Index


Introduction



Sweden is a country very extended in latitude, and it has different types of climates: subpolar in Lapland and the Scandinavian Mountains, Baltic semi-continental on the south-central coasts, and almost oceanic on the southern coasts and islands.
Compared with Norway, the Swedish climate is usually less rainy and more continental, therefore it is colder in winter and warmer and sunnier in summer. This happens because the mild and humid westerly winds are partially blocked by the Scandinavian Mountains, and are able to penetrate with some ease into the Swedish territory only in the southernmost part.
Being partially closed and not very extended, the Baltic Sea is only partially able to temper the climate, especially in the north, where it narrows into the Gulf of Bothnia, which can freeze in winter.
Precipitation in Sweden is generally not abundant: it is equal to or lower than 500 millimetres (20 inches) per year in Lapland, also because of the cold that lasts for many months a year, it hovers around 500/600 mm (20/23.5 in) in much of the country, while it exceeds these values in the ridge of the Scandinavian Alps, where it can even surpass 1,500 mm (60 in) per year, and along the southwestern coast, exposed to Atlantic currents.
Winter is the season with the most noticeable contrasts, between the different parts of the country, but also between different meteorological situations: when Atlantic air masses move over the country, the temperature fluctuates around freezing (0 °C or 32 °F) in much of the country, at least in the plains, and may even exceed it in Stockholm and in southern regions, with rain replacing snow, but when the country is affected by Siberian air masses, the temperature drops across the country, to about -20 °C (-4 °F) in the southern regions, and as low as -40 °C (-40 °F) in the northern ones.
The average winter temperatures also vary greatly between different areas, in fact they are around 0 °C (32 °F) in January and February in the far south, around -1.5 °C (29 °F) in Stockholm, -10 °C (14 °F) in the north-central part, and -15 °C (5 °F) in the far north. Consequently, winter's duration also varies depending on area, from three months in the far south, to nine months in Lapland. In Sweden, as in general in Nordic countries, winter is also characterized by the length of the days: in December the days are very short, and the sun doesn't even rise in the far north; February is typically colder than December, but the days begin to lengthen fairly clearly.
During winter, it often happens that almost all of Sweden is covered with snow, except the southern tip, i.e. the area of Gothenburg and Scania. On milder periods, when the westerlies blow, snow melts in a broader area, which often includes Stockholm, while the North remains permanently covered with snow.
In this satellite image we can see a situation of this type, when southern Sweden is free from snow. You can also note the frozen sea in the northernmost part of the Gulf of Bothnia (Bothnian Bay or Bottenviken in Swedish).

Sweden from the satellite, snow cover in the centre-north

Summer in Sweden is usually mild or pleasantly warm, and it is the season of the year with the smallest differences between north and south. In the northernmost part, north of the Arctic Circle, in the Swedish part of Lapland, the three summer months (June, July and August) are the only ones in which the temperature rises steadily above freezing, with mild daytime temperatures, around 18/21 °C (64/70 °F), and sometimes even hot, while nights remain very cool, around 10 °C (50 °F) or below. Daytime temperatures are more or less the same throughout the country, at least in the plains, while in cities located at an altitude a bit higher, such as Kiruna and Östersund, the temperatures are slightly lower.
The peaks of summer heat are similar across the country as well, around 28/32 °C (82/90 °F); hot periods are typically short, and do not last more than two or three days (even though in the summer of 2018 the heat lasted for long periods).

Center-north



The center-north of Sweden is characterized by a long and icy winter, and by a short and mild summer.

Kiruna

In the northern inland areas, in the counties of Norrbotten and Västerbotten, we find the Swedish part of Lapland. Here are the average temperatures of Kiruna, located just north of the Arctic Circle, 550 meters (1,800 feet) above sea level. Here in winter, in the worst moments, the temperature can drop to -40 °C (-40 °F).
Kiruna - Average temperatures
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Min (°C)-19-18-14-8-15761-5-12-17
Max (°C)-10-8-41714171482-5-8
Min (°F)-20718304145433423101
Max (°F)141825344557635746362318

