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Sweden is perfect, no matter the time of year
Sweden is perfect, no matter the time of year | © Bengt Nyman / WikiCommons
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When’s the Best Time of Year to Visit Sweden?

Picture of Jozef Brodala
Updated: 13 March 2018
The weather is always a hot topic in Sweden. The country is blessed (some might say cursed) with four very distinct seasons. This means that visiting at different times of the year will provide vastly different experiences. If you embrace the weather and see it as something to enjoy, rather than avoid, then you can have a great time in Sweden all year round. This is what you need to know about each month in Scandinavia’s largest country.

January

Winter is beautiful in Sweden and, because Sweden is ready for the weather, cities and town are well prepared. You won’t have to face the same levels of travel chaos that snow can cause in countries like the United Kingdom. Trains still run and life continues as normal. In Sweden, the concept of mysig comes into play during winter. Mysig, like the Danish idea of hygge, is that feeling you get when you are warm and cozy. Many places, from cafés to hotels, try to capture this sense of coziness by creating lovely, calm indoor spaces. You can also enjoy New Year’s at a cool party in one of the big cities.

Rainfall (Stockholm): Nine days

Average temperature (Stockholm): – 1.6°C (29.1°F)

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Stockholm is beautiful in winter | © eGuide Travel / Flickr

February

This is the perfect time if you want to get a glimpse of the Swedish winter without having to experience it at its peak. The days get longer, the snow gets less heavy and the temperature climbs. It is the ideal time to head up to one of the northern cities, with Jokkmokk in Lapland being a particularly good winter choice. There is a charming winter market here that is known throughout Sweden. The market is held for three days every February. It opens on the first Thursday of the month, with concerts, exhibitions and stalls. It has been part of the town for over 400 years and is a unique experience.

Rainfall (Jokkmokk): Eight days

Average temperature (Jokkmokk): -12°C (8.8°F)

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Jokkmokk is famed for its winter market | © Isecore / WikiCommons

March

As spring starts, the weather begins to get much more amiable and heavy winter coats are exchanged for jumpers. This can be a great time to visit one of the major cities. Malmö, in the south of the country, has particularly good weather in March, especially when compared with other cities. It also hosts a great film festival in this month. The BUFF film festival features films for children and young people, but they are also enjoyable for adults. It is the perfect event for families and there’s a range of seminars and events to enjoy.

Rainfall (Malmö): 12 days

Average temperature (Malmö): 4°C (38.1°F)

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Lila Torg in Malmö is lovely | © CucombreLibre / Flickr

April

April is the month when spring really gets started. The days get longer and are filled with more sunshine. It is the month to head to Uppsala, Sweden’s fourth-largest city and the home of one of its most prestigious universities. At the end of April it is Valborg, the celebration of Walpurgis night. Hundreds of thousands of people fill Uppsala and the city embraces Valborg by holding a raft race down the river, hosting speeches on the balcony of the university’s library and holding parties across the city. Other cities host Valborg celebrations, but Uppsala’s is the premier party in Sweden.

Rainfall (Uppsala): Seven days

Average temperature (Uppsala): 5°C (41°F)

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People build boats for the rafting race | © rine / Flickr

May

The bridge between spring and summer, May is a lovely time to visit Sweden if you want a warm but not overly hot holiday. In Stockholm, the theme park Grona Lund reopens in May but does not have the same level of queues as in the summer months, making it the ideal time to visit. Grona Lund hosts a fantastic annual festival that begins in May and ends in September. It is, in essence, a long festival made up of individual gigs, and this year will see Macklemore, Icona Pop and The Vamps perform. Grona Lund has a summer card, which gives you entry for the whole of the summer season (including the festival) for just 270 SEK (US$33), which is tremendous value.

Rainfall (Stockholm): Seven days

Average temperature (Stockholm): 12°C (53°F)

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May is a great time to visit Grona Lund | © Adrian Paleacu / Flickr

June

June is dominated by the celebration of midsummer. It is arguably the most popular traditional day in Sweden, with the majority of people either hosting or going to a party with great food and dancing. These parties last long into the night, as the sun either doesn’t set at this time of year, or only disappears for an hour or two. People head out into the countryside, eating traditional food like sill and dancing around a maypole; it is a special day and one that everyone in Sweden looks forward to. Many Swedes celebrate in the countryside, and Kalmar, a small city by a lake, is a great place to experience midsummer.

