I get asked this question a lot regarding the best month or the best time to visit Stockholm. So I set out to write the answer with the experience of years traveling to the city. I have thought about writing pros and cons of each season, the usual temperature and daylight hours at that time of year, as well as the main events that take place in Stockholm during each month. That way you can choose when to go knowing what you are going to find.
Visiting Stockholm in Spring
Speaking of visiting Stockholm in spring, I focus on the months of April, May and June. The temperature moves between 0°C and 10°C (32 – 50 F) in April (some days it is also possible to run into negative degrees depending on the type of winter) to 10-20°C (50 – 68 F) in June with the possibility exceeding them by some degrees. My last two trips in June to Sweden the temperature was around 25-30ºC (77 – 86 F) during the day. At the beginning of April there are 13 hours of daylight between 6 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. in Stockholm. At the beginning of May the day has extended until 16 daylight hours between 4:50 a.m. and 8:30 p.m to arrive at 18 daylight hours at the beginning of June and 19 daylight hours at the end of that month. It is not surprising that from May onwards, outdoor tourist activities become more present.
The landscape is also changing from the possible remains of snow and dried grass in the beginning of April (once again depending on the year it can be advanced or delayed somewhat) to the splendid natural manifestation that Stockholm offers in June with plants and flowers in all their splendor accompanied by the warm light of the Sun at this latitude.
As for events in April – in certain years – you will be able to enjoy Easter celebrations in Stockholm. At the end of April the Stockholm Culture Night takes place and you can enjoy free activities in the most emblematic places of the city. Also the Stockholm hanami is also celebrated then and Stockholmers, like the Japanese, gather to see the cherry blossoms. In Stockholm, this is mainly done in Kungsträdgården – the king’s central gardens – and in Södermalm on the Bysis torg square next to the Skinnarviksberget viewpoint.
Another highlighted celebration in the Swedish calendar takes place on April 30 and it is the Night of Walpurgis or Valborgmässoafton where bonfires are lit in the city. Skansen is usually a very good place to participate in this event. Also at the end of April, Gröna Lund, Stockholm’s amusement park, located on the island of Djurgården, usually opens. In this time of the year start many of the boat tours around the city and the archipelago included in the Stockholm Pass, tourist card.
Outdoor sports events such as the Vårruset women’s race take place in May. These may be interesting for you if you are the kind of bringing your running shoes with your on every trip. At the end of May the Djurgårdsdagarna or Djurgården days are also held. This is a festival with music, crafts, gastronomy, contests and lots of water and a marine atmosphere on this island. Also with more sunny days approaching people start to feel like walking along the sea or sitting on a terrace when the Sun is up.
Strandvägen, the street running along the Östermalm coast towards the island of Djurgården, where I took the picture under these lines, is one of my favorite places to do both.
In June, Stockholm becomes more self-aware of its role as a summer city. The flowers and plants that appeared at the end of April and May take on even more prominence in this month, giving colourful life to the urban natural landscapes. As for outstanding events, there is June 6, Sweden’s National Day, and Midsommar, the Swedish celebration par excellence (perhaps only surpassed by Christmas). Midsommar is the summer solstice always on a Friday night (midsommarafton) and Saturday (midsommar) between June 20 and 26. One place to enjoy this festivity is the Skansen open air museum and park.
Also in June Smaka på Stockholm, a 6-day gastronomic festival, is held inviting guests to taste gastronomy from different parts of Sweden and international thanks to hundreds of food producers and the best foodtrucks in Stockholm. The event is held in Kungsträdgården. At the end of the month the urban art festival Stockholm Street Festival is held with clowns, illusionists, trapeze artists, magicians, graffiti artists and comedians.
If you visit Stockholm in spring, the further into the season, the more possibilities you have to do outdoor tourist activities, museums and shops will be open longer and you can extend the time you outside enjoying the city. Even for those of you arriving to Stockholm on a cruise there will be more chances to fully enjoy your one or two-day stay in the capital of Sweden.
Visiting Stockholm in Summer
Stockholm in summer is the continuation of spring. When summer weather is good July and August can bring temperatures between 20 and 25ºC during the day (68 – 77 F). At night, it gets cooler so you should bring a light jacket with you if you are prone to freeze. If summer is very good, which sometimes happens, there may be several days around 30ºC and rarely 35ºC (86 – 95 F). If it is a bad summer rains or drizzles and cloudy days with temperatures closer to 15ºC (59 F) are frequent. Anyway, even with a good summer, there may be occasional showers to cool the day. By mid and late September daytime temperatures are already milder and can easily be around 15ºC (59 F). As for daylight hours, they decrease from 18 in mid-July to 15 in mid-August and 12:30 in mid-September .
In case you wonder as a comparison with my city, Barcelona, between March 21 and September 25 approximately every day there are more daylight hours Stockholm than in Barcelona. By the end of June the difference is up to 3 more hours in the Swedish capital. Obviously neither the altitude nor the sunflow are similar and that is why in Sweden the Sun “feels less warming”
Another thing to keep in mind is that in mid-August children in Sweden start school and the country enters what I call “winter preparation period” with which public transport lines suffer changes in their schedules and museums and other places shorten their customer service hours.
