Sweden in the Winter

Old Mar 9th, 2013, 04:25 PM
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Sweden in the Winter

Are we crazy to go to Sweden in the winter? We got our kids on this Ice Hotel "kick" and now they really want to go there. We're thinking we'd spend about 5 days in Stockholm and then fly to Kiruna for a few days to stay at the Ice Hotel and try to see the Northern Lights. How would you describe Stockholm in the winter? I've never been there and would love to explore the city, but feel that we might find ourselves indoors much of the time because of the cold. Looking for any recommendations. Thank you!!!
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Old Mar 9th, 2013, 04:54 PM
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Where are you from and what kind of winter are you used to. If you are from the northern US or southern Canada - Stockholm in winter won;t be any worse - but it WILL be dark most of the time - very few hours of daylight.

Can;t comment on an ice hotel - but I would expect that area to be considerably colder - and would only spend a day or two there. (Stockholm has a ton of stuff to see/do.)
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Old Mar 9th, 2013, 04:58 PM
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There is no issue with going there during winter, no one stays indoors because it is cold and snowy. Just dress appropriately, which means layers because houses, hotels and shops etc are overheated. The cold is dry so never seems quite as bad. Daylight hours may be limited depending on the month and how far north you go, but even in the last month the days have been getting noticeably longer.
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Old Mar 9th, 2013, 05:04 PM
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>>Can;t comment on an ice hotel - but I would expect that area to be considerably colder -<< I sincerely hope so otherwise the hotel will melt.
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Old Mar 10th, 2013, 07:31 AM
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Hi,

The Ice Hotel is in operation between December and April (exact dates varies due to variation in temperature from year to year). It could be a good idea to visit in February or March. In my opinion December should be avoided since Stockholm is usually dark, grey and damp with rain or snow (if snow or rain varies from year to year). In Kiruna it is 24 hour darkness in December.

Sunrise and sunset in Stockholm and Kiruna:

December 11th Stockholm 8:37/14:45
December 11th Kiruna below horizon

January 11th Stockholm 8:39/15:12
January 11th Kiruna 10:38/12:56

February 11th Stockholm 7:37/16:28
February 11th Kiruna 8:18/15:30

March 11th Stockholm 6:20/17:38
March 11th Kiruna 6:21/17:19

April 11th Stockholm 5:48/19:51
April 11th Kiruna 5:11/20:12

Stockholm is not as cold as you might expect. However, it is damp because of its location on the water and could feel colder than it is. In Kiruna the air is dry. -10 degrees Celsius in Stockholm can feel as cold as -20 degrees Celsius in Kiruna because of the damp and the wind. Temperature in Stockholm hardly drops below -10 degrees Celsius even though it can drop to -20 degrees Celsius during shorter periods of time in January and February.

Have fun!
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Old Mar 10th, 2013, 07:36 AM
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You should try going to the Jokkmokks marknad which is also WAY up North in Sweden. I read that it will be the 6-8 February 2014. There you will experience Sami culture. I think that combined with the Ice Hotel in Kiruna would be something to see.

Stockholm in the wintertime is absolutely gorgeous with the special kind of light that you find against the old buildings. Swedes love candlelight so it will be very cozy where ever you duck into. Swedish people also dress for the weather with jackets and boots, hats, gloves and the rest. Expect snow in Stockholm and the North.
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Old Mar 10th, 2013, 07:44 AM
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Thanks for your feedback, everyone. We're going in December-January to coincide with our daughters' school vacation. I I know in the winters here (Philly), we run from house to car to wherever we're going with me exclaiming, "I hate winter!" So I'm inclined to visit Stockholm in the summer. That being said, our girls are truly excited about the Ice Hotel and I'm intrigued by that and the chance to see the Northern Lights. I guess my ultimate question is ... Will we not get the full flavor of Stockholm because of the dark and cold?
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Old Mar 10th, 2013, 08:23 AM
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Well, since you need to go during your daughter's school vacation AND you want to visit the ice hotel you haven't got much of a choice.

You can always cope with the cold, just dress properly. But be prepared to spend a week in more or less darkness. The sun does rise in Stockholm but in December it is usually cloudy so there is a risk it will feel grey and dark nevertheless.

Some people might find it cosy and the streets in central Stockholm are decorated and lit up with illuminated christmas decorations. As I live in Stockholm, I hate the darkness and I don't find it cosy at all. But that is my personal opinion. I will say that Stockholm is at its best from mid May until mid September. But of course, there are a lot of things to see and do in winter. And if you are lucky to experience some snow and after that a bright, sunny and COLD day the city is extremely beautiful in winter too. Everything is bright white and covered in frost! Extremely beautiful! On a day like this you should do a short day trip through the archipelago!

Bring good shoes! Streets and side walks could be VERY slippery due to ice!

The museums and other indoor attractions are pretty much the same regardless of when you visit. But the city is definitely VERY different in December compared to in June.

What is your main reason for visiting Sweden? If it is the Ice Hotel, go now! If it is Stockholm, go in summer!
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Old Mar 10th, 2013, 10:31 AM
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Stockholm won;t be substantially colder than Philly -but if that cold bothers you (I love winter in NY - but would happily give up summer) you will really need to prepare yourself with proper clothing -esp a warm hat and lined winter boots that lift your feet off the frozen pavements - not "fashion" boots.

Caveat: I am talking about regular winter weather, not the couple of days each year we get when the temp is below 0 (farenheit, not centigrade), the wind howling and the snow pounding down.
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Old Mar 10th, 2013, 11:25 AM
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I have to agree with hoxa (who seems to be local and knows it best anyway).
It's not the cold in Stockholm, but the darkness that gets you.
Stockholm is on the 60th parallel. That is WAY up north from Philadelphia. It's actually the same latitude as the borders between the Northern territories of Canada and BC, AB, and so on.

