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THE LOCAL LIST

WINTER

Ten reasons Sweden is the best winter country

With winter's arrival in Sweden, we've decided to embrace the frosty season here at The Local. We've gathered the ten best reasons why Sweden is, indeed, the best country in the world to spend winter.

Ten reasons Sweden is the best winter country
A group of ice fisherman in Kiruna, far northern Sweden. Photo: Anders Tedeholm/imagebank.sweden.se

While some countries may never even experience a flake of snow during a winter, Sweden is enveloped in it. With the snow comes the ice, and with the ice comes the opportunities.

But this week's top ten includes more than just outdoor activities. There's much more to Sweden than just the chill.

And for all you Game of Thrones fans, remember: Winter is coming.

1. The Northern Lights

The Northern Lights (or “aurora borealis”) have been described as “the world's greatest light show” and best of all – they're free once you've headed far enough north. It occurs thanks to charged particles from the sun meeting the earth's atmosphere. You can catch them from the beginning of September to the end of March, but bring a blanket… sometimes it can be hours before the show. And don't forget your camera.

READ ALSO: Our interview with a Northern Lights photographer


Photo: Rikard Lagerberg/imagebank.sweden.se

2. Stockholm on ice

Most of Sweden offers great ice skating in winter, and even the capital city's main waterways freeze over during, affording tourists and Swedes alike the chance to see Stockholm from the ice, as seen below in an image near Kungsholmen. The Local does not advise too much ice walking, and suggests readers should never venture further than the most distant Swede.

WATCH: Top tips for staying safe on the ice in Sweden


Ice skaitng with a view. Photo: Helena Wahlman/imagebank.sweden.se

3. Winter sports

Sweden is one of the best countries for winter sports, whether organized or casual. From ice-hockey to bandy, from ice-hole fishing to skiing (cross-country or slalom), to the humble ice-skating session at your local lake. Sweden has it all. But it's usually a more sensible option to stay above the water surface… unless you're daring enough to hop in…


Skiing in the wild. Photo: Fredrik Schlyter/imagebank.sweden.se

4. A spot of ice-hole swimming

Not for the faint of heart, swimming in a Swedish winter is a true Viking test. Tip: Be sure there is a fully functioning sauna nearby, and maybe a have good glug of glögg (keep reading). Sweden has tens of thousands of lakes, so finding a place to do it is no problem, but make sure you bring a friend to be safe.


Photo: Helena Wahlman/imagebank.sweden.se

5. Sweden's Ice Hotel

What better way to while away the winter hours than with a stay at Jukkasjärvi's ice hotel in far northern Sweden. Each year, they rebuild the hotel from scratch and this year will be the 27th. The hotel is situated on the shores of the Torne river from where the ice is taken, and eventually melts as the mercury rises… so don't leave it too late for a visit.


Photo: Hans-Olof Utsi/imagebank.sweden.se/www.icehotel.se

6. Dog sledding

Why not swap travelling by car with travelling by dog? Head to northern Sweden in winter and have yourself pulled along the snow by a pack of huskies. Environmentally cleaner but not necessarily quieter, it's the best way to gaze up at the stars as you move across the snow.


Photo: Anna Öhlund/imagebank.sweden.se

7. Glögg

Glögg, better known in English speaking circles as mulled wine, is a Swedish winter must. A must – not a must (pronounced moost), which is a Swedish colrth a taste. Anyway, glögg is best enjoyed with a generous mix of spices, raisins, and almonds. The drink is a particular hit at Christmas time. Skål!


Photo: Helena Wahlman/imagebank.sweden.se

8. Swedish reindeer

Sweden is one of the few countries in the world where you can see reindeer, particularly the white reindeer. Catch a glimpse of these graceful animals in the snow, just don't be disappointed if they aren't pulling a sleigh through the sky.


Photo: Lola Akinmade Åkerström/imagebank.sweden.se

9. Skiing in central Stockholm

Which other city offers outdoor skiing in the centre of the capital. Well, Stockholm does. Head to the Hammarbybacken in Hammarby Sjöstad for a view like no other while you're skiing. If you're super organized and don't live too far away, you could even take in a few runs during an extended lunch break. Why not?


