Nicknamed “Beauty on the Water”, Stockholm is undoubtedly stunning throughout the year, however, particularly for anyone from more southerly locations. With plenty of things to do in Stockholm in winter, you wont even notice the cold if you are having fun. Stockholm serves as a delight to stay and enjoy the winter season. Sometime around late October or early November, sprawled out across a cluster of islands where Lake Malaren meets the Baltic Sea, Sweden’s capital city transforms into a winter wonderland. The city stands on 14 of the roughly 30,000 islands that make up the Stockholm archipelago.
In winter, the water that surrounds the city freezes over and snow dusts the rocky hilltops of Södermalm like a fairy place straight out of from a Christmas card. Even if there is no snow, the air becomes the crisp and fresh, and the city takes on a distinctly wintry feel, becoming an urban paradise with a solid definition of coziness – though we Swedes love to call it mysigt. There are plenty of things to do in Stockholm in winter, many of which are free with the Stockholm Pass.
Whether you are the kind to avoid the cold and find pleasant spots indoors during winter, then Stockholm has you covered. If you want to embrace the cold and to experience the chill during the Swedish winter, then again, Stockholm with its Christmas markets, spiced glögg, and plenty of snow-and-ice-based activities has got you covered for the months ahead. So, buckle up as we are about to take you on a beautiful adventure through the
Stockholm Winter Temperature: Things To Keep In Mind
Officially, the winter in Stockholm starts when the average temperature of the city is 0˚ C or below, for five days straight. This usually happens around early December, marking the official start of the winters. When the average temperature rises above 0˚ C, straight for seven days, marking an end to the official winter season around mid-March. During these months, the average temperature can go as low as -15˚ C for days (according to Sweden’s weather agency SMHI). While the snow can arrive as early as October, this doesn’t guarantee any steady winter season. So to best experience the full-fledged glory of the city in the blanket of white, it is best to visit during January or February months.
In case you want to experience the beauty of Stockholm during the most popular time, you can plan a trip just before Christmas when all sort of festive celebrations and markets are taking place across the city under a plethora of breathtaking fairy lights and candles. It doesn’t really snow in December so if you are planning to enjoy cozy cafes galore in Stockholm and to enjoy traditional Swedish julbord at traditional local restaurants then the time around Christmas will serve the best.
By the time it is April, the things start to get a little warmer in Stockholm. You can use this as an opportunity to enjoy a relatively mild winter season in Stockholm with some serious snow-based activities in the North of Sweden. Two in one double enjoyment pack!
Things to do in Stockholm in Winter
Below are the best places to visit in Stockholm in winter to fully experience all that the city has to offer during the festive period and winter months.
In Stockholm, the art of taking time out from your busy schedule and enjoy some coffee and tea to lessen up the whole day stress, “Fik” is a slang word used to describe a bakery/café shop and “Fika” is referred to as a coffee break. Fika definitely is one of the main highlights of visiting Stockholm as it is something that is ingrained in the culture.
Fika is, of course, much more than just a coffee break. It reflects the very notion of taking time out of your busy schedule to meet and chat with your friends, eating a cinnamon bun or a slice of carrot cake, and drinking some warm coffee while enjoying the chillness in the air. You see, coffee is of utmost importance to have a warm chat with the locals.
Stockholm has no shortage of cozy cafes to snuggle up with cinnamon roll while the whitish snow falls silently on the cobbles outside the windows. Some of the best shops to truly enjoy Fika are, Fabrique, Kaffeverket, Drop Café, Expresso House, Waynes Coffee and many more.
Ice skating on Stockholm rinks & rivers
During winter many of the ponds, rivers and small lakes freeze over and when they do, the city residents take to the lakes and ponds with skates. This is a Scandinavian past time and one that is worth checking out. There are other skating rinks in the city if you are not up to the adventure, like the Kungastradgarden rink which is open daily from 9am until 9pm. If this is your first time taking to the ponds you can enlist a guide and tutors such as that on this 6 hour ice skating excursion with outdoor lunch by the roaring fire included. What could be more festive than that? If you an experienced skate then book yourself on this full-day ice skating tour in Stockholm.
