The Survival Guide to Swedish Winters

Expat and travel friends, a warm hello to you!

These past weeks have been flying by and even before realising it, November started. I don’t get how my weeks are going back that fast and actually smoothly. I’m not saying life isn’t busy, but there is just no time to think about it!

But then, last weekend, it kinda snowed, and everything was frozen and icy in the morning so, I thought it could be a good think to stop for a minute and put all together all my thought on how we can actually survive another winter in Sweden. So here it comes, the survival guide to Swedish Winters!

Whether you want it or not, it is coming. Winter is coming and faster than you’ll ever expect it! So whether you’re living in Sweden, just moved here or are planning a trip to the Nordics, here are some things you may want to know to enjoy the upcoming months.

This winter will be my 3rd one in Sweden, and so believe me, I’ve experienced a lot of things during these long winter months. Some basic things to know:

  • Winter is long (like a good 5 months),
  • Winter is dark (5h of daylights in the best case scenario),
  • Winter is cold (up to -20C can happen),
  • Winter is beautiful (I mean who doesn’t find snow magical),
  • Winter is festive (Holidays season oh yeeees!).

So you get the point. There are some not-so-nice aspect and some oh-my-good-so-good things. And so here are some tricks and tips about how to survive the ugly part of winter and enjoy the beauty of it.

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Take care of yourself

The body and the soul. Yes my friend, one doesn’t go without the other.

I think it is so important, especially during the winter time to have a good routine for your body. Because of the coldness, your skin won’t be super happy, go get some nice masks, body moisturiser (& hand cream too) and lip balm.

You’ll see that because it gets dark very early, you’ll find yourself at home way earlier than you use to, and so it gives plenty of time for some quality “me-time”.

Regarding your soul, do the things that make you happy, go for a coffee, grab a cinnamon bun on your way to work or anything that can be considered as a little treat, cause yes, it make winter a bit sweeter.

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Dress properly

Locals would tell you that there is no bad weather, there is only bad clothing. So here you go. But instead of just dropping this and leaving you alone with this statement, here are some of my favourite winter clothing pieces that I would buy every year.

Heat tech clothes, tops and bottom, as the first layer. I really like the ones from Uniqlo, as they are really affordable and comfy. There are so many colours available and they’re so thin that you won’t even feel like wearing them, and on top of this it keeps you real warm all day long.

Put layers. A lot of layers! I like having super big, warm and cosy wool sweaters because… just because without you’d freeze! And having layers is good because you can always get rid of some once inside and put them back on when leaving a building. Basically it is perfect to keep you warm!

Investing in good shoes and winter jacket matters. I am saying investing and not spending a lot of money on these, for the simplest reason that you’ll keep them from a winter to another, and also because if you buy good quality products, you won’t feel disappointed by the purchase. To be honest, when I took my winter jacket out last weekend, I was quite happy! It is a jacket that I love, that is comfy and warm. For sure, you’ll be able to find good jackets at a reasonable price (ie. 150€).

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Afternoon walk by the water (Kungsholmen)

Go outside

You might need to force yourself a bit, but going outside, for a coffee or a walk for example, is very good. As there is very little daylight, you need to enjoy it when it is here! Of course it might be cold, but you’ll feel so much better after, and isn’t it great to have a snowball fight once in a while?

By going outside, there is also the importance of socialising and meeting friends. Winter days can feel very long and boring as there is not always much happening, but meeting friends, for a coffee, a walk, a dinner or a glass of mulled wine will just put you in a happier mood!

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Enjoy the winter festivities

November is clearly the beginning of the winter in Scandinavia and it is my least favourite month of the year, because there is not much happening… it is dark, usually rainy, cold and there is nothing happening. So for me, November is the month that I have to go through and just be focusing on many other things not to get depressed. And one of these things is looking at what will be happening in December aka. where and when are the Christmas markets! But also planning winter break and any other things I want to explore in town.

But I think that visiting Sweden in December or January is great, because everything is opened and decorated for the holidays, and there are not so many tourists in the city, which makes the attractions and museums so much more attractive. And let’s face it, a bit of snow and frozen lakes make the city magical and pretty!

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Make your home comfy

I realised that during the winter I’m always looking forward coming back home after work, and it is because I feel good there! I like having a few books to read, some nice candles – and soon a Christmas tree!

The darkness pushes me to come home straight after work, and not stop by a couple of stores, coffee house or such, and so making your home a happy and comfy place, is always a good idea.

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Grapefruit pie for cold day reward

Eat properly

I don’t mean being on diet. Nope. I mean being careful of what you’re eating. The last two winters have been very different for me, but the common thing is that when winter comes to an end, I have no energy left, so to avoid this, this winter I decided to take some vitamins to boost me through this long period of the year.

In addition, what I love about winter is that it is the great citrus fruits season! I eat a lot of them, gives good vitamins and strengths for the day. And usually, I care a little more about trying my best not to get sick – and so ginger, lemon and/or honey are often added to teas or just hot water for a nice beverage.

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⇒ I hope you enjoyed this article and it will help you to go through the upcoming cold months! If you have any specific tricks to survive the winter, please share them in the comments!

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