Maybe you’re visiting Stockholm for the first time. Maybe you’re looking to go back. No matter the case, you want to book a trip to the Swedish capital. But while you know where you’re going, when to go to Stockholm is a different question altogether.
As it turns out, there’s no right or wrong answer to the question of the best time to travel to Stockholm. With history, culture, art and an alternative edge, Stockholm is a city that – perhaps fortunately – doesn’t rely on weather or events to attract the crowds. Whether you’re a solo traveler, a couple on a romantic weekend away, or looking to enjoy a family holiday, the best time of year to visit Stockholm, Sweden is really any time.
But to help make the decision of when to visit Stockholm a little easier, let’s take a look at what the city offers its visitors throughout the year. Through summer, autumn, winter and spring, here’s what you can expect from Sweden’s largest city.
Stockholm in the summer
By far the most popular time to visit Stockholm, summer is when the city’s weather is at its best, with daily highs in the early 20s/70s paired with perfectly mild nights. Daylight is in oversupply, with the sun setting after 10pm and rising before 4am. The glorious conditions see both locals and visitors spending more time outdoors than in, with streets, parks and waterways filled with happy, smiling faces. As a major cultural and artistic center, this is also the best time of year to catch art installations, festivals and other performances.
The best of Stockholm in the summer:
- Midsummer Festival: A Scandinavian tradition that stretches back centuries, Midsummer is often seen as the most important public holiday in Sweden. Stockholm celebrates the longest day of the year in style, with parades and street parties dotting the city, particularly during Midsummer Eve. Just be aware that the entire city celebrates this occasion, which means many restaurants, bars and attractions are closed.
- Kayak the archipelago: The city of Stockholm is draped over its namesake archipelago – a series of around 45 islands surrounded by a beautiful spider web of waterways. In summer the water comes alive with row boats, stand up paddle boards and kayaks, as both locals and tourists enjoy the summer greenery. It’s the most beautiful and tranquil way to take in the sights of the Swedish capital.
- Enjoy a late sunset on a rooftop bar: Those long, temperate summer evenings are best enjoyed in the open air, and no air in Stockholm is more open than that found atop the city’s roofs, many of which can be enjoyed with a drink in hand. Some of the best places to watch the late sunset include Barrio and Takpark by Urban Deli
- Summerburst: Stockholm’s biggest outdoor dance party, Summerburst brings electronic music to the fore every August, with some of the biggest acts in the world descending on Stockholm Olympic Stadium to get the huge crowd moving.
Stockholm in the fall
As the somewhat short Swedish summer draws to a close, it doesn’t take long for the change of season to take effect. But that’s not to say the fun draws to a close too – people simply move from outdoors to indoors! During fall visitors are treated to two of Stockholm’s most famous festivals – the Stockholm Jazz Festival and the Stockholm International Film Festival. The cool conditions are also ideal for enjoying delicious autumn produce, and watching the color of the city slowly change!
The best of Stockholm in the fall:
- Apple and mushroom picking: While most plants are busy going into some form of hibernation, two of Sweden’s favorites are just beginning to do their best work. Fall in Sweden means apples and mushrooms, and harvesting these delights can be just as fun as eating them! Pick apples from an orchard and bake them into a traditional Swedish apple pie, or harvest mushrooms in the wild, provided you know exactly which are edible and which are not.
- Stockholm Jazz Festival: In mid-October every year Stockholm dances to the beat of a particularly jazzy drum. Whether smooth, crunchy, traditional, modern, experimental or avant-garde, one of the hundreds of artists spread across 60+ venues is sure to get your feet tapping and your head bobbing.
- Watching the change of season: Fall means exactly that for the rainbow of leaves on deciduous trees, and with yellows, oranges, reds and browns represented, there’s no better place to witness this kaleidoscopic display than the expansive Hagaparken in Stockholm’s north.
- Stockholm International Film Festival: Are you interested in cinema that’s a little different? There are no Marvel superheroes in sight at the Stockholm International Film Festival, held in late November every year. A full one third of the entries, in fact, are directed by debutantes. The festival attracts participants from all around the globe, with the winner taking away the coveted Bronze Horse Award.
Stockholm in the winter
While temperatures may be frigid, the fun doesn’t stop during a Stockholm winter. The Swedish capital turns into the most opulent and delightful of winter wonderlands, with stunning lighting and decorations covered in a beautiful dusting of pure white snow. Prices will be cheaper, queues will be shorter (if non-existent), and you’ll be able to experience this beautiful city just as a local does.
The best of Stockholm in winter:
- Visit museums on the cheap: Most Stockholm museums will either be slightly cheaper or will offer free entry one day a week during winter, particularly if you invest in a Stockholm Pass. They’ll also be nice and warm! Highlights include the Nobel Museum, the Vasa Museum, and of course the ABBA The Museum, which features a telephone whose number has only ever been given to the members of the Swedish supergroup. Ring, ring, let’s hope they give you a call!
- Christmas markets: It’s perhaps unsurprising that Stockholm takes its Christmas markets seriously. Markets serving up food, crafts and mulled wine dot the city, and are more than worth braving the cold for. Check out The Royal Mews and Skansen markets for the most spectacular and traditional Swedish Christmas experience.
- Ice skating at Kungsträdgården: Once you’ve acquired a bit of courage from all that mulled wine, it’s time to strap on some skates and hit the ice. Like Christmas markets, ice rinks are a Stockholm staple in winter, with Kungsträdgården the most famous and spectacular.
- Sweat it out in a Swedish sauna: What’s a trip to Sweden without a sauna? Winter is the ideal time to experience this most Scandinavian of traditions, as you run between sweating in a wooden box to shaking off the heat in the frigid open air. While it might sound uncomfortable, it’s actually incredibly refreshing. Many accommodation options include access to a sauna, so be sure to take up the offer!
Stockholm in the spring
If it’s your first time visiting Stockholm, spring is a spectacular choice. As the worst of the winter chill slowly fades, waterways, parks and public spaces come alive. While spring hits rather late here, when it does arrive the sun can be absolutely glorious, particularly during May. A time of new life, you can expect beautiful scenery, less rain and fewer tourists during spring, making it one of the very best times to visit.
The best of Stockholm in spring:
- Grab a coffee: Caffeine is the drug of choice around these parts, as the average Swede drinks 4-5 coffees per day. Ground beans are often enjoyed as part of fika, a morning tea tradition that the locals take particularly seriously. Enjoy a cup in the sun during this dry time of year.
- Enjoy the spring blooms: By May spring has officially sprung in Stockholm, and the results are spectacular. A city that boasts plentiful green spaces and waterways, walking, riding or paddling through nature is a joy at this time of year. Aim for Bergianska trädgården for exotic blooms or Kungsträdgården for cherry blossoms.
- Get a dose of adrenaline at Gröna Lund: Stockholm’s most famous amusement park, Gröna Lund, is found right on the water’s edge on Djurgarden Island. While compact – both the island and the central location have limited the park’s ability to expand – ‘Grönan’ still packs quite a punch, with eight rollercoasters and dozens of other rides dotting the park’s 3.8 hectares.
- Say hello to royalty: The perfectly baroque Royal Palace is a stunning building that somehow becomes even more beautiful during spring. Perhaps it’s the golden sunlight, the exterior blooms, or the ever-increasing crowds outside; whatever the case, this magnificent residence is more than worth the entry feel