22 Jun 2024
YLC Guide: Beating the Swedish winter blues
What's on: Stockholm

YLC Guide: Beating the Swedish winter blues

Forget SAD-lamps, excessive vitamin D intake or mindless exercise – this is the YLC guide to coping with, and possibly even enjoying, Sweden’s long dark seasons.


If you are like us, as the days get shorter, thoughts inevitably drift towards the coming winter, often with a certain amount of dread. Yes, winter here is long but it doesn’t have to be horrible. Honest!

Tips to help you enjoy Sweden during the autumn & winter

  • Light candles – lots of them! Why not invest in scented ones;  there’s nothing like cinnamon or ginger to make you think instantly of Christmas!
  • Buy winter accessories that will make you feel good – a luxurious duvet or blanket, snugly slippers, a super winter coat, or a cheerful woolly hat and scarf.
  • Go for a winter swim – you will especially like GETTING OUT of the freezing water!
  • Take a walk around autumn/winter Stockholm, potter around in Gamla Stan or stride in style around Djurgården. Golden, bare or white  – the views are still astounding.
  • Explore some of the many cosy cafes in Stockholm. Drink hot chocolate. With cream.
  • Put lights in your windows – this isn’t for you, it’s for all the people who walk past. Feel the joy of sharing that spark of light with those who live around you. Swedes traditionally put up their lights on the weekend of the first of Advent.


  • Plan to do things to take your mind off the darkness – get together with friends and celebrate the shortest day of the year in December – it will only get lighter from then on.
  • Plan and book a sunny foreign holiday to take while it’s winter here. That’s what the Swedes do.
  • Invite your friends over for a Nobel Banquet inspired dinner – while watching the Nobel Banquet. And again…this is what (some) Swedes do.
  • Don’t shave!  Men: it’ll keep your faces warmer.  Women: who’s going to see anyway?
  • Bake.  There’s nothing like the smell of baking to make a home feel warm, cosy and welcoming. Gingerbread-cookie, anyone?
  • Catch up on the films and DVDs you didn’t see over summer because you wanted to be outside all the time. While you could.
  • Take up a winter hobby – cross country-skiing, ice skating and ice hockey are all options. Or if that’s too much for you, borrow a sled, find a hill and let your inner child loose. No one will think less of you. We all do it. But mind you wear ski-pants! Yes, really!


  • Challenge the darkness with bright colours – a red coat, a yellow hat, a sparkly brooch, a multicoloured scarf or a colourful bag…Then await the Swedes’ reactions.
  • Use the long evenings to learn or practise a new skill. Didn’t you always want to know how to … crochet/bollywood-dance/speak Esperanto?
  • Explore indoor activities – there are over 70 museums in Stockholm, which should keep you going for a while.
  • Do a glögg-crawl of Stockholm’s Christmas Markets!
  • If the cold is getting to you – visit places where you can pretend you are somewhere warmer – once inside Fjärilshuset (Butterfly house) at Hagaparken you’ll forget about the sub-zero temperatures outside, at least for a little while.
  • Enjoy the lights – the advantage of long nights is that you get plenty of opportunities to appreciate how lovely the lights of the city are at night.
  • Or… if all else fails… hibernate. Spring WILL come. It’ll be… April again before you know it.


Claire Thomas

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