Published On: Sun, Nov 19th, 2023
Travel | 4,459 views

‘I lived in one of Europe’s prettiest winter cities and it’s packed with cosy cafes’ | Travel News | Travel

When I was a student, I was lucky enough to spend a year living in Stockholm, the beautiful capital city of Sweden. While Stockholm is gorgeous during the summer, it’s perhaps at its most enchanting during the winter.

The city has several ice-rinks, Christmas light displays and its streets are packed with cosy cafes to shelter from the cold. Even though Stockholm is a lot colder than the UK in winter, with temperatures often dropping below one degree, I never found the cold to be abrasive.

While it’s definitely important to wrap up warm, the weather is far drier and less windy than during your average British winter.

Even though it does get darker much earlier in Stockholm, with the sun setting before 3pm, the city and its residents are extremely prepared and streets, shops and cafes are very well lit.

So what are the best things to do in Stockholm during the winter?

Ice-skating is a quintessential activity in the run-up to Christmas and Stockholm has some of Europe’s prettiest ice-rinks. My favourite rink is the main one in Kungstradgarden which is lit up with fairy lights and has music some evenings.

It’s free to skate with your own ice-skates but as most tourists are unlikely to have packed some, it’s possible to rent them on the day. Several lakes on the outskirts of the city do freeze over during the winter.

While I loved skating on a natural lake, it’s important to only do so on an organised tour or if signs indicate it’s safe. Even if you see other people skating on the lake, it could be far too dangerous for beginners.

If you’re visiting before Christmas, make sure to check out the window display at one of Stockholm’s leading department stores, Nordiska Kompaniet. It changes every year and is one of the city’s Christmas light highlights.

Head inside the department store for any last-minute Christmas shopping or see if there’s any tasters at the food hall. Don’t miss the full-size reindeer lights in Kungstradgarden either.

Stockholm’s Old Town ‘Gamla Stan’ is usually top of most tourists’ bucket lists and the square is home to the city’s Christmas market in the run up to the day. Sample a glogg, a traditional Swedish mulled wine.

After a day exploring, make sure to grab a seat by a cafe window and eat a traditional cinnamon bun. I also love the slightly less famous but equally delicious cardamom buns.

During December, saffron buns are also a popular treat in Sweden and are made to celebrate the festival of St Lucia on December 13.

Fancy an extended winter break? Take the train across the bridge to Copenhagen, another beautiful winter destination.

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