Don’t worry – you are definitely going to find some epic things to do in Stockholm in winter! Especially as I’m here to help you!
The capital city of Sweden isn’t a place that shouts loudly about itself – that just wouldn’t fit with its relaxed, mellow vibe. But if you’re visiting Stockholm for a winter trip, I can guarantee that you’re going to have an awesome time. You’re not going to be buried in snow up to your neck, and the city’s attractions don’t close up during a Stockholm winter. Book that trip, sister, because you’ll be giving yourself a ticket to one of Europe’s most underrated cities.
Instead of the frozen, dark, blank canvas you’re imagining, travel to Stockholm in winter is full of light, laughter, cosy pubs and delicious meatballs. What more could a person want? Nothing, I tell you!
Not convinced yet? Keep reading, ye of little faith – I’m about to prove to you why winter in Stockholm rocks, and why you’re going to adore both the city and the country. Just watch the video below (if you’ve never seen Eurovision, you’re about to experience the magic), and prepare to fall in love with everything Swedish! Including dancing meatballs.
How cold is winter in Stockholm?
Considering visiting some more of Europe in the snowy months? Check out my guide to Prague in winter!
Okay, here’s the crunch questions: just how cold is going to be? Am I going to be slipping through the snow? Will I be floating on a little ice glacier with a polar bear, gazing up at the Northern Lights?
Answer to that last one: no, silly. Though it is actually possible – if unlikely – to see the Northern Lights from Stockholm. There’s a distinct lack of polar bears, however.
As for the rest of it, yup, there’s no denying that it’ll probably be pretty cold. Temperatures between December and February average at about 27 to 30 degrees Fahrenheit – that’s a chilly minus 2 to minus 1 for those of us in Celsius land. It’s not a sure thing, though – I visited Stockholm in January, and it wasn’t nearly as cold as I was expecting (though the locals were keen to point out that it was a very mild week). Check in advance at Wunderground to see how the weather’s looking for your trip!
As for snow, your chances sit at a statistically-neat 50% of snow in December, rising to a bit over 50% in January and February. However, don’t worry too much about slipping and sliding on the ice. On my visit, I immediately noticed how pretty much every walking surface I placed my dainty ‘lil tootsies on was salted and gritted. There’s also very few uphills or downhills in Stockholm, so you should be pretty firm on your feet.
As the Swedes’ neighbours, the Norwegians, like to say, “there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes”. Keep reading to see what to wear in Stockholm in winter!
What are the best things to do in Stockholm in the winter?
Okay! I promised you awesome things to see in Stockholm – and here’s the definitive list! I’ve kept it mainly to things to do inside, in case you’re hit by the worst of the winter weather – but you shouldn’t be put off by the cold. Stockholm is a wonderful place for strolling, and taking in the views of the surrounding waters, and to skip doing that would really be to miss out.
Also, some of Stockholm’s most fun activities are located in the great outdoors, including Skansen and boat tours. Wrap up warm, and I promise you’ll be fine – both are considerably quieter in winter than in the summer months, and in the case of Skansen, you can turn the winter weather into an extra bit of fun! All will be revealed shortly…
Intrigued? Good! Read on, and discover why Stockholm is going to be your new favourite winter wonderland!
Walk around Gamla Stan
We old love an old town, right? Walking down cobbled streets, looking at lovely historic buildings. Exploring ancient shops and beerhalls. Rolling our eyes at tourists exclaiming “oh, isn’t it quaint?”
Good news, history lovers! Stockholm’s island-based old town, better known by its Swedish name of Gamla Stan, is the best-preserved medieval city centre in Europe. The area completely escaped any damage in World War 2, and careful preservation by the Stockholm City Council means that it’s an utterly lovely area to wander, explore, and discover. Big up Stockholm City Council!
If you’re not checking out the souvenir shops on Västerlånggatan (of which there are many), pop into cosy cellar bars such as Misteln, or get a hearty Swedish meal at Magnus Ladulas. There’s also a good number of interesting museums, such as the Nobelmuseet, recording every winner of the Nobel Prize
But the main attraction of Gamla Stan are the buildings and streets themselves. Wander random backstreets, including the adorably narrow Mårten Trotzig Grand, or head to the main square at Stortorget to see the row of picture-perfect painted buildings.
Add some winter snow and Christmas decorations, and it’s the most perfect place to be in the colder months!
Go ice skating at Kungsträdgården
Disclaimer: I didn’t go ice skating here, because I have a terrible history with ice skating. BRB, the flashbacks are starting.
But I’m going to tell you exactly how you can do it, because it’s just a lovely thing to do in Stockholm in winter. You can feel like an ice princess, gliding around like your favourite Disney character. Just don’t ask me to come and join you, unless you like seeing innocent travel bloggers breaking all their limbs in a display of premium uncoordinated glory!
