Best Time to Visit Stockholm

Best Time to Visit Stockholm

Many people believe that the best time to visit Stockholm is summer, when the city’s beautiful islands form the backdrop for long days spent sightseeing, swimming, kayaking and eating outdoors. But as lovely as Stockholm is in the sunshine, don’t underestimate the pleasures of visiting in midwinter, when candlelit cafes and atmospheric Christmas markets light up the cold, dark days. Or in spring and autumn, when it’s still mild, but nowhere is crowded and it’s easy to get a dinner reservation. Indeed, it’s never a bad time to visit Stockholm. Travellers will find a veritable smörgåsbord of delights to enjoy, from a thriving cultural scene to delicious cuisine to fascinating history and a calendar packed with exciting events. Here’s our guide to finding your best time to visit Stockholm.


The Seasons in Stockholm

Stockholm is a city blessed with four distinct seasons. Whenever you visit, most attractions will be accessible, just be prepared to wrap up in winter when temperatures drop to around -3°C. In summer, the landscape is gorgeously green and the weather warm, at 15-20°C. A popular time to visit is during the mild ‘shoulder’ season, which includes May and September, but also the end of April and the beginning of October. It’s fair to call Stockholm’s weather unpredictable; there can be snow in April and short, sun-filled days in October. Fortuitously, from picturesque Gamla Stan to the cutting-edge creative area of SoFo, the city is filled with open spaces and cosy coffee shops – all perfect for warming up or cooling down as required.


Spring – Best Time for Blooms and Blanket ‘Fika’

If you wish to experience Stockholm with all your senses, spring is the time to visit. March, April and May are among the driest months of the year and the crowds are yet to arrive, so this can be a wonderful season to visit. Spring officially arrives in Stockholm with the mid-March equinox, but it’s usually another few weeks before it’s visible in the budding trees and early blooms. Mirroring nature, the city steadily shrugs off winter and bursts into life as the days get longer. Restaurants, cafes and bars open their outdoor areas, and you’ll see locals gathering under blankets, sharing a fika coffee break while soaking up the soft sun. Fine weather days present the ideal opportunity to explore Stockholm’s many green spaces, particularly the gorgeous pink canopy of cherry blossoms in Kungsträdgården Park. Other spring highlights include Hornstull’s weekly food and vintage market, which starts in April, and Kulturnatt – a free celebration of music, art and literature, which usually takes place a few weeks after Easter.


Summer – Best Time for Outdoor Adventures

Most people choose to visit Stockholm in June, July and August when the weather is at its best. The summer may be short, but the days are long and the city has a celebratory air, particularly after Midsummer, with verdant parks, urban beaches and island excursions to enjoy. Festivals are more frequent during peak season, offering an exciting and fun alternative to sightseeing. Good weather makes it easy to include a host of outdoor activities in your city break, and we’d recommend hitting Stockholm’s urban waterways in a kayak; paddle your way out into the bay to enjoy splendid views of the capital. It’s worth noting that most Swedes are entitled to six weeks of paid holiday, so as the season starts to wind down, you may find that some shops, restaurants and bars are closed. On the other hand, August is a great time for cycling or sailing around Stockholm’s stunning archipelago, where you’re likely to meet lots of laidback locals enjoying their own summer holidays.


Autumn – Best Time for Insta-worthy Images  

Autumn is arguably the most underrated season in Stockholm. Secretly, it may even be the best time to visit. Allow us to explain. It's true that the weather in September, October, and November can be grey and cool, but there’s a whole host of seasonal activities to enjoy. The autumn colours are spectacular in the city parks, and the famous foliage makes the bright buildings of Gamla Stan pop, so you’ll be sure to capture lots of stunning photos. Sweden’s popular open-air museum and zoo, Skansen, takes on a decidedly different feel once the summer crowds have fallen away. There’s still plenty to see, with an aquarium, wildlife park and stalls selling a wide selection of seasonal goods, just be sure to check the schedule in advance. Should you need to seek shelter, Stockholm has plenty of fantastic museums and galleries – we’re big fans of the Vasa Museum, or for something quirkier, try pop-tastic ABBA The Museum. The Stockholm Fringe Festival also takes place over six days in September and it’s a superb showcase of art that doesn’t fit into the normal definitions, from performances to installations. Sports fans may be interested in the Stockholm Open tennis championships in October – an indoor competition starring the biggest names in the game.


Winter – Best Time for Frosty Fun

December is a cosy month in Stockholm. The dark days are brightened by the city’s Christmas lights and the air is crisp and cold. Snow is by no means guaranteed but it adds lots of atmosphere when it falls during the festive season. This is the time to explore the city’s Christmas markets, especially those in Gamla Stan and Skansen, where you can source unique Swedish crafts, decorations, hand-dipped candles and fabulous food and drink. In January and February, when temperatures dip well below freezing, Stockholm becomes a winter wonderland for ice-skating and cosying up over coffee and cinnamon buns in cute cafés. While many locals hunker down after New Year, in February the social scene livens up a little, so expect the bars and restaurants to have more atmosphere. Those seeking an alternative experience can wrap up and tour Stockholm’s street art and graffiti, including the famous art on the underground, to sense the city’s edgier side.