Sweden in winter promises an escape like no other. Between December and March, this Nordic nation is swathed in snow and comes alive with a host of wintry traditions.
Whatever your interests, you’ll find plenty of things to do in Sweden in winter – particularly if you make your way north to Lapland.
This is a realm of frozen lakes, reindeer, and snow-covered plains glimmering under the northern lights. Here you can uncover the ancient traditions of the Sami, go dog sledding, visit ski resorts, and experience the most magical Christmas of your life.
Read on for more inspiration, or get started today by exploring these winter tours of Sweden.
Sweden in winter: where to go
Spending a winter holiday in Sweden is all about getting out in the snow and immersing yourself in the local customs and traditions. So where should you go?
1. Swedish Lapland
Head north to Swedish Lapland, where an abundance of winter activities awaits. Think dog sledding, snowmobiling, and visiting the ICEHOTEL. Plus, Lapland is the best place to see the northern lights in Sweden.
Fall for Kiruna – the main hub in Swedish Lapland – with its rustic, authentic and laidback atmosphere. Immerse yourself in the beauty of Abisko National Park and learn more about the indigenous Sami communities.
- Enjoy the winter wonders of Swedish Lapland with a Kiruna tour package
- Related: Reasons you should take a winter break in Kiruna, Sweden
If you love city getaways, discover the Swedish capital in its wintry splendour. Explore Stockholm’s old town, Gamla Stan, visit the famous City Hall, and go ice skating at the famous Kungsträdgården.
You could visit Stockholm as part of a winter tour of Scandinavia, a region in the Nordics encompassing Sweden, Norway and Denmark. Soak up the charms of the Scandinavian capitals and enjoy a mix of world-class art, history, cuisine and nightlife.
- Discover Stockholm, Copenhagen and Oslo on one of these Scandinavia winter tours
- Related: Scandinavia in winter - what to do and where to go
Sweden: things to do in winter
Here’s our top pick of things to do in Swedish Lapland in winter.
1. Hunting the northern lights
One of the key reasons to head to northern Sweden in winter is the aurora borealis. Marvel at brilliant curtains of green, violet and red light rippling across the night sky.
Lapland lies within the Arctic Circle, in a region known as the “aurora zone”. Between December and March you have an excellent chance of seeing the world-famous northern lights in person.
One excellent place to spot them is the Aurora Sky Station, an observation tower perched on the side of Mount Nuolja in Abisko National Park.
- Chase the aurora borealis on a northern lights tour in Lapland
2. Dog sledding
Driving a dog sled through the northern wilds of Lapland is the quintessential Swedish winter activity. It’s also, in our opinion, an unmissable experience.
Wrap up warm and sit back as your guide and their pack of huskies whisk you through the snowy wilderness. After a little training, you can even try your hand at guiding the pack yourself.
- Explore these packages offering dog sledding tours in Lapland
3. Spotting Arctic wildlife
With their thick coats and towering frames, the native animals of northern Sweden are formidable to observe, especially when seen in their natural habitat.
Come to Lapland in the winter and you might spot moose and wild reindeer roaming the snowy plains. You may even catch a glimpse of some wolves – from a safe distance, of course.
Adrenaline junkie or not, snowmobiling is an absolute must if you plan on travelling to Sweden in winter. You’ll have the opportunity to explore remote, scenic areas that would otherwise be impossible to traverse.
Don’t worry if this is your first time snowmobiling, as full training is given and safety gear always provided.
- Check out these tours offering snowmobile safaris in Lapland
5. Experiencing Sami culture
The ancient Sami culture is indigenous to Lapland, and is characterised by a semi-nomadic lifestyle of fishing, fur trapping and reindeer herding. Delve into Sami life during your trip to Kiruna, learning all about this civilisation that dates back 6,000 years.
When you travel to this part of Sweden, you can visit traditional reindeer farms and uncover locally made arts and crafts (“slöjd”). Why not also try local specialities such as cloudberry jam?
Be prepared to come away with multiple souvenirs!
6. Sightseeing in Kiruna
Visit the northernmost city in Sweden, Kiruna, and you’ll have plenty of hotels, shops, sightseeing spots and public transport links at your disposal. You’ll also be close to the incredible snowy scenes that envelope this northern hub.