Kungsträdgården is the place to go for ice skating in Stockholm, and it’s wonderfully central and easy to get to. It’s a park, not far from the bridge leading to Gamla Stan, and the ice rink is available for use from November to March. Pop along here from 9am to 9pm, and take your place to skate alongside eager locals!
You can rent ice skates if you foolishly neglected to pop a pair into your hand luggage (jk, don’t do that), and like everything else in Stockholm, you can pay for them using a credit or debit card. You can bring along your own skates if you so wish, and even have help sanding them down.
Oh, and did I mention the price? If you do indeed bring along your own pair of skates, the ice rink is completely and utterly free. Isn’t that wonderful? Oh goodness, my heart is bursting with Sweden love right now!
Feel like a king or queen at the Royal Palace
If you’ve been skipping around the scenic, frosty streets of Gamla Stan, you’ll undoubtedly have noticed the big ol’ building right at the tip of the island. It’s vast. New building; who dis?
Well, this is none other than the Royal Palace – yup, that’s why it’s so big; one of Europe’s biggest, in fact. With over 1.430 rooms, the Swedish royal family were not messing around when they commissioned this place, and so it’s well worth a visit! Entry will cost 160 SEK for adults, and resisting the temptation to take a photo with the guard outside.
It’s the official residence of the reigning monarch of Sweden – although they don’t actually live here (more on that later!). It’s a bit like Buckingham Palace in London – which the Queen infamously refers to as ‘the office’. The Swedish royal family need a city pad from which they can carry out official duties and functions, but you’re not going to see them strolling around, or lazing in a onesie.
Instead, you can see the awesome interiors of the palace, which dates back to the 1600s. Check out the suitably swish Royal Apartments, which are utterly gorgeous with rich and vibrant decor – there’s more gold on show than there is at Fort Knox. These rooms are worth the entry fee alone, especially as they’re just a teensy bit Instagrammable.
History more your thing? No problem: head to the Treasury, with its impressive collection of royal bling, or the Tre Kronor museum which illustrates the original castle on this site. The Royal Palace has something for everyone!
Take a tour of the literally-awesome City Hall
You might’ve noticed a rather beautiful building in Stockholm, especially if you’ve been near the waterfront in Gamla Stan. From there, it’s visible from its location just across the water – made from warm brick with a stately tower, the whole thing is quite literally crowned with the royal Swedish emblem of three golden crowns. Nice, isn’t it?
Well, so it should be, because this is Stockholm’s City Hall! It’s one of the most beloved buildings in the city, partly for its solid yet pleasing design, and partly for everything it represents.
Firstly, this is where you can come and get married! Altogether now: awwwww. Stockholm’s regulations are are open and welcoming as the city itself: you can have a pleasingly-fast ceremony here, to whichever gender you like, and you don’t even have to be a resident of Sweden. But there’s a six-month waiting list, so get in early.
Secondly, this is where the Nobel Prize is handed out! The world’s attention descends on to the beautiful Blue Hall for the presentation, then immediately shifts to the jaw-dropping, stunning interior of the Golden Hall for the afterparty. The hall is decorated with scenes from Swedish art, literature, and history, and is worth the visit alone. Oh, and it’s a mosaic, comprised of more than 18 million tiles… and each one of them is genuine gold. Attempts to enter with a crowbar will be frowned upon, y’all.
The only way to see the halls, plus the agreeably equal and down-to-earth council chamber, is to go on a tour. Happily, the price is included in your entry fee of 90 SEK from November to March (it’s cheaper in the winter; hurrah!). Bear in mind though that the tower is closed during the winter months.
Get festive at the Christmas Markets
Visiting Stockholm just before Christmas is a great idea – mostly because you get to go shopping in a Christmas market! Woop!
Everyone loves Christmas markets, and the Swedes are no exception – you can expect to find the traditional stalls, hot food stands, and gaily-lit streets that you’d find elsewhere. Except this is Sweden, so they do it with a touch of class and awesome design thrown in.
The most traditional Christmas market in Stockholm is to be found in good old Gamla Stan. Everyone’s favourite corner of the city throws Sweden’s oldest Christmas market (it dates back to 1837, with claims that it’s the most authentic-looking market – with the medieval buildings surrounding it, they’re probably right), and focuses on crafts. Find the centre of the market at the unbearably scenic Stortorget square.
After something a bit different? Then you want to take the commuter ferry from Slussen to Djurgården, then walk a short distance to Skansen. I’ll be covering this rather wonderful place later in this article, but at Christmas time, it really comes into its own. Running from November 30 to December 22, the open air museum transforms into a winter wonderland, with rows of stalls selling local crafts, and more Swedish produce than you can shake a smorgasbord at.