In Kiruna, precipitation amounts to 520 mm (20 inches) per year, with a maximum in summer. From October to April, precipitation generally occurs in the form of snow.
Kiruna - Average precipitation
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDecYear
Prec.(mm)302525253550857550454035525
Prec.(in)1.21111.423.3321.81.61.420.7
Days171414131213161715161617180

In Kiruna the sun is hardly ever seen in winter (also because, approximately from December 11th to January 1st, it does not even rise), while in summer it shines for a few hours a day (however, considering that the days are very long, and approximately from May 28th to July 16th the sun never sets, the percentage is not very high).
Kiruna - Sunshine
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Hours024679854210

Lulea

In the northernmost part of the coast, in Lulea, winter is still long and freezing. As mentioned in winter the sea is often frozen, so the mitigating effect of the Gulf of Bothnia is reduced. During the most intense cold spells, from November to March the temperature can drop below -30 °C (-22).
Lulea - Average temperatures
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Min (°C)-13-14-9-339131160-6-10
Max (°C)-5-506121721191360-3
Min (°F)9716273748555243322114
Max (°F)232332435463706655433227

In Lulea, precipitation amounts to 510 mm (20 inches) per year, with a maximum in July and August.
Lulea - Average precipitation
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDecYear
Prec.(mm)353030303035456565455045510
Prec.(in)1.41.21.21.21.21.41.82.62.61.821.820.1
Days161413101010111315151616159

In the northernmost part of the Gulf of Bothnia, the sea is often frozen in winter, while it remains cold even in summer, since it reaches at most 15 °C (59 °F) in August. Here are the average sea temperatures in Lulea.
Lulea - Sea temperature
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Temp (°C)10-1038131512852
Temp (°F)343230323746555954464136

In the western parts of Sweden, the temperature decreases with altitude. In the Scandinavian Mountains there are several peaks above 2,000 metres (6,500 feet) in Lapland, while in the central regions they reach 1,800 metres (5,900 ft). The ski season is longer than in the Alps, so much so that the final races of the ski World Cup are often held in Sweden, in March (eg in Åre). Despite being a renowned ski resort, Åre is at only 370 meters (1,200 feet) above sea level; the nearby mountains reach 1,420 meters (4,660 feet). The snowline, too, is of course lower than in the Alps because of the colder climate.
At lower altitudes, in the valleys between the mountains, summer can be cool, especially near the lakes, which are frozen in winter, and remain cool in summer.

Ostersund

East of the mountain range, there is a plateau, with many cities at around 300/500 metres (1,000/1,600 feet): here the winter is long and cold, and in summer the daytime temperatures hover around 18 °C (64 °F), with cool nights, as we can see from the temperatures of Östersund, located in the central part of the country, 350 meters (1,100 feet) above sea level, near Lake Storsjön.
Ostersund - Average temperatures
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Min (°C)-10-9-6-238101062-3-8
Max (°C)-5-305121618171260-3
Min (°F)141621283746505043362718
Max (°F)232732415461646354433227

In Östersund, precipitation amounts to 525 mm (20.5 inches) per year, with a maximum in July and August.
Ostersund - Average precipitation
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDecYear
Prec.(mm)302525303560806060453540525
Prec.(in)1.2111.21.42.43.12.42.41.81.41.620.7
Days151313111112151416151416165

South



In southern Sweden, the average temperature in January exceeds -3 °C (26.5 °F), and even in winter, there may be periods long enough in which the temperature exceeds freezing, and the snow melts (even though it depends on the years).

Stockholm

Here are the average temperatures in the capital Stockholm.
Stockholm - Average temperatures
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Min (°C)-4-4-2271114141061-2
Max (°C)0141016202321161052
Min (°F)252528364552575750433428
Max (°F)323439506168737061504136

In Stockholm, about 530 mm (21 in) of rain or snow fall per year, so precipitation is not abundant, although it is well distributed throughout the year, and it experiences a minimum in spring, and a maximum in summer, as often happens in the rest of Sweden. Here is the average precipitation.
Stockholm - Average precipitation
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDecYear
Prec.(mm)402530303055656050504545530
Prec.(in)1.611.21.21.22.22.62.4221.81.820.9
Days9776699989101099

Here are the average daily sunshine hours in Stockholm, where the day lasts just over 6 hours in the winter solstice (December 22), and just over 18 hours and a half in the summer solstice (June 21).
Stockholm - Sunshine
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Hours1346910875321

The sea temperature in Stockholm, on the south-east coast, is close to freezing for a few months, while it reaches 17 °C (63 °F) in August.
Stockholm - Sea temperature
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Temp (°C)32236111617141064
Temp (°F)373636374352616357504339

In the Baltic Sea south of Stockholm, the island of Gotland, has a relatively mild micro-climate, with an average winter temperature just below freezing, and it is also less rainy and windy that the southern part of the mainland.

