If you're planning a trip to Scandinavia and have never been before, you may wonder: When is the best time to visit Sweden? There's no simple answer to that question since Sweden has much to offer visitors any time of year. But if it's generally sunshine and warm weather you're seeking, the best time to visit Sweden is May through September, when the days are long and the country's natural beauty is at its peak.
If you're on a budget, you may want to avoid the summer high season. If you like winter sports, skiing and dogsled riding are huge attractions. While it's up to the individual traveler to decide what most appeals to them, here are some suggestions for planning your trip to Sweden.
The Weather in Sweden
Sweden's climate is mostly temperate, despite its northern latitude. While Stockholm is warmer and milder, the mountains of northern Sweden are sub-Arctic.
In the north, winters are long and harsh, often spanning seven months or more. Meanwhile, southern Sweden has just a few months of truly cold winter, before summer
There is an important weather divergence between northern and southern Sweden: the north has a long winter of more than seven months. The south, on the other hand, has winter weather for only two months and a summer of more than four. Most rainfall occurs in late summer, while snow falls, predictably, in winter.
Parts of the north have snow on the ground for more than half of the year.
Peak Season in Sweden
The most popular time of year to visit Sweden, at least as far as tourist activity goes, is mid-to-late summer. The weather is warm and pleasant and there are plenty of outdoor events and activities, including swimming at some of Sweden's beautiful beaches.
This includes many clothing-optional beaches if you're feeling a little Bohemian.
During the month of June, you can avoid the late-summer crowds and can experience outdoor events (like Midsummer's Eve) and activities, warm weather and the long hours of daylight known as the Midnight Sun.
May and July are also good options for the visitor who likes outdoor recreation. Be advised that Sweden typically sees more rain in May than in June, and while July is warmer, it also has larger tourist crowds. July and August can also be slightly more expensive than the earlier summer months. This is considered peak tourist season in Sweden and much of Scandinavia.
The Best Time to See the Northern Lights
The natural phenomenon known as the Aurora Borealis, also called the Northern Lights, occur when electrons stream towards the Earth along its magnetic field and collide with air particles. The air then lights up, providing a spectacular visual display.
While Norway is typically the best place to view the Northern Lights, they are visible any time of year from most points in Sweden. The further north you go, the better the view of the Northern Lights.
Traveling to Sweden on a Budget
If you're a budget traveler trying to decide when to go to Sweden, late August and September are your best bets.
Flights to Sweden will be cheaper than during the high season, as will local hotel prices. And the weather in Sweden is still mild enough for outdoor attractions at this point in the year.
Any month between November and March will be cold and snowy in Sweden. There are times when the winter sports areas are busier than others, however. The most popular times to visit Swedish ski resorts are late February, March, and December. There are 200 ski resorts in the country of Sweden, with the most popular downhill ski slopes at Åre, in central Sweden. Resorts in Dalarna, Härjedalen, Jämtland, and Swedish Lapland are also popular with visitors and local skiers.
Events to Check Out
- Vinterfest, one of Sweden's biggest classical music festivals, takes place each February in Dalarna.
- Stockholm Design Week is held in early February, drawing in crowds of designers and retailers.
- The Nobel Prize-giving ceremony is held every year in early December. The invite-only ceremony draws members of the Royal Family as well as other esteemed academics from around the world.
Spring is a great time to visit Sweden: It is still off-season, with low travel prices, and with warmer weather arriving, you can expect to find spring flowers and green landscapes. While the climate is still somewhat unpredictable, days are generally warmer, with flowers beginning to bloom. You'll experience 13 hours of daylight or so throughout the spring.
Events to Check Out
- Walpurgis Eve (Valborgmässoafton) is held on April 30. It's typically celebrated throughout the city with bonfires.
- April 25 is Stockholm Culture Night. More than 300 free cultural events take place throughout the city.
Summers in the north are short and cool, but the rest of the country is generally very comfortable and quite warm. Swedes love celebrating the long summer days by flocking to the coast and inland lakes. For visitors, summer is among the best season to visit, with countless outdoor events and attractions. Crowds are common, but worth it thanks to the beautiful weather.
Events to Check Out
- The whole country celebrates Midsummer Eve in June. Accordion-playing and dances around the maypole are the most typical celebrations.
- The International Festival of Folk Dance and Music, or Rättviksdansen, takes place biennially in Rättvik. The event draws more than 1,000 folk dancers and musicians from all over the world.
Fall in Sweden can often be quite rainy, as wet air masses blow in from the Atlantic Ocean. Fog is common as well. In the Northern regions, snow and frost will begin by mid-October. September, in particular, can be a nice time to visit, as temperatures are typically still in the mid-60s.
Events to Check Out
- The Göteborg Book Fair takes place every September in Göteborg. It started in 1985 as a trade fair but is now the largest literary event in Scandinavia. The fair brings in more than 800 exhibitors and 100,000 visitors to Göteborg.