Check out Skansen’s Christmas market opening times, and keep reading to discover all the other things that make Skansen magical in the winter!
Feel in awe at the Vasa Museum
If you’re considering visiting the museums on this list, you really should get yourself a Stockholm Pass – you’ll save a whole bundle of money, and you can even get around on public transport with no hassle! Once you’re armed with it, your first stop really should be the hugely-impressive Vasa Museum.
I’m using the word “hugely” with absolute precision, too, because the Vasa is enoooooooormous! It’s a warship, which had the dubious distinction of being one of the most powefully-armed and ornately decorated ships in history… only to sink 1400 yards into her maiden voyage. With the king, ambassadors, and thousands of ordinary Stockholmers watching. Whoops.
The Vasa might’ve been an epic fail at the start, but it’s also proof that you can never keep a good ship down. The wreck was rediscovered in the 1950s, raised, preserved, and promptly slapped into its own bespoke museum, where its been wowing the crowds ever since. The gloriously ornate design, which was partly responsible for the ship being too top-heavy, now works to its advantage. Walking into the Vasa Museum and seeing a real-life warship from the 1600s is definitely a moment that’ll take your breath away.
Appropriately, for a museum which rightly sits at the top of Stockholm’s list of must-see sights, there’s a multitude of information and interactive exhibits to accompany the ship itself. The bottom floor recreates the faces and lives of the poor sailors who went down with the ship, whilst the “Sail A Ship” game combines physical and digital aspects for kids, and overgrown kids (me).
You don’t need to know anything about Swedish history to thoroughly enjoy a trip to the Vasa Museum. It’s a must-do!
Indulge in some fika at Stockholm’s cafes
If you’re a souvenir hunter like me, you’ll have noticed that a lot of Stockholm gift emporiums stock little trays, with the mysterious word “fika” emblazoned upon them. What the heck is that? Aren’t they the world governing body for soccer?
Nope, that’s FIFA – fika is something far more wholesome and wonderful!
Basically, fika is a Swedish concept of taking a cosy coffee break with your friends. Having a time out from the stresses of the world, and enjoying simple companionship, coffee, and a cake. It’s a little pause button, where you appreciate the simple things in life. Isn’t that wonderful?
Fortunately for us all, winter is the perfect time for fika! Imagine yourself walking through the snowy streets of Stockholm with a good friend. You’re laughing all the way, and find a cute little cafe to shelter in from the cold. It’s a little dark outside, but inside is lit with candles, and warm lights. You strip off your hats and mittens, and heat your hands around a cup of coffee. It’s too darn perfect.
Now, you can choose any cafe for a spot of fika. But if you want to go where the locals do, follow the advice of my awesome Swedish friend Ina (love ya, girl!), and check out Vete-Katten, not far from the central train station, It’s an institution. The cakes are mouthwatering; so light and perfect, and it downright specialises in fika.
Oh, and you were wondering about the name fika, it comes from the old slang term for coffee in Swedish, kaffi. Fika is a reversal of the word!
Get super artistic at the Moderna Museet
Modern art: you either love it, or you firmly believe that the whole lot should be dumped into the sea. But given that the Moderna Museet art gallery has free entry, this might just be the place to start your love affair!
It’s not just the fact that this place is a gigantic freebie that makes it appealing: the Moderna Museet is chock-full of quality pieces. Like your Matisse, Modigliani, or Klee? They’re just some of the luminaries on show here.
The gallery also gives special prominence to local Swedish artists, funnily enough, so you can explore the world of Scandi art. These include some stellar photography, some suitably outlandish modern sculptures (check the small park outside for more of the same, and a stuffed paint-spattered goat wedged into an old tire. Heck, no-one ever said that modern art made sense.
If that still really doesn’t sound your thing, the Moderna Museet is still worth checking out for the location. It’s on Skeppsholmen island, which is easily accessed by bridge, and which is a lovely location for a winter walk. Skip through frost-glittered trees and take in watery views of Gamla Stan, or head down to admire the STF af Chapman – it’s a tall ship which has been converted into a hostel. It’s also a former Pit Stop for The Amazing Race, where thousands of viewers hoped that Jonathan would “accidentally” slip into the sea.
Be relentlessly entertained at the ABBA Museum
Let’s be honest: who doesn’t love a bit of ABBA?
Whether you’ve sobbed your heart out looking at a tattered photo of your ex whilst listening to The Winner Takes It All, made future plans listening to Money Money Money, or put on your best blue eyeshadow and sung into a hairbrush to Dancing Queen, Sweden’s most enduring musical export continue to capture hearts worldwide.
