Skansen is the world’s oldest open-air museum and zoo. Located in Stockholm, the museum was founded in the late 19th century by Artur Hazelius, originally as a branch of the Nordic Museum (Nordiska Museet). Today it illustrates the different ways of life prevalent in old-time, pre-industrialized Sweden.
Hazelius originally built Skansen from 150 reconstructed historical buildings. Since then the museum has expanded dramatically, featuring houses and workshops where you can experience the making of traditional Swedish crafts such as butter-churning, weaving, shoemaking, and glassblowing. There is also a children’s zoo containing a wide range of Nordic animals such as bison, brown bears, moose, reindeer, and wolverines.
The museum is one of Stockholm’s top cultural attractions, and many city tours include a visit to Skansen. A Stockholm Pass provides free entrance to the museum, and cruise ship passengers can visit on a shore excursion from Nynashamn port. Hop-on, hop-off bus tours are also a good option for travelers who want to see the museum at their own pace.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Skansen is a must-see for history buffs and culture lovers.
- A variety of restaurants and food stands serve both traditional Swedish items and modern fare. You can also find dedicated picnic sites on Offerholmen (the small island in one of the ponds) and other sites throughout the museum park.
- Strollers are available for rent, and wheelchairs are available free of charge at all entrances.
- Most of the property is outdoors, so dress appropriately for the weather.
How to Get There
Skansen is located on the island of Djurgården outside the city center, and is accessible by public transportation. While parking for private vehicles is not available, guided tours typically provide round-trip transportation.
When to Get There
Skansen is open year-round, but hours vary seasonally. In the winter, the site’s central Bollnäs square is home to a popular Christmas market. Spring brings the Walpurgis bonfire and egg decorating, and in the summer Skansen plays host to folk dancing and concerts. Autumn features the celebration of harvest time and linen-making demonstrations.
Children at Skansen
Many of Skansen’s activities are specifically catered to children. There is a popular children’s zoo, where guests can ride ponies and even help out with farm tasks during the summer. Kids can also play with old-fashioned Swedish toys, go on fair rides, navigate a classic car track, or participate in summertime sing-alongs.