Uppsala

Gothenburg

Owing to the prevalence of the westerlies, in the coastline facing south-west, overlooking the straits of Skagerrak and Kattegat (see Gothenburg), the climate is often rainy, cloudy and windy. However, even here in winter there are periods with snow and frost, when the wind blows from the east.
Here are the average sea temperatures in Gothenburg.
Gothenburg - Average temperatures
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Min (°C)-3-4-127111312962-2
Max (°C)1151016202121161263
Min (°F)272530364552555448433628
Max (°F)343441506168707061544337

Since this coast is directly exposed to the west winds, precipitation is more abundant than on the other coastal areas of Sweden. In Gothenburg it amounts to 760 mm (30 in), with a maximum in summer and autumn. Here is the average precipitation.
Gothenburg - Average precipitation
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDecYear
Prec.(mm)604050405060707580858070760
Prec.(in)2.41.621.622.42.833.13.33.12.829.9
Days171314121212131415161716171

In Gothenburg, the sun rarely shines in winter, while in summer, thanks to the length of the days, it shines for a few hours a day, though a little less than in Stockholm and on the eastern side.
Gothenburg - Sunshine
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Hours125788766321

The sea temperature in Gothenburg is a bit higher than in Stockholm, and reaches 18 °C (64 °F) in August.
Gothenburg - Sea temperature
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Temp (°C)433611151718151295
Temp (°F)393737435259636459544841

Malmo

In the far south, in Scania the climate is even milder: it shows the influence of the ocean as well, with average temperatures in January and February just above the freezing point, and relatively cool summers; even here there is often cloudiness, wind and rain throughout the year. Here are the average temperatures of Malmö.
Malmo - Average temperatures
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Min (°C)-1-103811141410730
Max (°C)3361117202222171274
Min (°F)303032374652575750453732
Max (°F)373743526368727263544539

In Malmo, 605 mm (24 in) of rain or snow fall per year, with a maximum in summer and autumn. Here is the average precipitation.
Malmo - Average precipitation
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDecYear
Prec.(mm)503040404050606060556060605
Prec.(in)21.21.61.61.622.42.42.42.22.42.423.8
Days171314121212141314151716169

The sea temperature in Malmo is similar to that of Gothenburg, and reaches 18 °C (64 °F) in August.
Malmo - Sea temperature
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Temp (°C)333610141718161285
Temp (°F)373737435057636461544641

When to go



The best time to visit Sweden is summer, from June to August. June is the month with the longest days, with the midnight sun in the north and the white nights (midnight twilights) in the south, but July is the warmest month. By mid-August, both the increase in rainfall and the decrease in temperature show how soon the summer tends to decline at these latitudes.
As mentioned, the sea is a bit cold for swimming even in summer.

If you want to visit Sweden in its winter appearance, remember that in February the days are longer than in December and January (when they are very short), while in March not only they are even longer, but also the temperatures are less cold, although they are usually still below freezing, therefore with snow on the ground, at least in the north-central part. However, the more daring traveller may search precisely this kind of atmosphere, and maybe plan a Christmas trip to Lapland, with the omnipresent darkness, lightened at times by the aurora borealis.
For a ski holiday too, March is preferable to the winter months. In June, in the northernmost mountain resorts, you can even ski with the midnight sun.

What to pack



In winter: very warm clothes, especially for the interior and the north: fleece, a down jacket, a hat, gloves, a scarf; for Stockholm and the south, you can add a raincoat or umbrella.
In summer: spring/autumn clothes, being ready to add or remove the outer layer, a T-shirt, but also long pants, a jacket, a sweatshirt or sweater; a raincoat or umbrella. Warmer clothes for the mountains.

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