Djurgården is often considered as “the green island of Stockholm”. It’s a calm oasis, where you can do a lot of things, even during winter ! It’s the home of historical buildings, museums, running and walking paths, and of course the famous amusement park, Gröna Lund. We decided to spend most of our time in museums since the weather was not fantastic… and we had a great time !
The island is easily accessible from the city centre by foot or you can take a tram from Sergels Torg (tram #7). It is important to know that it’s impossible to buy tickets on the tram, so you have to buy it in advance ! We used the Stockholm card, so we didn’t have to bother as all transportation and entrances to these museums were included, and I think it’s a good value for money. With the ikea card, we even had a 20% discount on the price of the Stockholm card. It was valid for 2014, but they may do it again in the future, keep an eye open :-)
So, what did we do in Djurgården to enjoy ourselves ?
Skansen, a miniature historical Sweden
Skansen is an open-air museum founded in 1891. Over there, you can walk through five centuries of Swedish history. The venues illustrate the different social conditions in which people lived in Sweden between the 16th century and the first half of the 20th century. At Skansen, you can also fin domestic and wild Nordic animals such as bears, wolves and lynx.
Winter is not probably the best season to visit the museum, as there are no outside activities available, like people performing everyday household tasks, crafts and occupations. The best time to go there would be for the Midsummer festival I reckon. Christmas is another interesting period as they apparently have a huge Christmas market !
We were there at the end of December. It was quiet and we really appreciated the sunny views of Stockholm and the nice walk through the park. We also tried to spot the few animals that were not hibernating… (without much success :D).
We also had a look at Sanken’s aquarium. It was possible to pet a snake and a tarantula, but I’m too scared of spiders to even think about doing it :-) They had a huge collecion of frogs, they were so colourful ! It is small, and I you don’t have the Stockholm card, I don’t think it’s worth buying the extra entrance, unless you are with children.
The Vasa museum, power and glory of a sunken warship
The impressive Vasa museet shows a resurrected 17th century Swedish sunken warship and is considered as the #1 tourist destination in Stockholm. It’s understandable, as few exhibitions show a full-sized warship ! The exhibits are located on five different levels all circling the massive vessel, so it can be observed from different angles. You will learn why the Vasa sank after sailing less than 2 km… but I’m not going to spoil you, just in case you plan to go there :-)
Since the boat sunk in the mud, it rested relatively untouched and without decaying much, for over 300 years. The ship has been restored to some of its former glory. To prevent the inevitable deterioration of the ship exposed to the air, the main hall of the Vasa Museum is kept at a temperature of 18–20 °C and a humidity level of 53%. Apparently, despite precautions, deterioration still occurs. A few years ago, it was possible to walk on the upper deck, but they have decided to close it because of the humidity caused by the tourist shoes that was deteriorating the wood. It’s a delicate balance, they need funding from tourism to maintain it, but the huge amount of tourists slowly destroy it…
It was one of my favourite places we’ve visited in Stockholm. I highly recommend the visit. The only problem is the number of people inside… it’s difficult to move in the exhibition and you are being pushed all the time.
The Nordiska Museum, a nice overview of Scandinavian culture
The Nordiska Museet is where to go if you want to see folk art, fashion, textiles and furnished rooms and get a whole picture of Scandinavian culture. The audio-guide was amazing, and we learned so much about the Swedish culture ! It was no busy at all, people prefer to go to the Vasa museet, but I think both of them are interesting !