and these ducks came to us and insisted on being fed. A peacock joined them as well. Unfortunately, we witnessed a shocking event: one of the ducks jumped on a sparrow and ate it up. It was incredible. When we went home, we researched this on the internet and found out that mallard ducks in other parts of the world have also been found to eat small birds in an attempt to get a quick bite of protein. Nature lessons abound everywhere.
We took a boat ride on the way back to the metro station. This ferry is called Djurgarden – the island’s name. It is a short 15-minute ride with only two stops, but it gives you a superb view of the archipelago. Your Access card which works for local transportation (bus, metro, tramway) all over Stockholm will also cover this boat ride.
Junibacken is a fun house for children based on classic Swedish stories. The idea is to inspire little children to read. Parents can read stories to their children and then bring them to Junibacken, where they can see certain details from these books as interactive exhibits. Truth be told, I am not too fond of Pippi Longstocking or Emil. They are not good examples, as they are disrespectful to adults and complete chaos-makers. But our children have only been read a short fragment of Astrid Lindgren’s books – enough to give them an idea and a reference point of Scandinavian literature. I believe it is part of the culture of the place and, as such, one should be aware of it.
They have a Story Train – a 15-minute ride during which you sit on a bench made to look like a train car and it moves through different stories. A couple of them can be frightening for small children. It also gets dark for most of the ride, with the only light coming from the exhibits. The stories you hear can be in English, Swedish, Spanish and 12 other languages. You just tell the attendant which language you prefer. Our children loved it. I found it a bit sad, just as the Junibacken website warned us. I will not spoil it for you if you plan on going there some day.
The restaurant offers vegan and gluten-free options. At Junibacken, they also have plays for children. We saw one. We sat in the back and I translated the main idea of each scene for the kids and my husband. It’s amazing how much Swedish I still remember after 16 years and two children. The bookstore is filled with Astrid Lindgren and Barbro Lindgren titles, but they also have other Swedish authors for kids. You will find books in many languages.