Wildlife excursions in Sweden with kids

Wildlife excursions in Sweden with kids

Planning The Perfect Wildlife Excursion With The Kids

With about 300,000 to 400,000 moose and 150,000 beavers roaming around Sweden, the country is the perfect place for kids who love wildlife. Through a moose safari in Skinnskatteberg or beaver expedition through their ecosystem, your children can get up close and personal with these animals and enjoy the vacation of a lifetime. However, planning for a trip with kids can be hectic. So, here are some tips to help you prepare for the safari adventure of a lifetime. 

Where To Stay During Your Trip

Since many of the beaver and moose expeditions end pretty late, you will want to stay somewhere close so that your children can simply doze off to bed and prepare for the next day. For older children who love camping, you may want to make an entire adventure of the trip and stay in the nearby Kolarbyn Ecolodge. This accommodation is located in the forest of Skinnskattesburg, and is known as Sweden’s most primitive hotel. You can camp out in the great outdoors, experiencing life without running water or electricity, and participating in some nature watching right outside your door. For younger children, you can also elect to stay at Udden Guesthouse or the Brukshotellet Skinnskatteberg, both of which provide more modern facilities and are close to the wildlife safaris. 

Prepare Before You Arrive, But Don’t Over-plan

You should do as much research as you can before you arrive so that you have a rough itinerary. You will also want to get input from your children during the planning process to see what they want to do while they’re on vacation. Get a feel for what kinds of animals they're interested in, why wildlife is fun for them, and what else they want to learn on the trip. However, with children, you also need to add room for flexibility within your schedule. Keep a simple itinerary, and know that spontaneity can be half the fun. Pad your schedule with some downtime, and remember to add 15 minutes of relaxation for every hour of activity.

Packing For Your Adventure

As with any safari, you will need to remember to pack for the weather. Summers in Sweden are not very long, so even during the summer, you will want to bring warmer clothing. Pack layers, including a thin jacket and a warm hat for the night, as well as waterproof clothing in case of rain. For the winters, you will want to prepare for the snow, as the floors are generally covered from November until May. Therefore, pack all of the warm necessities – a jacket, hat, insulated trousers, mittens, and winter boots. Since children also tend to explore during the trips, you will also want to bring a change of clothing for the days that you will be out in the wilderness. This will keep them warm when they get wet, and clean when they splash in mud. You may also want to pack some snacks for your trips in case your kids get hungry, and a camera to capture all the amazing family memories.

 


If your child is a fan of wildlife then a trip to Sweden is perfect for you. You can all dive right into nature as a family, and enjoy all that the great outdoors has to offer.

Recommended reads, books & apps for nature trips in Sweden

Planning a trip into Sweden’s nature? Have a look at these books, articles and apps.

 

Great book which covers pretty much all wild animals that you may come across in Sweden.

We use this to educate our guides as it features all of the wild animals that we are searching with basic facts as well as each species tracks and signs.

The most popular birding book in Europe with great illustrations and facts.

This is a great app for birding. You can choose country to narrow down the list of possible birds.

Available for iPhone and Android

 

How to take photos of the Northern Lights

This is the ultimate 7 step settings guide to Northern Lights photography.

Following these steps, most modern cameras will produce beautiful digital photos for on-screen purposes.

You can use any camera with an option for Manual settings, preferably with a wide angle lens. Are you ready? Let’s begin…

 
 

Step 1: Set to Manual

  • Set your camera to Manual and also set your lens to Manual.

  • Turn off Image Stabilization (typically the button next to manual on your lens).

  • Turn your Flash setting to off.

Why must I use the Manual settings? Automatic setting is useless in the dark, it will continuously zoom in and out in a failed attempt to find focus in the dark.

Step 2: ISO setting

  • ISO 1600 is a good start

What does the ISO setting do? This is what controls the light sensitivity. The higher the ISO, the less light you need to capture the northern lights. But beware; with higher ISO comes lower quality.

Step 3: Aperture = f-stop

  • f-2.8 or the lowest f-number you can get

What does the aperture do? The aperture, or f-stop (f-2.8, f-4, f-5,6 etc) on your camera tells you how widely your lens is open = the size of the opening letting light through the lens. This you can adjust by setting the f-stop. Confusingly, the lower the f-number, the bigger the opening. For Northern Lights photography we want the biggest opening (the lowest f-number) possible on our camera. Because the more light your lens can take in the lower shutter speed you can use, the quicker you can capture your shot, the more detail you can get in your Northern Lights image (because the lights are constantly moving).

Step 4: Shutter speed

  • 20 sec. is a good start

What does the shutter speed do? Shutter speed = exposure time = the time your lens is open and absorbing light. You will need to adjust the shutter speed as the strength of the Northern Lights changes through an evening. For example: Soft lights = 15-30 sec. shutter speed. Strong lights = 1-6 sec. shutter speed.

