This was the first open-air museum to open in the world, back in 1891 -- and it's still going strong. It's even better than when we first discovered it on visits to Stockholm as teenagers. Even if you can't escape into the Swedish countryside, head here for a look at how Swedes lived in the days of yore.
Often called "Old Sweden in a Nutshell," this open-air museum features more than 150 reconstructed dwellings scattered over some 30 hectares (74 acres) of parkland. They were originally erected in sites throughout Sweden, from the northern frontier of Lapland to the southern edges of Skåne. Most date from the 18th and 19th centuries, and each has benefited from the lavish attentions of scores of scholars, librarians, and craftspersons. The exhibits include windmills, manor houses, blacksmith shops -- even a complete town quarter that was meticulously rebuilt. Visitors can explore old workshops to see where book publishers, silversmiths, and druggists plied their trades in olden days. Many handicrafts for which Swedes later became noted (glass blowing, for example) are demonstrated, along with traditional peasant crafts, such as weaving and churning. For a tour of the buildings' interiors, arrive no later than 4pm.
On-site is a small zoo with 70 different animals, most of which are Swedish fauna, including wild animals from the cold north such as reindeer, seal, lynx, brown bear, and wolverine. Most impressive is the elk, the largest mammal in Sweden; the greatest predator is the fierce brown bear, considered the best "salmon fisherman" in the north.
Although it's hardly comparable to the Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen, Skansen is also a summer playground for Stockholmers. Folk dancing and open-air concerts, in some cases featuring international stars, are occasionally scheduled during summertime. Check at the Tourist Center for information on special events and for info on nightlife options.
- © Frommer's 2013
- Very Highly Recommended 2010