Along with much of Scandinavia and northern Europe, Sweden consistently ranks among the world’s top ten happiest countries. Once you visit, you’ll instantly know why.
Because of weather and other factors, choosing the best time to visit Sweden is tricky. However, if you do your research, you’ll have much to enjoy! Sweden has tons to offer visitors, including breathtaking and diverse natural features.
It’s also home to a unique style of architecture, thriving cultural and arts scenes, cutting-edge cuisine, fascinating history, and so much more. Below, we’ll reveal the best time to visit Sweden.
We’ll also analyze the entire calendar in case your personal preferences differ. That way, you can ensure you enjoy your Swedish vacation at the absolute best time.
Why You Should Visit Sweden
When most people plan their vacations to Europe, they head to the illustrious cities of the mainland. Still, the Scandinavian countries have a quainter, almost quiet elegance that many travelers prefer.
One of the neatest things about Sweden is its attitude toward public land. With 30 national parks, Swedes are ardent conservationists. They also strongly believe in the concept of allemansrätten–that public lands belong to everyone.
You’re free to roam, forage, and explore as you like. Sweden also has several vibrant cities, especially Stockholm and Gothenberg. You can see some of the best examples of the country’s unique design and architectural styles there.
In addition, visit art museums, the theatre, and much more. They also have fabulous nightlife, especially if you’re into electronic music or EDM. Annual music festivals like Summerburst draw crowds, as do many other celebrations.
Most places in Europe have their own cuisines, and Sweden is no exception. Over generations, Swedes refined cooking practices to best suit the ingredients available to them, including fish, root vegetables, and pickled foods. Today, creative chefs put modern spins on them.
Finally, no trip to Sweden is complete without experiencing fika. With no direct English equivalent, we can best describe it as a mix between a coffee break and happy hour.
Swedes do it almost daily, giving them the physical (caffeine) and emotional (bonding with friends and acquaintances) boost they need for the rest of their day. Enjoy a steaming cup of coffee and traditional sweet fikabrod.
Overall Best Time to Visit Sweden
Most experts agree that the best time to visit Sweden is between May and September.
Weather and Daylight Hours
Why do you want to go to Sweden between May and September? One of the biggest reasons is the weather. As you probably know, Sweden is pretty far north, meaning winters are frigid.
Unless you want to partake in Arctic activities (and there are several fun ones!), you’re better off visiting in the summer. The air will be warmer, and days will be significantly longer. You’ll have more time to explore the great outdoors.
While southerly cities such as Stockholm and Gothenburg don’t see 24-hour night or day, daylight becomes limited in the winter. Conversely, it stays bright well into the evening during the summer, allowing you to enjoy more of what the country has to offer.
The only real bummer about visiting in the summer is that you’re unlikely to see the Northern Lights unless you head very far north in early September. Still, unless that’s your top priority, you’ll likely get more out of your trip overall in the late spring or summer.
Anyone who has spent time in Sweden during different times of the year knows there is a noticeably different atmosphere in the summer. Swedes are hard workers but take their leisure time just as seriously.
Most Swedish people are entitled to at least six weeks of paid vacation annually, and many take it in the summer. Sweden comes out of hibernation in the spring. As nature explodes with color and life, so do the people.
Some people prefer to visit during Sweden’s “shoulder” tourist season, the weeks directly before and after the true peak season. It includes mostly May and September, but also the very end of April and the beginning of October.
May and September are ideal months to visit Sweden if you want to avoid busy crowds and high prices for hotels and services. That said, some summer activities might be unavailable, particularly if it’s too cold.
Cheapest Time to Visit Sweden
The cheapest time to visit Sweden is October, November, and early December. You might expect the cheapest time to visit Sweden would be in the dead of winter, but that’s not always the case.
For a combination of reasons, tourist amenities scale back later in the winter. Cold temperatures force keep locals at home and tourists at bay. It’s also expensive and wasteful to heat and maintain hotel rooms and other unoccupied spaces.
With less available, prices stay somewhat steady in the winter. However, they usually don’t scale back in that manner until after the winter solstice holidays, which includes some prime Northern Lights viewing time.
You’ll usually have until Nobel Prize Day and St. Lucia Day in early or mid-December. To snag the best deals, visit between shoulder season and the holidays, from October through early December.
Let’s take a closer look at what it’s like.
Autumn in Sweden
As you probably expect, October and November bring cooler, cloudier temperatures and shorter days. Precipitation picks up, so expect some rain and early snowfall, especially further north.
It might sound dreary, but there’s a particular kind of beauty about the stillness. It becomes more striking, set against the changing colors of autumn leaves.
Peak leaf season varies, but it’s typically in late October near the major cities. The Stockholm Jazz Festival happens in October, and All Saint’s Eve and All Saint’s Day are big holidays in early November.
Cheaper Times to Enjoy Sweden
If you want to enjoy the perks of peak season at a lower price, check out late August and September. Tourism declines globally around this time. You can sometimes find reasonable prices in early May, though many wanderlusters start heading out on adventures early.
Least Busy Time to Visit Sweden
The least busy time to visit Sweden is winter, especially January, February, and March. Swedish tourism follows a similar pattern to the rest of Europe. The year starts slow in the winter, gradually picking up during the spring months of March and April.
Many countries recognize May 1 (May Day) as a national holiday, and it kicks off the tourist season. Crowds in popular destinations climb, prices for accommodations and travel surge, and there’s a general sense of excitement.
Late June, July, and early August tend to be the busiest. You’ll also see many intercontinental visitors, particularly from North America. As August wanes, so do crowds.
Autumn tends to be quiet, especially for international visitors. Local destinations that are easily accessible from major cities may be busier with weekend getaways, though.
