I’ve traveled to Sweden before but never actually made it a priority to visit Stockholm.  I know right, how does one visit Sweden but never visit Stockholm!?  This trip to Sweden I made it a priority to visit Stockholm after visiting my family in Vanersborg, and boy I’m happy I did.


The first two days I was in Stockholm I stayed in the Scandic Malmen.  This hotel was located in Sodermalm, Stockholm. This part of Stockholm is filled with shops which include vintage stores, Swedish fashion, and many hipster food and drink spots.  I was very surprised by how many Middle Eastern restaurants I came across in the Sodermalm district.


I was very pleased with the Scandic Malmen.  This hotel had spacious rooms for what I’m used to in Europe.  This hotel is very trendy, the hotel staff was very friendly, and the check in/check out process was quick and easy.  My favorite part of this hotel was it was located right above a Metro station making getting around Stockholm very easy.  While I stayed in this hotel the weather was very bad, it was pouring rain both days making it hard to explore with a toddler.


The other hotel I stayed at while in Stockholm was called the Stockholm Inn.  This hotel is a cafe on ground level, and the hotel rooms are located below street level – the rooms do not have windows. This hotel was located in the Norrmalm district of Stockholm.  Although this hotel wasn’t nearly as nice as the Scandic Malmen I was much happier with the area.  I recommend the Norrmalm district for anyone visiting Stockholm (for tourist reasons).  With this hotel I was able to walk 5 minutes from my hotel to the Central Station.  Also, it was only about a 10 minute walk from my hotel to Gamla Stan (Old Town Stockholm).


I purchased the Stockholm City Pass, this included transportation on the hop on hop off bus (and hop on hop off boat), and also included entrance to many places of interest in Stockholm.  I only got the pass for one day and it cost me $63 USD.  I went on the hop on hop off bus, visited the Royal Palace, Grona Lund Tivoli, Vasa Museum, and the Fotografsika.  Without the Stockholm Pass this day would’ve cost be $100, but the entry to all of these places was included in the pass.  You can learn more about the pass and purchase it by clicking THIS LINK.  (Also keep in mind children under the age of 6 are free).


My favorite part of Stockholm was Gamla Stan (Old Town Stockholm).  This area features small colorful alleyways and tons of cute shops.  This area also had so many interesting restaurants and bars.  The whole time I was in Stockholm I had a craving for Swedish Meatballs and I chose a restaurant in Gamla Stan to help me fulfill it.


This meal was absolutely delicious and offered other traditional Swedish meals as well.  Some of the other meals included an Elk Burger, and Salmon prepared in a traditional Swedish manner.


After I was done with my visit to Stockholm I took the Arlanda Express back to the airport.  This was about a 20 minute train ride from Central Stockholm to the Stockholm Airport (Arlanda).  This was the quickest and easiest way to get back and forth from the airport to the city center, although if you have a lot of adults in your party taking an Uber might be cheaper.  For one adult the Arlanda Express ticket was $34 USD.  I took an Uber from the airport to my hotel when I first arrived and it was $65.  So if you have 3 or more adults an Uber would be less expensive, it just takes a little bit longer.


*Side Note:  As usual I also visited my family in Gothenburg (about a 3 hour train ride from Stockholm).  Gothenburg is another beautiful city in Stockholm and if you have the time I suggest that you visit.  This time while I was there we visited Liseberg, this is a very cute amusement park with about 5 big rides for adults, and about 6 rides for kids (also tons of fun games for adults/children and a HUGE play ground for the kids).  A lot of famous artist book shows there and their shows are included in the price of admission. I had tons of fun at this amusement park and would recommend it to people of all ages.  If you’re looking for other things to do in Sweden you can check out my older blog post from my last visit to Sweden ” It’s a Graduation Celebration in Sweden “.


If you’re looking for advice on things to do or places to stay in Stockholm/Gothenburg you can leave a comment below and I’ll answer you questions within 24 hours.


As always thank you for “Traveling with Ela”, leave your feedback, questions, and comments below, I look forward to hearing from you.


Until My Next Adventure



It’s a Graduation Celebration in Sweden

It’s a Graduation Celebration in Sweden

Let me start by explaining the backstory… my family (my mom, my sister, and myself) signed up to host an exchange student in our home.  We never knew that one day we would become family with not only him, but his entire family.  Anton was the foreign exchange student (who is now my brother); his brother Gustaf came to stay with us for some of the year (he is also my brother); and we have Arvid (the littlest of the brothers); and of course the wonderful Swedish Parents (Eva-Karin and Sven).

When it was time for Anton to graduate High School back in Sweden we took no time in jumping on a plane and heading to Gothenburg, Sweden.  A great excuse to travel, and catch up with loved ones.   Oh and I was 6 months pregnant at the time, but I was not missing a chance to travel.

Anton (left) ; Ela (right)

When we arrived at Gothenburg Airport we were greeted by an airport full of passengers, because my brother (Anton), like usual, was late. HAHA. When he finally arrived he had a huge Swedish flag held up and screamed “WELCOME TO SWEDEN”.

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Eventually, we made it to the beautiful town of Vänersborg.  As many other European towns the buildings were painted in bright colors, it was a beautiful sight.  They held all their ceremonies in the town square, which we later learned included prom and graduation.


It was prom night and my brothers looked so spiffy.  We arrived in the town square and saw everyone from the neighborhood was there.  This is where everyone met up to take pictures before the prom.  The prom-goers families (and even some neighbors) showed up to see the students dressed up.  After they were done taking pictures in the town square they entered the building – in parade formation – down the red carpet.

Gustaf (left); Ela (center); Anton (right)


The way they celebrate their graduation is so unique.  After the usual ceremony where they hand out diplomas and hear their graduation speech, they all venture out into the town square.  In the town square each parent creates a huge poster for their graduate.  The poster has a baby picture of the graduate, and the class that they graduated in.  Once the graduates make the way to their posters the fun begins.

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Gustaf (left) ; Ela (right)
Simon and Alicia
Simon and Alicia

The graduates hold their posters up high, while the people of the town, their families, and their fellow graduates walk around and place necklaces over their heads.  Each necklace is a blue and yellow fabric (the colors of Sweden) with something attached to the bottom – many people put flowers and notes, while others put beer, and other funny objects.  It was very fun to watch, and made me wish we did something so fun where I grew up.

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After they collected all their necklaces they rode away in their floats.  On these floats they celebrated their graduation, as they rode around the town square.  It was such a unique and fun experience.

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Just a short walk from the house was a beautiful lake.  This is where we spent a lot of our free time.  My Swedish family has a boat so we put it to good use (tubing and water skiing).  Pregnant people like me stuck to riding in the boat and swimming in the lake haha.  We would spend hours on the lake trying to master tricks on the water skis (I was the coach, they were the performers)

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We honestly couldn’t of found a better location in Sweden to stay if we tried.  Our Swedish family packed everyday with a new adventure for us.  They wanted to show us all of Sweden in the 2 weeks we were there.

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The first adventure we went on was to the Läckö Castle.  They gave tours in English which was nice, and then they let us explore freely.  The property is absolutely stunning.  Inside the castle they had beautiful murals on the ceilings, and they really kept the castle in amazing shape. My favorite part of this castle was the castle gardens.  So many flowers, so beautifully landscaped.  (When I visited they wouldn’t let us take pictures inside the castle, so I only have pictures from the outside.)  I would highly recommend this castle to any visitor of Sweden.  There is something to do for all age groups and they even hold special events. Click here for their official website.

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Our next adventure was Trollhättan.  We came here to visit Anton’s uncle (he wanted to make us real Swedish meatballs – can’t say “no” there).  But before it was time to eat dinner we took a journey to visit the Trollhättan Lock and waterfalls.  This was such a beautiful place to visit.

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The waterfalls were lined by beautiful, blooming flowers.  The lock system had such a neat design.  I have never seen a lock in person before, so learning how it worked was so interesting to me.

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After we were done exploring it was time to head back for some REAL Swedish meatballs. Oh my goodness, when I tell you they were amazing, it is an understatement.  Actually, thinking about them right now is making me very hungry.  I need to take a trip back to Sweden soon.  The ones you get in America (at Ikea), don’t come close to having them made for you by a family in Sweden. You might be saying “obviously”, but I just needed to make that clear.

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After dinner it was time for some action, and by action I mean Go-Karts.  The Go-Kart track here was HUGE. ((Forgive me I don’t remember the exact name of this place but I will try to find out and then update you guys)).


Our next adventure was taking a ferry to Marstrand, Sweden.  In Marstrand we visited a couple of cute shops and restaurants.  There’s so much exploring that can be done in this little city, unfortunately the weather wasn’t very cooperative.  I couldn’t get many pictures because the rain was horrible but we eventually made our way up to the Carlsten Fortress.  This Fortress was HUGE and so beautiful.  I definitely recommend a trip to the Fortress on a trip to Sweden.  If you don’t go to the Fortress at least visit Marstrand.  When we went they didn’t have an English speaking tour-guide available, so we took advantage that we had some bilingual Swedes with us. You can visit the official Carlsten website by clicking here.

(From left to right – Anton, Ela, Jimmy, Arvid (in front), Gustaf, Doreen, Alicia)


Our next adventure was the city of Gothenburg.  The main part of this city was absolutely beautiful.  It was surrounded by water and parks.  We took a tour on a boat (Paddan Tours) which brought us around the city of Gothenburg.  I would do the boat tour again in a heartbeat, it was very informative and a lot of fun for all ages. Trip Advisor link for the exact tour we did.

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Last but not least, my absolute favorite destination we visited – Smögen, Sweden.   This little town very visually appealing.  All the houses on the dock were bright colors, the water was crystal clear.  If you like to take pictures, this is the place for you.  A photographer can spend all day immersed in the town of Smögen, snapping away.  Also, Smögen has some amazing seafood restaurants.  If you walk all the way to the end of the dock you will be in seafood heaven.

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(Look at my nails, I painted them the same as the flag of Sweden)

As you can see there’s so much to do in Sweden, we didn’t even have the chance to get to Stockholm – don’t worry, I’ll be going back and I’ll be sure to visit Stockholm.  When I do go back you guys will be the first to hear all about it.

What are you waiting for? Book your trip today!! 

Leave any questions you have about my visit in the comments below and I will answer them 🙂