Photo: Sara Ingman/imagebank.sweden.se

10. Snowmobiling

What has no wheels and is able to travel over a 100 kilometres an hour? A snowmobile. Zip across frozen lakes at lightning speed and leave behind a trail of powdery snow in your wake.


Photo: Henrik Trygg/imagebank.sweden.se

WINTER

The Local readers’ guide to making it through Sweden’s winter darkness

We have a long, dark winter ahead of us, but there's light in the darkness. The Local readers share their advice on coping with a Nordic winter, even in times of corona and travel restrictions.

The Local readers' guide to making it through Sweden's winter darkness
Lights and walks outside were two popular and free tips. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT

Light

Many suggested light, whether sunlight or candlelight, as important to cope with Sweden's darkness.

“Trying to go outside during daylight hours everyday. It's shocking how instantly uplifting it is.” – Maitri Dore, from India, living in Gothenburg

“I'm a foreigner and this is my second winter in Sweden. The darkness really affects my energy in winter so I bought smart light bulbs to adjust the light I need over the day. When the weather is bad, I set my room to a very white and bright colour. This way, I don't feel like going to sleep at 5pm!” –Thomas, from France, living in Stockholm

“I put up more Christmas lights this year than last year and I've noticed that many of my neighbours have done the same! It makes me smile every time I drive into my neighbourhood and see our trees, front porches and windows filled with twinkling lights and advent stars.” – Emilie Blum, from the USA, living in Karlstad

“I try to keep myself warm all of the time. I keep brightening up my room with candles and electrical bulbs.” – Dyna, from Cambodia, living in Lund

Keep busy

Many of our readers said they turned to hobbies or little luxuries to fill the long evenings, including ceramics or photography courses online, indoor exercise visitors, cooking, planning their next trip for when travel is possible safely, crafts, reading, writing, gaming, and virtual activities with friends overseas.


Photo: Jonas Ekströmer/TT

Move your body

Maybe this is a good time to dust off that treadmill you have in the basement? Or try out online yoga and meditation sessions free of cost?

Readers suggested:

“Walks or gardening during weekday daytime, at least twice a day, even if for just 5-10 minutes. Weekend walks in the forest.” – Lejla Somun Krupalija, from Bosnia-Herzegovina, living in Stockholm

“Gym first thing in the morning to wake up fully, then a lunchtime walk to catch the daylight.” – Mike, from the USA, living in Stockholm

“Making sure to go outside at least once a day for a walk. This is really good to help you feel you have achieved something and the fresh air is energising.” –Rachel Stewart, from the UK, living in Stockholm

“It's a first for me, but because I don't go to the gym anymore, I tried a sports app. I have never been especially fit or a big sports fan, just trying to move a bit, as I spend my day sitting in front of a computer. It's only about 30 minutes per day, but I feel really more energised than last year! And I also try to keep going outside every sunny day, to enjoy the little light we have here in the North!” – Jade Bruxaux, from France, living in Umeå


File photo: Sören Andersson/TT

Finding ways to adapt

“Listening to music and listen to positive motivation videos, attitude of gratitude.” – Shwetha, from India, living in Gothenburg

“Try to stay positive and just enjoy the little things, winter is a great time to appreciate what you take for granted on a daily basis.” – Linus Schenell, Swedish, living in Stockholm

“This is the time when I usually go back home to India. To add to that, we don't really celebrate Christmas. But this year, I am embracing the situation and doing everything I can to feel the spirit, stay busy and beat the blues. I've started to decorate at home, put up lights, made glögg and even hung a mistletoe (which my partner is not really amused with!)” – Parul Ghosh, from India, living in Helsingborg

“Vitamin D tablets every morning; contact with friends and family by phone, Skype, Zoom, e-mail etc; reading; cooking; eating,” – John Nixon, British-Swedish, living in Gothenburg

“Walking to the beach to watch the sunrise and then again to see the sunset is my way of dealing with darkness. Along the Baltic shore, the sun rises and stays just above the horizon during the daylight hours. It moves from east to west horizontally as the daylight hours progress then dips back into the sea. Each day, even if it's cloudy, you can usually see the sun below the cloud layer. There are only a few visitors at the beach, so I'm isolated. It keeps me in good spirits. I follow the routine with some regularity. It brings me closer to nature and reminds me of all those folks in mainland Europe, just south of me who are undergoing difficulties this year.” – William Seitz, from the USA, living in Hanö Bay

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