As the weather gets colder and drearier and visitor numbers plummet, there are still plenty of reasons to come to Sweden in November. The big attraction is that it will be mostly just you and the locals in the destinations you visit. Christmas markets enliven big cities, winter sports are possible again in the newly-fallen snow, and northern lights illuminate the Arctic.
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Sweden strikes the perfect balance between urban culture and outdoor fun. Major cities like Stockholm and Gothenburg are progressive and modern, yet retain their history in the form of well-preserved medieval architecture. Yet there are also an impressive 29 national parks in Sweden, stretching from the southern coast to above the Arctic Circle.
When is the best time to visit?
To beat the crowds and enjoy some pleasant hiking weather, visit Sweden during spring (March-May). If you travel during the summer, you’ll have to contend with the high-season crowds—but you’ll also be able to take advantage of Sweden’s famous summer music festivals. These include Way out West, Summerburst, and various genre festivals ranging from metal to reggae. Winter (Nov-Feb) brings great winter-sports conditions, but know that in the coldest months, temps can dip all the way down to -22°F/-30°C in the country's northern reaches.
Where should you go?
Stockholm will be your first stop—it's as rich in medieval history and culture as it is abounding with nightlife and excitement. For spring and summer hiking, go north and test yourself on the Kungsleden Trail (King’s Trail), which runs more than 200 miles through Abisko National Park. If you’d like to pamper yourself, head to the day spas in the city of Ystad. For world-class skiing, snowboarding, and snowmobiling during winter, head to the mountains of central Sweden and the Åre Resort. If you want to view the Northern Lights, travel above the Arctic Circle to the village of Abisko. Also during this time, you can find ice skating and festive holiday activities in Stockholm.
How many days do you need?
In seven days, you can see Stockholm and travel to the south, which is filled with beautiful beaches like those near the medieval port city of Malmö. You could then head north to the coastal city of Gothenburg (a rival to Stockholm for architecture and sheer beauty), and still have time left over to visit a national park, such as Tyresta or Royal Djurgården. But you could easily spend two weeks or more exploring Sweden’s many national parks and cities.
It is a dark, cold month in Sweden, but plenty of fun is still to be had. Take in a museum or two in culturally vibrant Stockholm, head to Central Sweden for snowsports, or visit the Arctic for northern lights sightings. Crowds are also almost non-existent, so this is a good month to see the country from a more local perspective.
As daylight hours increase and sunlight begins to return across snowy Sweden in February, Swedes hit the slopes for their snow sports holidays while festivals bring cheer to several towns and cities. Travel ideas include sojourns to Southern Sweden's spas, skiing in Central Sweden's resorts, and northern lights viewing in the Arctic North.
Sweden is at its autumnal best in October as fall blazes across much of the south and center of the country. This transition between the shoulder and low season is a month for crowd-free activities in the big cities, for a final wild swim before the water gets too cold, and for quiet hiking or biking through forests full of fall colors.
March in Sweden is a snowy month and the ideal time to try snow sports in the center and north, with significantly increased sunshine making outdoor winter activities more enticing. This is an excellent month for discovering Sweden's culture at museums in the cities, without the crowds that will begin descending as of April.
April is one of the best months of the year to visit Sweden. In the south, there's an increase in daylight hours, temperatures begin to rise, towns and cities come alive with spring blooms and festivities, and hiking is once again possible. Meanwhile, skiing remains popular as the snow cover in the north continues. And while there are more visitors around, high-season crowds are blissfully absent.
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