Rainfall (Kalmar): Six days

Average temperature (Kalmar): 16°C (60°F)

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Midsummer has several fun and unique traditions | © Mikael Häggström / WikiCommons

July

Stockholm is the perfect place to visit in July. It has great weather as well as a number of fantastic events and festivals. Stockholm appreciates summer like few other cities: as winter is so hard, summer feels like a reward. Stockholm hosts one of Europe’s best Pride festivals, a wonderful jazz festival and a Taste of Stockholm, a food festival hosted in Kungstradgarden, one of the city’s most beautiful parks. You can also hop on a boat and head out into the stunning archipelago, which has many cafés and restaurants that are open only during summer.

Rainfall (Stockholm): Nine days

Average temperature (Stockholm): 19°C (66°F)

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Stockholm Pride is a wonderful event | © Peter Lindberg / Flickr

August

Gothenburg is a charming city with a huge amount of cultural clout considering its relatively small size. One of the best examples is Way Out West, a music festival featuring some of the biggest names in music. This year will see performances by Arcade Fire, Arctic Monkeys and Kendrick Lamar. August is the perfect month to explore Sweden’s second-biggest city: you can take a boat trip down the river and relax in Kungsparken before strolling the beautiful streets in the Haga neighbourhood. Gothenburg thrives in summer.

Rainfall (Gothenburg): 10 days

Average temperature (Gothenburg): 19°C (66°F)

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Way Out West is one of Sweden’s best festivals | © Fluff / WikiCommons

September

Sweden has a concept called Allemansrätt, which stems from the idea that people should be able to explore nature. According to this concept, Swedes are free to walk, cycle, ski, ride or camp on any land that isn’t privately owned, near a home or being used to grow crops. September is a great time to take advantage of this by heading out to a lake or taking a hike, as the weather is still good, but not too hot for long outdoor activities. Jonkoping has great September weather, as well as a lovely lake to swim in.

Rainfall (Jonkoping): Nine days

Average temperature (Jonkoping): 14°C (57°F)

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Sweden has many stunning outdoor spaces | © Timmy_L / Flickr

October

With the weather starting to get worse, October is a great time to visit and explore Stockholm’s many galleries and magical museums. Fotografiska, one of the world’s leading photography museums, the Vasa museum, which contains a near-intact 17th-century ship, and the ABBA museum are all great options. This October will feature an exhibition at Artipelag, an art gallery out in the archipelago called Detour, where there will be sculptures placed in the spectacular surroundings of the gallery. October is the ideal month to soak up some Swedish artistic and historical culture.

Rainfall (Stockholm): Nine days

Average temperature (Stockholm): 8°C (46°F)

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Artipelag is a beautiful gallery inside and out | © Benjamin Horn / Flickr

November

November is another great month to head to Stockholm. You can experience the city’s international film festival, which is held across a number of great venues across Stockholm. Sweden’s cinema system is made up of two types of cinema. There are SF cinemas, which are part of a large chain, and Folk Bios which are, in essence, independent cinemas. Many Folk Bios are beautifully designed and packed with history. The festival is a great chance to see some wonderful films in a lovely location.

Rainfall (Stockholm): 10 days

Average temperature (Stockholm): 3°C (37°F)

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Bio Rio is one of Stockholm’s most famous Folk Bios | © Jack Wallsten / Flickr

December

As winter begins, so does the run-up to Christmas, with many Swedish customs surrounding the festive period. Lucia, the festival of light, is worth experiencing and is held on December 13 every year. There is a particularly good Lucia concert at Skansen, the outdoor museum, as well as at Adolf Fredrik church in the centre of the city. There are also traditional Christmas markets in the major cities, and if you can experience Christmas at the home of a Swede, then it is well worth doing so. There is usually a magnificent Christmas buffet with a selection of great dishes, including Christmas ham and smoked salmon.

Rainfall (Stockholm): 10 days

Average temperature (Stockholm): 0°C (32°F)

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Lucia is a classic Swedish tradition | © Bengt Nyman / Flickr

When not to visit

There is no bad time to visit Sweden, but if you are wary of cold weather, it might make sense to avoid winter and early March and November. This winter has seen temperatures in Stockholm regularly reach -10°C, with a lot of snow. However, if you come prepared, winter can still be a great time to visit. As the Swedes say, there is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes.