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We embarked on a ferry trip from Helsinki to Stockholm to explore two of its famous Christmas Markets: Skansen located in an open-air museum and Stortorget in the Old Town. Despite sharing certain common features, the two markets retain their unique characteristics offering different experiences to visitors. Dive into our experiences to discover how these Christmas markets distinguish themselves from each other.
Covered in the Article
- Christmas in Stockholm
- Our Winter Escape to Swedish Christmas Markets
- Old Town Christmas Market at Stortorget
- Skansen's Christmas Market
- Which Christmas Market is Better Between the Two?
- Good to Know about Stockholm
- Bottom Line
Christmas in Stockholm
Experiencing the Christmas season in Stockholm is a magical experience. The city changes into a festive spectacle with shimmering lights, holiday decorations, and enchanting Christmas stalls. Stockholm offers a plethora of traditional Swedish Christmas festivities, such as savouring Christmas buffet, partaking in a yuletide concert, or gliding on the ice of Stockholm's frozen lakes.
As for Christmas markets, they are among Stockholm's most cherished Christmas traditions. The city is home to many of these festive bazaars which sell not only traditional Christmas delights but also high-quality Swedish products.
In this article, we highlight the two best-known Christmas Markets in Stockholm. Stortorget's Christmas Market, situated in the middle of the Stockholm Old Town, is perhaps the most prestigious. Another notable Christmas event is Skansen's Christmas Market, which is a crowd's favourite.
Our Winter Escape to Swedish Christmas Markets
Since the Christmas Market in Helsinki was not open yet in November, we took a journey to Stockholm to get familiar with the enchanting Christmas markets of the Swedish capital. We embarked on a Silja Line ferry on a Friday evening at the Port of Helsinki, reaching Stockholm by Saturday morning. We had an ample 8 hours to soak up the festive vibes of Stockholm before our inbound ferry trip to Helsinki.
Ferry is the optimal method of commuting between Helsinki and Stockholm. They dock at central locations and offer reasonably priced fares. There's no need to worry about accommodation as the ferry provides comfortable cabins. Moreover, party lovers would enjoy the night's entertainment on the ship.
Old Town Christmas Market at Stortorget
Our journey in Stockholm started with a visit to the Stortorget's Christmas Market. From the port, we walked about 15 minutes to the Gärdet Metro Station. We conveniently reached Stockholm city centre within a 19-minute journey by tunnelbana (Swedish term for the underground train). We stopped at Gamla Stan Station (Old Town) from which we had a brief uphill walk that led us directly to the old Stortorget Square. We were fortunate enough to reach Stortorget Square just as the Christmas Market stalls were starting to open at 11 am. However, a huge crowd has quickly filled this Christmas Market.
The Stortorget's Christmas Market commences its operations daily from November 25 to December 23. It welcomes visitors every day starting at 11 am and it continues to stay vibrant until 6 pm. The sun sets in Stockholm already at 4 pm so the last two hours are perhaps the best moments to visit the market when the warm Christmas lights decors make the place lively with bright lights.
Admission to the Stortorget's Christmas Market is free.
The Stortorget's Christmas Market is centrally located and easily accessible. The visiting address is Stortorget 2, Stockholm. You can either enjoy a leisurely walk from the port to the Old Town or opt for the underground, alighting at the Gamla Stan station. We suggest utilizing Google Maps for precise navigation, as it functions effectively in Stockholm. The Old Town's lanes are narrow and labyrinthine, making it easy to lose your way. However, the region is not extensively large, making it manageable to explore by foot.
The Stortorget's Christmas Market, renowned as the most traditional and oldest Christmas market in Stockholm, has been a yearly attraction since 1915. Nestled in the heart of the city's Old Town, the market boasts an array of stalls where one can find traditional Swedish Christmas crafts, food, and beverages. It is the oldest medieval-style Christmas Market in Stockholm.
The square is not big but it is beautiful and idyllic surrounded by iconic colourful buildings. You will find 41 stalls selling everything from ceramics to fine smithing and other crafts as well as sausages, mulled wine, and much more.
We spent almost two hours exploring the Stortoget's Christmas Market. Naturally, we sampled the local mulled wine, Glögg, a non-alcoholic variant. Given the strict alcohol regulations in Sweden, most Christmas beverages are alcohol-free. However, if you prefer the alcoholic version, Glögg Wine can be found in restaurants and bars near the market.
Despite the enticing aromas of local snacks, we didn't partake, as we were still satiated from our ferry breakfast buffet. If we would have been hungry, we would surely have tasted the diverse range of Swedish snacks.
The majority of the stalls were selling Swedish products, sweets, packed local food, clothes and homemade bottled drinks. Our preference leans more towards soaking in the ambience rather than making purchases. Along with Glögg we enjoyed on the spot, we also acquired a bottle of the Swedish drink, Julmust.
Julmust is a non-alcoholic Swedish soft drink that is mainly consumed around Christmas. It is a dark, sweet soda that has a flavour similar to a blend of cola and root beer. The drink was created in the early 20th century as a non-alcoholic alternative to beer. They are produced in different versions. For instance, we bought a bottle of Julmumma which contains cardamom.
Upon our visit, we found no specific events or programs occurring at the Stortorget's Christmas Market. This was further confirmed when we checked the official website of the market, which also did not list any planned events. It appears that this market does not organise specific Christmas programs. Nevertheless, we would still highly recommend visiting, as the atmosphere is incredibly festive and enjoyable.
Skansen's Christmas Market
After enjoying the festive atmosphere of the Old Town, we decided to continue to Skansen's Christmas Market. We hopped on a local ferry at the Nybrokajen dock, and within a fresh 15-minute journey over the cold sea, we found ourselves standing at the Allmänna Gränd ferry dock. The entrance of the renowned Skansen Open-Air Museum was only 5 minutes walk away.
As Skansen functions as a museum, you must pay an entry fee of 245 SEK. However, it's worth noting that while the Christmas Market itself doesn't carry an additional charge, the entry ticket provides access to explore the museum area. This allows visitors to spend several engaging hours within Skansen's historical treasures.
Skansen's Christmas Market welcomes visitors every day from November 25 to January 7, from 10 am with varying closing times. On weekdays, the Christmas market is open until 4 pm but on Saturdays and Sundays, it has longer opening hours till 6 PM. On Christmas Eve, December 24 the Skansen's Christmas Market is closing at 2 pm while starting on Christmas day until January 7th, the opening hours will be from 10 am to 4 pm daily.
Nestled on the island of Djurgården, Skansen is conveniently located just a 30-minute walk from the city centre. Accessibility is a breeze, with bus, tram, and ferry options readily available. The visiting address of Skansen is Djurgårdsslätten 49-51, 115 21 Stockholm.
For a smooth festive itinerary, we suggest starting your day at the earlier-opening Skansen before heading to Stortorget. This allows you to seamlessly experience both iconic Christmas markets in a single day.
The roots of Skansen's Christmas Market date back to 1903 so the market is celebrating its 120th anniversary this year! Skansen's Christmas Market is a treasure trove, offering everything from traditional crafts and unique designs to sweet treats and homemade candles. Alongside these, various stalls provide a delectable range of drinks and both sweet and savoury snacks.
Compared to the Old Town's Christmas Market, Skansen's Christmas Market is larger. The onset of snowfall during our visit further enhanced the winter-like ambience. One could argue that Skansen's market possesses a more idyllic charm than the Old Town's, despite the absence of iconic colourful buildings. The increased space allows for easier movement and less congestion.
While we opted out of having another glass of Glögg at Skansen, we indulged in sweet hot chocolate instead. The aroma of local cuisine was enticing, but we decided to save our appetite for a later reservation in the Östermalm area. Instead, we spent our time exploring the area and the various stalls, paying a visit to Skansen Butiken, a shop teeming with local products. If we had known that so many food options were available at Skansen, we could have made our plans differently.
Skansen Butiken / The Skansen Shop
After checking through the numerous Christmas market stalls at Skansen's Christmas market, we were feeling quite cold as it started to snow and there was a cold breeze. Thankfully we noticed there was the Skansen Shop where we bought some souvenirs with another intent also to warm ourselves inside. However, it was not much warmer inside this shop at all. You can barely feel it's heated. We also heard the same comments from other visitors inside the shop. This shop sells different kinds of local food products and classic Christmas decorations of good quality which justifies the high price.
