Christmas in Stockho-ho-holm: Five wintry must-dos in the city

It’s not quite Lapland, but Stockholm is among the most magical places in the world at Christmas. There’s often a sprinkling of snow, a clutter of Christmas markets and just enough Julmys (Christmas cosiness) to really get you in the festive spirit.

Christmas in Stockho-ho-holm: Five wintry must-dos in the city
Photo: mikdam/deposit photos

There’s no denying it, Swedes are good at Christmas. In fact, Santa Claus himself might even be Swedish; he certainly has a typically Swedish attitude to travel. What could be more sustainable than a reindeer-driven sleigh?

The second most sustainable way to travel is by Arlanda Express, the eco-friendly express train that gets you from Arlanda Airport to central Stockholm in just 20 minutes. And with Arlanda Express’s Early Bird offer you can save 30 percent on your train ticket when you book seven days before travelling – great news when Christmas is just around the corner. 

Click here to save 30 percent on your train ticket to Stockholm

From the moment you touchdown in Stockholm, you have one mission and one mission only…

Start feeling Christmassy

First on the agenda is to fill yourself to the brim with Christmas spirit (we’re talking metaphorically here, although we’ll get to Glögg later…).

Kick back in your train seat, a perfect example of functional but comfortable Scandinavian design, and get a glimpse of the scenic Swedish countryside as you speed towards Stockholm. If you’re seeking a traditional white Christmas, you may be in luck – it’s not unlikely to see snow this time of year.

Photo: Ulf Lundin/

Take advantage of the on-board wifi to research Christmas markets in Stockholm and download a transit app like Citymapper so you can easily hop around the city.

Nothing quite gets you in the Yuletide mood like some Christmas jingles so while you’re surfing the web for free, listen to some Swedish Christmas classics on our Arlanda Express x The Local Christmas Spotify playlist.

Go on a lantern-lit stroll

Gamla stan, Stockholm’s Old Town, is a magical place any time of year. But the narrow cobbled streets, gold-hued buildings and cosy, candle-lit cafes are practically made for Christmas.

Take a walking tour of Gamla stan by lantern light to experience the medieval city centre at its most twinkly. Learn about the local area and wind your way up to the Christmas market in Stortorget, the main square in the Old Town. Soak it all in and wash it all down with a glass of Glögg, a Scandinavian mulled wine made with brandy, almonds, raisins and spices. And don’t forget the pepparkaka, a gingersnap biscuit popular in Sweden this time of year.

Seek out Swedish Christmas decorations

Photo: Ulf Lundin/

Swedes love design; they’re famous for it and it’s evident everywhere from the thoughtful design of Arlanda Express trains to the multitude of shops (many selling typically Scandinavian brands) dotted around the city.

Stockholm’s biggest department stores should be a pitstop on any winter city break. The window display at Nordiska Kompaniet, a swish department store in the city centre, is always nothing short of a masterpiece. Likewise, ubiquitous department store Åhlens always pulls out all the stops with its Christmas window decor.

Take a little piece of Sweden home with you. A julbock – or Yule-goat – is a must-have under any Swedish Christmas tree, and it wouldn’t be Jul (the Swedish word for Christmas) without a wooden Tomte figure. The Scandinavian mythological character is a mischievous sprite traditionally responsible for the protection and welfare of the farmstead (and almost definitely a distant cousin of Santa. The evidence is mounting that he is, in fact, a Swede).

Strap on your skates

Photo: Helena Wahlman/

One of the most special things about Stockholm at Christmas is that there’s a frozen lake around nearly every corner. Hard to believe that in a capital city there could be so much nature, but there is an abundance of water and much of it totally freezes over in winter.

Click here to save 30 percent on your train ticket to Stockholm

If you own a pair of skates, make sure to pack them; there is nothing quite as thrilling (or authentically Christmassy) as skating on natural ice. However, it’s important to know the risks so always make sure ice is safe before venturing out onto it. There are guided ice skating tours in the Stockholm region or a number of manmade rinks such as the ice rink in Kungsträdgården which is just a stone’s throw from Central Station. The ice rink is free to use – you just have to pay for skate rental if you don’t have your own – and open until 9pm every night of the week.

Treat yourself to a Julbord

Photo: Carolina Romare/

No Christmas trip to Stockholm is complete without a Julbord, an honest-to-goodness Scandinavian smörgåsbord. The traditional Swedish Christmas table is a huge buffet that includes several staple dishes like pickled herring, meatballs, beetroot salad, cheeses, sausages and salmon. Many restaurants in Stockholm serve a Julbord from the end of November; there are even a couple – like Herman’s with its spectacular view of Stockholm – serving entirely vegetarian spreads.