Landscapewise, Stockholm looks more spring-like the closer to June and more autumnal the closer to September. Green colours are spotted everywhere and plants and flowers garnish the corners of the city inviting you to walk along for many hours.
Regarding interesting events, in July there is the Stockholm Music & Arts festival held on the island of Skeppsholmen which is not free but has guest artists both from Sweden and international. Also at the end of the month the Putte i Parken festival takes place in Kungsträdgården with free admission and with the presence of renowned Swedish musicians. Stockholm Pride, the largest pride parade in Scandinavia, is also held in July.
For those who travel to Stockholm in August in the middle of the month, the city is dominated by the Stockholm Culture Festival that fills the streets of the capital with culture and music. Most of the events of the Stockholms Kulturfestivalen are free. Simultaneously, the We Are Sthlm youth festival, the largest in Europe, unites young people aged 13 to 19 reaching more than 750,000 visitors. At the end of August the kräftskivor season begins. The crab tasting parties are very popular in Sweden and you should join one. If you visit Stockholm during this time of the year it is also a very good occasion for those who dare tasting the fermented herring or surströmming the most controversial of Swedish delicatessen.
In September there are fewer tourists visiting the city and thus hotels in Stockholm are also cheaper. It can be a very good month to visit the city if you are looking to avoid the crowds and do not mind a temperature slightly lower than during the summer. At the end of the month Skansen holds the Autumn Fair (watch this video of the höstmarknad to see what it is about) in its facilities with a 19th century market. At the beginning of September the oyster season begins in Sweden (a good place to try them is at the Hötorgshallen market) and at the end the lobster season begins with a designated day (hummerpremiär). Also at the end of the month the Stockholm Beer & Whiskey Festival is arranged with wide participation of local producers. Gröna Lund can be visited as an event and amusement park until the last weekend of this month.
Visiting Stockholm in Autumn
In this section I write about part what it is like to visit Stockholm in the months of October and November and I keep December for the winter because although belonging to Autumn it is always associated with Winter due to Christmas and snow. The average day temperature in October is around 7ºC (45 F) in Stockholm and in November it is only 2ºC (35 F). It is in November when the first days with degrees below 0ºC show up and the first frosts begin to appear in the morning. Daylight lasts for 10 hours in mid-October with the Sun rising at 7:30 a.m. and setting at 5:30 p.m. and a little more than 7:30 hours in the middle of November with the sun rising at 7:50 a.m. and setting around 3:20 p.m.
The landscape in October is even more filled with the autumnal colors already in place since September. Gradually the leaves of the trees disappear and at the end of November it looks more like a winter landscape with bare trees waiting for the fall of some sporadic snowfall.
Stockholm in October allows you to enjoy pleasant walks through the autumn nature without freezing. Also, as explained above, there are still enough daylight hours to make the most of the day to visit the city and museums (many with reduced opening hours). The month of October is the last month to enjoy visiting the farmers market on Katerina Bangata Street on the island of Södermalm and which takes place every Saturday starting in August.
On October 4, the Cinnamon Bun Day is celebrated in Sweden so if you travel around these dates do not forget to pay your deserved tribute. At the end of October and beginning of November you can take advantage of the All Saints holiday (Alla helgons dag), now internationalized and adapted to Halloween, to visit Skogskyrkogården, the Wooden Cemetery, located south of Stockholm, and which is a unique heritage site of Unesco in Stockholm .
If you come to Stockholm in November, especially in the second half of the month, you will already find the Kungsträdgården ice skating rink open (free admission if you take your own skates but the rental is not very expensive) and you will be able breathe a pre-Christmas atmosphere with the Christmas lighting installed and ongoing purchases of trees, decorative objects, gifts as well as the opening of the first markets such the Christmas Market in Skansen or the annual market of the Stockholm Royal Stables (Konungens hovstall). Museums such as Arkdes offer exhibitions related to Christmas and Swedish traditions. In this case, Arkdes being a museum of architecture and design, exhibits gingerbread-made houses.
A Sunday before Christmas is the skyltsöndag – the shop window Sunday – in which the shopping centers and stores open their Christmas windows full of light and color. Just a few days later the Christmas lights lit up.
In the vicinity of Stockholm, in Uppsala you can enjoy the Allt Ljus på Uppsala festival of lights that decorates and illuminates some of the city’s most central streets.
Stockholm in autumn allows you to enjoy a walk through the city (shorter in November) and visit the museums, galleries and attractions available.
Visiting Stockholm in Winter
Under this topic, I include Stockholm in December, January, February and March. The temperature in winter is cold or very cold, the maximum being around 0º to 5ºC (32 – 41 F) on quiet days and the minimum being above -15ºC (5 F) especially around the end of the year, January and February. Daylight in mid-December amount to around 6 hours and begin to increase just after the winter solstice. At the end of January daylight is already 8 hours long and by the end of February 10:30. During the last days of March a visitor can enjoy around 13 daylight hours.
