Stockholm is a city I love and I am very fortunate to have seen the city in both Winter and Summer. In this guide I round up why I love visiting Stockholm in Winter, where you should stay, the best things to do in Stockholm in Winter and have you covered with our Stockholm Winter Itinerary and Packing Guide to make sure you are not left out in the cold on your Swedish city break.
Should you Visit Stockholm in Winter?
So you are contemplating whether you should visit Stockholm in Winter but unsure whether it is a good idea! Well having visited in both Winter and Summer I think I am well placed to answer the question ‘Should I visit Stockholm in Winter’?
And for me the answer to the question is undoubtedly yes. Yes Winter in Stockholm is cold but there are lots of indoor things to do in Stockholm and if you use our Stockholm Winter packing list you will be prepared for the weather and will have an amazing time.
In fact, in many ways I actually think it is better to visit Stockholm in winter vs summer. And here’s why I prefer it:
- Stockholm gets incredibly busy during the summer and can sometimes have several cruise ships in port at once which means the population of Stockholm swells and the main Stockholm attractions get exceptional busy. These cruises don’t run in winter so you are guaranteed to see the city at its quietest during winter.
- It is a beautiful city to experience Christmas in or perhaps the scandy festival of St Lucia. Plus it has some lovely Christmas markets!
- The dark nights add to the atmosphere and is the Sweden you imagine.
- The cold makes it easier to enjoy the Swedish tradition of fika (coffee breaks)
- The city looks beautiful covered in snow and ice.
So now I have convinced you that you should visit Stockholm in Winter let me give you a bit more info.
Stockholm Winter Temperature
There are no two ways about it Stockholm gets cold in Winter – bloomin cold – I mean really cold! You need to have plenty of layers and lots of indoor stops but if you are prepared it’s fine.
Now I think most people imagine Winter Stockholm to be a snow covered Winter paradise but the truth is it doesn’t always have snow in Stockholm during Winter. Although the city gets cold from around October-November it is unlikely that you will see heavy snow in Stockholm until January and February. However we were lucky (we wanted snow) to see a light dusting of snow in late December mere days before Christmas which really added to the festive nature of our trip.
The average temperatures we experienced during the day in our Winter Stockholm trip were between -1 – 1 degree so it was cold and the temperatures definitely dropped in the evenings! Therefore correct packing is essential! And although cold I don’t think it impeded our enjoyment of our trip.
Stockholm in the Winter Daylight Hours
And the other things to consider when travelling to Stockholm in3 days in stockholm winter the Winter is how dark it gets! And when I say I mean it gets DARK.
While we were there we found that the sun generally comes up around 9 and is down again by 3. For us it actually added to our Christmas city break as the lights started twinkling earlier and you felt like you were really experiencing winter but it is something to consider when itinerary planning.
What to wear in Stockholm in the winter /Stockholm Winter Packing List
Whenever people ask me What to wear in Stockholm in winter I always answer Layers and lots of them! Packing light when visiting Stockholm in Winter really isn’t an option! As I have said the temperatures will often be below 0 for a winter trip to Stockholm so you will need plenty of layers and warm clothes.
This is what we think you need to include on your Stockholm Winter Packing List
And plenty of them.
For the coldest of days you may want your thermals with you! I always like a pair of thermal leggings.
The air in Stockholm during Winter is icy you definitely will want a woolen hat with you
And I would advise packing a WOOLEN HATS and ear muffs too for those cold nights.
Another essential for me is a good pair of fleece lined leather gloves which I find are best for keeping hands warm.
However if you are an avid instagrammed you may want to have gloves designed to allow you to carry on using your touch phones with!
Shoes with a good sole!
If you are up and out early you may encounter some slippery streets so be sure to have good soles on your shoes unless you fancy going skating.
Although full blown hiking boots may not be necessary you may want to consider some hiking trainers with a good sole or some more fashionable boots designed for bad weather.
I would also recommend traveling with a good thick Winter Coat!
If you are travelling with children then I would definitely make sure you have a good thick winter Snowsuit with you!
How to Get Around Stockholm in Winter
Our favourite way to get around any city no matter what time of year it is is walking! Stockholm is actually a really walkable city and we even managed to do it with a stroller! So long as you are wrapped up in warm and have shoes with a good sole you won’t have a problem walking around Stockholm.
