For this visit to the Swedish capital in winter, for once I went on a city trip with some girlfriends. If you’re not too afraid of the cold and love snowy landscapes, it’s a great idea to explore the Swedish capital in winter.
Swedes are completely accustomed to these harsh winters, so everything is adapted to get around even in the snow. All you need is the right equipment to make the most of it.
- Why come to Stockholm in winter?
- What to see and do in Stockholm in winter
- Where to sleep in Stockholm?
- Our good addresses on our map
Why come to Stockholm in winter?
- The first advantage, and not the least, is that airfares are fairly affordable. I left in January with the low-cost airline Ryannair, and found a flight for around 50 euros.
- Thewinter atmosphere, with cold or snow (if you’re lucky) and winter activities, will add a truly exotic touch to your stay.
- Swedes are obviously used to very harsh winters. As a result, we offer a wide range of outdoor activities. Get ready to put on ice skates, cruise the Stockholm archipelago or warm up in a traditional sauna.
- When it comes to indoor activities, you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to museums. You’re bound to find what you’re looking for, with themed museums, children’s museums and parks. The Swedes know how to showcase their heritage and make museums attractive, with interactive spaces that are often child-friendly. It’s one of our favorite cities for its museums, where you can learn while having fun.
Stockholm in winter temperature
The Swedish capital, located in south-central Sweden, experiences long winters. Temperatures and light levels drop drastically in early November.
Temperatures can reach -20 degrees in December, January and February, with an annual average of 0°C during the winter months.
Having lived through it, it’s impressive that when the pilot announced a temperature of -15 degrees, we almost wanted to stay on the plane to return to France. Finally, with the right clothing, it’s perfectly possible to enjoy the city to the full (even though I’m a great chiller).
It’s also worth noting that the Swedes are completely accustomed to these harsh winters, and everything is adapted to get around even in the snow.
A word of warning: be prepared to get up early to make the most of the short days, as the sun sets between 3 and 4 pm. We also advise you to plan your visits carefully, as everything closes very early at this time of year.
What to wear in Stockholm in winter
In our opinion, it’s not really bad weather, just bad clothing. So if you choose to visit Scandinavia in winter, don’t skimp on your equipment to make the most of it.
In December, January and February, we advise you to opt for the famous onion technique, which consists of layering several garments.
Here’s a list of clothes you can pack in your suitcase: a warm under-sweater (heattech or wool), a warm sweater, a fleece, tights, ski pants, booties or waterproof hiking boots, not forgetting gloves, hats and scarves.
What to see and do in Stockholm in winter
In a previous article, we detailed our 10 must-do things to do in Stockholm in 3 days in summer.
We’ve listed below the best things to do in Stockholm in winter.
Stockholm skating rink
Ice skating is one of Sweden’s favorite winter activities, especially for Swedish families. The good news is that you can enjoy this activity on one of the downtown skating rinks or on the natural ice of a frozen lake.
- Ice rink: a large ice rink is set up every winter in the city center, in the Kungstradgarden park in the Norrmalm district (December to February). The rink is free, but skate hire costs around SEK 70 per adult and SEK 30 for children for 1 hour.
Even if you don’t skate (like me), I’d still recommend a visit to soak up the fairytale atmosphere and warm up with a hot chocolate and/or a cinnamon roll (you need what it takes to withstand the Swedish cold).
We loved watching the kids, who can barely walk on ice skates, doing so much better than us!
- Natural ice: Lake Trekanten in southwest Stockholm, the closest to the city center, freezes over from late January to late February. When the ice is thick enough, the lake is cleared of snow, forming a skating rink.
However, you’ll need skates, as you can’t rent them on site. You can still take a stroll around the lake to watch the locals in action.
Stockholm Archipelago in winter
A visit to the Stockholm archipelago is a must when visiting the Swedish capital. Good news: even if some routes are frozen, others remain open all winter long!
To save time, you can opt for an organized cruise lasting 1h15, which will give you lovely views of Stockholm and take you deep into its archipelago. You can stay on the outside deck, where blankets are provided to keep you warm, or stay inside in the warmth of your cabin.
Your guide will tell you all about the Swedish capital and its beautiful archipelago. Activity possible from mid-December to the end of March.
Stockholm Christmas Market
We haven’t yet had the chance to be in Stockholm during the Christmas market period, which runs from late November to mid-December. We spoke with friends who live there, and from the looks of it, the Christmas markets are magical and the wooden huts are generously decorated with snow (if you’re lucky), so the atmosphere is incredible.
If you visit the Swedish capital during this period, here are the two main markets not to be missed.
- The Christmas market in Stockhholm’s historic center (Gamla Stan) takes place on the pretty, colorful Stortorget square, where the Nobel Museum is located. Some forty exhibitors offer wooden objects, sweets (the Swedes love them), ceramics, jewelry and food stalls.