Now, there’s an epicenter of all things ABBA, for you to visit and profess your love!The ABBA Museum might be one of Stockholm’s pricier attractions, but there’s no denying that excellent fun. You’ll have the option to “record your visit”, meaning that you can enjoy such delights as ABBA karaoke, or video yourself singing and dancing alongside Agnetha, Benny, Björn and Frida. Lurex disco outfits are optional.
If that sounds way too interactive for your tastes, you can avoid the social embarrassment by having a look around the exhibits instead. Almost every aspect of ABBA’s rather glittering career has been lovingly preserved, and you can have a poke around recreations of the studio they recorded in, or the summer house where a number of their hits were written (including an authentic seventies mug on the window ledge!)
If you like ABBA, but not quite enough to devote a couple of hours of your life to them, have a look around the gift shop instead. It does a great line in quirky ABBA gifts that you’ll love despite yourself.
If nothing else, you’ve got to visit to experience the awesome photo opportunities presented by the cut-out board outside the museum. Here’s my boyfriend demonstrating it. Thank me later.
Have awesome Swedish food at Meatballs For The People
Want to sample some traditional Swedish food without launching yourself down the herring route? That’s completely understandable – and the Swedes have got just the dish for you!
Swedish meatballs (or köttbullar, as they’re known by the locals), are small balls of magnificently meaty magic. Trust me, there is nothing better than visiting Stockholm in winter, getting out of the cold and into a warm, hearty restaurant, and stuffing yourself with a plate of these. They’re amazing.
They’re traditionally served with mashed potato, lingonberry jam (which is a bit like cranberry, but sweeter), and pickled cucumber, and a creamy gravy which is pure heaven. If there was a swimming pool full of that gravy, I would be in like a shot. It’s delicious, it’s smooth, and it elevates everything it touches. Considering that the meatballs are amazing on their own, imagine how they taste with this holy elixir on top!
The best place to get Swedish meatballs in Stockholm is Meatballs For The People, a small restaurant located in trendy Södermalm. You’ll need to get there early if you’re visiting on a weekend, as the restaurant doesn’t accept reservations on Saturdays and Sundays (it’s definitely a good idea if you’re in Stockholm during the week, though), and because the establishment isn’t on the large size.
But what a treat you’ll be in for! Pick from a menu of meatballs (including some slightly different varieties, such as reindeer or wild boar), and let it all melt in the mouth. You’ll never want to leave.
See Ye Olde Sweden (and cute animals) at Skansen
Skansen is a large park located on Stockholm’s “museum island” of Djurgården, and was the first open air museum in the world! But it’s more than a history museum – prepare to completely fall in love.
In October 1891, a gentleman named Artur Hazelius (what a cool name, right?) thought “hmm, it’s a shame that all the lovely 18th century wooden buildings throughout Sweden are being replaced by our burgeoning industrial nation. Let’s knock ’em all down, and reassemble them in a park in Stockholm. And let’s throw in some wolves, too”.
And thus Skansen was born! Buy a ticket from the very nice people in booths by the gate, and you can take a walk through Swedish history. It’s lovely to take a stroll through the old buildings, including a farmstead, various windmills, a beautiful church and a Sami camp. It was designed to be “Sweden in miniature”, so you’ll find something from every corner of the country – which is also reflected in the park’s rather awesome gift shop, featuring as many crafts as you can handle!
Know what else is in Sweden? Lots of awesome animals, that’s what! As part of the “Sweden in miniature” deal, there’s some critters representing their wild cousins. You can see wolves, some very adorable lynx, otters, wolverines, elk, reindeer, and more. There’s also some brown bears – but being winter, they’ll be tucked away snug in their den, happily hibernating. All the animals I saw seemed super happy, and they’ve got great enclosures which give them plenty of privacy whilst still letting visitors get a good view.
Remember when I mentioned how this place is one of the coolest places to go in Stockholm in winter? That’s because they light up fire pits in the winter – take or buy some hot dogs and buns, pop ’em on a skewer, and watch the nearby ice skaters whilst you eat!
Take in glorious architecture at the Stockholm Public Library
Architects just love to make a statement when they work on a public library design. Look at New York, for example.
Stockholm Public Library is no exception! Located at the top end of Norrmalm, the outside of the building doesn’t give you much of a clue as to what’s inside – it’s a fairly featureless, terracotta-colored, rectangular building with a tall rotunda sticking oddly out of the top.
If you step inside and head up to the rotunda, however, you’ll see what all the fuss is about!
The inside of the rotunda is a beautiful, wonderful space which looks like it’s straight out of Harry Potter. Curved shelves encase the round walls, stacking shelf upon shelf, until it looks like the entire structure is made of books. If you’ve seen the tunnel of books at the library in Prague, then it looks strangely similar to that! It’s a good place to go and warm up for a bit, perfect for Stockholm in winter – and if you sign up for a free library card, you can use the library’s facilities too!
