Sweden is blessed with four very distinct seasons, with temperatures hopping from ice cold to pleasantly balmy. But when’s the best time of year to visit? Well, that all depends on what you want from your trip – whether that’s long summer nights by the lakeside, or snowy evenings around the campfire.
When to go to Sweden: a quick guide
– For warm weather and sunshine, the best time to visit Sweden is May to September.
– If you want snow, aim to go between late November and March.
– You can visit the country all year round, but you’ll need to wrap up during winter.
– To see the midnight sun, visit in the height of summer (June and July).
– The northern lights are best seen during the winter, from late September to early April.
Winter weather in Sweden
In the winter (roughly November–March), days are short and thick snow blankets much of the country, opening up a whole new world of cold-weather activities, from dog sledding and ice-skating to cross-country skiing. In southern cities like Lund cosy cafés come into their own, warmed by flickering candles and wafts of freshly baked cinnamon buns.
If you visit any part of Sweden during the winter, you’ll need to dress for the cold. Daytime temperatures regularly drop below freezing in Stockholm, Malmö and Gothenburg (though -15c is not unheard of), and in the far north of Sweden temperatures of –10c are considered fairly normal, with cold snaps sending the mercury far lower.
Daylight – or the distinct lack of it – is also worth factoring into your travel plans. In December it’s light for around seven hours per day in the far south of Sweden, and less than two and a half hours per day in the very far north. That doesn’t leave a great deal of time for sightseeing, but there is one major perk: all that darkness increases your chances of seeing the northern lights.
There’s something very special about summertime in Sweden which, roughly speaking, runs from late May–early September. Temperatures are warm, but not uncomfortably so, and the days seem never-ending. Around midsummer it’s common to see people drinking, chatting and barbecuing in public parks long after 10pm. With the ice all gone, it’s also possible to sail, swim in glassy lakes and sheltered bays, or go hiking in the mountains without needing any specialist winter gear.
Most visitors are surprised by how warm the summer weather in Sweden can get. In both Stockholm and Gothenburg, temperatures can hit 25c in June, July and August, very occasionally edging up towards 30c. Central parts of Sweden such as Dalarna also enjoy warm weather at this time of the year, and the far north is surprisingly mild. The island of Gotland, practically deserted throughout the winter, suddenly bursts into life during the summer attracting tourists from all around the country.
Spring and autumn weather in Sweden
In terms of weather, the shoulder months of April, May, September and October are much more difficult to plan for. Snow is a possibility just about anywhere in Sweden, but fairly unlikely in the south. The sun could be shining – or it could be grey and pouring with rain. Either way, Swedes will be quick to remind you that det finns inget dåligt väder, bara dåliga kläder (there is no bad weather, only bad clothes). When it’s raining, 4c and blowing a gale, you might be inclined to disagree.
What’s the weather like in different parts of Sweden?
Festivals in Sweden
If you want to experience Swedish culture at its best, try to visit during one of the big festivals. One thing to bear in mind is that, as most Swedes get to take time off work during these festivals, prices for hotels tend to shoot up. Use the guides below to get planning:
Still not sure what to see when you arrive in Sweden? Our events listings will help you get planning.