Any time is good to see Stockholm. Winter may seem like the least likely time. However, cheap flights (from London £50 with Ryanair) and smaller crowds make it the perfect time. This article talks about top things to do and best places to stayin Stockholm in winter.
Where is Stockholm?
Stockholm is often called the Venice of the North. It’s located on the Baltic Sea and it encompasses 14 islands and more than 50 bridges.
If you visit Stockholm in the winter, you can expect temperatures ranging between 2 to 6 degrees Celsius in November to 1 to -3 in January and February.
Quite a few airlines fly to Stockholm from the main London airports, prices start at £50 depending on dates. Cheapest months to fly are normally November and January to March:
Ryanair- from Stansted
Easy Jet- from Luton
Norwegian Air- from Gatwick
Germanwings- from Heathrow
You can search for the best flights here.
Getting around Stockholm
Most main Stockholm sights can be reached on foot if you’re staying in one of the city centre hotels. Stockholm is also great for cycling with its extensive cycling routes. Consider this option if the weather allows. You can download the EU Bikes app to pay and locate the nearest bike available.
Hop on Hop off tourism bus
This is the method I used to get around Stockholm’s main attractions. It comes free with a Stockholm Pass and you get a map showing all the stops. You can also download an app to get live information on when the next bus is coming. I loved the double decker red bus and between stops you get to listen to some interesting facts about various Stockholm neighbourhoods and their history.
The easiest way to move around Stockholm on a public transport is the metro system. I personally didn’t use it but the network is so vast that all the main attractions have their corresponding metro stops. A single ticket that is valid for 75 min cost 44 SEK (or 32 SEK using a preloaded travel card that can be purchased for 20 SEK). You can also get a ticket for 24 or 72 hours. For more info click here
UBER operates in Stockholm and you can order a ride through the UBER app. I only used them once to get from Fotografiska Museum to Central Station and it cost just over £10.
Stockholm must see
If you only had one day in Stockholm, you should definitely visit the following 3 places:
Gamla Stan is Stockholm’s old town located in the heart of the city on a separate island. This is a perfect place to begin your Stockholm sightseeing. Its charming cobblestone and narrow streets make it a perfect starting point in discovering historic Stockholm. Wonder around its streets, take photos in its narrow lanes, admire its baroque churches and medieval squares. If you’re a fan of shopping for souvenirs, this is where you get your chance! And when you get tired order a freshly squeezed orange juice and relax in one of the many Gamla Stan cafes. For organic, vegan and gluten free options, head to Sattva Naturbageriet on Stora Nygatan 6.
The Royal Palace- Kungliga Slottet
Swedes claim this is one of the oldest and most dynamic palaces in Europe. Don’t miss the changing of the royal guard that takes place at noon every day. It’s quite a spectacle. Head to its internal square and take a place by the entrance to the apartments. From there, you’ll be able to have an unobstructed view of royal guards.
The entrance fee to the palace includes The Royal Apartments, The Treasury and The Tre Kronor Museum. The most interesting aspect are the apartments. A lot of splendour and luxury and the rooms are still used for royal banquets and parties.
Location- Gamla Stan
Ticket- 160 SEK (or free with a Stockholm Pass)
Opening times- (winter time) Tuesday to Sunday, 10:00- 16:00
Skansen is one of the largest outdoor museums of this sort. It showcases how Swedes lived in the past. You can find there different type of houses, churches and community buildings,shops, windmills and farmhouses. Skansen also offers one of the best views of Stockholm. You need at least 3 hours to visit it all. There are plenty of activities for kids. There are cafes and food stands, but if you’re a vegan like me, I recommend packing your own snacks.
Ticket- 140 SEK (or free with a Stockholm Pass)
Opening hours- 10:00- 16:00
Best museums in Stockholm
Stockholm has one of the best museums I’ve visited, and winter is a perfect time to visit them all. If you’re spending 2 days in Stockholm, then this could be your second day itinerary.
You know when a place is special if it manages to make you feel something. At Fotografiska I was shocked, I was scared and I was sad. It’s anything but your regular museum. Even if you’re not the biggest fan of arts, you should give this place a go. It displays 35 exhibitions per year from some of the world’s best photographers. It’s a place to get inspired, look and feel with your soul! Fotografiska museum deserves a place in top things to do in Stockholm. Also, if you’re looking for things to do in Stockholm at night, then Fotografiska is the perfect choice with its long opening hours and a trendy bar.
Location- Metro station: Slussen, Stadsgardshamnen 22
Ticket- 165 SEK (or free with a Stockholm Pass)
Opening times- Sun-We 09:00- 23:00, Thu-Sat 09:00- 01:00
The Vasa Museum showcases a seventeenth century ship . It is the world’s only preserved ship from this era. It was built by King Gustav Adolf but sunk in Stockholm’s port. It took 333 years to salvage it. The museum explains why the ship sunkbefore it even properly sailed and displays its beautiful treasures including 700 curved sculptures. Vasamuseet is a top Stockholm attraction.
Ticket- 150 SEK
Opening times- 10:00- 17:00
Nordiska museet tells the story of the Nordic lifestyle from the 16th century onwards. It showcases furniture, fashion, jewellery, porcelain and traditional foods. There were whole tables set with foods for occasions like Easter and Christmas. My favourite display was a whole Scandinavian 60s styled apartment with bedroom, kitchen, bathroom and a balcony. You could walk in an even check the wardrobe! There was also a Northern Lights display, which I thought was brilliant too.
