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Winter in West Sweden
Winter in Sweden means shorter days and countless outdoor activities.
Photo credit: Per Pixel Peterson/

Winter in Sweden

Glittering winter landscapes, mesmerising Northern Lights and many steaming hot dishes to feast on. What more could you wish for in a winter vacation?

If you want to try breathtaking outdoor activities and participate in ancient traditions, this is the season to visit Sweden.

When is winter in Sweden?

The arrival of Jack Frost (or ‘Kung Bore’, as we call him in Sweden) differs significantly across the country. According to The Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute (SMHI), winter begins on the first day of five with a temperature of 0°C or below. Roughly, one can say that Sweden has winter from December through February – even though it can start as early as October in the northernmost parts of the country and continue well into April. SMHI:s season arrival map gives you an up-to-date report on how far winter has come in Sweden.

Average temperatures per month in Sweden

  • Kiruna, northern Sweden: -14°C to -5°C in December, -17°C to -7°C in January, -17°C to -7°C in February.
  • Stockholm, middle Sweden: -2°C to +2°C in December, -3°C to +1°C in January, -4°C to +1°C in February.
  • Malmö, southern Sweden: 0°C to +4°C in December, -2°C to +2°C in January, -2°C to +2°C in February.
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White Christmas

In large parts of Sweden, a white Christmas is almost taken for granted. And regardless of the weather outside, Swedes bring out hand-crafted decorations, fill their homes with candlelight, dress the Christmas tree and fill the kitchen with the smell of freshly baked saffron buns.

Photo: Hans Strand/Folio/

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White Christmas

Photo: Hans Strand/Folio/

Glögg and gingerbread

Photo: Emelie Asplund/

Northern Lights

Photo: Nellie Rosen

Cross-country skiing in Östersund

Photo: Håkan Wike

Skiing and outdoor 'fika'

Photo: Anders Robertsson

Sleddogs in the forest

Photo: Anna Öhlund/

Why is winter the best time to visit Sweden?

Winter in Sweden is officially the ‘cosy season’. In the weeks leading up to Christmas, Swedish windows are decorated with illuminated paper stars and electric candlesticks. Throughout the winter, lit candles, woollen blankets and steaming hot drinks like ‘glögg’ and tea reinforce the feeling of ‘mys’ – a Swedish noun and life approach that translates to ‘cosiness’ in English. Lavish window displays and warm light decorations illuminate the streets of the cities. And as it’s low season, a Swedish city break in winter gives you good value for the money.

Swedish winter also means short days. In fact, in the northernmost parts of the country, the sun doesn’t rise above the horizon for about a month. But the Polar Night, as this natural phenomenon is called, doesn’t mean it’s pitch-dark. The snow wraps the Arctic landscape in a sparkling white blanket. And at night, the sky is painted green, red and purple by the Northern Lights – also known as the greatest light show on Earth. This winter, the chances of seeing the Northern Lights in all of Sweden are particularly good.

A few degrees below zero means excellent conditions for snowy outdoor activities. Just pick and choose the activities that appeal to you most: Hit the slopes for a day of downhill skiing or glide through the silent snowy landscape on a cross-country skiing excursion. Strap on your skates and go ice skating over a frozen lake or sit back and let a team of huskies guide you through fairy-tale forests on a dog sled. For a more adrenaline-fuelled activity, opt for a snowmobile tour. Get your heart rate up during a snowshoe hike, or find peace of mind during an ice fishing trip. The options are endless!

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Lucia celebration

Early morning Lucia procession in Gustav Vasa church in Stockholm. In Sweden, the Italian St. Lucia has taken an abiding role as a bearer of light in the dark Swedish winters.

Photo: Ola Ericson/

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Lucia celebration

Photo: Ola Ericson/

Igloo Åre

Photo: Mattis Lindqvist

Winter swim

Photo: Mikael Svensson/Johnér/

Nobel Week Lights 2023

Photo: Julia Trygg/ Visit Sweden

Jokkmokk Winter Market

Photo: Ted Logart/Swedish Lapland

Freshly baked semla

Photo: Magnus Carlsson/

Winter in Sweden – 3 things to do

Experience the Swedish Christmas with all that it entails. Start with a visit to one of Sweden’s festive Christmas markets, traditionally held in November and December. If you happen to be in Sweden on 13 December, ask your local tourist office where you can experience a Lucia celebration. This tuneful procession is as Swedish as Midsummer and ‘fika’. Finally, book a table at a restaurant offering ‘julbord’ – a buffet-style smorgasbord brimming with Swedish Christmas food.

Spend the night in one of Sweden’s coolest hotels. The Icehotel in Jukkasjärvi was the first ice hotel in the world when it opened in 1989. Today, there are several unique winter accommodations within the country’s borders: Igloo Åre, which is built of natural snow each winter, Ice & Light Village in Kalix with cottages encapsulated by igloo-shaped shells, and Aurora Camp Kurravaara and Peace and Quiet Hotelin Jokkmokk which both offer mobile glass igloos.

If you’re feeling brave like a Swede, jump into the frozen water for a refreshing wild swim. The cold bath tradition is as strong as ever and has many health benefits. If you prefer to be surrounded by warm water and look out at frozen landscapes, visit one of Sweden’s beautifully located spas.

Winter 2023/2024 highlights

  • 2-10 December: Nobel Week Lights – a free lights festival in Stockholm that illuminates the Nobel Prize laureates and their work.
  • 13 December: Lucia Day – a cherished Christmas tradition celebrated all over Sweden.
  • 24 December: Christmas Eve, Sweden's primary day for celebrating Christmas.
  • 31 January-5 February: Cold Bath Week – dive into the world of cold baths, saunas and well-being during one week in Helsingborg. This year’s theme is “Back to nature”.
  • 1-3 February: Jokkmokk Market, a 400-year-old winter market in Swedish Lapland, packed with Sámi handicrafts, local food and cultural activities. Dress warm!
  • 6 February: Sámi National Day, celebrated by Sweden's indigenous people.
  • 13 February: Fat Tuesday, or Shrove Tuesday – the day to savour the Swedish pastry ‘semla’. Buy them at any bakery or café across the country.
  • 3 March: Vasaloppet, the world’s largest ski competition. The race is fully booked, but you can ski the legendary route all winter.