Skansen's Christmas Market hosts multiple free and paid events. During our visit, a local choir was singing. There was also live Christmas-themed dance music now and then and an area for dancing.
Refer to the official Skansen website which lists all available programs. For example, the program includes the following.
Winter Lights at Skansen
- This event offers a magical walking trail of light and sound, providing a full sensory experience and a chance to get into the holiday spirit.
Bergsman Farmstead Folk Music
- This event pays homage to the long-standing tradition of folk music in Sweden, which is showcased at various Skansen locations.
Meet Santa Claus in the Brage Hall
- This is a chance to listen to amusing stories about Santa Claus through the ages and make a Christmas wish list.
Candle Making (Ljusstöpning)
- This event provides an opportunity to learn how traditional candles are made and engage in hands-on experience.
Lucia Celebrations At Skansen
- The feast of Lucia is celebrated on Dec 9-10, in addition to the original date of Dec 13.
Christmas in Houses and Farmsteads (Julbord i Oktorpsgården)
- This event allows visitors to take a tour of Christmas celebrations from the 1830s and onwards.
Christmas Music in Seglora Church
- Every weekend in Advent, Christmas concerts are held at the Seglora Church.
- This event offers a chance to create personal Christmas decorations using recycled materials.
Christmas Carols (Julsånger i Missionshuset)
- This event provides an opportunity to sing along or simply enjoy classic Christmas carols
End of Christmas Celebrations
- Celebrated on January 6th, the Epiphany is marked by dancing around the Christmas tree with Skansen's folk dancers and musicians.
New Year's Concert
- This event features a magical concert by the Nordic musical group Frispel to usher in the New Year.
Admission to the Skansen is priced for adults at 245 SEK but reduced to just 100 SEK on Christmas Eve. For discount groups like students and seniors, the ticket is 225 SEK while it is also reduced to 80 SEK on Christmas Eve. Children aged 4-15 will be charged a 70 SEK entrance fee, also reduced on Christmas Eve to just 35 SEK. While the cost might seem high for a Christmas Market, it's important to note that it also covers entry to the open-air museum. The area offers a wealth of attractions to explore, along with a range of programs on offer.
It is also possible to buy an annual pass to visit Skansen which entitles you to attend the different events aside from the Christmas Market. Since Skansen is open daily the whole year round, it is worthwhile buying an annual pass if you plan to visit this attraction quite often within a year. Adult's annual pass costs 395 SEK while for students and seniors, it is priced at 375 SEK. Children three years old and below have free access.
Visiting Skansen's Christmas Market Costs - Why to Visit?
We were initially surprised to learn that there was an entrance fee to Skansen just to visit the Christmas Market since we've never had to pay an admission fee for a market before. We were left wondering whether to pay.
However, we soon realized that Skansen is more than just a market, it's a vast open-air museum. There's plenty to explore even during the winter season, and it's quite a delight to leisurely wander through its expanse. Once we recognized this, the entrance fee seemed far more justified. The only drawback was that we hadn't set aside enough time to fully appreciate the museum because the main intent of our visit was to visit the Christmas Market.
We would advise our readers who are planning to visit Skansen's Christmas Market, to allocate at least a half day to explore the different attractions of Skansen Open-Air Museum unrushed. Especially on a bright winter's day, the experience will be unique.
Which Christmas Market is Better Between the Two?
For those pressed for time, you might wonder which Christmas Market is better: Stortorget or Skansen? However, drawing a comparison between them is challenging.
Stortorget's Christmas Market is a timeless tradition in Stockholm which is nestled in the picturesque setting of the Old Town. Contrarily, Skansen's Christmas Market offers a larger scale and includes entertainment, but its setting might not have the same charm as the Old Town. In essence, each market provides a unique experience.
We would strongly suggest visiting both if possible. If your time is limited, opt for the Stortorget's Christmas Market. However, if you have the luxury of an entire day, we recommend starting with Skansen and perhaps transitioning to Stortorget later in the day.
Good to Know about Stockholm
We list practical information about travelling to Stockholm.
