If you wonder if it is worth visiting Skansen Open Air Museum in Stockholm, than the answer is a definite yes
Even when you are on a tight schedule, it’s well worth to dedicate at least half a day to explore this truly exciting place to get an understanding of Swedish life in the past. Skansen showcases around 500 years of Swedish history.
Indeed, you can truthfully say, Skansen Open Air museum itself is part of local history. It is said to be the oldest open-air museum in the world, having opened in 1891!
The whole complex extents over a total of 75 acres and boasts historic buildings, including a Sami village from Lapland, huge gardens and a zoo which is home to many Nordic animals including elk, reindeer, bears and many more.
There are round about 150 different houses which have been brought there from locations across all of Sweden. The oldest are dating back to the 14th century.
Skansen staff is wearing traditional clothes and will provide interesting introduction into Swedish crafts, traditions and life in the past.
How to explore Skansen Open Air Museum
There is no fixed route you should take. The various settlements and attractions of the park are clustered in various sections and you can either pick those that interest you most (if your time is limited) or make your way around the park.
Entering Skansen, you can either climb the stairs up to the park or take the escalator as you will do a lot of walking later on anyway.
Exiting the escalator, it’s only a few steps into the first settlement, the Town Quarter with houses dating back to the 19th century.
Inside the various houses, traditional crafts from this time are showcased.
There is a little bakery where you can buy different pastries and breads which are baked like it was done back in the 19th century. The house itself comes from the Stockholm area and dates back to 1870s.
The co-op store dates back to the 1930s and inside you can buy ice cream and cookies that are characteristic to this time.
In addition, there is an ironmongery, a shoemaker, a pottery, a bookbinder, an upholsterer and several more.
Inside the glassblower atelier you can watch the glassblower at work.
In case you are interested to lean even more, there are also workshops that allow you to try their hand at some of the old crafts.
For a rest, settle down in the small café. They have truly the best cinnamon rolls I’ve ever eaten!
Carrying on through the site, you will come across other typical settlements from around Sweden, several farmsteads showing different types of homes and lifestyles from across Sweden and a number of storehouses which were typically used to store food and clothes.
Called the Mora farmstead, this cluster of wooden buildings comes originally from the Dalarna region in the middle of Sweden. This is how a farm looked at the end of the 18th century, essentially including a farmhouse, a separate cottage for older people, stables and a storehouse where food and clothes were kept.
The Sami in the past traditionally lived in wooden kåta (Sami hut). The Sami houses at Skansen originally came from Jämtland in Sweden. Sami actually refers to indecorous people that come from a region called Sápmi in the northern part of the Arctic comprising the northern parts of Sweden, Norway and Finland and the area of Murmansk Oblast in Russia.
The Sami traditionally lived on fishing, fur trapping, sheep herding and off course the herding of reindeer for which they are perhaps best known. Indeed, they are the only people actually allowed to herd reindeer.
The Hornborga cottage is a typical building from the 19th century that served people that did not own land themselves as their home. The last known occupant of the cottage lived from fishing and from mending shoes. He kept a cow and a couple of sheep in the windowless cowshed.
The Finn settlement shows how Finnish farmers lived since the 15th century in normally fairly inaccessible forested areas.
A small stone cottage with only one room inside was built at Skansen in 1891 according to models of such cottages found around Blekinge in southern Sweden. It shows how poor people lived in the this part of Sweden during the 19th century.
There are also various storehouses around the various settlements, which were used to store supplies, in particular food that was grown on-site. These houses were strongly build and always kept in good conditions to make sure rats and other parasites kept away from the supplies.
Originally from Seglora, a small village in the southern parts of Sweden not far from Gothenburg but in a fairly rural area, the large wooden Seglora church was saved from demolition at its original site and moved to Skansen in1916. Today, it is one of the most popular churches in Sweden for weddings.
The beautiful little rose garden in front of the Sagaliden building is home to around fifty different rose species.
There is also a small herb garden and throughout the area you can see small farming as it was typically done by families in the past to feed themselves.
Skansen is also home to a wide range of animals from the Scandinavian region along with few other domesticated animals you will typically find in the area.
Among the various species, there are elk, moose, reindeers, European bison, wild boar, bears, seals, wolverine, wolfs, lynx Gotland ponies and owls.
Although they are all hold in separate enclosures, you will need a bit of luck to see most of them as several will typically hide during parts of the day or simply hide behind rocks and trees.
Most parts of Skansen are fun for the whole family but in case you are visiting with kids, there are also several playgrounds throughout the site.
And obviously not to be missed are the stalls selling food, handicrafts and gifts.
When is the best time visiting Skansen
Skansen is open all year round, on 365 days a year. That said, during the colder months you might not find all of the houses, shops, workshops and activities open.
If you want to visit anything specifically, it’s best to check the activities calendar ahead of your visit.
The site is very popular with locals and tourists alike. Keep in mind that it will get cramped quickly on weekends, especially is the weather is good. Thus if you can, time your visit on a weekday.
Getting to Skansen
Skansen Open Air museum is located on the island of Djurgården. It is easily accessible by bus, tram or boat with each of the options taking around 15 minutes or less from the city centre.
Have you been to Skansen yet? Which part of it did you like most? Let me know about your experiences.