Ticket- 140 SEK or free on Tuesdays 13.00–17.00 Sep-May
Opening Times- Sep-May 10:00-17:00
Free museums in Stockholm
If you’re visiting on a budget and are looking for free things to do in Stockholm, I’ve got some great news for you. There are plenty of museums that are entrance free. Here are my top 4:
The Modern Art Museum – Moderna Museet
This museum of modern arts showcases works by artists including Picasso, Dali, Derkert, and Matisse. It is located in Skeppsholmen island.
Location- Exercisplan 4
Opening Times- Tue-Sun 10:00-18:00
The Natural History Museum – Naturhistoriska Museet
This museum showcases 9 permanent exhibitions. It tells the story about the development of mankind, nature and the universe.
Location- Frescativägen 40
Opening Times- Tue-Sun 10:00-18:00
Medieval Museum – Meltidsmuseet
The Medieval Museum is located centrally, a short walk from the Royal Palace. It takes you back to the Middle Ages to show you how Swedes used to live.
Location- Strömparterren 3
Opening Times- Tue-Sun 12:00-17:00
It’s an independent museum that showcases documentary photography. It’s a great alternative to Fotografiska if you’re visiting Stockholm on a shoestring.
Location- Hornsgatan 8
Opening Times- Tue-Thu 12:00-16:00, weekend 12:00-18:00
Must do in Stockholm
Have a fika
Winter is perfect to have multiple coffee and cake stops while sightseeing. Don’t forget to enjoy some fikas, which is a very popular Swedish cake.
Hire a bike
If you’re visiting in November or March, and the temperature is mild, I recommend hiring a bike. Stockholm is perfect for cycling to all the attractions thanks to its extensive network ofcycle paths. You can find EU Bikes scattered around the city, especially around the harbour. All you need to do is download their app, top up with around £8 and that credit should last you even up to 2 days. Park your ride in front of attractions in designated areas and lock your bike. When you finish, you can unlock the bike again using the app.
Shop at Gotgatan
Fancy doing some shopping? Head to Gotgatan. The area is packed with all sorts of different shops and restaurants for all tastes and budgets. One of the things that I enjoyed the most was the ice cream place from a chain StikkiNikki. Yes I eat ice cream when it’s cold. They have vegan choices too- a few sorbets, vegan peanut butter and chocolate.
Take a tour
When the weather’s harsh, take a hop on hop off sightseeing bus. You can stay in the warm, double decker coach while being taken round top Stockholm tourist attractions. Check it out here. Yes, this bus is also free with the Stockholm Pass.
Go to a sauna
When in Sweden do as the Swedes do and go to a sauna! After an all day sightseeing in the freezing cold wintery Swedish weather what’s a better way to relax than in the sauna? Choose a hotel with one. I include some recommendation in the last paragraph. Keep reading!
Stockholm in December
Visiting Stockholm in December can be super special. Just wrap up warm and enjoy some of its best things to do.
Gamla Stan Christmas Market
If you love Christmas then this is definitely something for you!
Christmas market in located in Stortorget between 23 Nov and 23 Dec. It opens daily from 10:00 to 18:00. Drink some mulled wine and get merry. Wonder around the traditional stalls and shop for high quality Swedish crafts and decorations.
Ice skating in Kungsträdgården
Head to Kungstradgarden and skate for free in a Christmassy atmosphere!
Opening Times: weekdays 09:00-21:00, weekends 10:00-21:00.
Best City Views in Stockholm
Monteliusvagen is charming path overlooking The City Hall and Gamla Stan. Come here to watch a sunset. There are few benches in the middle of the path. Don’t forget to wrap up warm!
Located on Djurgarden island. It’s a charming, rather large park. I visited it on a Sunday morning and it was so peaceful and quiet. You can walk or cycle round the island and admire the gorgeous city vistas.
Another great view point that offers stunning scenery of Gamla Stan and Djurgarden. You can even see the fun fair from here! You can get there on your way to Fotografiska Museum. Just climb the road that is built on top of the cliffs and enjoy the stunning Stockholm panorama!
Best place to stay in Stockholm
Lady Hamilton Hotel
Situated in the very heart of Gamla Stan, minutes walk to the Royal Palace. Lady Hamilton Hotel has a romantic and feminine style. You can find extraordinary antique pieces of furniture in a Swedish peasant style everywhere throughout the hotel (I saw similar pieces in Nordiska Museum) but also all modern amenities including: sauna with a cold plunge pool to cool down and relax after a long day sightseeing. It’s a great option, for those that want to stay somewhere with a soul. I stayed here travelling solo and felt like at home!
Location- Gamla Stan
Luxury Hotel in Stockholm
This hotel is located just minutes walk from the Opera House. All rooms are individually furnished, some overlook the waterfront, some the park and street. Amenities include spa, swimming pool, sauna and the gym.
Location- Sodra Blasieholmshamnem
This hotel is located right by the Instagram popular park. Crowds come here around end of April to take pictures of a beautiful cherry blossom alley. All rooms are beautifully decorated in a classic Gustavian style. The hotel also has a gym and sauna.
Location- Vastra Tradgardsgatan 11B, Kocksgränd 1
Budget place to stay in Stockholm
City Backpackers Hostel
This hostel offers free cook your own pasta and sauna! You can also hire ice skates and sleighs in the winter for free! All these freebies coupled with a great location – 10 minutes walkfrom the Central Station, makes this hostel a great budget place to stay.
Location- Upplandsgatan 2a