But if you really want to take the boat out you should literally take the boat out. Hop on the ferry out to Fjäderholmarnas Krog, an award-winning restaurant on the city’s nearest archipelago island. Even the grinches among you won’t fail to be blown away by the postcard-perfect Swedish setting. Make sure to book ahead! You’ll get a four-hour slot which, trust us, you’ll need.

Make the most of Christmas in Stockholm. Get to the city centre as fast and easily as possible by booking your airport transfer with Arlanda Express, the quickest route between Arlanda Airport and downtown.

This article was produced by The Local Creative Studio and sponsored by Arlanda Express.


‘Painful’ – is Paris Charles de Gaulle airport really that bad?

Following a survey that said Paris Charles de Gaulle airport was the best in Europe, we asked Local readers what they thought...

'Painful' - is Paris Charles de Gaulle airport really that bad?

Recently, Paris Charles de Gaulle was voted the best airport in Europe by passengers.

The 2022 World Airport Awards, based on customer satisfaction surveys between September 2021 and May 2022, listed the best airport on the planet as Doha, while Paris’s main airport came in at number 6 – the highest entry for a European airport – one place above Munich. 

READ ALSO Paris Charles de Gaulle voted best airport in Europe by passengers

Given CDG’s long-standing reputation doesn’t quite match what the World Airport Awards survey said – in 2009 it was rated the second-worst airport in the world, while in 2011 US site CNN judged it “the most hated airport in the world” – we wondered how accurate the survey could be.

So we asked readers of The Local for their opinion on their experience of Europe’s ‘best’ airport. 

Contrary to the World Airport Awards study, users erred towards the negative about the airport. A total 30.8 percent of Local readers – who had travelled through the airport in recent months – thought it was ‘terrible’, while another 33.3 percent agreed that it was ‘not great’ and had ‘some problems’.

But in total 12.8 percent of those who responded to our survey thought the airport was ‘brilliant’, and another 23.1 percent thought it ‘fine’, with ‘no major problems’.

So what are the problems with it?


One respondent asked a simple – and obvious – question: “Why are there so many terminal twos?”

Barney Lehrer added: “They should change the terminal number system.”

In fact, signage and directions – not to mention the sheer size of the place – were common complaints, as were onward travel options. 

Christine Charaudeau told us: “The signage is terrible. I’ve often followed signs that led to nowhere. Thankfully, I speak French and am familiar with the airport but for first time travellers … yikes!”

Edwin Walley added that it was, “impossible to get from point A to point B,”  as he described the logistics at the airport as the “worst in the world”.

And James Patterson had a piece of advice taken from another airport. “The signage could be better – they could take a cue from Heathrow in that regard.”

Anthony Schofield said: “Arriving by car/taxi is painful due to congestion and the walk from the skytrain to baggage claim seems interminable.”

Border control

Border control, too, was a cause for complaint. “The wait at the frontière is shameful,” Linda, who preferred to use just her first name, told us. “I waited one and a half hours standing, with a lot of old people.”

Sharon Dubble agreed. She wrote: “The wait time to navigate passport control and customs is abysmal!”

Deborah Mur, too, bemoaned the issue of, “the long, long wait to pass border control in Terminal E, especially at 6am after an overnight flight.”

Beth Van Hulst, meanwhile, pulled no punches with her estimation of border staff and the airport in general. “[It] takes forever to go through immigration, and staff deserve their grumpy reputation. Also, queuing is very unclear and people get blocked because the airport layout is not well designed.”

Jeff VanderWolk highlighted the, “inadequate staffing of immigration counters and security checkpoints”, while Karel Prinsloo had no time for the brusque attitudes among security and border personnel. “Officers at customs are so rude. I once confronted the commander about their terrible behaviour.  His response said it all: ‘We are not here to be nice’. Also the security personnel.”


One of the most-complained-about aspects is one that is not actually within the airport’s control – public transport connections.  

Mahesh Chaturvedula was just one of those to wonder about integrated travel systems in France, noting problems with the reliability of onward RER rail services, and access to the RER network from the terminal.

The airport is connected to the city via RER B, one of the capital’s notoriously slow and crowded suburban trains. Although there are plans to create a new high-speed service to the airport, this now won’t begin until after the 2024 Olympics.

Sekhar also called for, “more frequent trains from SNCF to different cities across France with respect to the international flight schedules.”

The good news

But it wasn’t all bad news for the airport, 35 percent of survey respondents said the airport had more positives than negatives, while a Twitter poll of local readers came out in favour of Charles de Gaulle.

Conceding that the airport is “too spread out”, Jim Lockard said it, “generally operates well; [and has] decent amenities for food and shopping”.

Declan Murphy was one of a number of respondents to praise the, “good services and hotels in terminals”, while Dean Millar – who last passed through Charles de Gaulle in October – said the, “signage is very good. [It is] easy to find my way around”.

He added: “Considering the size (very large) [of the airport] it is very well done.  So no complaints at all.”