A bustling city, brightly coloured, historic buildings all around. Wide open spaces, houses painted deep red and sailboats gliding by. Locals sipping coffee, sharing a laugh, surrounded by lush greenery. Multi-billion dollar tech companies, innovators, and unicorns. Sweden is a unique mix of things and a visit here is not just about seeing the history or eating the food, it’s about experiencing a way of life, immersing yourself in an idealistic culture where equality is valued and the future is now. If you’re thinking of visiting or are planning your trip and not sure what you need to take with you, here’s my guide on what to pack for a trip to Sweden!
What is the weather like during my visit?
Spring – March/April through to May. At this time of the year, the days are gradually getting longer and the locals are gearing up for summer. It’s a great time to visit if you love wildflowers as things come alive with bright blooms. Expect cool temperatures, ranging anywhere from -3 °C to +16 °C. There may still be snow, so pack accordingly.
Summer – June to August. Expect very long days, with the sun rising around 3 am and setting at 10:30 pm. The sky never really gets pitch black though, so prepare for that. Summer days can be lovely and warm (27 °C) or a bit chilly (14°C). It can change day to day, so you need to pack warm winter clothes and cool summer clothes. It’s not uncommon for a rain shower to come through, so you’ll need an umbrella or waterproof/rain jacket.
Autumn – September to October/November. One of the rainiest seasons of the year, you’ll definitely need an umbrella or waterproof/rain jacket as well as plenty of warm gear to keep yourself nice and rugged up. Keep an eye on the weather forecast during your visit, you may get lucky with a few warmer temperatures.
Winter – November/December through to March/February. Expect very short days, with the sun rising around 8:30 am and setting at 3 pm. It’s going to be very cold, so pack your very best warm clothing. It may be snowing, so make sure you have some waterproof shoes and waterproof snow gear. If you’re visiting in January, keep in mind this is typically the coldest month of the year.
What should I pack?
Warm clothing – You should pack a fleece jacket, woollen sweaters, chunky knitwear and other warm items you can layer, like scarves and singlets/vest tops. Warm legwear is important too so you may like to think about packing thick stockings to layer under jeans, and thermal underwear is a good idea. It’s important to pack good quality, warm socks as well as gloves and a beanie. These are especially important to have for outdoor activities and days spent walking around sightseeing. I would also recommend packing at least one very thick, very warm coat that is, preferably, waterproof and most definitely windproof.
Cool clothing – If you’re visiting in summer, be sure to pack some summer appropriate clothing too. It was warm enough on one day for me to wear a cotton summer dress. The next day, I had to wear jeans, jumper, scarf and coat! But, when the warm weather does come out to play, it’s absolutely beautiful. You will need a few summery outfits – t-shirts and skirts, shorts, dresses. Just make sure all your summer gear can be layered, if needed. I packed warm tights, to maximise my outfits.
Smart clothing – The people of Sweden are very fashionable and trendy! So, if you’re planning on having a nice dinner out you should pack one or two smart outfits to dress up a little bit. Just make sure you can swaddle yourself in warm clothing over the top. That said, the Swedes are non-judgemental, so don’t feel pressured to dress super fancy if that’s not who you are. Just know that they’re a super stylish bunch.
Comfortable footwear – You’ll most likely be doing a LOT of walking so it’s important you wear sensible shoes that are very comfortable, especially as some of the streets do have cobblestones (heels will not work!). Not only that, but your shoes should be closed in to keep your feet warm if you’re visiting in winter. Because your shoes can get wet quite easily, it might be a good idea to look at waterproof shoes of some sort. I wore ankle boots, my favourite comfy converse and strappy sandals (we were there in summer). You will definitely need more than one pair of comfy shoes as wearing the same pair each day can result in blisters (this happened to Matt).
Swimwear – The Swedes love to sauna, so if you’re visiting during the winter months and wish to partake, or visiting in summer and just want to have a swim, you’ll need your swimmers. Don’t forget to pack aqua-ear medicine, goggles, swimming cap or whatever else it is you usually like to swim with.
Sunsmart gear – You’ll need sunglasses, as it gets quite sunny in summer, and you should pack a hat and sunscreen with high SPF. I always recommend the Cancer Council’s sunscreen. Remember, sunscreen is only as good as its user and it’s up to you to reapply during the day to ensure you don’t get burned. It may sound odd, but it’s important to be sun smart and just because you can’t see the sun doesn’t mean UV rays aren’t getting through the clouds.