Step 5: Use a Tripod

  • Mount your camera on a tripod

Why do I need a tripod? Holding your breath and keeping very very still is not gonna cut it. You may be taking your photo for 30 seconds. When you move your photo will be blurry. So use a tripod.

Step 6: Zoom & Focus

  • Zoom out (lowest mm setting on your lens)

Here are some focus-finding options:

  • Set to the infinity symbol, if you have one: ∞

  • Pre-set your focus during the day

  • Zoom in on a star or the Moon, set the focus and zoom back out

“But my camera has auto-focus.” Not in the dark. Get to know your manual focus options. And always zoom out completely, the Northern Lights occupy a large space in the sky, and we want to capture as much of it as we can.

Step 7: Remotely release the shutter

  • Use a remote control, or a 2 sec. self-timer, or a phone app.

Why can’t I just push the shutter button? If you push the shutter-release button you will shake your camera, causing a possible blur in your photo. Remote control is best. 2 sec. self-timer is also good. Some cameras can use apps.

Finally, Time to get out

  1. Try out all these settings before going out in the dark. Get to know your camera. Once you are out, set everything up and do some test shots. Adjust the settings as needed. If your image is too bright, lower your shutter speed or ISO. If your image is too dark, up your shutter speed or ISO. It’s as simple as that!

  2. Bring a head lamp, it will come handy when adjusting your camera settings, but also very useful for lighting up some object in the foreground. For example it could be nice to light up a person or something else in the image.

  3. Avoid condensation. When you are done photographing, place your camera in an airtight bag before taking it inside. Otherwise you risk condensation in the camera. Let the camera warm up inside the bag before taking in out in room temperature.

  4. Want a picture of yourself under the Aurora? It’s actually quite easy! You will need a friend and a flashlight. Use all the same settings as above and then the aim is to freeze the subject.
    You stay as still as humanly possible during the whole exposure time.
    At anytime during the exposure time your friend flashes you with a quick light.

  5. Replacement batteries? Normally not needed for a 3-4 hours night out Northern Lights outing. But, if your camera is highly technical or if you will be using an app, you may be needing 1-2 extra batteries.


Stockholm travel ideas & recommendations

Planning a visit to Stockholm as part of your holiday in Sweden? These are our personal travel ideas and recommendations.

Above photo: Ola Ericson/imagebank.sweden.se

 

Where to stay in Stockholm

our picks for cool and inspiring hotels in Stockholm

  • Downtown Camper - a hip hotel with outdoorsy vibes. Hiking distance from Central station. Locally made kayaks, longboards and bikes are available to borrow from the lobby to experience the city, while a campfire, hammock and sleek cabins offer an escape from the city buzz.

  • HoBo - a hotel with Scandi-cool rooms and an urban community spirit in central Stockholm.

  • Haymarket by Scandic - very Nordic contemporary style, Haymarket travels back in time to the Twenties with background jazz music and a festive atmosphere.

  • Freys Hotel - an urban contemporary hotel with walking distance from Central station.

  • Ett hem - an elegant urban mansion built in 1910 for a government official and his wife, opened in 2012 as a small, stylish 12-room hotel.

  • At Six - centrally located art and design hotel where every detail is just right

  • NoFo - excellently-located boutique hotel and wine bar at Södermalm

Budget places to stay

Hostels in are generally cheaper than hotels in Stockholm. In addition you also get access to a common kitchen to prepare your own meals. Hostels are also great for meeting other travelers. Nowadays most hostels offer private rooms in addition to shared ones. Some of our favourite hostels in Stockholm are:

  • Af Chapman - historic sailing ship converted into a rather unique hostel, located at Skeppsholmen a great view over the Royal palace.

  • Zinkensdamm - a hostel & hotel located in the midst of idyllic plantation plots in Tantolunden at Södermalm.

  • Skanstull hostel - cool place with bunk beds as well as ensuite double rooms, at Södermalm.

  • Generator Hostel - creative design, art, good food and music, close to Stockholm Central station.


Where to eat & drink in Stockholm

restaurants in Stockholm, our picks

  • Classical restaurants for typical Swedish cuisine like meat balls with mashed potatoes and lingonberry jam: Pelikan | Kvarnen | Tabberaset | Slingerbulten

  • The good thing about food courts is that if you are traveling with a group of people you can order from a variety of restaurants and still eat together at one of the common tables. A few of the best food courts are: K25 | Ringen Teatern Skanstull | Kalf & Hansen | Kagges

  • If you are a wannabe viking, make sure to eat at Aifur in Gamla stan. The Iron age menu is flavored with herbs and spices that the Vikings loaded from their ships after returning from distant lands. Proper viking atmosphere with live music in the evenings.

