Situated on the Scandinavian Peninsula, Sweden is no stranger to the cold. Even though temperatures can reach as high as 80 degrees Fahrenheit (27 degrees Celsius), they can also drop below 7 degrees Fahrenheit (-13 degrees Celsius). These temperatures often lead to people asking does it snow in Sweden?
The country sees a fair amount of snow, with official Sweden snowfall figures showing that the ground is covered for six months each year (at least in the north). At the peak of the winter season in February and March, an average of just over 3.5 inches (90 mm) of snow falls each day.
With these figures in mind, it’s easy to see why Swedish people are accustomed to hearing the churn of early morning snowplows, and why some people even ski to work. But what’s the situation really like? Does it snow all year round? And where are the best places in Sweden to hit the slopes?
Keep reading to find out more about snow in Sweden.
When does it snow in Sweden?
Despite varying conditions across the country, it’s still possible to pinpoint the February – March period as the snowiest time in the Swedish calendar. With no snowfall between June and September, here is a rundown of snowfall for the rest of the year in the roughly central city of Umeå:
Snow in October
Umeå’s snowy season begins in October with an average of just under an inch (22mm) of snow falling over the course of the month. Areas in the South are still enjoying the milder conditions of fall at this stage.
Snow in November
Conditions start to become colder in November, with Umeå seeing an average of 3.5 inches (89mm) of snowfall during the month. Snow will already have bedded into Kiruna and other northern towns by this stage.
Snow in December
By December, Umeå is blanketed by just over 7 inches (181mm) of snowfall – with the winter sports season starting. By Christmas time, southern and central cities like Stockholm will start to get their first serious snowdrifts of the season.
Snow in January
After the New Year, the snowfall ramps up even further with nearly 7.5 inches (188mm) of snowfall over the course of the month. By January, the average temperature sits at around 23 degrees Fahrenheit (-5 degrees Celsius).
Snow in February and March
As cold conditions drive further snowfall, Umeå is battered by almost 8 inches (199mm of snow). This is the peak of the winter sports season, and as April comes around, the average snowfall figures drop off quickly.
Where is there Snowfall in Sweden?
Winters in central and southern Sweden are usually short but cold – although you won’t see as much snow as you might expect. In contrast, the north of the country sees far more severe conditions and the snow draws in over winter in the build-up to February.
To give a better indication of what you can expect from Sweden’s climate, here are the snow conditions for some of the nation’s major population hubs.
Snow in Stockholm
Sweden’s capital city is located on the southeast coast, meaning that it is relatively shielded from the very worst arctic weather conditions. The coldest month is February, when the average temperature dips to 29 degrees Fahrenheit (-2 degrees Celsius).
The city receives around 170 days of precipitation each year, made up of a mix of snow and rain. Interestingly, the wettest month is July with an estimated 2.8 inches of rainfall – whilst the snowiest period falls between January and March. During this time, the capital city has been known to see as many as 13 days of snow each month.
Owing to the fact that the city is a busy place and home to nearly a million people, it’s worth knowing that the snow doesn’t stick around on the ground for long – making Stockholm the ideal Swedish winter destination for travelers who don’t want to be exposed to the elements.
Snow in Kiruna
At the other end of the spectrum is Kirunavaara (often called by its shorter name, Kiruna). Situated in the far north of the country and home to its highest mountain, Kiruna shares a border with Lapland – a place many people associate with wintery conditions.
Kiruna even plays host to an annual snow festival each January, which is no surprise considering that temperatures at that time can dip to as low as -22 degrees Fahrenheit (-30 degrees Celsius). At the peak of winter between December and March, Kiruna sees somewhere between 18 to 21 days of snow each month.
With such consistent snowfall, the ski season kicks off in February and mountain lovers can hit up some of the nation’s best ski resorts at Abisko, Björkliden and Riksgränsen.
Snow in Umeå
Situated nearly 400 miles (640 km) north of Stockholm and around 370 miles (600 km) south of Kiruna, Umeå is a relative middle point between Sweden’s arctic extremes and milder continental coasts.
Temperatures fall to overnight lows of 17.6 degrees Fahrenheit (-8 degrees Celsius) during February, with the most snow falling between December and February. At the peak of the winter season, Umeå sees as many as 18 days of snow per month – although this figure quickly drops as spring comes around.
Ski Resorts in Sweden
Sweden is often billed as the home of casual skiing, and the nation is dotted with well-maintained slopes that offer great fun and scenic views in abundance.
Since the country is considerably colder than the Swiss Alps to the southwest, snow reliably lines Sweden’s ski slopes from November through to April and sometimes even later into May. Many a skier has been caught out by the short days of Swedish winters, however, so planning your day is a must.
Åre is one of Sweden’s most popular ski resorts, and is billed as the largest in Northern Europe. Situated in central Sweden near to the city of Östersund, it offers a wide variety of alpine sports and pursuits with runs for all skill levels ranging from green slopes right up to the intense valley run which boasts a length of 4 miles (6.5 km) and a vertical drop of 2,933 ft (894 meters). The resort consists of five key sub-areas, Duved, Tegefjäll, Rödkullen, Åre By and Åre Björnen – which are generally open from early December all the way through to May.
Sälen is the insider’s choice for skiing in Sweden. Made up of six ski resorts in one, the entire area is traversable having been zoned into four key areas: Lindvallen, Högfjället, Tandådalen, and Hundfjället. Located in south-central Sweden, Sälen boasts 160 downhill runs along with family skiing areas, cross-country opportunities, and more than 100 ski lifts.
Vemdalen may be a smaller resort, but it has a major advantage over its competitors: snow is guaranteed for much of the season. With 53 slopes and 30 ski lifts, the park is not short of beginner runs or more challenging slopes. Here the slopes at Vemdalen open from as early as October and run right the way through until late April.