Quirky Scandinavian Roadtrips with my Parents: Stockholm to Karlstad

Hej from Sweden once again. This past week my parents took a nice little trip to the other side of the pond for their first trip to Sweden. This is something that they took months planning with my help, and so it was a super treat for them to finally arrive and not just to talk about it over Skype or on the phone.

I met them at the airport last Thursday in Stockholm, and then the fun began. After renting a rather nice Volvo (they got a free upgrade) we were off from Arlanda to try and find the Hotel, located in the heart of Södermalm, or the southern island of Stockholm. We only made a few wrong turns and ended up in a random tunnel at one point, but we ended up finding it and then sneaking me in so we wouldn’t have to pay more. A quick dinner of pizza and a quick stop at Charles Dickens’ (a pub) and we called it a night.

(Full) Day 1: Stockholm

The next day, after my parents got a surprising amount of sleep, we were off for a walk to Skansen by way of Gamla Stan. My parents love old European stuff, so they were right at home in Gamla Stan.

The two by St. George and the Dragon

We happened to arrive at the Royal Palace right in time for the Changing of the Guard, which was something I had not seen myself, so we stuck around for ten minutes to watch the change.

Troops getting ready to change.

After departing the island of Gamla Stan we continued our walk to Djurgården. As most jet-lagged travelers in a foreign land, my parents found endless fascination with everything they saw. I needed to constantly remind myself that they were still fresh from the plan just as I was when I first arrived in Stockholm, so it was important for me to move slow and re-enjoy everything with them as best as possible. It was an interesting experience to say the least, because to me it was practically as if they were visiting me in Denver, but for them they were on the other side of the world.

When we made it to Djurgården we went to Skansen, which was a place I had not visited myself. Skansen is the oldest open-air museum ever built. After seeing the open-air museum in Lillehammer, I have to admit this one was way cooler, with all of Sweden featured and not just Stockholm, and a zoo thrown in for good measure. If you want to see Sweden but won’t spend much time outside of Stockholm, Skansen is a mandatory stop, and it was perfect for my parents and I to visit.

Entrance gate
Building in Skansen

The main draw for us to visit Skansen was definitely the Scandinavian animal exhibit. Some of you may know that I have one gigantic, massive fear in life, and that is the fear of bears. And because some of you may also know I have a love of adrenaline, we spent a lot of time in an “up-close-and-personal” state with the brown bears in Skansen. It wasn’t that much closer to some of the bear run-ins I’ve had in Colorado, and the protective glass stands for something as well, but I loved it and had some adrenaline flowing nonetheless.

The big Dad bear
Dad getting close to a cub
Me getting close to a cub

The other animals they had featured included moose, seals, otters, and reindeer, and I have yet to see any of these animals in the wild here in Sweden.


After the animals, we walked around some more in the “Farms of Sweden” area that featured farms from history from the Lapps up north to farms close to Mälmo. We also found the Skansen glass blower. Sweden is well known for the glass art that is made here, in particular along the southeast coast line, and my mom had expressed interest in seeing some of the “Glass Coast,” but with their short time here we knew it wouldn’t happen. But getting to see some glass blown at Skansen was an unexpected treat that worked out very well.

Skansen Glass Blower

After walking around some more, we left Skansen and I took my parents to the Vasamuseet, which I had seen already, so I decided not to go but to walk around Djurgården some more. It was getting close to 4:30PM, so I decided to take some shots of the already-set sun.

Looking towards Södermalm

After my parents closed the Vasa, we met up again and walked to the pedestrian streets downtown where I tried to find a very Swedish brand and ended up getting some super comfy undies when we found it, and my mom got a really cool hat. We then walked from downtown back to Gamla Stan, and my mom insisted on stopping in almost every store to see what they had and whether or not it was “Swedish.” We also stopped for dinner in Gamla Stan, then a pub crawl in Södermalm, and then called it a night back at the Hotel.

Day 2: More Stockholm, Nynäshamn, & Mariefred

After another night of great sleep for my parents we decided to take a quick walk to Stadhuset to try to climb the tower, and then we were off to Nynäshamn to see the ocean, and then drive to Karlstad. I was rather insistent for my parents to see Stadhuset because it is definitely one of my favorite buildings in the world. Unfortunetly the tower was closed, but my parents still enjoyed walking around the courtyard and the garden.

Mom taking pictures left and right
Dad and I in the garden

With the extra time we had since the tower was closed for the season we walked around Gamla Stan for another hour or so going into all the little shops and side streets. Like I said, my parents love old stuff, so they loved Gamla Stan.

The two in a narrow street.

After leaving Stockholm I decided we should try to take a detour south to the small town of Nynäshamn, where there is a decent view of the Baltic Sea (which my mom wanted to see), as well as the best brewery in Sweden (which my dad and I wanted to see). When we arrived, tourist info told us that the brewery isn’t like a tourist attraction, but just where they bottle and do office work, and only groups can get tours if they arrange in advance. So we ended up just going to the beach for a while and then took a beautiful drive along the coast.

Me getting a workout in with a great view
Mom and dad on the beach. Judging by the clothes it was great beach weather.

After brewery disappointment in Nynäshamn, we drove to Karlstad with a quick stop in the little town of Mariefred, located on the coast of Lake Mälaren, and known for where Gripsholm Slott is located. We arrived right at dusk, so the castle was closed, but my parents (who had decided not to tour the castles/breweries of Ireland and Scotland this summer so they could come on this trip) were stoked to see some Swedish castle.

Mom and the Castle
Castle and moon
The town of Mariefred

After a quick dinner and some walking around the dark streets of Mariefred we continued on the road to Karlstad.

Continue the trip to Karlstad…


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