Think snow covered roofs, Christmas markets with lots of mulled wine (HELLS YEAH) and eating as much Swedish meat balls as you can without feeling guilty, because it’s winter y’all and you need hearty food to stay warm.
But enough gas bagging, and onto why you’re reading this article…
In the lead up to my Scandinavian winter adventures, the looks I got from friends and family were akin to them basically fearing for my life.
The cold, honest truth? It’s hard. Bloody hard. Especially coming from an Australian summer.
But it’s also beautiful. And magical. And significantly cheaper than summer. Did I mention cheaper?
On the first day, I still remembering pulling open the curtains of our apartment to see a blanket of white, with little snowflakes trickling down past our window. As the day progressed, groups of school children would run around in their onesies, sledding and rolling around in the snow.
The little girl inside was like “I AM IN A WINTER WONDERLAND MOVIE”. Cue the Frozen move soundtrack.
For those of you who dream of a magical snow covered Stockholm (or any other major Scandinavian city), I’ve put together my fantastical-best-est-guide to surviving (and THRIVING!) the weather.
- IT’S BLOODY COLD, SO COME PREPARED
This seems to be an obvious point, but if you’re from the Southern Hemisphere, nothing can prepare you for how cold it really can be. If you don’t come prepared, you will cry. I’m not even kidding. Cold hurts. Hurts, BAD.
Before leaving, I stocked up on thermals (yes, you will wear them), fleece jackets, woolen socks, winter scarves and of course, a sturdy pair of boots. This is not the time to be a princess – hey I love cute outfits as much as the next girl, but when it gets this cold there comes a time where you need to balance comfort with looks.
Suitcase Tip: If you live in Melbourne, the lovely people at Bogong Equipment in the CBD will be able to sought you out. They’ve got a really great selection of thermals, woollen socks and fleece jackets. I also lived in my Timberland boots for 2 weeks (they were the only winter appropriate footwear I could find during Australian Summer).
Gamla Stan – Stockholm’s Old Town
- MUSEUMS ARE NOT ONLY FOR NERDS
In Stockholm, there’s basically a museum for everything. Cue nerdy excitement.
There’s a Nobel Peace Prize museum with memorabilia from notable prize winners, a museum about the history of alcohol and my personal favourite…
A POSTAL MUSEUM.
I collected stamps when I was younger, so this museum gave me definite nostalgia of the good ‘ol days when sending letters was the norm.
So what are you waiting for??
Pick a topic that interests you, and voila, you have a indoor activity that will entertain you on the coldest of days.
Suitcase Tip: most museums have one night a week where they offer free entry to the museum or to certain exhibits. If you’re in Stockholm for a week or more, this is a great way to visit the museums on a budget.
*SQUEAL* – the Swedish Postal Museum!
- EAT AT A CHRISTMAS MARKET
Sure, they’re held outside in the cold, but…
Mulled wine. Sausages. Ginger bread.
In all seriousness, there is nothing better than eating your weight in German Sausages and sauerkraut and drowning it all down with some mulled wine.
Suitcase Tip: If you’re travelling in January no fear – some major cities still have Christmas markets during this month, so make sure you do your research to avoid missing out!
- FILL YOUR BELLY WITH SWEDISH MEAT BALLS OR REINDEER
Granted, this doesn’t quite work if you’re vegetarian. Which in this case, it’s probably best for you to ADVERT YOUR EYES and move onto point 5 below.
For those of us who eat meat, this is the perfect way to fill up on a cold day. I can’t imagine scoffing a bowl of Swedish meat balls in the summer (yuckkk!)
Suitcase Tip: Meatballs For The People in Stockholm, is one of the best locations to get your meatball fix. The restaurant regularly fills with people before lunch time and is incredibly popular with locals on their lunch break.
GET IN MY BELLY
- SEE THE NORTHERN LIGHTS
Travelling this far up north in the middle of winter is the perfect time to chase the the Northern Lights.
Whilst a viewing isn’t always guaranteed (I guess Mother Nature doesn’t have the same reliability as an Amazon Prime order), your chances are increased when visiting in winter. Not to mention if you come during this time of year you’ll get to do fun things like HUSKY SLEDDING (I swear I didn’t try to take one of the huskies home with me) and snowmobiling.
Suitcase Tip: make sure you do your research; the Northern Lights are best seen from locations far from major cities where there is less light pollution. We visited Nellim in Finland for 5 days where we saw the lights every night we were there, and had a range of winter activities to choose from during the day time. Want to hear more? I’ll be posting a more detailed article about my experiences soon!
Despite the cold, ball breaking weather, Stockholm really is a beautiful city to explore… Snow or no snow, there are endless experiences and parts of this city to explore!
I fell in love with the snow covered roofs, the hip boutiques and cafes, and even learned to love the ice covered, slippery-heart-pound-inducing pavements.
Have I missed anything? Have you visited Stockholm or Scandinavia during the winter? What are some of your tips?