When you visit Stockholm, especially if it’s you first trip to this beautiful city of islands, save a day (half a day in winter) to visit Skansen open-air museum. Located on the island of Djurgården in the middle of Stockholm, it gives visitors a chance to see the way of life in the 19th century Sweden. Artur Hazelius – scholar and folklorist, who founded the museum in 1891, was driven by the fear that Swedish traditional customs and rituals might be lost to rapidly industrializing world. So he brought around 150 traditional homes (14th to 19th century) from different parts of the country to rebuild them on museum grounds. Houses and farmsteads include wooden church, village hall, manor house, cottage for farm laborers and so much more.
Take a 15-20 minute bus, tram or boat ride from the city center and you will find yourself in a miniature Swedish town with museum staff being dressed in traditional costumes ready to get you into the atmosphere of 1900s and answer your questions. It feels like you’ve traveled through time, where all 18th-19th century Swedes speak English, German and sometimes French. You can watch tanners, shoemakers, silversmiths, glassblowers and bakers demonstrating their craft, moreover, you can buy their products made right in front of you. It is most delightful to visit the bakery (try the cinnamon-cardamom bun, its worth getting off diet for a day) where local squirrels always find their way to sugar and gladly pose for photographs.
It is ideal to visit Skansen in spring or summer, but even in winter it has its own charm, particularly if you are in need for quiet meditation – snowy old town and beautiful views of Stockholm all for yourself. In winter there are less people, so you can talk to museum “citizens” for as long as you like. Just keep in mind that some places will be closed (that’s why the ticket price is reduced during winter).
If it so happens that you are in Stockholm during Christmas, Easter, National day (June 6th), Midsummer (June 25th in 2016) or Lucia (December 13th) don’t think twice about going to Skansen! Traditional festivities, dancing, games and a chance to see the Royals on Sweden’s National day! It is a tradition for King Carl XVI Gustaf, Queen Silvia and the entire family to visit Skansen and celebrate with the public.
Numerous events are organized throughout the year – in summer fiddlers and folk dancers perform every day, during autumn you are most likely to get a taste of the autumn market, flax and linen preparation or various craft days. If you have enough time, catch a boat ride around the island to enjoy great views and take wonderful pictures!
If the weather is not good enough for you to stay outside, then visit cafés and restaurants. Skansen has it all – from self-service “Terrassen” to fancy “Solliden restaurants” with the wonderful view of Stockholm (just don’t forget to order a table if its summer) to a 1700s pub “Taverne Tre Byttor”.
Kids can enjoy train rides and pony rides, but this museum is not focused on children! It is wisely arranged in such manner as to attract anyone interested in Swedish cultural heritage and cater to those who just want to BREATHE, picnic or read a book in lovely ambiance.