As the capital of a Scandinavian country, Stockholm owes it to itself to offer amazing things to do in winter. And it sure doesn’t disappoint. With snow, ice and the Northern Lights in the sky, the Swedish capital puts on a show worthy of a winter wonderland.

Not to worry though, when it does snow the city is well prepared for it. Walking surfaces are properly salted and gritted, so you won’t be slip sliding around unless you put on some skates and make your way onto the ice. Here are some of our favourite things to do in Stockholm in winter.

Skiing at Hammarbybacken

Though the Swedes are better known for their cross country skiing prowess, they are no strangers to alpine skiing either. And with a ski venue located in central Stockholm it is no wonder that they have won several Olympic medals in the sport. The Hammarbybacken ski venue has 5 ski runs, a children’s area and a snow park, making it a fun place for all ages.

There are 2 green slopes for beginners, and a blue, a red and a black run for the more experienced skiers. Hammarbybacken has a wind shelter with BBQ area and a basic restaurant serving hot food, coffee and sweat treats. The snow park is a little way up the hill and accessible by T-bar lift. There are jumps, boxes and rails for both beginners and intermediates. 

Activities for an incredible winter in Stockholm

Take a walk in the tropics

If the Scandinavian cold is getting to you on your visit to Stockholm in winter, a quick visit to the tropical environment of the Haga Butterfly House. Among waterfalls and rich vegetation, you will discover the wonders of nature. Here the temperature during the day is never lower than 25° Celsius and with its 3000 square meters a visit here sure will be long enough to warm you right up.

Discover the butterfly mating dance, see larvae enjoying all kinds of food and if you’re lucky, watch a butterfly hatch. During a single year, several thousand butterflies live here, and every time you visit there are at least 700 different varieties of butterfly species to see. The butterflies that live here are very exotic to the northern climes of Sweden, while in their home environment they are relatively common.

Shopping at the Christmas Markets

Some of Stockholms most popular spots are home to Christmas markets from the end of November to the end of December. The Christmas market at open-air museum Skansen starts each year with a bonfire. The market here dates back to 1903 and offers everything from home-made candles to sweets and other locally crafted items.

The Christmas market on Gamla Stan is even older, dating back all the way to 1837. The market is set up on Stortorget, the central square of the neighbourhood, and has over 40 booths and stands. Here you can fill up on Christmas treats and try the traditional Swedish mulled wine Glögg, buy ceramics and many more handmade items.

Keep an eye on the sky

Seeing the Northern Lights is on many wish lists around the world, as it is one of the greatest natural phenomena to experience. Usually, they are only visible from around 3000 kilometres south of the North Pole but if you’re particularly lucky, you may even see a sky coloured in shades of red, green and pink from the streets of Stockholm in winter. It essentially depends on the clearness of the sky and the intensity of the aurora.

The winter season usually offers the best chance to see this fascinating natural phenomena while in the Swedish capital. But if you don’t want to leave it to chance, you could always book a trip to the North of the country with Lapland being the ideal destination to observe the Northern Lights.

Activities for an incredible winter in Stockholm

Relax in the sauna

A Swedish sauna, locally known as bastu, is a great way to relax after a day spend outside in the crisp, fresh air. You'll find plenty of opportunities to try a sauna in Stockholm's spas and swimming pool complexes. Saunas in Sweden are typically enjoyed in the nude, there are a few exceptions such as at mixed male-female saunas, but overall wearing anything but a towel will make you stand out more than disrobing.

Centralbadet is one of the best known spas in the city, with a beautiful Art Nouveau design and plenty of saunas and heated swimming pools. You can find it in the heart of the city, on Drottninggatan. Other options include the spa at the Grand Hotel, Sturebadet on Sturegallerian, and Storkyrkobadet in Gamla Stan.

Visit amazing museums

The Swedish capital offers over 50 museums each focussed on its own theme or subject. From art to naval history and pop music, the museums in Stockholm offer something for everyone. The Nationalmuseum is home to the country’s largest art collection, including 16,000 paintings and 30,000 objects ranging from the Middle Ages to present day.

There is no question as to the subject of ABBA The Museum. Here you can sing, play, mix original music, become the fifth member of the band and virtually try on ABBA's extraordinary costumes. The Vasa Museum is the most visited museum in Scandinavia and one of the most unique. The museum centres on a ship that sank in the harbour of Stockholm in the 17th century and was rediscovered and restored in 1961.

Activities for an incredible winter in Stockholm

Step on the ice

Stockholm has several great options to go ice skating; it is a great way to be both outside, have fun and stay warm. The most popular rink is Kungsträdegården near the bridge leading to Gamla Stan, which is usually open from November to March. You can rent skates here but the actual use of the ice is free.

As it is the most popular rink in town, Kungsträdegården can get busy. If you want to avoid the crowds and brought your own skates you can visit the rink in Vasaparken or, for the real skating enthusiasts, go on a one-day ice skating tour on the waterways around the city.