The library is a lovely, underrated place to go and see, and it’s nice to get off the tourist trail for a bit!
Tour Stockholm – on land or sea
What’s the best way to see a city?
You’ve got two choices, really. You can wander about by yourself and enjoy your freedom, take some rather lovely photos – but you won’t understand what you’re looking at. That building over there could have an absolutely fascinating history, but you’ll be blissfully unaware, and walk right by it. That could be the building where they invented the adjustable wrench! You can’t miss that!
Or, you can be a savvy traveler, and take a tour! You get to see the best spots and views, learn about what you’re seeing, and enjoy interacting with a local for a while. You can explore the neighborhood you’re staying in, or discover local foods. There’s zero drawbacks, to be honest.
Stockholm has you absolutely covered when it comes to tours, bro. Not content with your standard landlubber walking tour, you can take a boat tour of the city too!
Walking tours in Stockholm tend to focus around Gamla Stan, but you can also find walking tours which cover ghost walks, Nordic food tours, and even Instagrammable spots. Yup, Stockholm is basically walking tour heaven – and even better, you’re getting around on your own two feet and being carbon neutral! (Greta Thunberg will approve)
Boat tours are one of the very best things to do in Stockholm in winter. Not only are they specifically geared to the season – you commonly wrap up under reindeer hides, and drink mulled wine – but you get to see Stockholm’s archipelago at its very finest, with the winter sun glinting off glassy water, as a light mist filters the sunlight. It’s all kinds of magical!
I always recommend Get Your Guide for city tours – I’ve used them many a time, and they only host quality tours. It’s a total satisfaction guarantee! Check them out!
Brush up on Swedish history and culture at the Nordic Museum
Has Skansen got you in the mood for some more Swedish history? No worries; you can explore all your deepest Scandi desires at the Nordic Museum!
It’s actually located not far from Skansen – an easy ten minute down the road will bring you to the rather grand-looking building of the museum. And who do we have to thank for its existence? None other than Mr. Skansen himself, Artur Hazelius! He clearly enjoyed setting up museums on some prime Stockholm real estate, but whereas Skansen is devoted to preserving old buildings (and cute floofs), the Nordic Museum busies itself with the protection of objects from everyday life.
You can see collections of furniture, toys, and clothes from every corner of Sweden. Whilst the ideal visitor is probably a Swedish granny who can exclaim “we used to have one of those, didn’t we Anders?”, there’s plenty of interest for non-Swedes. Design fans in particular will get a kick out of the clothing, but there’s plenty of folk art in evidence, with a special emphasis on the culture of the Sami people.
Magpies can flock to the jewelry collection, which has some especially lovely pieces, and there’s a whole section devoted to Swedish traditions. You can even learn how the Swedes celebrated Christmas in days gone by!
I’m always in favor of learning as much as possible about the culture of a place you visit, and the Nordic Museum is a lovely, cozy place to do just that.
Take a day trip to Drottningholm Palace
Want a nice, easy day trip to a world heritage site? How about if that world heritage site is a fancy palace, and one of the very best things to do in Stockholm in winter? Sounds good, right?
Drottningholm Palace is a mere 30-minute journey from central Stockholm – take the Line 17 t-bana (metro) to Brommaplan, then hop on a number 176 bus. After a short walk, you’ll be rewarded with a visit to this gorgeous, stately palace, the private residence of the Swedish royal family. One glance at this baby, and you’ll wonder why on earth people flock to Buckingham Palace in London. This is waaaay better!
Whilst the royal family could’ve kept the entire place to themselves, someone with a bit of business acumen said “lol nope”, and so the family are confined to the southern wing. The rest of it is open to us tourists! The palace is suitably regal, and you’ll soon have your jaw hitting the floor at how beautiful it is.
Check out the Reception Halls for the ultimate in grandeur – the Green Salon has more gold and fancy fabric than I’ve ever seen in my life – whilst the Chinese Pavilion is a little slice of Asia in an unexpected setting. This was built in secret, as a birthday present for one of the Swedish queens. When you see how big it is, you’ll wonder how on earth it came as a surprise.
Like Stockholm City Hall, you can go on a guided tour for a very reasonable price (unlike the City Hall, you can wander Drottningholm Palace at will, if you don’t fancy a tour). It’s definitely recommended, as you’ll certainly learn a lot more about this beautiful place!
The best places to stay in Stockholm
If you’re visiting Stockholm in winter, there’s a few considerations to, er, consider. You want to stay in a place that’s warm and cozy. You might want to be as close to public transport as possible, to minimize the amount of time you’re walking through the snow. And you’ll want to be near some great food options, so you can happily roll back to your bed after a meal.