Stroll through the city and its winter markets
If you happen to visit Stockholm during December, strolling through the Christmas festivities and markets is a must! The fairy lights and the cheers of the locals strolling through the Christmas markets make the snowy, dark days feel a little brighter. You can enjoy a genuine Stockholm winter by visiting the markets in the heart of the old town, Gamla Stan. If you only have one day or one night in stockholm this place is not to be missed.
Stockholm offers free walking tours, which might be completely new to people coming for the first time in Stockholm. This serves as an amazing opportunity, especially when you are traveling on a short budget. You can enhance your tourism experience by taking an evening Christmas walking tours by lantern light, definitely a must-have. Tours usually last for around 90 minutes and covers approx. 2km area, with some informative, funny and engaging interactions with the locals. For more details on the Stockholm free walking tour click the link.
There are also paid winter walking tours catered to the Christmas festivities where a guide will take you on a one hour winter walking tour through the charming Gamla Stan, decked out with snow and twinkling lights. Learn about the history of the area as well as Swedish Christmas traditions, including the Feast of Santa Lucia. At the conclusion of your tour, stop for glögg (mulled wine) and pepparkakor (gingersnaps) to warm up at a local café.
Explore the Stockholm City on a boat tour:
At the very center, Stockholm city consists of 14 beautiful islands joined by 57 bridges, but that’s nothing compared with the thousands that make up the sprawling archipelago. This makes water such an important part of any trip to Stockholm – even in winter. There are many boat tour options to choose from, but the most practical one a hop off and hop on boat tour where you can experience the whole city, with as little spending. A boat tour can reduce your public transit spend considerably.
For a boat tour in Stockholm city, you can see places such as the Royal Palace, Gamla Stan, the downtown area, the Vasa Museum and much more with ease. While the subway might be a warmer option in chilly winter, the boat tour will provide a panoramic view along the way. You can see the Stockholm at its best by cruising around.
Explore the archipelago:
Well, Stockholm city consists of 14 islands, but that’s nothing when it comes to tens of thousands of islands that make up its sprawling archipelago. The vast archipelago is Stockholm’s best features and, while much of it might be frozen by the time you get there, some of the main routes are kept open, making a boat trip essential. The winter boat tour lasts a few hours and a tour guide accompanies you with their fun facts and stories. Forrest-covered and dotted with brightly colored cottages, the islands that you’ll experience ranges from the remote and unexplored to pristine tourist spots.
The boats have indoor and outdoor areas and the indoor areas are warm with free WiFi, restrooms, and cafes. You can have a luxurious experience by having a warm lunch or dinner on the boat while enjoying the elegant beauty of the Stockholm archipelago.
Pro Tip: During the winter season, some of the longer ferry rides are free, allowing you to enjoy islands and waters outside the Stockholm city.
Explore the museums – Use the Stockholm Pass:
If you enjoy museums, you will surely fall in love with Stockholm. The city is obsessed with saving its inheritance in the form of museums. And if you have a lot of things to get done on your Stockholm’s winter bucket list along with visiting numerous famous museums of Stockholm, then you might want to consider investing in a Stockholm Pass.
With Stockholm Pass, you have free entry to over 60 main attractions, including many of the famous museums, such as Skansen Open-Air museum, Vasa museum, and the Royal Palace. You will also get access to bus and boat tours to entirely enjoy the Stockholm archipelago, allowing you to save a lot on transportation. And the best part? You can purchase this pass online – saving you from standing in long lines to obtain it. The only thing you have to do is carry it around with you and show it at the entrance of every attraction.
Winter Nature Hiking
Hiking is not just for the summer months. In Sweden, people still take to the trails during winter. So if you are up for being at one with nature, then this is something to add to your winter itinerary in Stockholm. Come prepared with thermals, gloves and suitable outdoor jacket and waterproof walking shoes. You can also take winter walking tours if you want someone to show you around the trails.
Things To Do In Stockholm In Winter Or Summer
While the above section may have focused on winter activities. Places below are a must-see whether you are visiting Stockholm in winter or summer. Many of these places allows you to escape the winter cold in Stockholm in far warmer surroundings as you get to know more about the city and its people. Below are the best places to visit Stockholm whatever time of the year you are visiting.