Alternatively you can hop on the Metro which is actually like an underground art museum and must be seen at least once on your trip.
And of course there is the hop on hop off bus which is a great way to get your bearings in the city and also is useful if you have a particularly rainy day.
You can book your hop on hop off ticket here in advance!
And if you are looking for the best way to get from the airport to hotel I always like to take a private transfer in Winter to eliminate any waiting in the cold or carrying luggage on potentially icy streets.
To find out more about private transfers CLICK HERE
Where to Stay in Stockholm in Winter
Grand Hotel Stockholm – conveniently located next to the Swedish Royal Palace
Radisson Blu Stockholm – a beautiful waterfront property
Read Next: Looking for the best places to stay – Check our this post!
Best things to do in Stockholm in winter
If you are planning on visiting more than one of the below attractions you may want to consider purchasing a Stockholm pass – you can find out about all the inclusions and costs here!
Must see outdoor activities in Stockholm
Walking tour of Gamla Stad
Touristy – yes! Worthy doing – absolutely. Either go independently or on an organized walking tou. Gamla Stad is the historic old town of Stockholm and is marked by beautiful matchbox colorful houses. In my opinion Gamla Stad is absolutely the most beautiful place in all of Stockholm and taking a tour will help you get to know more about the history of the city.
You can book your walking tour here!
As an added bonus if you are visiting in late November or December you will find that the Old Town is the place of one of the traditional Swedish Markets. There are tons of stalls in the old town square filled with traditional ornaments and the usual Christmas food and drink.
If you are there during the Christmas season you could take your walking tour by lantern light!
Stockholm’s outdoor living history museum and actually the oldest living history museum in the whole world having been established back in the 1890s- quite a claim to fame.
This is one of my favorite places in the city! I love exploring the traditional architecture of the country whilst learning about everyday life in the past.
But again, in the run up to Christmas Skansen hosts an outdoor and very traditional Christmas market. I loved standing around the open fires drinking hot chocolate and mulled wine.
On top of the markets and the museum, there is also a Nordic zoo. I am not usually a fan of zoos but I enjoyed seeing the local animals in their natural habitat.
Skansen is included on the Stockholm Pass and if you are planning on visiting multiple attractions this will be a money saver. You can find more about the Stockholm Pass here!
Otherwise we recommend buying your tickets online in advance – we didn’t and were queuing for about 15 minutes to get in.
To book your tickets online click here!
Stockholm whatever time of year must be seen by boat given that the city is made up of several island archipelagos.
Although the city does ice over in Winter several key waterways are kept open during winter for the tourist boats.
To book your boat tour click here!
Best Indoor activities in Stockholm Winter
Beings a city set up for Winter means that there are plenty of indoor activities to keep you amused and out of the cold. Some of my favorites are:
Cheese at its best! The Abba Museum is an interactive museum wonder and has an infectious happy spirit that will thaw even the most frozen of visitors. For me it really is one of the Stockholm things to do in Winter.
In the museum you will find all sorts of memorabilia and costumes on display but I think the highlight for most visitors is getting to record your own Abba song in their studio.
Again advance booking is recommended!
My favorite indoor museum in Stockholm! The Vasa Museum is named after the ship it houses that sank mere minutes after it set sail in 1628. After almost 300 hundreds on the seabed, the Vasa shipwreck was discovered and recovered and is now housed in the museum.
The ship is preserved like a fossil due to the makeup of the waters of the Swedish sea which means it is almost perfectly in tact from the day it sank and is 99% original ship! If you are traveling with kids there are plenty of children’s activities to keep the littles entertained.
I would definitely recommend picking the free audio guide that is included with your ticket price! This really is one of the best places to visit in Sweden in Winter.
Tip: Entry is free with a Stockholm Pass otherwise you can book your tickets online with private tour in advance here!
Family Friendly Tip: If you are traveling with kids then why not nip in next door to the children museum which houses a great Pippi Longstocking Exhibition. These sort of great indoor activities make Stockholm a great winter holiday destination with babies or kids.
Fika is basically a Swedish National Tradition which is most akin to a coffee break! There is nothing like darting in and out of cafes for tea and cake in between exploring the city.
The official residence of the King of Sweden and inside you can visit Royal Apartments and the Treasury.
