Stockholm: A City Guide, Come Sun or Snow

Stockholm is traditionally a summer destination, with its long days and outdoor lifestyle.  But the winter months are long, and there’s plenty to fill them with. If you’re lucky enough to be travelling to Stockholm for the UEFA Europa League Final in May it’s likely you’ll get a mixture of beautiful sunny days and cooler, even wintry, weather. Pack your sunnies and your scarf and let us inspire you with things to do in Stockholm, whatever the weather.

The Harbour

In the sunshine

14 islands joined by 57 bridges; Stockholm is surrounded by water, and exploring the city by boat is a relaxing way to discover many of its treasures.  Colourful houses face out from the Old Town to be reflected back by the water, church spires reach greenly above the roofline and historical bridges span the space of sky above you.

Heading out from the harbour on a boat tour could take you through the heart of the city along the canals, around Nobles’ Island or all the way to Drottningholm Palace.  If you wanted the chance to discover the city on foot, you could even combine the two with a hop on hop off ticket.

Whether you’re after a private tour, the expertise of a local guide or just the chance to get out on the water, there are plenty of options to choose from.

In the snow

The sport of ice skating is so typically Swedish that in many areas, it’s actually almost impossible to rent skates; local enthusiasts all own their own pair.  But as subzero temperatures turn ponds and lakes into impromptu rinks all over the country, Stockholm, at least, still offers skate-less tourists the opportunity to get out on the ice.  In the Kungsträdgården, one of the oldest public parks in Stockholm, an ice rink complete with cheap skate rentals has been set up every winter since 1962.

Arranged around a statue of King Karl XIII, this picturesque section of park is made even more magical by the twinkling lights, the clean sweep of ice and the bright bundles of coats, hats and scarfs that glide their way across it.  Close to both the harbour and the subway, the bustling cafes and occasional live music here attract locals and visitors alike.  If you’re in Stockholm during the winter, this is something you won’t want to miss out on.

The Old Town

In the sunshine

A wander around Stockholm’s Old Town is one of the best ways to get into the spirit of the city.

Observe the tradition of fika, the act of breaking from work to socialise over coffee, as crowds of locals pass through the many cafes and pastry shops. Pause to enjoy a drink yourself, or take a walk along the cobbled streets through one of the best preserved medieval cities in Europe.  And, if you get tired of the bustle and the heat, sit for a few moments in Stockholm’s stunning cathedral as light streams in through the high windows.  Beautifully designed, touchingly quaint and full to the brim with history, this is truly the heart of the city.

In the snow

When the days grow impossibly short and the cold sets in, few know how to create a cosy, heartwarming atmosphere like the Swedes do.  Exploring the Old Town after the snow has fallen is like stepping into a fairy tale, complete with market stalls selling traditional gingerbread, or pepparkakor.  Get into the festive spirit at the Christmas Market in the main square, or treat yourself to a steaming hot chocolate or warm mug of glögg.

If a spot of culture is on your wish list, head to the Noble Museum for an afternoon of innovation and discovery, or to Stockholm’s imposing Royal Palace, which offers a variety of museums for you to choose from.

Beyond Stockholm

In the sunshine

The viking city of Birka provides visitors to Stockholm with the opportunity to experience and learn about viking culture – and it’s only a short boat ride away from the city.  A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Birka was a flourishing trading hub during the viking period and is widely considered to be Sweden’s first city.

When visiting Birka, you’ll find an informative museum and a model viking village, but also special events, exhibitions and shows which are put on throughout the summer.  Its stunning setting at the edge of Lake Mälaren makes this an engaging and immersive experience for all the family to enjoy.

In the snow

Visiting the Stockholm Archipelago during winter can be an enchanting experience.  The island of Finnhamn has a hostel which is open year-round, offering opportunities for frosty walks through the woods and nighttime strolls by the moonlit water.

If you’re searching for tranquility and stunning, unspoiled nature, then this is the place for you.

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