Medicine bag – Pack a small medicine bag with all your prescription medicines and essentials, just in case you become ill late at night or can’t find a pharmacy. My kit always includes paracetamol, ibuprofen, antihistamine, cold and flu medicine, travel-sickness tablets, Imodium, hydralyte, pocket tissues, band-aids, hand sanitizer and wet wipes.
Flashlight – put a mini flashlight in your luggage, just in case you break down and it’s dark. This is especially important if you’re visiting during the winter months.
Day bag – Pack a smaller backpack or day bag you can throw all you gear into for day trips. You’ll probably need to carry a few things around with you, like water bottles, scarves, beanies, gloves, camera etc and will need somewhere to put those things if you’re exploring the great outdoors. If you’re sticking to Stockholm, you may just need a small backpack or day bag, to carry a bottle of water and your camera gear. Just keep an eye out for pickpockets!
Beauty products – You’ll need to pack beauty products that help you stay ahead of the cold. Things like moisturiser, lip balm for chapped lips, cracked heel balm and hand balm or moisturiser. I found my hands really dried out and started to hurt, so had to layer on Lush Ultra-balm to moisturise them. My skin, in general, was quite dry there (the long haul flights didn’t help) so I had to slather on full-body moisturiser each day.
Eyeshades – If you are visiting in summer you absolutely must pack eyeshades or an eye mask to help you sleep! The sun is always up and while most hotels have black-out curtains, some do not.
If you forget something – it’s no big deal! There are plenty of great stores around to get whatever it is you need, so don’t stress out if you realise you’ve forgotten something. I’d also recommend you pack very light as Sweden has some great shopping so you may want to fill your bags with trendy clothes, great art and gorgeous homewares.
My packing tips and travel hacks
Power board – As freelancers, we travel with a lot of electronics so we can work on the road. This can mean two laptops, an iPad, two phones, a camera and a GoPro! If this sounds like you too, then you’re going to need more than one power point. Buy one powerpoint converter (for international trips) and take a power-board with multiple plug-ins on it, like this one. It makes life so much easier! It means when you find that one, coveted powerpoint at the airport, you can charge EVERYTHING at once and maybe even share with others too.
Keep luggage smelling fresh – Put dryer sheets, an air freshener or tissues sprayed with air freshener in your suitcase to keep your clothes smelling good throughout the whole trip, easy! No more musty smelling clothes for you, my friend.
Room spray This one is great– I’ve been travelling as part of a couple for a very long time now and one of the most important things I’ve learned is how important it is to have a room spray with you. A hotel room can be a very small space and you don’t always have the luxury of allowing the, ahem, ‘air to clear,’ while getting ready and sharing a bathroom (or after a dodgy vindaloo). I always put a small bottle of air freshener in my luggage, just to make life more bearable for everyone involved. as it’s non-aerosol and very strong.
Plastic bags – Stash some large plastic grocery bags and small sandwich bags in your luggage, they come in so very handy for storing dirty shoes and clothes as well as bars of soap, wet swimwear or leaky toothpaste tubes! That said, I am trying to cut down on the amount of plastic bags I use (and plastic in general) so only use these in emergencies. It’s definitely a better option to rely on reusable bags wherever possible.
Laundry bag – Stay organised and put an end to the horrible misfortune of mixing up your clean and used undies by using a laundry bag. It’s a great way to keep your smelly clothes away from your fresh ones and keep an eye on how much laundry you have to do and which clean clothes you have left. I also put all my clean underwear in one of these, just so there’s no horrible moment where all my unmentionables go flying across an airport floor.
Tupperware – I use Tupperware or similar clear, hard plastic containers to organise my luggage. I use a separate small container, each, for toiletries, jewellery and electronics like adapters, cords and chargers. It keeps me organised and stops me from losing things! This also ensures no leaks will destroy my clean clothes and makes it really easy for me to grab it in one easy swoop, keep things together in the hotel and makes re-packing easier too.
Phoebe Lee is a travel writer and award-winning blogger with a love for storytelling. Phoebe creates practical, fun and engaging written content designed to inspire and energise travel-lovers and dreamers. Follow her and Matt’s adventures at home and around the world, right here on Little Grey Box and through Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube.