To make the most of the second day of our Stockholm Pass we took the metro and tram over to the leafy island of Djurgården as the four attractions we’d decided to visit were all located close together there.
First on our list was the Nordiska Museum which is located in a gorgeous old building dating back to 1907. The museum was established at a time when Swedish society was changing rapidly and industrialisation had occurred. Artur Hazelius, its founder believed it was necessary to collect and save objects and relics that could tell a story to future generations about life and work in pre-industrialised Sweden. It is Sweden’s largest museum of cultural history and admission is SEK120 (£10) and free with the Stockholm Pass. Wandering around we explored Swedish fashion, textiles, jewellery, furniture, toys, folk art and porcelain.
The museum’s great hall is one of Sweden’s largest rooms and is designed to let daylight in through its outer glass roof. We noticed a compass in the centre of the hall and along its length are symbols for different elements, minerals and soil types according to the system developed by the Swedish chemist Torbern Bergman.
In addition to the interesting permanent displays I found the temporary exhibition on Swedish life n the 1950’s captivating as it covered a decade of change after the Second World War when American influences were sweeping across Scandinavia. The museum has something to interest everyone from table settings to home layouts all housed in this beautiful building.
After enjoying our visit, it was only a short walk over to the VASA Museum, passing by a pretty old church graveyard on our way. VASA is one of Stockholm’s top tourist attractions with one million visitors every year and up to 1,500 at any one time but with our passes we were able to skip the long queues and go straight in. Normal adult admission is SEK 130 (£11.16 each). Although the museum receives large numbers of visitors there was ample room for everyone to look around as the hall is huge and the historic ship can be viewed from numerous levels.
The VASA warship was intended for a major role in the Swedish Navy but sadly the ship sank shortly after embarking on her maiden voyage in 1628. After laying at the bottom of Stockholm harbour for 333 years she was carefully brought back to the surface in 1961. The oxygen free water of the Baltic Sea protected the ship and miraculously up to 95 per cent of its wood was still intact. Preserving the ship then took almost 30 years with the VASA finally going on display in its current location in 1990.
VASA is adorned with more than 700 carved sculptures and is a unique treasury of art. The rear of the ship features an ornate stern castle with two angels holding the ship’s coat of arms. I started taking photos from the ground floor level but realised later that the best views seemed to be from the top of the building looking down. In addition to viewing the ship, each floor contains relics that have been salvaged including pieces of the mainsail and ropes.
Leaving VASA we strolled along to nearby Gröna Lund, Sweden’s oldest amusement park with 30 rides. Adult admission is SEK 120 (£10.20 each) excluding rides but this attraction is also included in the Stockholm Pass. Visiting the park on a hot summer’s afternoon, the fun fair was crowded with lots of families enjoying the wide range of rides. We didn’t feel like going on any of them ourselves but did enjoy wandering around enjoying the atmosphere. The park extends to the waterfront where we found a pleasant promenade decorated with lots of summer flowers. Many of the park’s cafes and bars also have window boxes and hanging baskets creating an attractive appearance.
It was so crowded and exceedingly hot that an hour at Gröna Lund was long enough for us, so we continued a little further until we reached our final destination of the day, Skansen Open-Air Museum. Adult admission is SEK 195 (£16.75 each) without the Stockholm Pass. We arrived at the main entrance where a long escalator transported us up hill into the museum. Visitors arriving at the other entrance can take the funicular but this costs an additional SEK 30 (£2.58 each).
After picking up a map from the information kiosk we started exploring the town, village and church areas. Near the Stora Gungan Tavern we descended a flight of steps to the industrial area dating back to the 1920’s. Here we visited the Engineering Works, and the Stockholm Glassworks where we were able to view a glass blowing demonstration.
Next we explored the Älvros Farmstead, a self sufficient farm which has been relocated from northern Sweden and dates back to the early 19th century. Nearby we noticed pigs rooting around outside the Oktorp Farmstead. In many of the buildings we found museum staff dressed in traditional costumes baking bread and attending to the everyday chores of those days.
Climbing a steep slope up to the Öland windmills we enjoyed the panoramic views of the sea approach to Stockholm and stopped awhile for something to eat at Skansen Terrassen. The location was beautiful but the prices were extremely expensive so I think I would take a picnic if I visited Skansen again. Continuing, we watched a demonstration of wood carving using traditional methods and tools and chatted with the artisan awhile about the techniques used.
Later we strolled over to the animals which are all indigenous to Sweden. Sadly, all the bears and wolves were having their afternoon siestas and were nowhere to be seen but we did see some farm animals, a few wild boar and a couple of pheasants but that was about all.
Finally we headed over to the Solliden Stage which is the largest outdoor stage in Northern Europe. Each Tuesday evening in summer a televised music show takes place there called ‘All Sang at Skansen’ (Skansen sing-a-long). The show started on a small scale back in 1935 with an audience of about 50 people. Today audiences at each performance are around 20,000.
I had been looking forward to attending one of these shows as I have loved watching them on Finnish television in previous summers when I have been in Helsinki. Seats fill up quickly and hundreds more sit round the edges on picnic blankets. Song sheets are distributed to the audience as many of the songs are for everyone to join in. Needless to say, the song sheet was in Swedish but it was still fun to be part of the sing-along and when everyone starting singing ABBA’s ‘Ring, Ring’ in Swedish, I joined in with the English version!
All Sang is a cult television programme in Sweden and has been broadcast live since 1979 with about 2 million viewers each week. There is no additional charge to watch the show after paying for admission to the open-air museum. I loved being part of All Sang and found it to be a joyful, uplifting experience, so if you are ever in Stockholm on a Tuesday evening in summer head over to Skansen for some fun.
It was quite late by the time we returned to our apartment in Solna and we were weary after being out all day. Over the two days we used the Stockholm Pass we managed to visit nine attractions including museums and boat trips which would have cost SEK 1565 (£134.41 each) making the Stockholm Pass at SEK 845 (£72.60 each good value. However, I think it only works if you are prepared to have full schedules with careful advanced planning of the attractions you wish to see.
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