As the days grow shorter and the nights longer, Sweden transforms into a magical winter wonderland. December in Sweden is not just about the cold and snow; it's a month filled with festive lights, heartwarming traditions, and the spirit of the holiday season.
From the shimmering Northern Lights in the Arctic Circle to the charming Christmas markets in Stockholm, Sweden in December offers a unique blend of natural beauty and cultural richness. Join us as we explore the enchanting sights, sounds, and experiences that make this Scandinavian nation a must-visit during the winter months.
Is December a good time to visit Sweden?
Absolutely! December in Sweden is a magical time when the country transforms into a winter wonderland. The streets are adorned with twinkling lights, and the air is filled with the scent of mulled wine and roasted chestnuts.
While the days are short, with limited hours of daylight, the festive atmosphere more than makes up for it. Plus, the weather in Sweden in December offers a true winter experience, with snow-covered landscapes and crisp, cold air.
Weather and climate in Sweden in December
December in Stockholm is among the chilliest times, averaging highs of 1°C and nighttime lows of -3°C. Sunshine is limited, with roughly two hours daily from a six-hour daylight span. Sunset typically occurs near 3pm throughout the month.
However, the cold is a part of the charm. Imagine cozying up by a fireplace after a day of exploring the snowy outdoors. In the northern parts, expect even colder temperatures, but also the mesmerizing phenomenon of the polar nights, where the sun barely rises above the horizon.
This brings us to a frequently asked question: how many hours of daylight in Sweden in winter? In the far north, there might be just a few hours, while in the south, you can expect around 6-7 hours.
Can You See Northern Lights in Sweden in December?
Yes, December is one of the best months to witness the Northern Lights, especially in the northern parts of Sweden. The long, dark nights provide a perfect backdrop for this natural light show. However, remember that the Northern Lights are a natural phenomenon and sightings can never be guaranteed. But with clear skies and a bit of luck, you're in for a treat.
Things to do and see in Sweden in December
Visit a Christmas Market
Swedish Christmas markets are a heartwarming spectacle of tradition and festivity. As you meander through the bustling streets, the aroma of roasted almonds fills the air, harmonizing with the gentle hum of traditional carols. The wooden stalls, adorned with twinkling lights, beckon visitors with an array of treasures.
The warm, spiced wine known as Glögg is a must-try. Often served with raisins and almonds, it's the quintessential drink to warm your insides on a frosty December day. Beyond the beverages, the markets are a trove of unique, handmade gifts. From intricately crafted wooden toys to hand-knitted scarves, there's a piece of Swedish tradition waiting to be discovered.
And no visit is complete without indulging in traditional Swedish Christmas treats like pepparkakor (ginger cookies), saffransbullar (saffron buns), and knäckebröd (crispbread).
Go Skiing or Snowboarding
The snow-laden landscapes of Sweden in winter transform into a paradise for skiing and snowboarding enthusiasts. The country is dotted with a plethora of ski resorts catering to all, from those taking their first slide down a slope to seasoned professionals seeking a challenge.
Åre stands out as one of the premier ski destinations in Sweden, offering a harmonious blend of slopes tailored for both novices and experts. For those without their own gear, the convenience of equipment rentals at most ski resorts ensures that the thrill of the slopes is accessible to all.
And for the uninitiated, many resorts provide lessons, ensuring everyone can experience the joy of skiing or snowboarding in Sweden's winter wonderland.
See the Northern Lights
The ethereal dance of the Northern Lights, or Aurora Borealis, across the Swedish skies is a sight to behold. Especially in the northern regions of the country, the dark expanses of the December sky serve as the perfect canvas for this breathtaking natural light show.
While the Northern Lights grace the skies from September to March, the extended darkness of December enhances the chances of witnessing this celestial spectacle. Places like Kiruna and Abisko are renowned as prime viewing spots.
For those keen on maximizing their experience, numerous Northern Lights tours are available, where seasoned guides not only lead you to optimal viewing locations but also share fascinating insights about the Aurora Borealis.
Visit a Reindeer Farm
Reindeer, with their majestic antlers and gentle demeanor, are iconic symbols of Sweden's northern regions. A visit to a reindeer farm offers an intimate glimpse into the world of these magnificent creatures. Beyond just observing them, visitors often have the opportunity to interact closely, feeding them and even partaking in short reindeer sled rides, reminiscent of traditional Sami transportation methods.
