Sweden offers many kid-friendly attractions. Your biggest concern with having children along here is pacing yourself with enough museum time. Our suggestion is to limit Stockholm to a couple days, Gothenburg to a single day, and combine a visit to the "third city" of Malmö and the university city of Lund on your final day. The entire family can then enjoy a drive across Sweden, bypassing the Göta Canal and spending the night in the ancient town of Mariestad.
Days 1 & 2: Family Fun in the Capital
On the morning of Day 1, set out to explore Stockholm by taking our 3-hour walking tour of Gamla Stan (Old Town). Your kids will think it's a movie set created by Disney. Have lunch in the Old Town and follow that with a visit to the Kungliga Slottet, the royal palace. Kids also enjoy seeing the Changing of the Royal Guard, but that can be difficult to schedule. The palace is such a vast complex that children always find lots of attractions here to interest them, though. After a stroll through, head for the Vasamuseet (Royal Warship Vasa), the 17th-century man-of-war that sank on its maiden voyage. Spend your first night in Stockholm at Gröna Lunds Tivoli, a vast amusement park that many kids will likely think of as the highlight of the Swedish capital.
On the morning of Day 2, set out to see the Stockholm attractions you didn't have time for on Day 1. Begin the day by taking in the vast compound of Skansen, Sweden's greatest open-air museum. This vast parkland with old workshops and some 150 antique buildings is like a time warp for kids. Skansen will absorb your entire morning. To cap your afternoon, hop on one of the canal cruises offered by Stockholm Sightseeing. Afterward, no doubt your kids will demand to be taken back to Gröna Lunds Tivoli for their final night in Stockholm.
Day 3: Mariestad & the Göta Canal
The Göta Canal is the most scenic water route in Sweden, linking Stockholm in the east with the "second city" of Gothenburg in the west. In all, it's a journey of 560km (348 miles), which can be comfortably broken up into 2 days of driving. Leave Stockholm on the morning of Day 3, taking the E3 expressway west all the way to the town of Mariestad. In the first day you'll need to cover 318km (198 miles). Mariestad is the best center for taking cruises on Lake Vänern, which, with its 20,000 small islands and islets, is the world's largest freshwater archipelago. Try to get as early a start in Stockholm as you can so you'll arrive in Mariestad in time to take one of the cruises of this vast inland lake. Check with the tourist office as soon as you arrive in Mariestad to see what's available.
Days 4 & 5: Arrival in Gothenburg
On the morning of Day 4, leave Mariestad and continue in a southwest direction along E3 to the capital of the west coast of Sweden, the maritime city of Gothenburg, a distance of 180km (112 miles). Some kids we've encountered traveling in Sweden with their families have told us they like Gothenburg more than Stockholm.
On your first day, take the classic Paddan boat ride, traveling through the moat and canal out to the harbor and the giant dockland. Return for a stroll along the Avenyn, the main street of Gothenburg.
As the afternoon fades, head for Liseberg Park, the largest amusement park in Scandinavia. You can spend the evening here, because it's open until 10 or 11pm in summer. Dozens of restaurants, including fast-food joints, await you. Return to your hotel, where you'll stay for 2 nights as you take in Gothenburg's sights.
On the morning of Day 5, get up early to visit the fish auction at the harbor, beginning at 7am. After seeing Feskekörka, the "fish church," take tram 6 to the Guldhedens Vattentorn, a water tower, for the most panoramic view of Gothenburg. Later, go to the Götaplatsen, in the center of Gothenburg, to gaze upon the Poseidon Fountain, sculpted by Carl Milles, Sweden's greatest sculptor. This is a great place for a photo op for the entire family.
Later in the afternoon, explore Botaniska Trädgården, with its array of natural amusements. In the late afternoon or early evening, nearly all families will want to return to Liseberg Park for another night of fun.
Day 6: Helsingborg, Gateway to Denmark
On the morning of Day 6, leave Gothenburg and drive south for 230km (143 miles) to Helsingborg at the narrowest point of the Öresund, a body of water that separates Sweden and Denmark. At this point the two countries are only 5km (3 miles) apart, and Denmark lies a 25-minute ferry ride from Helsingborg. From Gothenburg, drive south on the E6 to reach Helsingborg.
After checking into a hotel for the night, set about to explore the attractions of Helsingborg, including the Fredriksdal Open-Air Museum and Botanical Garden, and the Kårnan Slott, a former royal residence lying 5km (3 miles) north of Helsingborg.
In the midafternoon you can -- for a lark -- cross over on the ferry to Helsingør in Denmark to visit the so-called "Hamlet's Castle." Return to Helsingborg for the night.
Day 7: Lund & Malmö
On the morning of Day 7, your final day in Sweden, leave Helsingborg in the morning and drive along E6 in the direction of Malmö. At the junction with Route 66, make a detour north to the university and cathedral city of Lund. Lund is a distance of 56km (35 miles) from Helsingborg.
At Lund, entice your child to accompany you to the Domkyrkan, or Cathedral of Lund. The 14th-century astronomical clock here is sure to enchant with its Middle Ages-styled clashing knights marking the hours and the blare of trumpets. Before the morning fades, you can also visit the Kulturen, an open-air museum of old houses, complete with a kid-pleasing carriage museum. After lunch in Lund, head on to Malmö for the night, where you can check into a hotel. Malmö lies only 18km (11 miles) south of Lund; take Route 66.
With time remaining in the afternoon, you can visit Malmöhus Slott, the old Malmö castle that has so many museums and galleries that all members of a family are likely to find something of interest. After dinner, reward your kids with a visit to Folkets Park, or People's Park, filled with Tivoli-like amusements, including a playhouse just for kids.
The following morning it's just a short drive over Öresund Bridge into Copenhagen, where transportation arrangements can be made for most parts of the world.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.