What to do in the winter in Sweden

From the Northern Lights to copper mines

Winter in Sweden is for some a beautiful time, yet for others a time which can be rather depressing. Expats shouldn't worry, we have a list of things which you can do during the dark and cold winter.

First, we will have to take a look at the geographical position of Sweden. There is nearly 1,600kms between the northernmost and southernmost points. This results in differences in climate, landscape, and even the mentality of the people.

To keep things simple, we will look at the country in three regions: Norrland (the north), Svealand (the centre) and Götaland (the south).

Norrland (the north)

So let us start with the north. Northern Sweden lies in the Land of the Midnight Sun, which means that it has nearly continuous daylight during part of the summer. Yet in the winter, there are days with no sunlight, although it is not completely dark because the snow reflects what little light there is. Unfortunately, the temperature is below 0ºC degrees for nearly seven months. So what could you possibly do in a climate like this?

  1. Probably on most people’s bucket list is seeing the Aurora Borealis, or Northern Lights. A great place to see them is the Abisko National Park (north of Kiruna), where you can find guided tours, backcountry camping and the Aurora Sky Station with its lookout tower. A second option could be the village of Jukkasjärvi, which is home to the first ice hotel. Too cold? Try the Treehotel in Harads.  
  2. A great way to combine two fun activities is to take a tour in search of the Northern Lights on a dog sled. Wrap up warm!
  3. For those who wish to travel in the wilderness, an Arctic circle safari is recommended. Don’t expect to see any lions here, but you will travel to mountain lodges with a sauna or a hot tub, have campfires and do some ice fishing. All of this is possible via snowmobile, rally car, or quad or dirt bike.
  4. Cross the Arctic circle! In Swedish Lapland the circle runs through Övertorneå, Rovaniemi, Kemijärvi and Salla. If you wish to know the precise locations, you can take a look at www.lapland-travel-info.com/arctic-circle.html . Make sure you don’t miss the magical enchantment of an Arctic Circle Ceremony.

Svealand (the centre)

Does the northern part seem too cold? Then Svealand could appeal to you more. This is the part which is most popular among visitors due to the fact that Stockholm can be found here.

  1. Visit Sweden’s capital, Stockholm. A city with a beautiful historical part of the town. Just think about the Royal Palace, City Hall, and Vasa Museum. Make sure that you get the Stockholm Card  which offers free entrance to many museums, free public transport, a great way to save money in this notoriously expensive capital.
  2. Falu Kopparbergsgruva (Falun's copper mine) is interesting for those who wish to know more about Swedish history. It was the world's most important mine in the 17th century, and nowadays it is on Unesco's World Heritage List, making this a fascinating day out.
  3. Carl Larsson-Gården is for those who are delighted by art, history and culture. Carl Larsson was, and still is, one of Sweden’s best-loved artists and just being in his house will inspire practically everyone.
  4. Visit the magnificent castle of Örebro! You can choose two different tours; a regular tour of the castle with a guide or the theatrical tour. The theatrical one gives a very lively impression of the castle’s history and is great for families.

Götaland (south)

Last, but certainly not least, we will discuss Götaland, located in the south. While Götaland has a lot to offer, most of its attractions can be found near Göteborg (Gothenburg).

  1. If the water is not frozen, you should definitely visit the Southern Göteborg Archipelago. You can take a ferry between islands and the more adventurous types can rent their own boat. Even during the winter, this landscape is known for its beauty.
  2. What better way to have fun than by visiting an amusement park? Liseberg is one of the leading amusement parks in Europe and has forty rides and attractions. The park is especially beautiful during Christmas, though the entrance fee will be higher during this period.
  3. For those who can bare the smell of fish, the fish church is something unique. Where else can you find a fish market which is located in a former church? There is even the opportunity to sit down and enjoy a good meal, after all there is nothing better than fresh food!
  4. The Universeum is a great place to visit as well. It shows and teaches you about the world. You will have the opportunity to pet stingrays and walk through a shark tunnel (be there early to see the feeding of the sharks). After walking through a rainforest, you can still enjoy two floors full of experiments where you can challenge your body, create music and explore space.

Hopefully you will have enough to do for now. Sweden is a beautiful country, you just have to know the right places!

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