Open to the public the royal palace houses not one but five museums inside the walls. I must admit though my favourite thing about visiting the royal palace is looking at all of the regal architecture and furnishings!m.
Whenever I am in Europe I love finding the traditional food halls. Today they serve more eclectic and international cuisines but I always love to find out the traditional food stalls. There are plenty of stalls offering Swedish food at Osermalm Saluhall.
The Nordic Museum is definitely a must for those wanting to learn more about Swedish history and life! The building is also one of the most impressive in Stockholm in my opinion.
Winter Swedish Cultural activities
Saunas are a great way to unwind after a day exploring the city in Winter.
If you want to find a sauna in the city then one to check out will at the Swimming Pool at CentralBadet.
Skiing – one of the best Stockholm Winter activities
The weather isn’t always guaranteed to be ski perfect in the run up to Christmas but if you are visiting in Winter, take part in one of Sweden’s favorite outdoor activities – skiing. We didn’t partake as I think I would have been coming home in plaster cast if I did! A popular and nearby ski resort to the city centre is Hammarbybacken. This is really one of the best Stockholm Winter activities to take part in.
Stockholm Winter Itinerary – 3 Days in Stockholm in Winter
How Long do you need in Stockholm in Winter? This is always a difficult question to answer but I would say it very much depends on what you want to do and the pace you want to take it at.
We had 3 days in Stockholm in Winter which I think is the perfect amount of time, however if you would like to head further out of the city and explore some more of the Winter activities Stockholm has on offer then you may want to add some extra days.
Day 1 of the Perfect Stockholm Winter Itinerary
If you only have one day in Stockholm in Winter this is the day I would suggest doing
AM: Start your day with a cinnamon bun and coffee before heading to Gamla Stad to do a morning walking tour
PM: Explore the Royal Paradise
Evening: Head back to Gamla Stad to explore the Christmas Market
Dinner: Tradition in Gamla Stad
Day 2 of the Perfect Stockholm Winter Itinerary
AM – Vasa Museum (an alternative with be to visit the Abba Museum or the Nordic Museum)
Afternoon – Skansen
Dinner – Östermalm Saluhall
Day 3 of the Perfect Stockholm Winter Itinerary
Take a Boat Tour of the Stockholm Island Archipelago!
Or alternatively take a winter day trip from Stockholm such as
- Visit Sigtuna – the oldest town in Sweden!
- Royal Palace and Castle Tour
- Skating on Natural Ice Introductory Tour
I’m Visiting Stockholm in December – what special events are there?
If you are visiting Stockholm in December there are lots of special Christmas related events! Of course there are the Christmas markets at Gamla Stad and Skansen but on top of that you should mark 13th December as a special date in your calendar. The 13th December is the Feast of St Lucia! Every year on this date there are choirs and candle processions around the city and people typically eat saffron buns and mulled wine.
Does it snow in Stockholm in December?
Snow is not guaranteed when visiting Stockholm in December. We were lucky to see snow when we went to Stockholm in December but if snow is important to you you may want to visit Stockholm in January or February instead.
Is Stockholm or Copenhagen in winter better for a city break?
I love both these cities and think visiting either Stockholm or Copenhagen in Winter for for a city break is a good idea.
Have you visited Stockholm in Winter – how was your trip? What were your highlights of Winter in Stockholm?
And if you are looking for other great winter experiences in Scandinavia then check out this post on Copenhagen!
Tuesday 23rd of October 2018
I think places like this can be absolutely magical in Winter, I think the challenge of the weather is what makes the celebrations they have at this time of year so special. I would definitely visit here in winter
Vyki from Museum Mum
Wednesday 10th of October 2018
You've convinced me! I always thought it would be too cold in winter, but it sounds pretty magical! One to throw in the mix for next year's travel plans, me thinks.
Wednesday 10th of October 2018
Oh I totally want to visit!! Stockholm in winter is definitely on my bucket list and I think it would be my favourite time visit!!
Nell (Pigeon Pair and Me)
Wednesday 10th of October 2018
I want, want want to go! You can't beat a Scandinavian country for Christmassy cosiness. I've never been to Stockholm, and I think winter would be my preferred season for that first trip.
Erin Ek Rush
Tuesday 9th of October 2018
I've been to Stockholm in the winter and I loved it! Your gorgeous photos make me wan to go back. As long as you have warm clothes it's an amazing holiday!