When we were planning our trip to Thailand, I was trying to decide if it was worth the time and money to go into central Stockholm during our 6 hour layover. I decided at the last minute (literally the night before we left) that it was worth it. No offense to the beautiful country of Sweden and it’s beautiful inhabitants, but I really have no immediate plans to visit…until my son wins the Nobel Prize.
Fast, But Expensive
The Arlanda Express can get you to the center of Stockholm in 20 minutes. But it is one of the most expensive airport transports I have ever seen. A regular price roundtrip ticket purchased at the airport will cost $74 per person! You can buy reduced price tickets online that are valid on weekends only, but they are non-refundable. This is why I waited until the very last minute. I wanted to be sure we were actually going to do it. I paid $87 for 2 roundtrip tickets. Children under 17 are always free.
How To Do It
We cleared immigration and customs very quickly and headed downstairs to catch the 8:20 train. Directly across from the elevator doors that take you down to the train, there is an escalator that goes down to the “left luggage” area. We rented a large locker to store our hand baggage and Scooby Doo Pillow Pet. Fortunately the lockers accepted credit cards so we did not have to exchange money for Swedish Krona. I think we paid around $6 for the locker rental.
We got down to the platform and waited less than 5 minutes for the next train to arrive.
The trains are sleek, and very clean.
I wasn’t sure how far it was to walk from the train station to Gamla Stan (the Old Town). I had read online that it takes about 10-15 minutes, but I wasn’t sure how that 10-15 minutes would feel in the cold after having just flown for almost 9 hours. But we were all ready for some fresh air so we walked outside the station to look around and try to get our bearings.
My son immediately saw a McDonald’s across the street. As you may have read in my flight reviews, he was fighting a pretty nasty stomach bug and hadn’t eaten since we had left home. I didn’t want to try to find something else for him to eat and I felt bad that he was sick, so I gave in. I thought some “comfort food” would make him feel better.
It was just about 9am so they were still serving breakfast. The choices were very different from the McDonald’s breakfast here in the US. We found an egg and sausage biscuit that didn’t look too bad and he was begging for milk. Milk isn’t the best thing to drink with an upset stomach. Especially European milk. But I really wanted him to have something in him. He took a couple bites of the egg and a few sips of the milk and then threw it up all over the table. (here’s where the blog gets real) I’m ashamed to say, I was furious. We had just started the trip and he was already refusing to eat. He has this bad habit of making himself throw up when he eats something he doesn’t like and honestly I thought that’s what he was doing. We cleaned up and walked back outside. I looked to the left and saw the river and realized we weren’t that far from Gamla Stan. It took about 10 minutes to walk across the bridge and be in the heart of the old town. So – walk out of the train station, turn right and walk 10-15 minutes. It’s very easy.
Once you get into the Old Town, there are several stands with free maps to help you find your way through all the alleys and back to the bridges.
Looking back now, and knowing how sick Parker was, I feel absolutely terrible for making him walk around Stockholm, in the cold, for almost 2 hours. I won’t win any Mother of the Year awards for that!
The Old Town dates back to the 13th century and there are many old, colorful buildings, alleyways and cobblestone streets.
It was early, and a Sunday, so most of the shops and cafes were still closed. A few tourist souvenir shops and a couple coffee shops were open, but not many. We mainly just wandered the streets and looked at the beautiful buildings. As sick as he was, Parker never once complained about walking and his Daddy was nice enough to carry him on his shoulders for awhile.
Just before 11am we started to head back to the train station to catch the 11:20am train. We took one last walk through the square to admire the beautiful architecture.
We got on the 11:20am train, made it back to the airport and retrieved our luggage from the locker and had plenty of time to spare before our 1:30pm flight to Bangkok.
I’m glad we got to see Stockholm but I’m not sure there is much more I would want to see. If we had the time, I would have liked to go to the Vasa Museum and probably the ABBA museum.