Crowds continue to fall until the holidays around the winter solstice when many communities decorate and celebrate the festivities. After that, things quiet down again.
Worst Time to Visit Sweden
Most visitors agree that the worst time to visit Sweden is winter, or the months of January, February, and March. However, it also depends on what you want to do and see.
This isn’t solely because the weather is cold and the days are short. That’s appealing to many people. Winter is the worst time to visit Sweden because the country goes into an unofficial lull. Because seasons are so extreme, Swedes have lived in their rhythm for generations.
These days, many of them work hard during the winter months, saving money and other resources. Some businesses respond by scaling back, but either way, you’ll stand out as a tourist in wintertime.
In the spring and especially summer, Sweden seems to awaken. As the days start to lengthen rapidly, they take time off work to travel, participate in festivals, and generally enjoy the longer days and warm air.
The Northern Lights
Winter is the best time to see the Northern Lights in Sweden, even if it isn’t ideal for other reasons. You need very dark skies and high elevations to see them, and both of those things are winter occurrences.
Many visitors opt to enjoy a quiet few days in Stockholm or Gothenburg before journeying to the Swedish Laplands, where Aurora Borealis will be on full display by January. If seeing the Northern Lights is your priority, then January, February, and March are the best months to go to Sweden.
Major Swedish Holidays
Depending on how you like to vacation, you might wish to avoid or indulge in a special event or celebration on the Swedish calendar.
After the solstice, Christmas, and New Year’s holidays, the first major holidays are Walpurgis or Valborg Eve and May Day, which falls on April 30 and May 1. On Valborg, Swedes – especially young people – light enormous bonfires at dusk.
The growing bright lights and warmth against the encroaching darkness and cold of night signify hope for the future. It descends from an ancient tradition. May 1, or May Day, celebrates workers’ rights and contributions to society.
June 6 is Sweden’s National Day, similar to the Fourth of July in the US or Bastille Day in France. Expect elaborate shows of patriotism, including parades and fireworks.
Next on the calendar are Midsommarafton and Midsommardagen, or Midsummer’s Eve and Midsummer’s Day (often shortened to simply Midsommar).
These are always celebrated at the solstice, which shifts between June 20, 21, and 22. The Nobel Prizes are always awarded in Stockholm on December 10, and it’s a holiday in Sweden.
It precedes the start of the winter solstice and Christmas holidays on December 13, St. Lucia Day. This is an important feast day in Sweden. Festivities continue through Twelfth Night, or Epiphany, on January 6.
Things to Consider
There are several other factors to consider before choosing when to visit Sweden. Let’s look at a few of them.
- What you want to see and do. For most people, seeing and doing the most means visiting in spring or summer. Winter sports and activities might make it more appropriate for you to visit during the late fall or winter months, so consider your trip goals.
- Weather conditions. Will the weather in Sweden work for the plans you have in store? Spring and summer offer the best weather, but fall and winter can be worth it if you want to see snow and get a great view of the Northern Lights.
- Cost of flights and accommodations. Are prices higher, lower, or average during the time of year you’re considering going? The cheapest time of year to visit is October through early December, while June through August see the highest travel prices here.
- How much traveling you want to do within the country. Are you heading to a single Swedish destination, or will you be traveling around? Make sure the weather and events during that time frame align with your need to travel within the country.
In addition, you may want to time your visit around holidays celebrated in Sweden.
Frequently Asked Questions
Below, find answers to any lingering questions you may have.
Is it safe to visit Sweden?
Sweden is very safe. Still, you should always check your home country’s travel advisories before planning any international travel. In the United States, check the State Department’s Travel Advisories.
Crime rates are low in Sweden, but you should still take precautions to remain safe when traveling abroad.
What currency is used in Sweden?
The official currency in Sweden is the Krona, which takes some getting used to. Its value varies depending on several factors, but it tends to be worth considerably less than the US dollar or Euro.
Is it expensive to travel in Sweden?
Even though the Krona isn’t as valuable as other common currencies, Sweden is quite an expensive place to live. What about traveling? While it isn’t cheap, you can certainly make a trip to Sweden work on a budget.
For many people, the flight is the most expensive part. Stay locally in rentals and spend time in nature since that’s almost always free. In addition, get out of the cities and into the country where things are less expensive.
Do Swedish people speak English?
The official language in Sweden is Swedish. That being said, many Swedes speak English. You won’t have trouble ordering food, asking for directions, or finding instructions in English. Still, try to learn some basic Swedish vocabulary before you go. You may need it if you plan to travel outside the cities.
What’s the best way to get to Sweden?
Sweden’s largest airport is Stockholm Arlanda Airport, and it is a major international hub. You can get flights into Stockholm from all major and many smaller European airports.
In addition, several cities in North America have direct flights to Stockholm, including New York, San Francisco, Houston, Phoenix, and Denver.
What’s the legal drinking age in Sweden?
Sweden has slightly atypical statutes when it comes to selling alcohol. To buy a drink at a bar or restaurant, you only need to be 18. But the legal age to purchase alcohol from a liquor store or other similar establishment is 20. Be aware that all controlled substances, including cannabis, is illegal in Sweden.
Visit Sweden During the Best Time of the Year
So, what’s the best time to visit Sweden? While the answer somewhat depends on what you want to do and see, most experts agree that the best time to visit Sweden is between May and September.
During the late spring, summer, and early fall, Swedes and their country emerge from their long winter to celebrate holidays and festivals while enjoying each other’s company. Businesses and marketplaces buzz with activity.
You can be part of it if you visit Sweden during the peak tourist season. Consider all your options; after all, Sweden is stunning any time of the year!