When the slightest glimmer of sunshine or warm weather befalls Stockholm, you will find the entire city outside. Swedes try to soak up as much time in the sun as possible. It comes as no surprise that the capital is home to the world’s oldest open-air museum, Skansen. Even the Swedes prefer their museums to be outdoor friendly with the hope that the sun will shine.
Location and History:Skansen rests on the island of Djurgården, in close proximity to the Vasa Museum. Arthur Hazelius founded the open-air museum back in 1891, easily making Skansen the oldest in the open-air museum group. Skansen recreates Sweden in miniature throughout 75 acres. From the butcher, the baker, candlestick maker and even Sami camp with reindeer, Skansen grabs at different time periods throughout the country’s history and places them in one set space.
What is Skansen?: The old farms and dwellings at Skansen were dismantled and transported to the museum from all across the country. You can roam through over 150 dwellings, some dedicated as the post office or bakery for example. All of the structures hark on a different time period in Sweden’s history, detailing five centuries in total. Within these dwellings and storefronts are costumed characters, trained to act as they would have in the past. One visit to the spice shop allowed me to step back in time, as the man behind the counter never broke with his character, pretending to sell me cinnamons and saffron.
Watch molten glass turn into vases: One of the highlights at Skansen is the Skansen Glassworks. While you feel a bit annoying peering down on people blowing glass like they are zoo animals, it is a sight to see as molten glass turns into beautiful objects right before your eyes.
See Nordic animals in a historical setting: Many bring their families to Skansen to see the Skansen Zoo, home to both domestic and wild Nordic animals. You will find bears, moose, seals, wolves, lynx and elk if you’re lucky. On my visit, the elk were in hiding. Even if a few of the animals are nowhere to be found, children can appreciate the open air feel of the zoo. Those bears could occupy hours as they playfully swat each other for the crowds.
Attend a Festival at Skansen: While one might believe Skansen to be merely for the tourists, locals actually celebrate several key holidays on site. For Christmas, there is a special Christmas market at Skansen. Coming up on the calendar is one of Skansen’s and Sweden’s biggest events, the Midsummer Celebration. The event celebrates the summer solstice with music, games, dancing and handicrafts. This year’s midsummer celebration takes place from June 22nd to June 24th, largely revolving around the tradition of maypole dancing.
Costs and Tips: Costs for Skansen vary depending on the time of year, with summer being the most expense. A child ticket will cost 60 SEK while an adult admission goes for 140 SEK. The cost is worth it in some respects for the number of attractions you will see throughout 300,000 square meters. The Stockholm Card grants you admission to all of the Skansen sights if you are doing a lot of touring in the city and find the tourism card to be worthwhile. Visitors should also be sure to take in the views of Stockholm from Skansen as the open-air museum sits up above the city.
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