Tips When Traveling to Sweden with Kids in Winter

We decided to go to Sweden with kids in January for a full seven-day winter vacation. I was excited but a bit nervous because I was afraid that we wouldn’t be able to take full advantage of our vacation due to the cold weather and short daylight during the winter season. This would also be our first time visiting Sweden so I was not really sure what to expect. But I was completely wrong. It turned out to be one of our best vacations ever and it just proved that there is no bad weather, only bad clothing!

Here are twelve tips when traveling to Sweden with kids during Winter

  1. Consider buying a Stockholm Pass.  I have to admit, we didn’t buy it and I regret not doing so.  I thought we wouldn’t have enough time to see more than 3 museums in a week so I’d just pay “as needed” rather than taking advantage of a Stockholm Pass.  We ended up going to most major museums and attractions, riding the Hop On Hop Off Bus and playing in Junibacken (Sweden’s famous indoor playground and children’s bookstore).  These would’ve been all covered by the pass but we ended up paying separately.  Here’s the link to getting the pass  Tip: If you buy early enough, they sometimes offer a discount so you don’t have to pay full price.
  2. Use Sweden’s public transportation.  Sweden’s public transportation (like most places in Europe) is very easy to follow and understand.  The best way to experience the city is by foot and to use their public transportation.  We used the subway, Arlanda Express, bus and taxi.  We used the subway most of the time. The only time we had to use a taxi is when we missed our bus going to Drottningholm palace and the palace was about to close in an hour.  Our taxi experience was a fairly good.  Taxis accept cash or credit card.  The  driver was also friendly and helpful.  We paid around $15 USD for a 20 minute drive.  The back seat also has a built-in car seat to accommodate young children.  From the airport to the central station (basically where everyone gets off from the airport) we used the Arlanda Express.  We purchased the tickets online prior to our trip and got a discount rather than buying the tickets when we got there.  I also enjoyed the Hop on Hop Off bus (although not public transportation) because it gave us a fantastic quick summary more efficiently for a limited time when visiting the city.
  3. Bring snacks and bottled water. This is a practical tip not just when going to Sweden but to everywhere! My personal favorite is bringing our KOR water bottle with filter.  Sweden’s tap water has some of the best water in the world but it won’t hurt to own a bottle water with built-in filter to use just about anywhere you travel.  Bring snacks and fruit all the time.  With jet lag, you just don’t know when the kids will fall asleep and skip a meal.  It saved us so many times bringing snacks and fruit.  Most hotels in Stockholm offer complimentary breakfast.  So what I did is save couple of apples after breakfast and brought it with us.
  4. Take a list of these major attractions and activities that are family friendly.  There are a lot more major attractions than these but these are the ones you can conveniently visit during the cold weather in Stockholm on a one-week vacation.  Not to mention the short daylight.  Also, remember that all museums are closed on Monday.
    1. Vasa Museum
    2. Royal Palace
    3. Witness the Royal Palace changing of guards.  Tip: They do the major changing of guards with music once  day.  We witnessed in at 12:15 on a Sunday but they do change guards every few hours.
    4. Drottningholm Palace
    5. Nobel Museum
    6. Ride the Hop On Hop Off bus
    7. Eat/Walk around Gamla Stan (Old Town).  Tip: To find the iconic buildings in Gamla Stan just find out how to get to the Nobel Museum.  It is right next to the museum.
    8. Ride the red and blue line Metro and witness the longest art gallery in the world.
    9. The Tre Kronor Museum
    10. Kulturhuset
    11. Junibacken
    12. Nobel Museum
  5. Wear the right outfit.  Wear at least three layers of clothing during winter time.  The average weather is 28 to 32F (-2 to 0C) with high chances of snow.
    1. Wear thermals as your base layer.  You need to wear the right thermal preferably with heat technology.  Think of it as your second skin.  My personal favorites are thermals made by Columbia with Omni Heat technology.  
    2. Sweater, pants or leggings.  No cotton.  Wool highly recommended.
    3. Wear the right jacket.  Tip:  Long coat for cold weather.  Water proof/resistant jacket when snowing.  It works best if you bring two kinds of outerwear in order to dress appropriately.  
    4. Wear closed comfortable shoes or boots.
  6. Bring some cash.  Sweden is a “cashless society”.  Meaning they transact with cards rather than cash.  However it won’t hurt to bring some cash.  You can use this for small item purchases such as souvenirs, coffee, probably tips or for “just-in-case” situations. What we did is change some small amount of dollars in Swedish Krona prior to leaving so we don’t need to worry about money changing when we get there.  Then “play it by ear” if we ever need to withdraw some more.  We ended up buying everything with a credit card that doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees and used our Swedish Krona at the end of our trip.
  7. Use a credit card that doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees to save money. 
  8. Shop and discover Swedish brands. We ended up buying items from Haglofs, Gaston Luga and Happy Socks.  We also bought some books at Junibacken that you can’t easily get from the states such as “Who is Pippi Langstrumpf?”, one of the highly coveted books of 2016 “Norse Gods”  by Johan Egerkrans and “The Story Journey” by Astrid Lindgren and Marit Tornqvist.
  9. The airport experience was smooth and organized.  We used Arlanda Express to get to the city.  Directly from the airport you can take Arlanda Express, their subway train to the city.  The one and only stop from the Airport using Arlanda Express was the Central Station stop so there’s no reason to get lost! You can buy the tickets at the station or ahead of time through their website.  When going back to the airport for departure remember that there are 5 terminals.  Terminals 1-4 are for local departures.  If you are going out of the country, your stop will be Terminal 5.  
  10. Learn some basic Swedish.  It goes a long way if you know some basic Swedish such as Thank you, Hello, Bye, Excuse Me or Sorry I don’t speak Swedish.
  11. Do your research.  I use Trip Advisor and Visit Stockholm websites when creating our agenda and learning more about the city.  On the other hand, Viewstockholm on Instagram helped me a lot in making our last day more memorable and a huge success!  Our last day was snowy and windy and what could be better than enjoying an indoor playground and visiting their biggest children’s bookstore, the famous Junibacken! Both adults and kids enjoyed a lot! What a treat! I highly recommend this place for families with children.
  12. Don’t forget when in Sweden (it could be expensive but the memories are priceless) to visit the first and original Ice Hotel in Kiruna!