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Shopping in Stockholm. A man browsing through clothes in a store. The man is wearing warm clothes and is carrying his child under one arm.
Photo: Victor Gårdsäter
Categories: Shopping

Dressing up for Stockholm

Publish date: 11 November 2020

Not sure what to wear during your stay in Stockholm? Afraid that cold Northern winds will chill you to the bone? Here are some pointers!

Just because Sweden is a northern country doesn’t mean that you should prepare for a cold and inhospitable climate, far from it. 

A large portion of Sweden is located in the sub-arctic climate zone, but Southern Sweden and Stockholm are in the temperate zone. Winters in Stockholm, as Sverker Hellström meteorologist at SMHI [Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute] points out, are somewhere in between.

– Stockholm lies on the border between the snowless winters of south Sweden and the cold winters with heavy snowfall of the north. It varies quite a lot. There have been years with heavy snowfall as early as November. But usually, we get the most snowfall in February.

February also happens to be the coldest month of the year in Sweden, and boy does it get cold here sometimes. Nevertheless, winters in Stockholm are generally moderate compared to other places on the same parallel. 

In part because of its size, as larger cities naturally generate more heat. But Stockholm’s location by the Baltic Sea and Lake Mälaren also makes the climate relatively mild for a part of the world associated with dark days and snow-covered vistas. In some cases even milder than other Swedish cities further to the south.

– Gothenburg has cold winds blowing in from the Atlantic and the west coast. This makes the winters there seem colder, harsher, says Hellström.

If you’re opting for a summer vacation instead you’ll be treated to a climate much like other coastal cities, with daytime temperatures in the range of 26-30°C (78-86°F). But also be prepared for the occasional summer rain.

– We get much sunlight but the waters dampen the build-up of cumulus clouds. The city itself, with its buildings and streets, contributes to making summer nights warm and pleasant. The latter half of July going into the first weeks of August is also the period with most rainfall since the climate is at its most humid.

Yeah, that’s great, but what should I pack?

Winter

Be prepared for snowfall, especially if you’re visiting in January or February. But packing like you’re going on an arctic expedition is overdoing it. So unless you’re planning on spending much time outside – ice skating or cross country skiing – ski pants are a bit much.  A warm coat or jacket, wool cap and a pair of warm mittens will go a long way, and a pair of long johns just in case. It might also be a good idea to bring a durable pair of shoes. I.e. leave your sneakers at home if you don’t want the destroyed by snow and slush.

Spring

Average spring temperatures in Stockholm range between just 3-5 °C (around 40°F) in early March to 16°C (just over 60°F) in May. Your wardrobe might vary quite a bit, depending on when you’re planning to visit, in other words. While early spring might be a good time to bring a warm jacket and scarf, a light jacket or sweater is good enough in balmy May.

Summer

With temperatures rarely creeping over 30°C (86°F), summer in Stockholm is relatively mild. Like most cities, the streets and buildings help to keep the temperature up even after the sunset, so expect pleasant evenings and nights. Light clothing might be a good idea to keep cool, as well as a pair of good sunglasses and beachwear. Late July and early August is Stockholm’s most humid period, so be sure to bring an umbrella or raincoat.

Fall

September is still a fairly pleasant month in Stockholm, with temperatures in the 10-15°C range (50-60°F) and the occasional temperature spike. Nevertheless, things are going to get colder from here. So don’t expect to have much use for your shorts, skirts and tank tops in October. Although temperatures in October in November stay well above the freezing point, crisp autumn winds and rain make warm coats and scarfs a necessity.

Forgot to pack something? Here are some shops where you can find the essentials!