Gamla Stan is the old town in Stockholm and one of the most well preserved medieval city centres in Europe. One of the main attractions in Stockholm not to be missed. There are cafes, markets, restaurants and bars. With plenty of museums and other sights in walking distance.
The Royal Palace
This is one of the largest palaces in Europe and the official residence of the King of Sweden. It has over 600 rooms with 5 museums on sight too. You can visit reception rooms, with beautiful interior, armory, and customs rooms.
Stockholm City Hall
If you are looking for cool souvenirs to bring back from Stockholm then head to Stockholm city hall. They have specially designed souvenirs and presents that commemorate City Hall and Stockholm. The Swedish souvenirs are not the only thing that makes this building special. There is a tower offering amazing views of the cit. The tower also features 3 crowns which is the Swedish national coat of arms. This is also a cool building styled in the national romanticism architectural style.
The Vasa Museum
This is the only preserved 17th-century ship in the world. It is said that more than 95% is of the ship’s original features. The 69-meter long warship Vasa sank on its maiden voyage in the middle of Stockholm in 1628 and was salvaged 333 years later. They run exhibitions throughout the year. Now open daily with tours around the museums available. The entrance is free with the Stockholm Pass.
This is one of Sweden’s best-preserved royal palaces and one of Stockholm’s 3 World Heritage Sites worth checking out. There are beautiful parks and gardens, a theatre, a Chinese Pavilion. Open all year round. There are guided tours and performances held at this palace.
This is a lovely walking path about 500 meter long with amazing views of Lake Malaren, City Hall and Riddarholmen. Perfect throughout the day but even better at sunset and sunrise. Along the path, you have cute houses. Just be mindful of the surfaces which may be slippery during winter.
Skansen Open Air Museum
You can travel back in time and experience Sweden from the past. Skansen is the world’s oldest open-air museum, founded in 1891. Skansen is also Sweden’s only zoo with Nordic wild animals. There is a cafe here, a souvenir shop too. The entrance is free with Stockholm Pass.
Things To Check Out By Month
If you are visiting Stockholm in winter during December, January or February, below are a few places to add to your winter visit to Sweden. For more check out the events page on Visit Stockholm.
Things to do in Stockholm in December.
- The Christmas markets in Gamla Stan open on 1st December.
- Christmas mart in Sigtuna runs December 1st to 15th.
- Christmas Show with Cirkus Cirko runs between December 1st and 20th.
- Gingerbread House 2019 – an exhibition of imaginative gingerbread houses. This runs from December 1st to January 2020.
Things to do in Stockholm in January.
- Swedish photographers meet the world January 1st to May 24th
- Robotics from London Science Museum touring Sweden January 1st to March 15th.
Things to do in Stockholm in February.
- Stockholm design week February 3rd to 9th
- Stockholm International Antiques Fair February 13th – 16th
- Stockholm Feminist Film Festival February 27th – March 1st.
Day Trips From Stockholm In Winter
If you are up for a little more exploring in winter in Stockholm and surrounding areas below are the best day trips from Stockholm in winter. Packed with winter adventure sports. For additional inspirations on day trips from Stockholm click here.
This is the highest and longest ski slope in Stockholm which also ahs 4 downhill slopes, jumps, ski rental, and an inn. This is a must-do in Stockholm in winter. If you have 2 days in Stockholm in winter over a weekend this is a perfect adventure seeker must do. For more check out Flottsbro.
Hammarbybacken Ski Resort
This is another Stockholm landmark, Hammarbybacken is a popular weekend destination for many Stockholmers during the winter months. Near the Ericsson Globe Arena, the slopes are easy to reach on the Green Line metro toward Bagarmossen. There are four easy-to-ski downhill slopes, a snowboard park, ski school, equipment rental, and a café. The Park Inn Hotel Hammarby, Stockholm’s first ski hotel, is located at the foot of the slopes. The rest of the year, Hammarbybacken is open for other activities including downhill cycling. If you are looking to do 3 days in Stockholm over winter, you could easily have a ski weekend and a day in the city.
