No one will argue that Stockholm isn't an expensive city. We hold onto our wallets during every visit. But it's wise to keep in mind that studies cite 10 cities that are more expensive, including Kobe, Japan; Oslo; and Geneva. So cheer up -- it isn't as costly as you might have thought, and Stockholm is loaded with sights and activities, many of them bargains. If the Vasa Ship Museum doesn't pique your interest (highly unlikely), perhaps the changing of the guard at the Royal Palace or the Gröna Lunds Tivoli amusement park will. Even window shopping for beautifully designed Swedish crafts can be an enjoyable way to spend an afternoon. And after dark, Stockholm becomes the liveliest city in the north of Europe.
At Djurgården -- The forested and sparsely populated island of Djurgården (Deer Park) lies about 3km (1 3/4 miles) to the east of Gamla Stan (Old Town). Crisscrossed with bicycle paths and permeated with parklands, it's distinctly different from the densely populated urban vibes that characterize such neighborhoods as Gamla Stan, Södermalm, and Norrmalm. Its most extensive and most visible attraction is Skansen.
Architectural Highlights -- In Stockholm, architecture buffs are often captivated by such grand buildings as Drottningholm Palace and Riddarholm Church. But many of Stockholm's expanding suburban "cities" also are worth seeing for their urban planning and architecture, which is among the most advanced in the world.
One of these model developments is Farsta, completed in 1960 (although much altered since then). It lies 10km (6 1/4 miles) from the heart of Stockholm and can be reached by the Farsta train departing from the Central Station, or by taking bus no. 18 to the end of the line. With its traffic-free shopping mall, bright and airy modern apartment houses, and contemporary stores and restaurants, it makes for a pleasant afternoon tour.
Especially for Kids -- The open-air park Skansen, on Djurgården, offers Lill-Skansen, the children's own "Little Skansen." There's a petting zoo with lots of child-friendly animals, including pigs, goats, and horses. Lill-Skansen offers a break from the dizzying (and often tantrum-inducing) excitement frequently generated by a commercial amusement park. A miniature train ride through the park is about as wild as it gets. Lill-Skansen is open daily in summer from 10:30am to 4pm.
Kids can easily spend a day or several at Skansen and not get bored. Before going to Skansen, stop off at the Vasa Museum , which many youngsters find an epic adventure. The evening can be capped by a visit to Gröna Lunds Tivoli, which also is on Djurgården.