Planning to visit Stockholm this winter? Stockholm has a lot to offer no matter the season. From centuries-old traditions, to cozy candlelit cafés and a wide range of activities for any age – a bit of snow has never stopped Stockholm from having a good time.
Traditions of light: Advent, Lucia, and Christmas
As the city gradually becomes darker, cooler and blanketed in fresh snow – something magical begins to happen. Streets are draped in bright strings of light, while windows start to warmly glow with Advent candles and lanterns, as the city transforms into a cozy winter wonderland. They also mark the anticipated countdown to Christmas.
Aside from Advent, there are many traditions practiced by Swedes to keep darkness at bay, though none are as famous as Lucia Day. Early in the morning on December 13th, Lucia and her maidens begin their procession of light. Wearing a crown of candles, Lucia sings carols and serves saffron-flavored buns (lussekatter), sweet mulled wine (glögg) and gingerbread biscuits (pepparkakor) to all those in need of a bit of light. But don’t worry if you happen to miss the procession – you can still find these treats all winter long.
Walk then wander: Old Town, Royal Djurgården, and art in the subway
Consider starting the day wandering through the cobblestoned alleys of Gamla Stan, Stockholm’s well preserved old town. In winter this district feels like something from a storybook, serving as home to a Stockholm’s most famous Christmas market, an array of cultural landmarks and many quaint cafés. But keep your eyes peeled – some of the best places to stop for a fika are down in cozy candlelit cellars.
Another option is visiting one of Stockholm’s most popular areas, Royal Djurgården. The island collects many of Stockholm’s must-see attractions in one place and all within walking distance from each other. The greenhouse at Rosendals Trädgård and Skansen, the world’s oldest open-air museum, are particularly beautiful when decorated for the season. And don’t forget to visit the ABBA Museum while you are on Djurgården.
Believe it or not, but one of the city’s not-to-be-missed exhibitions is right under your nose in Stockholm’s subway (tunnelbanan) stations. Said to be the world’s longest art exhibit, travelling through them is a journey in itself – spanning generations, mediums and styles.
Catch a glimpse: Winter boat tour, ice hockey, and bandy
One of the best ways to get a view of Stockholm is by boat. Head to the port at Strömkajen and take the Stockholm Winter Tour. This 75-minute boat tour will take you along the coast of Djurgården and around the islands of Fjäderholmarna. If you’re lucky there will be plenty of ice on the water for the ship to break through. See link below for tickets.
The cold isn’t bad! While most visitors are familiar with hockey, bandy has been described as football (soccer) on the ice. See the difference for yourself, find a match and compare.
Dress warm: Hellasgården recreational area, Kungstädgården ice rink, and shopping
Only 15 minutes away from Slussen station stands Hellasgården, a popular recreational area at one of Sweden’s finest nature reserves. Here visitors can ski, skate, and take part in the Swedish winter tradition of alternating between sauna and ice baths. Don’t want to get wet? Take a stroll around the reserve and heat up with some soup at restaurant Storstugan.
Still want to skate, but not looking to leave the big city? Gliding around the ice rink at Kungstädgården is a must for many winter visitors to Stockholm.
To stay warm and fashionable at the same time, check out some distinctly Swedish brands like Stutterheim or Whyred, and the curated selection at shops like Grandpa.
Don’t miss Scandinavian interior design in stores like Designmarknad Sthlm or Nordiska Kompaniet either. With luck you may even make it in time for the Christmas sales.
If you find the weather particularly uncooperative, Stockholm has over 80 museums and attractions for you to explore during your visit.
We recommend the totally renovated Nationalmuseum, which reopened a year ago.
- Art in the subway: www.visitstockholm.com/art-in-the-subway/
- Bandy: www.hammarbybandy.se
- Ice hockey: www.aikhockey.se
- Hellasgården recreational area: www.hellasgarden.se
- Ice skating: www.visitstockholm.com/see–do/activities/ice-skating-in-kungstradgarden/
Hotels in Stockholm
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- Nov 16: Chritmas lighting starts in the city centre: www.stockholmsjul.se
- Nov 23 – Dec 23: Traditional christmas market in the old town: www.stortorgetsjulmarknad.com
- Nov 28 – Dec 1: Christmas market at the Royal Stables, exhibitors from across Sweden will be selling the finest quality crafts: www.svenska-slottsmassor.se
- Nov 29 – Jan. 5: Gingerbread house exhibition at Sweden’s national centre for architecture and design: www.arkdes.se
- Nov 30 – Dec 1: Christmas Market at Skansen opens: www.skansen.se
- Dec 7-8 & 14-15 & 21-22: Christmas Market at Skansen: www.skansen.se
- Dec 7-8: Christmas market at Drottningholm: www.svenska-slottsmassor.se
- Dec 13: Lucia celebrations in Stockholm at various places
- Dec 13-15: Lucia celebrations at Skansen: www.skansen.se
- Dec 24: Christmas Eve at Skansen: www.skansen.se
- Dec 31: New Year´s Eve at Skansen, entertainment on the Solliden stage where the classic lord Tennyson poem “Ring out wild bells“ is recited every year at midnight: www.skansen.se
- Feb 3-9: Stockholm Design Week, which has established itself as the most important week of the year for Scandinavian Design since its launch in 2002: www.stockholmdesignweek.com
- Feb 4-6: Fashion Week Stockholm: www.fashionweek.se
- Feb 13-16: Antikmässan at Stockholmsmässan, Älvsjö. Meet 250 exhibitors with antiques, vintage/modern design, fine arts and collectibles. Everything is for sale. Meet experts, authors and trend analysts. Be inspired and boost your knowledge through the inspirational exhibitions: www.antikmassan.se
- Feb 15: Sigtunarännet 2020, ice skating race (weather permitting): www.sigtunarannet.se
- Feb 22 – Mar 1: Winter School break, activites at various museums & attractions
- Feb 25: Shrove Tuesday (Fettisdagen) – this when we eat the Semla buns
Note: This winter there will be no alpine Ski World Cup race on the Hammarbybacken slope. The next event is scheduled to take place in January 2021: www.worldcupstockholm.com
Gingerbread houses at ArkDes Museum, runs until Jan 5
Christmas market at Skansen
Chritmas lighting in the city centre, here at Nybroplan
Hotels in Stockholm
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Source: This article is partly based on material provided by Visit Stockholm; featured image: Jeppe Wikström, via Visit Stockholm; photo #3: Skansen; photo #4: City i Samverkan