These farms also serve as gateways to the rich culture of the indigenous Sami people, offering insights into their age-old traditions, from their iconic Lavvu tents to their soulful traditional songs.
Stay in a Snow Hotel
The very thought of sleeping in a room sculpted entirely from ice and snow might send a shiver down one's spine, but Sweden's snow hotels offer an experience that's both surreal and cozy.
The Icehotel in Jukkasjärvi, renowned globally, is an architectural marvel, rebuilt every year with intricate ice carvings that leave visitors in awe. Despite the ambient temperatures inside hovering around a chilly -5°C, guests are ensconced in warmth, thanks to plush sleeping bags and reindeer skins.
Beyond just the rooms, these hotels are a testament to the artistry of ice sculpting, with breathtaking sculptures and even chapels where couples can exchange vows in a setting straight out of a fairy tale.
Go Ice Fishing
The tranquil beauty of Sweden's frozen lakes in December provides the perfect setting for the age-old tradition of ice fishing. As the cold sets in and the lakes solidify, enthusiasts venture out, armed with fishing rods and augers, to carve out a small window into the aquatic world below.
The experience is one of patience and serenity; the stillness only interrupted by the occasional tug on the line, signaling a potential catch. Surrounded by the pristine white landscape, with the gentle whisper of the winter wind, ice fishing in Sweden is as much about connecting with nature as it is about the thrill of the catch.
Visit a Swedish Sauna
After a day out in the cold, there's nothing quite like the embrace of a traditional Swedish sauna to rejuvenate the body and soul. Saunas hold a special place in Swedish culture, serving as spaces for relaxation, contemplation, and socialization.
The ritual involves alternating between the intense heat of the sauna and the bracing cold of a plunge into a nearby lake or snow bath. This contrast not only invigorates the senses but is also believed to have numerous health benefits. The scent of fresh birch twigs, often used to gently whip the skin, enhancing circulation, adds to the authentic Swedish sauna experience.
Eat Traditional Swedish Christmas Food
Swedish Christmas tables, or 'julbord', are a gastronomic delight, laden with a plethora of traditional dishes that have been passed down through generations. Meatballs, or 'köttbullar', often take center stage, accompanied by creamy potato dishes and rich gravies.
The pickled herring, with its delicate balance of sweet and sour, is a must-try for those keen on exploring the full spectrum of Swedish flavors. And then there's the 'lussekatter', saffron-infused buns that are as much a treat for the eyes as they are for the palate. Each dish tells a story, a culinary journey through Sweden's rich history and traditions, making the act of eating so much more than just a feast for the senses.
Celebrate Lucia Day
December 13th in Sweden is marked by the enchanting celebration of Lucia Day, a festival of light that pierces through the winter darkness. The day is named after Saint Lucia, and the highlight is the Lucia procession. Young girls, dressed in white gowns with red sashes, lead the procession, with the one portraying Lucia donning a crown of candles.
The soft glow of the candles, combined with the hauntingly beautiful melodies of traditional Lucia songs, creates an atmosphere that's both ethereal and deeply moving. For Swedes, Lucia Day is not just a remembrance of a saint but a celebration of hope, light, and the indomitable spirit of community.
What to pack for Christmas in Sweden
Packing for Sweden in December requires some thought. Here's a quick list:
- Warm clothing: Think thermal layers, woolen sweaters, and a heavy winter coat.
- Waterproof boots: Essential for walking in the snow.
- Gloves, scarves, and hats: Keep those extremities warm.
- Sunglasses: For those bright winter days.
- Portable charger: The cold can drain your battery faster.
- Swimsuit: For that Swedish sauna experience.
Sweden in December is a delightful experience, offering a mix of traditional festivities, natural wonders, and winter activities. Whether you're wandering through a Christmas market in a Sweden city in winter or chasing the Northern Lights in the Arctic Circle, December is a time of enchantment in Sweden.
And if you're looking for a unique way to explore, remember that a caravan rental in Sweden offers the freedom to discover Sweden's winter wonders at your own pace. So, are you ready for a Swedish winter adventure?