How to Enjoy Stockholm in Winter

Daylight hours might be scarce and temperatures below freezing, but when Stockholm puts on her white winter coat, the whole city glitters more than Tinseltown itself, transforming into a magical winter wonderland.  The capital of Sweden spans 14 islands, and although you may not have time to visit them all, you can easily do a bit of island hopping on foot or via public transport while soaking up the spectacular views of bridges, waterways, and the medieval Old Town.  Besides marvelling at its snow-covered beauty, here are the top five reasons to visit Stockholm in winter.

1.  Stockholm Icebar

If you're looking for a cool cocktail lounge, -5C to exact - then the centrally located Absolut Icebar is the place to chill. In this arctic setting, pretty much everything you see and touch is made out of the crystal-clear ice from Torne River in Swedish Lapland. Even the drinks come in ice tumblers!

Sounds like a frosty reception? Don't fear - you'll be given a poncho and gloves to stay warm, keeping frostbite and hypothermia at bay. Remember to hold on to your glass after your first cocktail, as a refill is cheaper than ordering another drink. 

2.  Fika at cafés

Get stuck into Stockholm's flourishing cafe culture and enjoy the Swedish custom of fika (pronounced ‘feekah’). Traditionally, fika meant having a cup of coffee, but today fika has turned into a social activity deeply rooted in the Swedish way of life.

There are loads of cafes in central Stockholm, with the area of Gamla Stan (literally Old Town in Swedish) being a particular hotspot.

Enjoy delicacies such as kanelbulle (cinnamon bun), princesstårta (marzipan tart), lussebulle (saffron bun) and dammsugare (punsch roll).

3.  Ice skating

Whether you're a bambi or a blade runner, ice skating is an atmospheric way to embrace winter in Sweden.

Head to Kungsträdgården (Swedish for King's Garden), a beautiful park in the middle of Stockholm close to the Central station where you can ice skate to music on an outdoor rink from November till March. There's no booking system so just turn up on the day, and hire a pair of skates for 50SEK (about £4) at the rink.

Once you're done, warm up with a tunnbrödsrulle (Sweden's legendary hot dog roll served with mashed potato and a range of sauces), or head to one of the many restaurants, cafés, museums or shops in the area.

4.  Museums

For anyone keen to learn about Swedish history and culture, Skansen is a must. At this fascinating open-air museum and zoo on the island of Djurgarden, you'll be able to see Viking houses and runestones, indigenous Swedish animals such as bears, wolves, moose and reindeer plus a full replica of a typical 19th-century Swedish town.

Nearby is the Vasa, the impressive Swedish warship (69m long) that sank on her maiden voyage back in 1628.

Finally, make a turn to the Nobel museum and find out more about the man behind the dynamite, and those who have been awarded the prestigious Nobel prize.

5.  Ice hockey

It's rough, it's tough and can perhaps be best described as the rugby of the north. Most ice hockey games offer a few punch-ups between players, much to the delight of spectators.

The ice hockey season runs from the middle of September until May. The highest league is called Elitserien. The biggest clubs in Stockholm are Djurgardens IF(DIF) and AIK Hockey, with both teams playing their home games at Hovet, which is easily accessible by going to Globen underground station.