Skansen and the Skansen Aquarium
Skansen – open air park, gardens, zoo and living history museum
Address: Djurgårdsslätten 49-51
Phone: 08-442 80 00
Opening times, admission, etc: www.skansen.se
Busses: 44, 47
Streetcar: From Norrmalmstorg and Nybroplan
Ferry: From Gamla Stan and Nybroviken
Skansen? What’s that?
Skansen is all about the past, but it’s not a traditional museum. Although it has fun rides and playgrounds for children, you really can’t call Skansen an ordinary amusement park, either. And despite the fact that you’ll meet all kinds of native Swedish animals here—ranging from small lambs to the mighty moose—describing Skansen merely as a zoo just isn’t right. Not that it matters much—whatever you call Skansen, it is a great place to spend the day!
Located on the island of Djurgården, Skansen occupies a large expanse of prime real estate on a beautiful hill. In other cites this land might have been used for expensive homes or offices, but not in Stockholm! For more than 100 years the people of the city have preserved Skansen as a cultural reservation. Established in 1891 as a living museum, designed to show how people lived and worked in different parts of Sweden in the past, Skansen has developed into a popular public recreational area for children and adults alike.
Something like 150 historic buildings have been moved here from nearly every part of Sweden. Walk into one of the houses, workshops or farmsteads and you’ll probably be met by host actors in period costume who demonstrate such crafts and occupations as weaving and glassblowing.
Holidays that are especially Swedish, such as Midsummer Night’s Eve in June or “Lucia”, the festival of lights in December, are always celebrated with much traditional pomp and ceremony at Skansen, and can be great fun. At the top of the hill, Skansen also has an open-air stage where many public concerts are held, so check out the schedule. The Solliden Stage is even used in the dark of winter for Sweden’s best known New Year’s Eve celebration. Every year since 1895, Tennyson’s “Ring Out Wild Bells” has been recited on the stroke of midnight, with fireworks to follow. If you’re in the audience, you’re sure to get a great view of the midwinter fireworks mirrored on the waters below.
When you get hungry you can always go to one of Skansen’s many restaurants, or eat some waffles prepared at a stand in the central square. There is no other public zoo in Stockholm, so don’t miss the Swedish reindeer, bears, wolves, lynx, moose, otters and seals during your visit. Skansen also has a mini-zoo called Lill-Skansen, where you’ll find kittens, goats, rabbits, hamsters and even pigs who love to be petted.
Phone: 08-660 10 82
Opening times, admission, etc: www.skansen-akvariet.se
If you are more interested in exotic animals than the one’s you’ll see in the outdoor zoo, visit the Skansen Aquarium (extra admission charged). Don’t let the name fool you. They do have lots of fish but they also have reptiles—such as the alligator below—spiders, monkeys, birds, sloths and much more. Here you can pet a hairy spider, if you like, or even touch a snake if you dare. The Skansen Aquarium also has a branch aquarium located on Fjäderholmarna among the inner islands of the Stockholm archipelago where you can see aquatic life from the waters surrounding Stockholm.
If you’ve done a lot of walking while exploring Stockholm, the hill that Skansen covers may seem more like a mountain. Not to worry, there are cable cars from one entrance to the top and a very long escalator that goes up the hill from the other entrance. Among the children’s rides at the top you’ll find electric-powered cars and a carousel and there are several well-equipped playgrounds in the park. Whatever you do, don’t rush through Skansen. There’s so much to enjoy here that it would be a shame to miss even part of it because you’re in a hurry.