If you have planned a city trip to Stockholm in December or around Christmas, then this article will definitely help you to plan and make it a successful holiday. Stockholm is always a fairytale city and Christmas adds some more magic. Yes, the days are short but the Swedish make it extra cozy during these dark days. Enjoy the sparkling Christmas lights and cozy Christmas markets. Add an extra stop for fika so you can warm up and December is a great time for a city trip to Stockholm.
In Skansen, the open-air museum in Stockholm, they organize a traditional Christmas market with Swedish delights during the weekends of the advent. At the stalls you can also buy Swedish products and crafts. They organize special Christmas workshops where you can make Christmas decorations. Skansen has a nice program with Christmas concerts and events. For example, you can experience Christmas from old times, they serve a Christmas buffet and you can learn about the special Christmas traditions.
The rest of the park is open too, although sometimes limited. At the old houses there is a footstool in front of the door. They laid some branches on the floor to get the most snow from your shoes. In public spaces, you usually wear your shoes, but if you also visit a Stockholmers home, keep in mind that Sweden always take off their shoes when they come in, not only in winter but throughout the year. I visited the old school where volunteers explained how it used to be in the good old days and the smithy where another volunteer demonstrated the craft of smith.
At Christmas Eve the entrance is free of charge. Note: Skansen closes very early that day (at 2 pm). Check the current opening hours at Skansen website . You can also visit Skansen on Christmas Day.
In addition to the Christmas market in Skansen, the traditional Christmas market in Gamla Stan, on Stortorget is also a must. The stalls sell glögg and gingerbread . Authentic Swedish products are also available for sale. This Christmas market is Stockholm’s oldest and has been there since 1837! You can visit the Christmas market from mid November to 23 December every day from 11 am to 6 pm.
In the Royal Stables at Östermalm you can go to Jul på Hovstallet. This Christmas market takes place every year during the first weekend (Friday-Sunday) of the advent. On the site of the royal coaches you will find 75 stalls with Swedish craftsmen who offer their stuff for sale this weekend. And you can enjoy all kinds of typical delicacies.
A little outside of Stockholm you can visit the Christmas markets in the courtyard of Skoklosters Slott (first weekend of the advent), in Sigtuna (every Sunday of the advent) and at Drottningholm (second weekend of advent). Also at Vaxholm (second weekend of the advent), they have a Christmas event with stalls and Santa’s visit to the Christmas market. From mid-November until Christmas, you can visit a large indoor Christmas market at Steninge Slott. The Christmas market is 1500 m² and can be found on Stenladan’s first floor.
Rosendal’s garden is highly recommended throughout the year. During the advent, Rosendal’s garden is indulged in a cozy Christmas atmosphere. The conservatory is heated and decorated with benches where you can enjoy your ecological fika.
City walk along the Christmas lights
In Stockholm they dotted several walks to admire the Christmas lights. Throughout the city you will find bigger Christmas decorations. Very popular are the moose at Nybroplan. It is here that the lights are lit in the presence of the Christmas choir, halfway november.
At the main entrance of the Central Station you can kiss under a mistletoe. At Northern Latin you can see reindeer. Biblioteksgatan is also worth a visit. In total, 35 streets in Stockholm are decorated with environmentally friendly lights. The Christmas lights walk map can be picked up free of charge at various hotels and tourism.
With temperatures around freezing point, various squares change in ice rinks where the Stockholmers can ice skate. If you don’t own ice skates, you can rent skates at Kungsträdgården. The ice skate rental shop at Kungsträdgården opens early November and stays open until March. Other squares that you can skate for free are Medborgarplatsen, Vasaparken, Zinkensdamm and Östermalm (Fiskartorpsvägen). Often there are no skates for rent and it is weather-dependent when the piste is open.
If it has been freezing for a while, it’s also possible to ice skate on the Lake Mälaren between Södermalm and Kungsholmen. Observe the safety regulations and ask someone who has sufficient local experience. You can also do guided tours.
