The cobbled streets are lightly dusted with a fresh layer of snow, candles glow in storefront windows and the ghost of your breath wafts through the crisp wintery air, mingling with the scent of gingerbread and roasted nuts.
This is the Christmas Market in Gamla Stan, Stockholm’s old town, one of the Swedish capital’s main tourist hubs. Yes, you’ll be sharing this experience with hundreds of other tourists, but it’s still not one to be missed.
The market is consistently ranked as one of the best Christmas fairs in Europe, and you can even explore it on a festive guided tour. Dozens of wooden huts are set up on the main square and the surrounding area.
Beneath dazzling lights, festive garlands and beautiful decorations, the rustic stalls offer visitors a wide variety of yuletide gift ideas, from hand-made crafts and clothes to colourful candies.
Traditional Swedish Christmas treats are also on sale, including classic gingerbread cookies and hot glögg (Swedish mulled wine). Elk and reindeer sausages are available for those craving a heartier snack (just don’t tell Rudolph).
The market itself can be crowded, but there are plenty of back streets in the old town where you can wander off and find a moment of solitude under the Christmas lights, which seem to blanket the entire historic area.
Whether you spend your time shopping at the stalls, enjoying the sound of carol singers on the square, or just strolling along the charming cobbled streets, the Christmas atmosphere in Gamla Stan is an unforgettable experience.
And remember, the winter weather in Stockholm can be bitterly cold, so be sure to bundle up!