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Winter city guides for parents and kids: Stockholm

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Winter city guides for parents and kids: Stockholm
14:16 CET+01:00
Jennifer Heape combs the Swedish capital for child-friendly winter activities.

For a capital city, Stockholm is remarkably child-friendly. The city has a proliferation of parks and gardens, almost all of which come equipped with children's playgrounds.

However, for a real treat, head to Gröna Lund. Opened in 1883, Gröna Lund is a traditional fairground located on the large island of Djurgården. From ghost trains to rollercoasters, and fairytale lands to dodgems, the park has lots to entertain.

One point to note is that certain of the more adventurous rides have height restrictions. But with shows, restaurants and over 30 rides (reduced to 16 for the winter season - November 222nd to December 21st), there is bound to be something even for the little ones. Best of all, entry is free for the winter.

Also on Djurgården is the oldest open-air museum in the world, Skansen. This famous attraction has a range of activities for all the family, and most definitely warrants a whole day to explore it fully.

Over 150 historical buildings have been moved to Skansen from all over Sweden, giving a wonderful overview of the architectural development of the Swedish landscape over the years. Furthermore, actors in period costumes demonstrate the way Swedes have lived throughout the centuries and really bring national history to life.

Skansen also has a great zoo, containing a range of both native Scandinavian wildlife and more exotic attractions. Be sure to check out the zoo's daily events for talks and shows - for November, Colubus Monkeys from Africa are in focus.

Skansen's traditional Christmas Markets are also a must. The markets are held from 10am to 4pm on the weekends of November 29 - 30, and December 6 - 7, 13 - 14 and 20 – 21. And who knows, maybe this could be the answer to stress-free, child-in-tow Christmas shopping?

The extensive gardens and parks around Skansen are a beautiful attraction and best of all are free. Why not take a wander around the fantastic parkland, admire the views from the waterside and maybe even take a hot 'korv med bröd' (Swedish hotdog) for a quintessentially Swedish snack.

For a more substantial lunch, the Skansen area has various options. For family-friendly venues try Petissan for cakes and sandwiches, or Café Flickorna Helin och Voltaire for a fine selection of coffees for flagging adults, as well as a range of more substantial lunch options.

Owing to its central location, Skansen is within easy walking distance from most areas of the city centre, although pushchairs are recommended for younger children. One of the most entertaining ways of reaching Skansen must be to take the ferry line from Slussen (ferry port is just outside the T-bana terminal) to Djurgården. The ferry runs year-round, costs 30kr for adults, 20kr for children, and kids under 7 are free. The ferry is also covered under the Stockholm public transport travel card.

Another unique way to reach Skansen is to take a heritage tram (route 7) from Norrmalmstorg or Nybroplan. The tram runs all weekend from March to mid-December and daily in summer and costs 30kr for adults, 15kr for kids and as with the ferry, the under 7's are free. It too is covered by the travel card.

If the weather has driven you inside, do not despair as Stockholm still has many other options. The first of these has to be Junibacken. Junibacken really has all you could ever need to entertain kids under one roof.

Attracting over 300,000 visitors a year, this indoor complex houses displays and activities where the stories of Astrid Lindgren come alive, and contains one of Sweden's largest children's theatres and an extensive children's bookshop. The Junibacken restaurant also has a variety of reasonably priced lunches.

The Vasa Museum is perhaps a better excursion if the adults of the group are also in need of entertainment. The Vasa is the world's only more or less fully preserved 17th century warship and one of Stockholm's most famous tourist attractions.

Just a few minutes into its maiden voyage, the Vasa struck disaster, keeling over and sinking in Stockholm harbour. The ship remained on the bottom of the sea floor for 333 years until 1961, when the ship was raised.

The museum, built around the Vasa, also includes various exhibitions on maritime history, shipbuilding, warfare and what life would have been like on the Vasa. Great news for families too, as the under 18s get in for free.

There is a restaurant inside the museum, or alternatively, if the weather permits, there is also a delightful garden very much suitable for picnicking.

In the same area as the Vasa Museum is the Aquaria Water Museum. Everything in the aquarium really has been geared towards younger children, with tot-high stools for viewing the higher tanks, interactive displays and even a 'crawl tunnel' through the shark display.

Just north-east of Djurgården is The Technology Museum (Tekniska Museet), which boasts activities for the oldest and youngest of any family. There are lots of hands-on displays here and a particular delight is Cino 4, Sweden's first and only 4-dimensional cinema, complete with moving seats, smoke, smells, water and much more.

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