As the weather gets colder and drearier and visitor numbers plummet, there are still plenty of reasons to come to Sweden in November. The big attraction is that it will be mostly just you and the locals in the destinations you visit. Christmas markets enliven big cities, winter sports are possible again in the newly-fallen snow, and northern lights illuminate the Arctic.


Temperatures drop rapidly in November and feel colder still because of the darker, shorter days and reduced sunshine. Temperatures average 37°F (3°C) in Stockholm, while up in Lapland, they have plummeted to an average of 19°F (-7°C). Despite the slightly dreary weather, rainfall in Stockholm and the Arctic is low, although the Gothenburg region sees one of its rainiest months. Meanwhile, snow is already thickly covering the ground in the center and north of the country, already more than sufficient for winter sports.

Brightening up the gloom, the first northern lights of the winter season are now visible, streaking across the sky in bands of bright color, especially in the far north.

Crowds & Costs

Overall, November is one of Sweden's least busy months. In the big cities and the countryside, you'll mostly meet locals if you vacation here at this time. The ski season is beginning in Central and Northern Sweden, and this can be a good time to get deals at ski resorts as they are not yet crowded. In the cities, however, bargains on accommodation are hard to find as hotels fill up with business travelers (November is an important time for conferences and trade fairs).

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Where to Go

Stockholm and Gothenburg are great destinations to visit this month if you can coincide your trip with one of the Christmas markets. These begin around mid-November in both cities and fill the streets with cheer as people come to shop for handicrafts, socialize, and eat and drink traditional Swedish fare at market stalls. Drabber weather inclines travelers to turn inside for holiday fun and to escape the cold. There is nowhere better than one of Southern Sweden's traditional spas, like the glamorous Sturebadet in Stockholm, dating from the 1800s, or the 300-year-old Sätra Brunn in the countryside near the capital.

Gourmands may be tempted to head to the island of Gotland off Sweden's southeast coast, where one of Sweden's most enticing November events, the Truffle Festival, takes place. But with the arrival of snow, attention is turning to winter sports destinations. Idre Fjäll in Dalarna is one of the first resorts to open; otherwise, visit Sälen or Åre, the country's biggest downhill ski resort, in Central Sweden, or journey north to Arctic snow sports meccas like Riksgränsen, Sweden's (and the world's!) most northerly ski resort.

If you want to glimpse the northern lights, the spot with the most consistent viewings is the village of Abisko, although anywhere in the Arctic can yield great sightings.

What to Do

Attending a Christmas market in Stockholm or Gothenburg this month offers good cheer in the cold, gray weather. You could also take cover from the cold in one of these cities' museums and learn more about Swedish culture. In Stockholm, explore the Nordic Museum, the Skansen Museum, Europe's oldest open-air museum, and the Vasa Museum, home to the impressive salvaged 17th-century warship, Vasa. Gothenburg's Konstmuseum, one of Europe's best art collections, should be on your itinerary too. 

Southern Sweden is also known for its traditional, glamorous spas. Pamper yourself at Sturebadet in Stockholm, Sätra Brunn in the countryside near the capital, or, perhaps most distinctive of all, Loka Brunn to the north of Lake Vänern, where the signature treatment involves a bath infused with oil made from local pine needles. Getting warm in a wood-fired sauna is another excellent possibility in chilly November, with these being traditional fixtures across the Swedish countryside. Skiing is popular again in the fresh snow, as are other winter sports like dog-sledding and snowmobiling. 

Finally, nothing will make your trip stick in your memory like a glimpse of the northern lights, which blaze across the night skies of Swedish Lapland again in November for the first time since April.

Events in November

Stockholm International Film Festival, Stockholm. This is the Swedish capital's well-established film festival, ranking among Europe's best. It takes place over three weeks in November, although there are smaller spin-off film events in summer. 

Gotland Truffle Festival, Gotland. This extravaganza on Gotland island includes truffle lectures, tastings, truffle-themed restaurant menus, and a weekend dedicated to those gourmet subterranean mushrooms.

Christmas Markets, nationwide. Christmas markets full of festive stalls and hearty warming food brighten up many towns and cities as early as late November, running right through until December 23. Among the most famous are. Gothenburg's Liseburg Christmas Market and Stockholm's markets at Skansen Museum, Gamla Stan (Old Town) and Kungstradgården park.

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