  • …and some Stockholm-style beer places: Katarina Ölcafé | Nya Carnegiebryggeriet | Folk & Friends

  • Vegetarian? Pretty much all restaurants in Stockholm has vegetarian options. Some green favorites are: STHLM Raw | Hermans | The plant | Fotografiska

budget eats

  • Most restaurants have lunch specials between 11-14 that are generally much cheaper than their a’la carte dinner menus.

  • Take away pizzas are cheap and they’re huge! You can easily share a normal size pizza with a friend out in the park.

  • Most supermarkets have take away food that you can eat in a park.


what to see and do in Stockholm, 3 insider tips

1) Södermalm - laid back + hipster cool

Stockholm’s southern island Södermalm, known locally as Söder, is the city's creative engine room, with no shortage of fashion boutiques, vintage stores, art galleries, bars, espresso hang-outs and music venues.

Insider tip: For a day at Södermalm, take the subway to Medborgarplatsen and walk to Nytorget. This is hipster heaven with lots of art galleries and cafés. Stop by at Gildas Rum for a coffee, wifi or lunch. Then walk around to find the unexpected.

2) Gamla stan - the old town

No-one wants to be a tourist, but as a first time visitor in Stockholm you will most likely want to see the narrow alleyways and cobbled streets of the old town. But beware… don’t be a walking credit card, avoid the souvenir shops and the tourist restaurants where prices are high and quality low.

Insider tip: Don’t follow the tourist trail. Instead, have a coffee and cinnamon bun under the large chestnut tree at Under kastanjen or a Swedish lunch at Kagges.

3) Djurgården - a walk in a park

Djurgården is a lush island in central Stockholm. It used to be a game park for the royal family, but nowadays you will find theme parks, museums, art galleries and natural beauty. This is also where you will find popular museums like The Wasa museum, Skansen, Junibacken and Vikingaliv and well as Gröna Lund, the classical theme park.

Insider tip: Take the tram to the Wasa museum-stop and from there walk towards Rosendals garden. Once there, relax under an apple tree and recharge with a Swedish fika or a bilberry smoothie at the bakery in the greenhouse café. See if there is any live concert at Gröna Lund in the evening.


Museums in Stockholm

our guests love these museums

  • The Wasa museum - a must see museum with an impressive ship that sank

  • ABBA The Museum - some pop group you may have heard of

  • Skansen - the world’s oldest open-air museum, showcasing the whole of Sweden with houses and farmsteads from every part of the country. Skansen also has a zoo with moose and other animals… but you know we prefer to see animals in the wild. Check out our wildlife tours.

  • Free entry: The natural history museum - nature exhibitions with dinosaurs, cave bears and nature films, this is Marcus favorite.

  • Free entry: Nationalmuseum - Sweden's premier museum of art and design.

  • Junibacken - a world of fairy tales and stories. Take your kids to meet Pippi Longstocking

  • Bergrummet - huge collection of toys and comics, for all ages

  • Fotografiska - one of the World’s largest meeting places for contemporary photography

  • Vikingaliv - an interactive viking exhibition where you can follow along on a journey through the Viking age.


Stockholm’s nature - day trips

1) Stockholm archipelago

Stockholm archipelago - Even if you are in Stockholm just for a few days, it is definitively worth taking a day trip into the archipelago. The Stockholm archipelago is made up of tens of thousands of idyllic islands. They are definitely worth exploring if you have the time, especially during Summer, when there is endless potential for hiking, barbecuing, swimming and overnight stays. Some nice islands with pristine nature that are still easily accessible to visit are Finnhamn, Svartsö, Utö and Grinda, just to name a few. Fjäderholmarna is another gem… it is one of the closest islands, just 30 minutes by boat from Nybrokajen in central Stockholm.

2) Tyresta National Park

Tyresta National Park, a magical forest just 40 minutes out of Stockholm by subway and bus. Start at the nature exhibition Naturum for local advice and organic coffee. Pick a trail through the old growth forest, forage for berries, swim in one of the lakes, meditate on a rock or have a picnic in the moss.

3) Hellasgården

Hellasgården in Nackareservatet, a nature reserve just 20 minutes out of Stockholm. Hellasgården is a good eatery and starting point for a day trip in Nackareservatet, a natural area with lots of walking paths, gravel roads and inviting benches. Perfect for a Sunday walk-and-talk with friends or family. You can also go for a swim.

4) Nyckelviken’s garden

Nyckelvikens trädgård in Nacka is a day out in the countryside among flower beds and spices. Pet the goats, visit the chicken coop, have a lunch at the impressive manor house. Walk along the water for views across the archipelago. Bring your swimming suit if you feel like a wild swim.

Bonus tip: Trosa

Trosa is a small charming town south of Stockholm with extremely Swedish vibes. Cute wooden houses, lots of boutiques and cafés. Stroll around in the harbor and along the canal until you deserve an ice cream. The longer the walk, the bigger the cone.