Kiruna is even much further north. So you will get daylight just for 1-3 hours a day max if you go in Dec/Jan (as you can see in hoxa's charts)

As hoxa said, December in Stockholm can be rain and slush and not necessarily a solid romantic layer of white snow.
Add the lack of daylight and it is simply depressing.

Stockholm in late June/early July is a totally different city - full of life and endless hours of sunshine, people outdoors from morning till midnight, enjoying the waterfront, taking the boat to one of the thousands of islands, or making a boat trip to Gripsholm castle, and so on.
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Old Mar 10th, 2013, 01:35 PM
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If you live in Scandinavia then the winters can be long and depressing but for a visit it can seem cosy. The temps this winter have been quite cold, even now it is about 12F/-11C with a cold week ahead but there is more light at this time of the year. If the temps rise to about 0C and the ice starts to melt, it doesn't go slushy, it just melts on the top of the thick ice layer which means it gets very slippery. There is still alot of snow and ice around, at least where we are (west of Stockholm).

I definitely agree Stockholm is a summer city but if you want to visit the Ice Hotel there isn't much choice but to travel in winter.
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Old Mar 10th, 2013, 05:49 PM
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Stockholm has my idea of the perfect summer - 75 degrees, bright blue skies and fluffy white clouds - much better than the 95 an humid you find in NY.
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Old Mar 10th, 2013, 06:47 PM
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Such great information from all of you ... Thank you! I think we are going to take on this winter-time adventure, so a few questions on Stockholm, if you don't mind ... 1) How many days would you recommend for exploring the city? 2) We prefer renting apartments over hotels. Would you recommend a particular neighborhood? I like the idea of staying in the Old Town ... would anyone recommend otherwise? 3) What would be on your must-do list if you had friends visiting for a short stay in Stockholm? 4) A strange question perhaps ... My 15-year-old daughter is a vegetarian. Are there a lot of non-meat options on most menus in Sweden? Thanks for all of your help.
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Old Mar 10th, 2013, 10:40 PM
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Hi Barbara,

If you can find an apartment at a resonable price in the Old Town it is a great location to stay in. However, Stockholm is a quite compact city and public transport is excelent. Another good location to stay in is Södermalm, the large island just south of the old town. Vasastan (the area north of the city center) around Odenplan is another great choice. Östermalm (the area east of the city center) is a somewhat posh and quiet area and in my opinion a bit boring.

I would say that you can easily spend 5 full days in Stockholm without getting bored. More or less all restaurants have vegetarian options. The vegetarian menue is usually quite limited though. You should try this restaurant: http://www.hermans.se/ Web page is in Swedish but there is an "International Visitors" link in the left pane.

Link to official visitors guide to Stockholm: http://www.visitstockholm.com/en/

I am not very much into museums but I do find the Vasa museum excellent. Some of my favourite museums:

- The Vasa museum (http://www.vasamuseet.se/en/)
- Millesgården sculpture museum and park (http://www.millesgarden.se/?languageID=5)
- Artipelag art museum (http://www.artipelag.se/en) Shouldn't be missed!
- The City Hall (http://translate.google.com/translat...%3Foversatt%3D)
- The Hallwyl museum (http://hallwylskamuseet.se/en)
- Nordiska muset (http://www.nordiskamuseet.se/categor...sh&topmenu=142)

Many visitors like Skansen open air museum,I don't.
Link: http://www.skansen.se/en/

Some people also like to visit royal palaces, I don't. If you are interested in royal palaces there are two of them in Stockholm. THE Royal Palace in the old town. The royal palace in Drottningholm where the royal family actually lives. Drottningholm royal palace can be reached by boat (however, I don't think boats are sailing in December/January) or a short metro ride and a bus.

On a sunny winter day, a tour of the archipelago will be an experience that shouldn't be missed. Link to Strömma tour operator: http://www.stromma.se/en/STOCKHOLM/
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Old Mar 11th, 2013, 08:50 AM
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Does your daughter eat fish and seafood? If so then she will be very happy as fresh and smoked fish and seafood is sold in abundance in Sweden. Most restaurants and cafés will have at least one vegetarian dish on their menu. You will find the lunch menus to have the best value otherwise it is very expensive to dine out at the restaurant.

I've do all my hotel bookings using Booking dot com. I find the reviews there helpful and the room descriptions correct. I enjoy staying on Södermalm when visiting Stockholm and here are a few suggestions. Zinkensdamm Hotel/Hostel- Most of the hostel rooms are the same as the hotel room except for you make your bed. Each have a private wc and shower and cable tv in room. (budget); Hotel Hellstens malmgård (medium) or Clarion (business); The T-Bana is very easy and will get you to Gamla Stan in 10 minutes time. I have also stayed in Gamla Stan at one of the Rica hotels. It is more touristy but quaint there and with more 'action' in regards to things to do.

Have fun in Sweden!
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Old Mar 11th, 2013, 05:19 PM
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Thank you, Hoxa and Finecheap! I am excited to start planning now! I'm much more accustomed to visiting Europe in the spring/early summer, so this will be really different. Guess I need to think a lot about clothes, shoes, outerwear for all of us ... Our winters have been getting so mild, my girls will often go out in light jackets, no boots necessary. Thanks again for such helpful information. Barbara
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Old Sep 13th, 2013, 11:30 AM
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Wondering if this trip has happened yet? We are considering going for New Years, as we have family about 3hrs North of Stockholm. Thinking we would want to rent some type of 4 wheel drive vehicle, and maybe have a stop in Iceland. We used Iceland Air out of JFK, the last time went as they were the most reasonable airline.
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