Swedes are very outdoorsy and if like them you enjoy the outdoors, visit the Hellasgården recreation area. It takes 20 minutes to get to Hellasgården from downtown Stockholm. You will find bike and walking paths, jogging trails, and a sandy beach with dock. Other activities include mini-golf, soccer, boules, beach volleyball, fishing, tennis, canoeing, indoor cycling, and yoga.
In winter there is ice skating, cross-country skiing, and a swimming hole cut out of the ice. Weight training and massage also available. Pastries, light lunches, and vegetarian dishes served in Storstugan. Take bus 401 from Slussen to the Hellasgården stop in Älta. You can also take subway line 17 to Skarpnäck and get off at Hammarbyhöjden, Björkhöjden, or Bagarmossen. Follow the signs from the station to Hellasgården.
Getting Around In Stockholm
Getting Around Stockholm and the rest of Sweden is fairly easy. Stockholm’s public transport, “SL”, provides services for trains, underground, buses and boats throughout the city. Underground stations are marked with a blue “T” and commuter trains are marked with a blue “J”. You need to purchase your tickets before boarding any of the trains. For additional train information, local events and more check out the Visit Stockholm page.
How To Get To Stockholm
There are plenty of flights to Stockholm from all over Europe, if you are flying from London to Stockholm like myself, there are plenty of budget flights too. Many that won’t even cost you more than £50 but make sure you book in advance. When you arrive in Stockholm, getting to from the airport to the city centre is also fairly easy as there are trains with easy directions. Travel time from Skavasta airport is about 80 minutes by bus and Bromma airport buses leave every 20 minutes and take about 2o minutes. Arlanda airport express trains depart every 15 minutes from Stockholm Central Station. The journey is only 20 minutes.
What To Wear In Stockholm In Winter: Packing List
Do not underestimate winter in Stockholm, it is biting and bitter cold. Come prepared with thermals if you must. While H&Ms are plenty should you need to top up and get warm clothes, a warm jacket is a must. Additional items to pack include:
- Warm Jacket – If possible waterproof jacket
- Waterproof walking shoes especially for the hike.
- winter hat
- Jumpers or jumper dress
- Reusable coffee cup – you will be buying a lot of hot tea or hot chocolates.
Where to stay In Stockholm
Stockholm city is relatively small and it is much easier to travel across the inner city within a short time by using public transport. So choosing which area to stay actually depends on your taste and budget. Despite Stockholm’s high prices, there are still loads and loads of hotels that provide more reasonable and budget accommodation, including many options that provide something a bit different from the usual hotel experience. These hotels, not only are cheaper than the rest, but also provides unique hoteling experience.
These hotels include freebies, such as their free sauna, free pasta in evenings and free delicious breakfasts in the morning, saving you tons of money. There are boat hotels moored along the side of the lake Malaren, each providing stunning views across the city. There is also a unique hotel situated in an old prison on Langholmen, exhibiting the 250-year history of the prison.
Budget hotels and hostels:
Mid Range Budget Hotels In Stockholm
- Archipelago Hostel Old Town
- Motel L
- Castle House Inn
- Generator Stockholm
- Comfort Hotel Xpress Stockholm Central
Luxury Hotels In Stockholm
- Nobis Hotel
- Hotel Diplomat Stockholm
- Radisson Collection Strand Hotel
- Bank Hotel
- Sheraton Stockholm
- Things To Do In Amsterdam In Winter
- What To Wear In Paris In Winter
- Packing List For London In Winter
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Phew!!! Thank you for an amazing post on Stockholm. You have covered the entire city so beautifully! Out of all the options of exploring the city, I am intrigued by the Boat Tour and the winter walking tour! I explored the city of Palermo in Sicily on foot and i loved exploring the different culture and changing landscapes and not to forget visiting the Cathedral or a Museum that was on my path! Walking tours are tiring but worth the effort! Boat tours would be exciting too!
I love visiting places in Winter and Stockholm looks very appealing. Particularly the Gamla Stan medieval quarter and the palace sounds fun for history buffs like myself. The Christmas market and Gingerbread house exhibition sounds good too.
Wow, I am amazed at the winter walking tour. Stockholm has so many places to see. Using the Stockholm pass will be a great idea to visit so many places. Thanks for detailed information about Stockholm.