Luckily, Stockholm’s hotels have got your back! Let’s check out some of the very best places to stay in Stockholm in winter, for all budgets!
City Hostel: Nothing less than the best-rated hostel in town, this is a great choice for the Stockholm explorer on a budget. Located nicely near the central train/bus station, it’s also got a convenient metro station just outside, meaning that you can totally skip having to experience walking through Stockholm in winter weather conditions! Aside from this sogginess-saver, it’s located in a good quiet neighborhood, with a fully-stocked supermarket nearby. It’s perfect for a budget-conscious trip!
Archipelago Hostel Old Town: Who doesn’t want to stay in Gamla Stan? It’s the most beautiful part of Stockholm – but surely it’s way out of the range of a budget traveler? Nope! Check into the Archipelago Hostel Old Town, and the scenic, snowy streets will be on your doorstep. With clean, homey dormitories and private rooms, a location near some budget eating options (there’s a 7 Eleven and a Coop nearby), and a metro station a mere 200 feet away, this has to be the best-positioned hostel in town.
Hotell Skeppsbron: This snug little hotel/hostel is a perfect choice for visiting Stockholm in winter: it’s in a great location in the heart of Gamla Stan, and it’s a stone’s throw from all of the city’s major sights and Christmas markets. Plus, the rooms are in converted cellars in a 17th century building, so it’s cozy af, with no noise from outside, and perfectly warm! Although you can have a hostel room with a shared bathroom, splash out for an ensuite – the feeling of burrowing in for the winter, and being close to the hotel’s free coffee and fika area, is totally worth it!
Mälardrottningen Yacht Hotel: Soooo… how do you fancy staying on a yacht? One that was owned by Cary Grant’s wife? If living the luxury life whilst not breaking the bank is totally your thing, then this is the place for you! You’ll waltz down the gangplank and into your cabin, beautifully decorated in dark wood and white linens. You can peek out of your porthole, look out on the water, and see one of the most scenic parts of Stockholm in winter without having to get chilled. There’s even a sauna on board. What more could you want?
Hotel Frantz, BW Premier Collection: Want a gorgeous boutique hotel, right in the heart of everything? This is the perfect place for you! Located in Södermalm, you’ll be near some of the city’s best bars, restaurants, and entertainments, with the historic heart of Gamla Stan right on your doorstep. The air conditioned rooms are just the right temperature for keeping snug, whilst the beds are gloriously comfy and pillowed. “Customer service” is definitely a staff watchword; have a look through the reviews, and you’ll see the lengths they’ll go to – all to ensure that you have a perfect stay!
Hotel Hellsten: Do you like your hotels to have a hint of history, a big streak of class, and that finishing touch of modern Scandi design? Then the Hotel Hellsten will tick all your boxes – all you’ll never believe how cozy Stockholm in winter can be until you stay here. Warm, luxurious rooms are gorgeously decorated, with fabric which accentuate the building’s history and exposed wooden beams (it dates from the 1800s). There’s an on-site wellness center, and you can take breakfast in a glass conservatory. Stay a night here, and you’ll soon realize why so many guests count this as one of their favorite hotels in Europe!
What should I wear in Stockholm in the winter?
One thing is certain when you visit Stockholm in winter: if you don’t want to freeze your butt off, you’re going to have to prepare.
If you speak to the locals, they’ll sadly tell you how much milder it’s been in recent years thanks to global warming, but the chances are that you’ll still feel the chill. Getting ready for your trip with a good Stockholm packing list is a crucial step, and one that you’ll soon regret if you skip it!
Here’s my picks for must-have items when visiting Stockholm – all available from Amazon, just to make it super-simple!
Sunglasses: I know what you’re thinking. This is a packing list for Stockholm in winter; what on earth are sunglasses doing on there? But it’s no mistake – you’re going to want to take a pair! Both my boyfriend and I discovered that the low winter sun really got in our eyes, and we were both wishing we’d brought a pair. Stave off the headaches with this gorgeous designer pair by Michael Kors – and they’re a fantastic price! The brown lenses are bang on trend, and the style suits absolutely everyone.
Scarf: Stockholm is not the kind of place where you want a chill breeze to wriggle down the top of your coat, like an unwelcome snowball. If you’re walking around the watery areas – and in Stockholm, that’s everywhere – you’re definitely going to need a scarf in order to keep that evil wind out. Grab one of these scarves, and you’ll feel like you’re being constantly hugged by a teddy bear, keeping all that nasty cold out. This is genuinely one of the warmest scarves out there; I swear by them!