- Skansen Christmas Market (Djaurgarden Island or Stockholm’s Museum Island), located in the heart of the Skansen open-air museum. We’ve already mentioned it in our article on the Skansen museum, which is a small concentrate of Swedish culture, with many events on offer during the festive season. The site is beautifully decorated, with fir trees on every street corner and old-fashioned Christmas tables set up in the homes.
Sauna in Stockholm
The sauna(bastu in Swedish) is a year-round activity in Sweden. A small room (often a wooden hut) is heated to between 70 and 100 degrees with very low humidity (around 20%).
After a fifteen-minute session in this “oven”, the Swedes jump into a lake or water that is often very cool. For my part, I only did the hot part.
We’ve noticed two little Swedish idiosyncrasies. They have a very relaxed relationship with nudity compared to us. We prefer to warn you, as most Swedes walk around naked in the changing rooms, and only wear a towel when sitting in the sauna. Swedish saunas are usually performed without a bathing suit.
My second point concerns the atmosphere in Swedish saunas, which is very different from the zen-like, quiet atmosphere in French saunas. After talking to the locals, we realized that this is as much a place to relax as to socialize.
During our first sauna, a family was listening to music on a Bluetooth speaker. The Swedes are naturally quiet and unassuming, and make the most of this moment of conviviality. The other thing that disturbed me (Floriane) was the atmosphere and rustic feel of some Swedish saunas. Nothing to do with the subdued, cocooning ambience of our own homes.
If you’re looking for a traditional sauna in beautiful surroundings, we recommend theHellasgarden nature park, south-east of Stockholm, recommended by a friend (of my sister’s) who lives in Stockholm. You can reserve your day and time slot here. from 110 SEK per person for two hours, remember to bring your own towel (or rent one at reception).
The sauna is located in the heart of nature, next to a lake and easily accessible by public transport, only 20 minutes away by bus (bus 401 leaves Slussen every 15 minutes), so we can only recommend that you go for it! A final word of advice: get there early on weekends, as it can get crowded.
There are many beautiful, well-marked hiking trails around the lake, a great idea for a day out around Stockholm.
Museums in Stockholm
In Stockholm, you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to museums. We’ve put together a list of our favorite museums in Stockholm. You’re bound to find what you’re looking for, with themed museums, children’s museums and parks. It’s the perfect way to keep warm in winter!
This is one of the things that struck us during our various visits to Stockholm: the Swedes really know how to showcase their heritage and make museums attractive, with interactive, welcoming spaces that are often child-friendly. The Vasa shipwreck museum is a must-see in our opinion. In short, places where you can learn by manipulating and having fun.
In winter, we really recommend the Go City Pass Stockholm, which gives you free access to many museums.
Take a Fika and try the gastronomy
We recommend you try two dishes to warm you up: the meatballs (address below) and the Fika break (= coffee and gourmet break with friends) often accompanied by its Kanelbullar (a brioche rolled in cinnamon), the emblematic pastry of Sweden!
We recommend a stop at theÖstermalm covered food market to try it all out.
To learn more about Swedish gastronomy, you can book a guided tour of Stockholm that includes a tasting of Swedish specialties.
Aurora borealis in Stockholm
Even if the chances of seeing the Northern Lights in Stockholm are low, we still recommend downloading the My Aurora Forecast application, which gives you forecasts of the appearance of the Northern Lights in different locations.
The best time to see the aurora is from late September to spring. If you’d like to find out more about this phenomenon, which we find incredible, we recommend (as is often the case) Jamy ‘s videos from the famous TV show C’est pas Sorcier.
For our part, we haven’t yet had the chance to see any. It’s one of our dreams, and an excellent reason to come back to Scandinavia.
Where to sleep in Stockholm?
To get the most out of your stay, we recommend the Norrmalm and Östermalm districts. These districts are located right in the center of Stockholm, so you can easily reach the main points of interest without spending too much time outside, in case of very cold weather.
For smaller budgets, the Södermalm district may be a good alternative.
– Coup de coeur ♥ : Hotel Birger Jarl, quartier Noormalm (le meilleur quartir pour dormir selon nous) : la situation géographique de l’hôtel est parfaite pour visiter le centre de Stockholm. Dans un beau bâtiment entièrement rénové, notre logement était spacieux avec un mini frigo et avec une décoration soignée, un excellent rapport qualité prix où vous vous sentirez comme chez vous. Nous y retournerons sans hésitation.
– Bon marché € : City Backpackers Hostel, c’est une auberge de jeunesse joliment décorée certainement le meilleur rapport qualité / prix de Stockholm, 75€ en chambre double dans le quartier branché de Sodermalm (l’un de nos préférés). J’y avais dormi lors de mon premier séjour à Stockholm (Floriane).
Our good addresses on our map
We’ve listed all the places and addresses mentioned above on a map to help you find your way around.
We wish you an excellent trip! Don’t hesitate to leave us a quick note or 5 stars below, to tell us if you’re planning this trip, to ask any questions you may have, here or on Instagram, we’ll get back to you with great pleasure.