Stockholm in snow

Stockholm i snö

A bike in the snow in Stockholm

As Stockholm is built on 14 islands you are never far from the water. This contributes to a feeling of a spacious and calm city. It has wonderful views at any time of year, but I think it is at its best when covered with a carpet of snow.

Snow and icicles falling from a roof in a building in Stockholm

The icicles shown above may look very pretty, but falling snow and icicles can be a dangerous hazard and have been known to kill pedestrians. Owners of buildings have to clear the snow away from roof tops to prevent injury to passing pedestrians.

Stockholm is bike friendly city so many people use their bikes to get to work, but sometimes they have to abandon them when heavy snow occurs.

Gamla Stan

Gamla Stan (Old Town) is a magnet for tourists but don't let that put you off.  Although there are the usual trashy touristy shops there are also many great restaurants and cafes. The narrow cobbled streets are especially picturesque in the snow.


Above: Christmas shopping in Gamla Stan.


Above: More Christmas shops!


Above: The Christmas market in Gamla Stan

NK Christmas windows

Nordiska Kompaniet, known simply as NK, is one of Stockholm's large department stores. Their Christmas windows always bring out the distinctive features of Christmas in Sweden and leave children gawping in delight. They are every bit as good as Bloomingdale's in New York, Myer's in Melbourne and Selfridge's in London, so don't miss them if you in Stockholm at Christmas!

Three recommended restaurants in Gamla Stan

In winter Swedish restaurants are always candlelit and look so cosy. In Gamla Stan there are three good restaurants serving classic Swedish food. At the time of writing, Restaurang Kryp In is getting the highest ratings on TripAdvisor and it is certainly one of my favourites.

Fem Små Hus (Five Small Houses) serves similar quality food in more sumptiously and very quaint surroundings. As the name suggests, five small houses have been joined together and turned into a restaurant. It has an intimate and cosy atmosphere which makes it the best choice for a romantic meal. I've always had fantastic food there.

The most famous restaurant in Sweden is probably Den Gyldene Freden (The Golden Peace), which opened in 1722. It is noted in the Guiness Book of Records for being the oldest restaurant in the world to have the same surroundings. The house is now owned by the Swedish Academy and every Thursday, the Academy (who nominate the winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature) convene there for their weekly dinner to decide who should receive the next prize.

Magnet windows at Fotografiska Museet

Fotografiska Museet is a superb museum just a short walk from the Gamla Stan

The cafe at Fotografiska Museet has superb panoramic windows overlooking the water. The combination of a large window, a waterside view and a snow scene has a magnetic effect so getting a window table is not always easy. It is worth making the effort to get there early to get a table and enjoy a leisurely lunch. The museum's cafe serves the best kardemumma bullar (cardamon buns) I have ever tasted!

Waterside views


Above: The view from Strandvägen across to Nordiska Museet.


Above: A view of the boats and the grand buildings on Strandvägen from Djurgårdsbron.


Above: Plenty of free seats!


Above: View from Skeppsbron across towards the island of Skeppsholmen.

A grand old ship, af Chapman (shown above) was converted to a youth hostel in 1983. It is an interesting place to stay and is highly rated, but you will need to book a long time in advance to get a reservation.


Above: A proper Christmas tree at Skeppsbron, near Kungliga Slottet (The Royal Palace).

Skansen

If you are visiting Stockholm do try and include a visit to Skansen. There are 150-plus traditional buildings, mainly from the 18th and 19th centuries. The buildings were uprooted from all over Sweden to create the park which also has a zoo attached. Skansen looks particularly good in the snow during the Christmas market, but it is an all year round attraction.


Above: Buy your Julklappor (Christmas presents) at the Christmas markets.


Above: A view over Stockholm from Skansen.  


Above: Dancing round the Christmas tree on the main square in Skansen.


Above: When the dancing is over you get a chance to admire the lights.


Above: Sunset at Skansen, at about 2.30.


Above: There are always several fires burning in the winter to huddle round and sip your glögg.


Above: Playground with frozen toy sheep!


Above: A church at Skansen. It is very common to light the way with burning flames, even in daylight!


Above: Kolbollar (charcoal buns)cooking on an open fire.


Above: Eating kolbullar at a snow-covered table.

Kolbullar are actually more like pancakes than buns. They are made using water, flour and well-salted fatty bacon. They are often eaten with lingonberry jam.


Above: Rosehips in the snow may inspire you to try nyponsoppa (rosehip soup), a classic Swedish dessert.

Luciakonsert at Globen

If you get the chance to see a Luciakonsert at Globen in Stockholm do take it. It is the world's largest Lucia with, typically, about 1,200 superb singers, each carrying a candle. It really is more spectacular than these photos suggest!


Above: The famous Lucia Concert from Globen in Stockholm.


Above: The climax of the Lucia concert.

Icebar

A visit to the Icebar in Stockholm may seem a really touristy thing to do but it is still fun!  So ok, you probably won't find any Swedes there but it comes out on TripAdvisor as the second most popular night time activity in Stockholm.  (Only a visit to Jazzpuben Stampen comes out higher.  Their salsa nights attract some incredibly talented dancers and are well worth going along to admire.)

There is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing.
Det finns inget dåligt väder, bara dåliga kläder

Finally, Swedes often claim to be the orginators of the expression, there is not such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing (Det finns inget dåligt väder, bara dåliga kläder). Inevitably, such is the rivalry between the two countries, the Norwegians also claim to have invented the expression too. We will probably never know who really came up with it first. No matter, if you are going to Sweden in the winter remember than temperatures can drop well below zero, with -20°C not uncommon even in Stockholm, so be sure to take warm outdoor clothing.

You also need to be prepared for the large contrast between the temperature indoors and outside. Swedes seem to feel the cold! They have triple glazing, under floor heating and super-duper central heating to ensure that rooms are always heated to 22°C. Swedes can check it regularly by constantly monitoring the numerous thermometers hanging inside and outside every door. No little stream of cool, fresh air ever finds it way indoors at any time because then they complain: det drar! They hate draughts. If you ask any regular traveller to Sweden they will tell you that the first thing they have to do when they arrive at a hotel in Sweden is to turn down the heating and open a window. Be prepared for the extremes both inside and outside! Let that be a warning, but not a deterrent. Stockholm in the snow is a delightful city. Go if you get the chance.

John Duxbury

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