Hat: As we all know, you lose the most heat from your extremities, and your head is the worst heat-leaker of all. Keep that sucker covered up, and you’ll feel a heck of a lot warmer for it. Plus you’ll look totes cute in all your Instagram pics, and you won’t have to worry about your hair getting messed up by the wind! I’m totally in love with these knitted caps from Tough Headwear – they keep the heat in perfectly, they come in a variety of colors and styles (even an oversize slouch look for hipsters), and they perfectly fit the Nordic vibe.
Mittens: They really have a thing about mittens in Stockholm. Go into any of the craft or souvenir shops, and you’ll see lots of gorgeous, gaily-colored mittens for sale. But until you can find the perfect pair for yourself, get ahead of the game by buying a pair before you leave! These cozy critters are absolutely perfect for Stockholm in winter: they’ve got the Nordic knitted look (and therefore match perfectly with the hat above), but they’ve got a snug, thermal inside layer which will keep your hands superbly toasty.
Warm coat: Want to know a true life hack? You get what you pay for. And whilst you can probably get something cheaper than this jacket from top outdoor brand The North Face, you will NOT find anything warmer. The puffer jacket style is exactly the same as what a lot of the locals wear, and they know how to dress for Stockholm in winter, trust me. The hood has some stylish faux fur to keep you looking super Scandi, whilst being cruelty-free. They come in a variety of colors – the blue frost one practically screams “I’m a winter travel pro”. They’re too darn awesome.
Thermal leggings: I first used thermal leggings when I visited Prague, and I’ve been a total convert ever since. You can easily wear them under a looser pair of jeans, or even a skirt, and they will keep you ridiculously warm. There’s just nowhere for that cold to pierce your skin, and if you team them up with a pair of socks and some boots, they’re a seriously cute look. Grab a couple of pairs of these yoga pants by 90 Degree; they double up perfectly as thermal leggings, and they’re designed to be as comfy and flexible as possible!
Thick socks: Thermal socks are another item that I first used in Prague – and I love them so muuuuuch. Marry me, socks! Find the right pair, and your toes will never need to feel the chill of a cold pavement in Stockholm in winter. You can keep those tootsies curled up in the warm, and totally avoid that awful “my feet have gone numb” feeling. These socks are sheer quality, made by Carhartt (which practically guarantees awesomeness), and they’re super-warm without being so bulky that you can’t get your boots on over the top. Recommended.
Thermal top: Want to know what’s worse than having freezing cold legs in Stockholm in winter? Having a freezing cold torso. That shizz gets right into your organs, and at the very least makes you feel very chilled inside (not the good kind of chilled, either). At worst, it can make you ill. Prevent all that nonsense by investing in a thermal top that you can use as underwear, essentially giving yourself a second skin. Carhartt are once again my go-to: this snugly top is good enough to wear on its own, or you can put it underneath a sweater to make yourself extra-protected.
Walking boots: Although the local authorities are pretty good at keeping Stockholm salted and gritted, they can’t cover everywhere in the city. A good pair of walking boots is an absolutely crucial part of your Stockholm packing list, as you’re going to need something with good grip, and something that’s pretty darn waterproof (Stockholm gets kinda wet, yo). Walking boots are by far your best bet, as that’s exactly what they’re designed for, and you can’t do better than this pair from Columbia. I FREAKIN’ LOVE THEM. Super comfy, designed to grip the ground and not let go, and coming in a range of tasteful designs, they won’t let you down.
Earmuffs: Can’t bear the thought of hats, but want to keep those ears safe and warm from the cruel Scandinavian winter? Invest in an ear warmer instead! This rather adorable little headband will keep you toasty thanks to a thermal lining, but won’t mess up your hair, and give you that uncomfortable scratchy feeling if you’ve got a sensitive scalp. I saw many a local wearing these to beat the cold, and they’re a great idea for visiting Stockholm in winter!
Umbrella: Time for some Stockholm truths (see what I did there? I crack me up). Sweden gets hella rainy and wet. See all that water? See all that lush Scandinavian greenery? That’s because the whole country gets a good average rainfall, and the chances are that there’s going to be a fair amount of rain in Stockholm in winter. Make sure you waterproof everything you can – especially boots and backpacks – but for walking around town you’re going to need a tough umbrella which can cope with both rain and wind. This awesome brolly by Repel is windproof, and Teflon-coated to ensure that you stay dry underneath. It’s the best in its class!
Woolly sweater: Nothing is more Scandinavian than a lovely wool sweater. Whilst you might be harboring thoughts of grabbing one when you get there, it’s quite possible that the price tag will have your eyes watering, and result in you fleeing to H&M. Do you really want to spend your trip in a shop you can visit at home? Nah. Grab a sweater before you leave, turn up looking suitably Scandi, and save time and effort! This natty little number comes in a variety of colors and styles, but trust me – get the white cable knit.