The landscape is variable. For example, Stockholm is not always snowy at the beginning of December and sometimes it is not snowy even for Christmas Eve or New Year’s Eve. So a white Christmas is something very desired but not always obtainable. Statistics from the Swedish meteorological service say that from 2000 to 2015 there were only 6 times with snow in the city during Christmas. Of these times, in 4 years there were 10 cm (4 in) or more of snow in Stockholm. The year 2012 with 41 cm / 16 in was a record only second to that of 1915. One year there were between 1 and 9 cm and in two years there was a light snowfall. However, snow usually appears in January, February and early March. Obviously, in the case of climate issues they are subject to unpredictable variations. The SMHI website allows, in addition to a weather forecast, to see the cm of snow present in Sweden to get an idea of what to expect during your visit.
In Stockholm in December there are very popular Christmas markets such as the market at Stortorget square in Gamla Stan, the Skansen Christmas market or others held in islands of the archipelago. If you visit Stockholm in this month do not miss the opportunity to try glögg, Swedish mulled wine, Christmas must, julmust, and julbord, the Swedish Christmas buffet, in one of the many restaurants that offer them or even aboard a ship sailing through the Baltic Sea.
As for buying gifts: the department stores NK, Åhléns, Gallerian or Mood Stockholm are among the best to find what you are looking for. Of course on December 24 at noon, December 25 and 26 everything will be closed. From December 27 to 31 the mellandagsrea, year-end sales, are the one and only thing to do for the Swedes.
Arriving in Stockholm in January implies finding a city trying to recover from the holidays and excesses of the previous year and facing the harsh reality of short days, dark nights and cold weather. In any month of the year it is advisable to visit the cafeterias and patisseries of Stockholm to enjoy a good fika but in January, and as a traveler it is not only recommended but necessary. After discovering the city on foot nothing better than getting something warm to eat and drink and regaining strength. Plan your visits to these places in your travel agenda. In this guide for visiting Stockholm in 3 days, although set in spring / summer, you will find my recommendations for cafeterias and restaurants.
February … what to say about February. Many, many Swedes I know tell me about two key months as the worst of the year to live in Stockholm and Sweden. Apparently they compete with each other to see which one is sadder. They are November and February. Those who hate cold weather blame February for all their ills. Those who hate darkness do the same with November when the absence of snow makes their mornings, evenings and Olmian days darker. However, as a temporary traveler, things change. February is a month of being a tourist in museums, galleries, shops, loppis (flea markets) or department stores. Sometimes there is time even for going skiing not far away from Stockholm‘s city center.
February is also a month of hearing the snow crunching under your feet. It can also be a good month to enjoy the taste for decoration with which the Swedes decorate their homes and offices and that can be observed in full darkness thanks to the absence of window blinds and the delicate, punctual and suggestive lighting with which their houses. Do not miss enjoying the semlor, the Swedish Lenten rolls, of which you will hardly be able to eat just one.
Stockholm in March is a city coming to light and rediscovering itself. Easter is just around the corner and the flora is ready to turn green when the snow and ice cover melt and let it to obtain the necessary oxygen to brighten our eyes with its fresh colors. The Baltic Sea does the same and quickly defrosts. This in the ears of Mother Nature sounds like heavenly music compared to the Melodifestivalen finals that take place this month to the Swedish and Spanish fans of the Eurovision festival. By the way, more and more European tourists fly to Stockholm or other Swedish cities to attend this spectacular event of Swedish musical creativity. I’m glad!
In March depending on the year you can enjoy the Easter festivities in Skansen as the main event. You can already take a walk outside without having to constantly suffer from low temperatures but basically indoor tourism (museums, galleries, shopping) is still the most interesting. For the sweet tooth if you are in Stockholm at this time in addition to eating semlor you can enjoy, on March 25, the Swedish Waffle Day.
So The Best Time to Travel to Stockholm Is …
I would say that each of them has its positive and negative things. Some times there are more positive than others. It depends on what you want to do. Obviously the weather is much better from May to September but the feeling of the Swedish winter in November and especially December has its charm.
«OK, I see … but if you had to recommend a specific time, which one would it be?» is the usual question. «If you could only travel once, when would you go?» they continue. That is impossible, I think. If you travel to Stockholm once, you will come back.
But I will give my answer to you. Knowing the kind of tourist I am, the best time is end of June beginning of July. My reasons: I like daylight, I like to spend hours abroad walking almost aimlessly through the city. I am not a tourist visiting many museums so, in general, I do not care much that their schedules are rather short. I’m also not in need of constantly stopping to drink something so my level of breaks for fika does not match the one necessary during a winter visit. And I love the green color in general and the greenness of the Swedish nature combined with the blue of the Baltic water on a sunny day.
And what do YOU think? When did you travel to Stockholm? Is your opinion similar to mine? Or when are you planning to go? Feel free to leave me a message with your comments about it.