Travelling to Stockholm is easy, with Stockholm-Arlanda Airport situated 50 kilometres away from the city centre. A rapid express train service ensures a swift connection to the heart of the city. In addition to Scandinavian Airlines, many low-cost airlines like Norwegian Air Shuttle fly to Arlanda.
If you're coming from Helsinki or Tallinn, consider a ferry ride as an optimal means of arrival in Stockholm. Given that these capital cities also boast beautiful Christmas Markets, it would be worthwhile to incorporate them into your travel plan.
Navigating through Stockholm is uncomplicated with its integrated public transport system, which includes buses, trams, underground trains, and ferries. A single ticket is applicable across all these modes of transportation, enhancing travel convenience.
Hotels in Stockholm are pricey but they offer good quality. We list a few of our recommendations located in the city centre.
- Backstage Hotel Stockholm: This 4-star hotel is near Skansen's Christmas Market and it has excellent feedback from the customers.
- Hotel Gamla Stan, BW Signature Collection: The rooms have a romantic decoration that matches well its location in the Old Town near the Stortorget's Christmas Market.
- Scandic Continental: The Scandic Hotels provide stable quality and the Continental Hotel has a perfect location just next to the main railway station.
- Clarion Hotel Sign: Clarion is a high-quality hotel chain operating especially in the Nordic countries.
- Radisson Blu Royal Viking Hotel: Radisson is a safe choice for a global traveller.
With a plethora of chic accommodations in Stockholm, we encourage you to explore and discover your preferred choice. Don't forget to reserve a room inclusive of breakfast, as the continental breakfast offerings in Nordic hotels are notably varied and abundant.
Like our home city, Helsinki, Stockholm also experiences chilly winters, with temperatures ranging from +5 to -15 or even colder. Clear skies often mean lower temperatures, but they also provide more daylight which luckily compensates for the cold weather conditions in the Christmas markets. It is crucial to dress appropriately in multiple layers, warm jackets, quality gloves, and a beanie to stay comfortable.
Conversely, the most challenging weather typically features slightly above-freezing temperatures combined with rain and wind. These conditions result in darkness, dampness, and a heightened sense of cold, making them less desirable.
It is difficult to forecast weather in Nordic countries. Long-time weather forecasts are unreliable.
- Where is Skansen's Christmas Market?
- Skansen's Christmas Market is in the city centre on the island of Djurgården.
- What does it cost to enter Skansen?
- A day ticket for adults costs 245 SEK. Students and seniors get a discount of 20 SEK while children 4-15 years old's ticket is priced at 70 SEK.
- Where to buy a ticket to Skansen?
- You can buy it on the spot but we recommend buying from GetYourGuide.
- Where is Stortorget's Christmas Market?
- It is in the Old Town (Gamla Stan) in the city centre.
- Is Stortorget's Christmas Market free?
- Yes, there is no admission fee.
- What can you buy at Stockholm's Christmas market?
- You can buy sweets, drinks, snacks, hot soup, clothes, locally hand-made products and much more.
- Is mulled wine served?
- A non-alcoholic version called Glögg is widely sold in the Christmas market stalls. Restaurants nearby may also sell Glögg wine with alcohol.
- How to travel around Stockholm?
- Stockholm has a well-working public transport network. Install the SL App on your phone.
- What is the weather like in December?
- The temperature will be around 0 Celcius. It is often cloudy and it may rain or snow. Sunny cold days are the best.
- Is English spoken in Stockholm?
- Yes, English is widely spoken.
Stockholm is brimming with seasonal activities and numerous Christmas Markets, among which the Stortorget and Skansen markets are particularly renowned. Our visit to both was a delightful experience.
The Christmas Market at Stortorget exudes a traditional, medieval charm, nestled in the heart of the Old Town, surrounded by picturesque buildings. Despite its small size, it provides an authentic Christmas atmosphere. On the other hand, Skansen's Christmas Market, set amidst an open-air museum, may lack quaint buildings but it compensates with its stunning location. Offering an array of both free and paid entertainment, one can easily spend many hours at Skansen.
Have you had the chance to explore any Christmas markets in Stockholm? How was your experience? Do share your thoughts in the comments section below.