Plug adapter: Remember that the plug sockets in Sweden may be very different to the ones you have at home. Imagine the tragedy of plugging in your hair straighteners, except you can’t because the plug doesn’t fit. You’ll be stuck in Sweden with frizzy hair, and the laughter of the Nordic gods following you. Look upwards at the sky and shake a fist, because you can defeat Loki and his minions with a plug adapter! This model is a particular favorite of mine: it’s sturdy and reliable, and it’ll work wherever you may travel in the world. That’s what you call a long-term investment!
Power bank: I don’t go anywhere without one of these. Literally. Even when I’m not traveling, I keep one in my handbag for phone emergencies. You simply put your phone charger cable in, then plug your phone in at the other end, and you can refill that battery on the go. This is the exact one that I use: it might not have as much capacity as some other power banks, but to be honest – you don’t need massive capacity. You’ll get four full phone charges out of this little powerhouse. I’ve had mine for years now, and it literally hasn’t dropped an iota when it comes to performance.
Swedish literature: Unless you’re hopping over from a neighboring country, you might have a long, boring flight in order to get to Stockholm. Make it a bit more bearable with some fine Swedish literature! Although it’s practically illegal to set foot in the country without having read The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, you’ll certainly get a lot out of its descriptions of Stockholm in winter. The Girl Who Saved The King of Sweden is zany but entertaining, whilst Lonely Planet’s Sweden will have you swotting up on the sights.
Is Stockholm worth visiting in winter?
If this article has achieved anything, I hope that it’s made you see how magical Stockholm in winter really is. A trip to the Swedish capital will instead reward you with unexpected surprises. Warmth. Light. Happiness. Sure, the sun might go down early, but when the streets are this safe, and when you have areas like Gamla Stan sparkling with Christmas lights, does it really matter?
Sure, it gets cold, but it’s nothing you can’t handle with the right clothing. Don’t avoid a trip in winter; Stockholm rewards guests with the same friendliness it shows at other times of year. You’ll pop into a shop and be greeted with a cheery “hej hej!”. Cozy beer cellars operate underground, safely out of the cold, and locals greet you and bring you into the conversation.
Walking outside is a delight, with a wintery sun shining on the water, a low mist giving everything a delightful atmosphere. If you get chilly, there’s plenty of places to stop for fika – or maybe some warming meatballs!
Plus, there’s far less crowds in Stockholm during the winter months. One of my favorite memories of my trip is getting up early, and wandering alone around Gamla Stan. I had the whole place to myself, and it was magical.
Visiting Stockholm in winter is one of the best travel experiences you can have!
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AprilFebruary 22, 2020 at 12:30 am
What a fantastic post! I have yet to go to Sweden but it’s on my bucket list. I was shocked to read how not cold it is in winter in Stockholm. I was expecting frigid temperatures. The city looks so charming and colorful. Can’t wait to get there!
KatherineFebruary 22, 2020 at 12:33 am
Yes! I am all into the concept of Fika. Stockholm in winter looks absolutely gorgeous. There’s so much to see and do!
EricaFebruary 22, 2020 at 1:02 am
Great post! I’ve been to Sweden but haven’t had a chance to visit Stockholm yet. It is high on my list though, and I’m hoping to visit in November, so this post is perfect! Visiting in winter sounds perfect. I love exploring cities in the winter- it just adds to the experience. The Vava Museum looks amazing, and I can’t wait to visit it!
IuliyaFebruary 22, 2020 at 11:29 am
Wow what an extensive post! Stockholm is one of my favourite European cities and I love how you’ve covered so much here
Iuliya recently posted…Wara-Wara Korean Restaurant (와라와라) – BBQ Buffet @ Solaris Mont Kiara
HelenaFebruary 22, 2020 at 3:36 pm
I’m Swedish (not from Stockholm though) and miss fika now that I live abroad. Hope you got to try a kladdkaka (gooey chocolate cake)! Love your photos and glad you mentioned that the temperatures aren’t always as crazy as people think 🙂
Meghan EmceeFebruary 22, 2020 at 3:46 pm
Stockholm in winter is like Montreal in the fall! I’d love to go visit this time of year and get away from my -30 (celsius!). Sounds like a really great time!
LinneaFebruary 22, 2020 at 9:44 pm
Great post! I love Stockholm! I didn’t have a chance to visit the Public Library when I was there but it looks beautiful! I love the subway stops too! They’re so unique! Fika is a must, and I loved your recommendations for a good Fika and Cardamom roll.
Diane PriceOctober 7, 2020 at 8:58 pm
What an awesome post! I have been to Sweden quite a few times, but never during the winter. I love how you highlighted the natural charm of the city.