Is Stockholm Kid-Friendly?

The answer is a resounding yes!  While my kids are older and we have left behind the stroller years, it was impossible not to notice the many ways Stockholm makes life a little easier for parents as they navigate the city.

The first thing we noticed were the ramps built into stairs.  We first came across them coming out of a subway station but then found them all over the city.  What a clever way to make the city stroller accessible. Naturally, I had to tell my kids they were NOT for running up and down.

When it comes to eating out, not only were there kids menus at all of the restaurants we visited, but there was often the option to order a half-portion of a regular entree.  The twins are less enthusiastic about kids menus as time marches on; the option of ordering off the “adult” menu was a fantastic.

We also came across some fantastic playgrounds.  There was one great playground right near our apartment in Enskede.  It had one of the coolest play features I’ve ever seen.  To spare you my description, I’ll let these cute time-lapse videos speak for themselves.  It may have been the hot spot for the local fathers who took their kids to the playground. I think I saw more fathers than kids playing on them…

More than the specific kid-friendly features, it was also the vibe of Sweden that was very family-friendly.  I didn’t feel the pressure to keep my kids silent while riding on the train. I didn’t get the stink eye from other passengers when my kids dared to talk as we so often encounter when traveling in certain areas.  The culture of family-friendliness made traveling through Sweden a relaxing and enjoyable experience.




Upon Arrival

As the plane pulled to the gate, we gathered our things and got ready to disembark.  I turned on my phone to text my mother that we had arrived safely in Stockholm.  As I waited to connect to service, the alerts started popping up.  There had been an attack in the city center of Stockholm.  So as not to alarm the kids before we had more facts, I handed my phone to J without saying anything.  We knew this would have an impact on getting to our apartment but there wasn’t much information available as the situation was still unfolding.

We proceeded to immigration, excited as always for a fresh stamp in our passports.  While waiting in line, J and I tried to get the latest news and see what had happened but there wasn’t much in the news as the attack had happened just 2 hours earlier. The immigration officer asked a number of pointed questions about our travels – it’s hard to say if she asked more questions given the events or if she’s always that inquisitive.  But we had never been questioned quite so extensively.  The officer handed us our passports, and informed us there had been an event in the city and we would want to inquire at the information desk as to transportation options into the city.

As we expected, all trains were shut down.  So much for the tickets I’d purchased in advance for the express train.  We were advised to sit tight for a bit, get some food and reassess the situation.  At this point, we had to tell the kids what was going on.  We took them to the side, and explained what had happened.  Our best option was to get some dinner at the airport and maybe transportation would be more available at that time.

Thankfully, the Arlanda Airport has a shopping/dining area attached to the airport with numerous options.  We settled in for dinner – meatballs and mashed potatoes of course – and tried to get more information about the attack.

Once dinner was over, it was pretty clear the subway and trains weren’t going to reopen any time soon. It appeared at that time that the suspect had not yet been apprehended.  Our only choice was to take a taxi for what would undoubtedly be a long ride given the increased traffic we were likely to face as all public transportation was still closed.

At this point, the taxi lines were much shorter than what we had seen earlier which was a relief.  Perhaps our decision to wait it out was a good one.  We all piled into the car and we were off.  It wasn’t long before we hit traffic, at which point, the kids and I promptly nodded off.  When I woke up, the taxi driver was explaining that he had two options to get us to our apartment – either go around the city or through the city.  He chose going through the city as the traffic was heavy on the highway.  Unfortunately, the streets were closed and we had to turn around and take the highway.  The remainder of our trip was uneventful but long.  We were relieved when we pulled up to the apartment – 90+ minutes after leaving the airport.

J and I hadn’t yet read much on the attack as our primary concern was dealing with the transportation issues and keeping our very tired kids from losing it.  We tucked the kids into bed, soothing what concerns they had about sleeping in a new space – what was that noise, are there enough pillows, it’s too dark, it’s too bright, where’s my stuffed animal – you know the drill.

As we explored the city yesterday, we noticed heavy police presence but otherwise, people were out and about as you would expect in any city.  We did take the kids aside and emphasize that if either one of us tells them to do something or not do something, they must listen to us.  They are not to first ask why or push it until we do that ridiculous 1-2-3 counting we still have to do.  They seemed to get it.

We tend not to be very alarmist in these situations.  J is a law enforcement officer and we know there are risks in our everyday life.  We are no more concerned or worried than when we planned this trip several months ago.


The Swedish flag flying at half staff over the City Hall.