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Embracing Winter in Stockholm: The Love-Hate Relationship

Hej everyone, welcome to this week’s post! Winter in Stockholm is a season that evokes a mix of feelings for me. It’s a time when the city transforms into a picturesque postcard scene, but also a period that brings its own set of challenges. Here’s a deeper look into my love-hate relationship with winter in the Swedish capital. Coming from a wintery country myself (Canada) I must express that this is my view on the ups and downs of winter, which can look very different or rather have potential to be amplified for those that are experiencing winter for the first time. Regardless, I love Swedish winter and I hope that you will too!

What I Adore About Winter in Stockholm

1. Winter Activities: Stockholm during winter is a playground for those who love cold-weather activities, including those willing to try it for the first time. The city offers numerous opportunities for ice skating, skiing, and even winter swimming for the brave-hearted (something that I do quite often- an extreme health benefit!). The feeling of gliding on the ice with the historic city as a backdrop is magical. There’s something incredibly invigorating about embracing the outdoors, even in the chill, that makes winter here so special. I personally feel that winter activities in Stockholm are so much more abundant than most cities given that we are so surrounded by nature which can make you feel like you are in a true natural winter wonderland.

Some call it crazy, but a polar dip and sauna combination is one of my favourite things about winter! I highly recommend checking out Hellasgården, one of my favourite cold dip spots 🙂 On this dip the water temperature was 1 degree celsius!

2. The City in Snow: There’s no denying that Stockholm looks absolutely stunning under a blanket of snow. The architecture, from the colorful buildings of Gamla Stan to the modern designs of Norrmalm, gains an ethereal quality when dusted with snow. Walking through the city feels like stepping into a fairy tale, especially when the snowflakes begin to gently fall, transforming the landscape into a serene winter wonderland.

These trees were just gorgeous! Definitely one of the prettiest winter days I experienced in Stockholm thus far!

3. Cozy City Lights: As the days get shorter and the darkness creeps in early, Stockholm counters the gloom with its warm and welcoming city lights. The way the city lights up, from the street lamps casting a golden glow on the snow to the twinkling lights decorating the trees and buildings, makes it feel like the entire city is a cozy room. This atmosphere of warmth and coziness is a hallmark of the Swedish concept of ‘mys,’ which becomes a way of life during the winter months. This is also one of my favourite times to get the best content for social media, everything looks really pretty.

Even though it is dark, it is so incredible cozy in the city! Buildings are lit up, trees are strung with lights, and around Christmas time, there are Christmas decorations everywhere!

The Downsides of Winter in Stockholm

1. The Slushy Snow: While fresh snowfall is a beautiful sight, the charm quickly wears off when it turns into slush. As temperatures hover around freezing, the pristine snow transforms into a messy, icy sludge that can make walking a challenge. The beauty of the winter landscape is marred by the grey, wet slush that lines the streets, taking away from the winter wonderland experience. However, this slush does not last very long and is either met with fresh snow or melted away. When it is slushy outside I do tend to budget some extra time to get around the city- you never know what conditions you may be dealing with.

2. Early Sunsets: The short days and early sunsets are another aspect of winter in Stockholm that I find difficult. The sun setting as early as 3 PM means that much of the day is spent under artificial light. This can make the winter feel longer and sometimes affects the mood, making it a struggle to stay energized and positive throughout the season. Despite this, there are a bunch of quick fixes. First, vitamin D will become your best friend. Second, I invested in a artificial sun lamp which helps me get through the darkness. Third, surround yourself with good friend and fund activities and you will forget that the darkness was ever there.

I took this picture on a walk around Djurgården at 3.45pm, as you can see it is quite dark already, but in my opinion Stockholm is prettiest during blue hour 🙂

3. Impact on Public Transit: Lastly, the unpredictable snowy weather can significantly impact public transit. Although Stockholm is well-equipped to deal with snow, unexpected heavy snowfall can slow down public transportation, leading to less frequent services, delays, or even cancellations. This can be frustrating, especially when you’re trying to navigate your daily commute or make it to important appointments. This has personally never happened to me, but I know that those who commute using the commuter train have experienced some issues when it comes to heavy snowfall. Regardless, there is almost always an alternative way to get around so you will never be stranded.

Winter in Stockholm is a season of contrasts- somedays it will feel like a real winter with temperatures reaching -17 degrees Celsius and other days it can feel like spring is around the corner with warm temperatures, melted snow, and what seems like endless sun. Winter brings with it activities and sights that are uniquely beautiful, creating memories that are cherished long after the cold has passed-and yes, for me, Stockholm is genuinely the only place that has made me love winter. I think this is because winter is not necessarily a barrier, but if you are willing to embrace it to its fullest potential, you may find it to be your favourite season as well. Yet, it does not come without its challenges that test the patience and resilience of Stockholm residents. Despite the downsides, the love for winter’s enchanting moments outweighs the inconveniences. It’s a time to embrace the beauty of nature, the warmth of community, and the joy of simple pleasures. Winter in Stockholm, with all its complexities, remains a wonderful experience.

Thanks for tuning in this week! Make sure to check out Lorenzo’s last post on KTH Courses and Vocabulary.

// Sam

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