Live Christmas Calendar (Levande Julkalender)
Every day, the whole advent long, a hatch opens somewhere in Gamla Stan (around 18:00). I thought this was a small-scale event but soon noticed that the whole square in front of the window that opened that day was full. The hatch opened and a story was read in Swedish. Then a choir sang some traditional and modern Christmas songs. So atmospheric! We were treated to glögg and gingerbread. No idea if it’s like this every day but it was a very special experience. The event is in Swedish and so is the website. I understood most of the story, but even my friend who doesn’t speak Swedish was very impressed with this live advent calendar event.
ArkDes: Gingerbread House
In the same building as Moderna Museet you can find ArkDes, Stockholm’s architecture and design center. From the beginning of December till the end of the Christmas holidays, you can visit an exhibition of gingerbread houses. Each year there is another theme and it is actually a contest that allows children and adults to participate. I accidentally found out last year but was impressed by the handsome constructions and it really adds and fits in with the Christmas atmosphere. ArkDes is free of charge.
Julbord – Christmas buffet
A Julbord is an extensive Christmas buffet with all kinds of Swedish specialties such as pickled herring, the famous Christmas ham and Beet Salad. Many restaurants serve a Christmas buffet in the weeks before Christmas. Most Swedes shifts to one or more Christmas buffets with colleagues, friends or family.
Recommendations in Stockholm for Christmas board are Fjäderholmarnas Krog and Stadshuskällaren. A vegetarian Christmas buffet can be booked at Hermans . Please be sure to make a reservation, as a julbord is usually available on request and has limited availability.
Is a Christmas buffet too extensive for you? Then taste the lussekatter, sweet saffron rolls that are baked around St. Lucia.
Christmas shops in Stockholm
Of course you will find great Christmas shops in Stockholm. Tips for shopping streets and centers can be found here. Nice presents can be found at Designtorget, Granit, Lagerhaus, …
Don’t forget to walk along the store of NK (Nordiska Kompagniet) in Hamngatan. These galleries are a true attraction from late November to early January. The Christmas windows are real artwork, and everyone tries to catch a glimpse of it.
Good to know: bargains in Stockholm/Sweden begin on December the 26th.
The Christmas period in Sweden is full of special dates. It begins with celebrating the first advent, 4 weeks before Christmas. First advent is the starting point to start the Christmas markets, lights and events in the street scene.
On December 13, they celebrate St. Lucia, the party of the solstice. In several churches in Stockholm there is a ceremony in which they sing songs. Try if you can, to attend the celebration in Seglora Kyrkan in Skansen for an authentic experience.
Christmas Eve is the most important day for the Swedish. The city will feel empty because everyone goes home and visit their family. On the day after Christmas the bargains start in Sweden and most of them go shopping.
Open at Christmas?
Just like midsummer, many things are closed at Christmas. In the days before Christmas, the big shopping centers open a little longer so everyone can get their Christmas presents. On Christmas eve most shops close very early (around 14:00). On Christmas Day the shops will be closed. The days around New Year and New Year’s Eve follow a similar pattern.
Many museums close around Christmas. Skansen is the exception. The open-air museum is open every day of the year. The Vasamuseum closes on 23-25 December and also on January 1. On the last day of the year they close at 3 pm. The ABBA Museum only closes on December 24th. If you are planning a city trip to Stockholm during the end of the year, you should plan ahead so that you can check the opening hours.
The same goes for the restaurants. The restaurants at hotels are usually open, other restaurants are best checked in advance. In emergency there is always Max Hamburgare 😉
White Christmas in Stockholm?
Do you dream of a white Christmas in Stockholm? There is a chance that there is snow, but it is certainly not guaranteed. If there is snow, it is often wet snow (slush). To be sure to have a white Christmas, you’re better off to go north. But it can be a white christmas in Stockholm! Keep an eye on the weather forecast the days before your departure so that you can take appropriate shoes. Warm clothes are best because temperatures are often around zero. Much, of course, depends on what activities you want to undertake and how much time you spend outside. Inside, it is always warm, so dress in layers!
Do you have any tips for Christmas in Stockholm?