Sweden, nestled between Norway and Finland in Northern Europe, is one of the world’s most popular travel destinations.
Many travelers plan their trips to Sweden in the late spring or summer due to weather, but this can be a costly mistake.
If you believe that there is nothing to do in the colder months then you do not know Sweden. There are incredible sights and experiences to behold in all seasons.
We have put together a list of activities to keep you busy in Sweden all year round.
January: The Northern Lights
January in Sweden is one of the best times to witness the wonder of nature that is the Northern Lights.
Although there are never any guarantees that the Aurora Borealis will appear, there are many locations in Northern Sweden that provide you with the best chance of seeing it.
The village of Abisko is one of the top spots, its Aurora Sky Station on Mount Nuolja has been repeatedly listed as one of the best locations available.
There are guided tours all across the Lapland region that range from week-long camping trips to a photography adventure in Abisko.
Sportlov is a week-long break from Swedish schools in February meant to encourage winter activities and exercise. It has become the peak time for skiing in the nation and attracts would be skiers from all over the world.
Åre, located on Sweden’s western border, is the country’s premier resort and offer world-class skiing for all ages. Due to its location in the upper northern hemisphere, most of the country experiences snow during the wintertime.
No matter where you stay or what your winter sport of choice may be, there are unlimited possibilities for fun.
Eurovision is an annual televised singing competition featuring one act from each country in the European Broadcasting Union. It is wildly popular, so much so that its qualification events become massive parties in their own right.
Sweden’s qualifications are called Melodifestivalen and they occur over the course of six weeks.
There are six events where competitors perform all over the country. They lead up to the massive finale where Sweden’s representative is chosen to compete head to head against the other nations.
This is especially exciting for American tourists who don’t have anything close to such a spectacle at home.
Valborg occurs on the night of April 30th and is a celebration of the beginning of spring. It is celebrated in a variety of ways but it is celebrated nationwide.
In college towns, it takes shape as a night of partying and outlandish fun. Although the celebrations can vary, there are usually similarities between all. Most will light involve lighting large bonfires, choral performances, speech making and overarching community involvement.
The food, drink, and spirit of the celebration make it one to remember.
May: Go cycling!
The late spring is the perfect time to experience the country on a bicycle. The progressive social policies and tendency to be environmentally friendly make Sweden one of the most bike-friendly countries in the world. They are available to rent in almost every major city and there are monstrously long bike routes that wind through the countryside.
Kattegattleden is a cyclist’s dream as it is a tourist bike path that encompasses the entire country. If visiting on a budget, you should consider seeing the country atop a bicycle.
June: Midsummer Parties!
Midsummer is the celebration of the summer solstice and occurs on June 24th. The traditional ways to celebrate include dancing around a maypole and decorating your house with greenery to bring good fortune.
These practices are still done today but with more fun and more of a modern party. You will see all manner of dancing, drinking and the consumption of pickled herring. The biggest outdoor party of the year is a must-see for any potential visitor.
July: Enjoy a nocturnal swim
Northern Sweden’s proximity to the Arctic Circle affects the amount of sunlight it gets depending on the season. The winter days are short and the summer days are long and beautiful.
Not only is the sun up in the middle of the night, it takes on an otherworldly red glow. This alien backdrop makes the perfect setting for midnight swims, hikes and other typical summer activities.
The tradition of the August crayfish party, or Kräftskiva, goes back to the early twentieth century. At the time, it was only legal to gather crayfish in the late summer. This law has since been done away with but the bizarre parties in August remain.
The party consists of a large crayfish boil eaten outside and decorated with paper plates, lanterns, and tablecloths. Guests are expected to wear a silly paper hat and there are often decorations depicting the Man in the Moon. Prepare for heavy drinking and an all-around good time.
September: Music Festivals
Popular music is one of Sweden’s greatest international exports and is celebrated all year throughout the country. Music festivals occur all throughout the summer season and well into autumn.
In September be sure to attend the Popaganda Festival in Stockholm which features headliners well-known to the alternative rock music industry. The women-only Statement Festival has garnered global attention due to its gender exclusivity.
If large music festivals are not your thing, explore the country’s nightclubs and party scene which focus heavily on electronic music and goth metal.
October: Mushroom picking
October is a beautiful time of year in Sweden, especially for the nature enthusiast. Despite the beginning of a steady drop in temperature, this is prime time for camping and hiking.
Swedish law allows everyone access to the countryside and wilderness, as long as they are not being destructive. This means that while camping you can legally forage and explore the incredible varieties of mushroom that grow this time of year.
Mushroom picking is quite popular but beginners will require a guide with a keen eye to prevent poisoning.
November: Arctic Food
For those who are not so inclined to participate in winter sports, November is an amazing time to explore the cuisine of Sweden’s Lapland region.
Lapland covers much of the northernmost area of Sweden and produces all manner of unique arctic delicacies. The Lapland version of the surf and turf would be more like reindeer and roe, (the eggs of a local species of fish).
Treat yourself to something hearty, rugged and surprisingly delicious.
December: Traditional Swedish Christmas
Like many peoples, a large portion of Sweden’s population celebrates Christmas. The traditions are similar; advent candles are lit, dinners are had and presents are opened.
The Swedish celebrate many more of the feast days that lead up to Christmas than their American counterparts do. The cuisine will also differ as you will see much more fish and rice pudding.
Make sure you are in it for the long haul because the Christmas season in Sweden lasts from December 1st to January 13th.
Sweden may not be a tropical paradise but it is one of the world’s most frequented travel spots. They have their busy season for tourism and, like most places in the northern hemisphere, it is the summertime.
If planning a trip but unsure of when to go, do not limit yourself to the warmer months. Sweden is a magical and entertaining destination all year long.