Tour the iron mine and explore the iconic Kiruna Church, which was built in the shape of a traditional Sami dwelling.
In nearby Esrange and Jukkasjärvi, further delights await. You can visit an 18th-century church and – rather unexpectedly – visit Europe’s largest civilian space centre.
- Check out these tour packages of Kiruna, Lapland
7. Snowshoeing & cross-country skiing
Snowmobiles and dog sleds might be the quickest way to get around. But there’s something special about exploring the wilderness on a snowshoe or cross-country skiing tour.
Following an experienced guide, you’ll sweep across the snow, enjoying a serene exploration of Lapland’s most tranquil regions.
8. Staying at the ICEHOTEL
At once an art installation and a luxury hideaway, ICEHOTEL offers you the opportunity to sleep in a room entirely constructed from ice.
Kept at a temperature of between -5 and -8°C (23 and 17°F), this is without doubt one of the most unusual hotels in the world. Don’t worry though, as you’ll be protected from the cold with thermal sleeping bags and reindeer skins.
What makes this experience truly unique is that the hotel melts every spring, meaning each winter it is rebuilt from scratch. Spend a night here and it will stay with you forever.
- Visit or stay in this unique accommodation on one of these Lapland ice hotel packages
- Related: ICEHOTEL in Sweden - your complete guide
9. Celebrating Christmas & New Year
What could be more festive than a snowy landscape dotted with pine trees and reindeer? Beyond the magical scenery, Sweden is bursting with things to do come Christmastime.
Tour the Christmas markets, go ice skating, enjoy a candlelit “Santa Lucia” church service, and sample the festive foods. Try Swedish gingerbread, mulled wine, cured salmon, meatballs, and clove-studded ham.
And of course, kids will love meeting Santa in his homeland – that includes big kids!
10. Sightseeing in Stockholm
On a winter city break to Stockholm, spend your days enjoying the palaces, art galleries, architecture and restaurants of the Swedish capital.
Discover the atmospheric Gamla Stan ("Old Town") and marvel at the Royal Palace, parliament, medieval houses and old churches.
Wander along the popular street, Drottninggatan, for some shopping and people watching. Go for a walk in the surrounding area of Östermalm, a trendy neighbourhood where you can stop for a bite to eat. Channel Swedish culture by relishing a fika ("coffee break").
- Visit Stockholm, Copenhagen and Oslo on one of these winter Scandinavia packages
Tips for visiting Sweden in winter
1. Weather and average winter temperature in Sweden
The average winter temperature in Sweden is fairly frosty. In the south of Sweden, you can expect the thermometer to hover just below freezing.
Head north to Lapland and you’re in for even colder temperatures. In Kiruna, the average January temperature is -11°C (13°F), with snow covering the ground from November onwards.
- Learn more about Lapland’s climate
2. What to pack and which clothes to wear in Sweden’s winter
It goes without saying that warm clothing should be top of your list. We recommend bringing plenty of insulating inner layers, as well as a proper winter coat and good, thick socks.
When you book a winter Lapland tour with Nordic Visitor, we provide warm clothing for you to wear. You’ll also receive protective gear for any day trips or activities such as dog sledding.
- Read this guide for advice on packing for Lapland
3. Getting there
Many international airlines fly direct to Stockholm, which is a major transport hub.
The easiest way to reach Lapland is to fly from Stockholm. The airport at Kiruna is a fantastic entry point for the region, with daily flights from the capital arriving and departing year-round.
The flight between Stockholm and Kiruna takes approximately 1 hour 40 minutes.
- Find out more about travelling to Swedish Lapland
If we’ve sufficiently whetted your appetite for a winter trip to Sweden, now’s the time to get booking. Here at Nordic Visitor, we offer a variety of exciting tours to help you explore this magical corner of the world.
Our Sweden travel consultants are based in Stockholm and will design your perfect getaway. They'll organise your accommodation, activities and transport, so you can relax and leave all the planning to local experts.
Plus, during your trip you'll have access to our 24/7 helpline, should you need our support at any time.
Get in touch with our Sweden travel experts to learn more and make your dream trip a reality.