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How to love November in Sweden (no, seriously!)

The Local Sweden
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How to love November in Sweden (no, seriously!)
The sun sets by 5pm across most of Sweden in November. Photo: Göran Assner/Image Bank Sweden

We asked for your top tips to survive Sweden's short days and increasingly chilly weather in November. What else should we add to the list?


1. Get outside 

It's dark, it's cold and in most places there's not yet any snow on the ground to brighten things up. But while it's tempting to spend the entire month on your sofa, going outdoors can provide an instant energy boost. So, when you spot a break in the clouds – however brief – get your trainers on.  According to the World Health Organisation "the sun's rays provide warmth and light that enhance your general feeling of well-being and stimulate blood circulation".

"Making a mental snapshot of a time when the sky is lovely helps me get through the greyer days," argues Angela Evans, an Australian in Stockholm.

"Really appreciate the little patches of blue sky when they come," she adds.

2. Put on your best clothes  

If you're not chilling at home in your sweatpants (and we did tell you to get off that sofa), most likely you'll spend much of November bundled up in big jumpers and coats. But how about layering up instead? Putting on your favourite shirt, dress or even pants underneath that down jacket could help lift your mood. One member of The Local's commercial team has even taken to wearing brightly coloured nail varnish to keep herself cheerful (and it seems to be working so far!).


"I have been collecting funny hairclips and earrings to wear throughout the month," Karen Scheepers, a teacher from South Africa posted on The Local's Facebook page. Based waaaay up north in Vilhelmina, she also suggests simply thinking positively or "finding things to be grateful for" as often as you can. We like your attitude Karen.

A Swedish clothes store. Photo: Tove Freiij/

3. Throw a party...or just go to one

Socialising is vital during November. Especially if you've followed our second tip. We wouldn't want you to be all dressed up with nowhere to go now would we.

"Meet friends, cook together, laugh together (...) even in November life is a precious gift," suggests one of our Facebook followers, Ute Olsson, who is originally from Germany.

Swedes getting festive. Photo: Faramarz Gosheh/

4. Exercise

"Work out like hell" is Stockholmer Erik Emilsson's top recommendation for surviving November and it's one that's scientifically proven. When you exercise, your body releases chemicals called endorphins, which not only reduce your perception of pain but make you feel happier. Exercise can also help to reduce stress, improve sleep and have a calming effect on your body.


So why not join a gym or your local swimming pool? Or, you could do like the locals do and keep on hiking or running your way through the winter (although we suggest doing this with friends or joining a club, to make sure you stay safe). Doctors also recommend upping your fruit and vegetable intake once the colder weather arrives, even if your body's only craving cinnamon buns.

Go for a hike in the Swedish mountains. Photo: Ulf Lundin/Image Bank Sweden

5. Light candles

Okay, so you've been out walking, gone to the gym and hung out with friends. Now we'll allow you some time at home to embrace a typically Swedish autumn and winter tradition: candles.

Katrine Sundström, who lives in Södertälje, south of Stockholm, says she enjoys making her apartment cosy by filling it with warm flickering flames and celebrating the change in the weather.

"I love this time of the year, I appreciate the dark – we need it after the long summer days. It's a time to rest, light candles (...) read a good book and drink good tea," she adds.

Candles in a Swedish home. Photo: Mikko Nikkinen/Image Bank Sweden

6. Get in the sauna

When the mercury is starting to hover around zero, jumping into a sauna is another great Nordic tradition plenty of you recommend trying at this time of year. Here you can warm up and sweat out the day's stresses. Most Swedish gyms include saunas (or bastu as the Swedes call them), while plenty of lakeside and mountain resorts also keep their coals stoked year-round.


Depending on how brave you are, you could also try dashing out for what locals might describe as a "refreshing swim" afterwards. Many non-Swedes will alternatively blurt out the words "f**king freezing" once they've finally stopped shivering.

A Swedish sauna. Photo: Helena Wahlman/

7. Stock up on vitamin D tablets

"Take lots of vitamin D" is Gothenburg-based reader Kaycee Keli's core recommendation for fellow immigrants grappling with November in Scandinavia. Vitamin D helps build strong bones and regular our neuromuscular systems. Our bodies produce it, but only after sufficient exposure to sunlight, which can be a problem if you live in the Nordics at this time of year. So, taking supplements can help to top up your supplies. You can also buy UV lamps which mimic the sun and help brighten your home or office as well as your mood.

Tablets. Photo: AP Photo/Mark Lennihan

8.  Snuggle up to someone special

If you're dating, November is definitely not the time of year to break up with someone in Sweden. Bulgarian reader and Malmö University student Petar Chergarov credits his "loving and caring partner" with getting him through the dark month, while Laura Olofsson from Kalmar says she survives by watching good movies or listening to music with her husband or her pets. Cue the violins.

Know someone single? Give them a hug this month, they'll probably need it.

A cosy Friday night in Sweden. Photo: Ingvar Karmhed/TT

9. Leave the country (or at least your town)

When the going gets tough, some people just get going. Our Twitter post asking for November survival tips quickly attracted responses from users suggesting mini-breaks in Tenerife, holidays in Australia, or even moving to California for the rest of the winter!

Heading abroad is all very well if you've managed to save both annual leave and money. But if not? The Local's tip is to jump on the train or in your car and check out somewhere different on home soil. After all, they say a change is as good as a rest.

Need some inspiration? Check out six of the cutest towns around the country you've probably never heard of, plus our list of the most underrated travel destinations in Sweden, as recommended by our favourite travel bloggers.

An SAS flight. Photo: Christine Olsson/TT

Article first published in 2015 and updated in 2017.


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