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Wondering what to wear in Scandinavia in winter? If you’re headed to Sweden, Norway, or Denmark for the cold weather season, here’s what to bring!
What to Wear in Scandinavia in Winter
Written By: Katie Melloh
The region of Scandinavia, which includes Sweden, Norway, and Denmark, has recently earned much-deserved praise as a travel destination. It combines photogenic beautiful cities, rugged wilderness, the world’s hottest design aesthetic, and the happiest people on earth.
It also has chilly weather in the winter! Don’t let that scare you away, though. Visiting in November and December allows you to avoid the more frigid temperatures of January and February while also scoring great deals during the off-season.
Packing for a cold-weather trip to a design world capital doesn’t have to be a chore. This past December, I traveled to Stockholm and Copenhagen and found that the Scandinavian style is comfortable and approachable.
Start by reading these general tips on packing for winter travel:
- Capsule Wardrobe for Winter
- How to Pack for Cold Weather
- How to Stay Warm in Cold Weather (without the bulk)
- The Best Travel Shoes for Winter
Read on to check out my tips on what to wear in Scandinavia in winter! Stay warm and fashionable, too.
Everyone knows that Stockholm and Copenhagen export some of the hottest trends. The style follows a minimalist aesthetic, with neutral colors and high-quality pieces.
Scandinavian women take simple, well-made articles and combine them to form an effortless elegance. Think about sticking to a color scheme of black, white, gray, navy, and denim.
What are neutral colors? Find out.
Weather in Stockholm and Copenhagen
I visited both Stockholm and Copenhagen and was pleasantly surprised by the winter weather. Though it was cold, with highs around 30-40ºF and lows in the 20sºF, it didn’t snow. (However, snow and rain are possible, so it’s best to be prepared.)
Because the region is in northern Europe, visiting toward the end of the year also means dealing with shorter days. The sun rises after 8:00 a.m. and sets before 3:00 p.m., so it’s crucial to plan your day accordingly to make the most of your vacation time.
I chose to explore and do walking tours during the daylight hours and saved museums, shops, and bars for the late afternoon and early evening hours after the sun had set. Temperature drops with the sunset, so be prepared with a hat, gloves, and a warm scarf.
Follow these tips to learn about cold weather layering!
I brought a travel backpack in lieu of a rolling bag for a few reasons. For one, I was worried about snow and didn’t want to risk having to roll a bag through snow and slush, potentially dirtying clothes.
I also knew that I’d be taking a few trains and buses (and I’m usually running late), so having a backpack makes it easier to maneuver through cobblestoned city streets.
Read this post to find out how to choose between a backpack or rolling bag!
And lastly, I wanted to bring a carry-on for this trip to avoid any chance of the airline losing my bag and all the warm clothes within it! I love this backpack from Tortuga; it’s waterproof, super comfortable to carry, and has a ton of pockets to help organize everything.
The other bag I brought was this black leather tote from J. Crew, which I carry everywhere. The leather is durable and it can hold everything that I need for the day. And it fits in with the Scandinavian fashion—neutral, simple, and well-made!
To fit in with the uber-fashionable Scandinavian women, stick with neutral colors and quality materials. For a comfortable but polished look for exploring during the day, I’d recommend a nice chambray top—Scandinavians love their denim!
For the perfect base layer, you can’t go wrong with this merino wool-based long-sleeved tee from Tracksmith. Their gear is made for running, so it’s very comfortable (not scratchy!), wicks away sweat and odor, keeps you really warm, and is thin enough to wear under many types of tops and sweaters.
Merino wool is one of the warmest fabrics you can wear in cold weather. Learn more!
I included three basic sweaters—black, gray, and off-white—for everyday wear. These are perfect because you can mix and match them with different pants and accessories.
I’d also recommend packing a cozy oversized sweater that can double as outerwear and a nice blouse for a dressy night out. Choose your favorite basics and dress them up with accessories!
Not sure how to layer? Learn about cold weather layering.
If packing in a carry-on, it’s essential to streamline your wardrobe, especially when it comes to pants. In sleek Scandinavian countries, it’s easy to get by with just a few neutral pieces, such as a pair or two of dark denim jeans. Pack your favorite pair in either a dark blue or black color that works with all your tops and is comfortable enough to wear around the city all day.
Another solid bet is structured black leggings. They can also easily transition from day to night if you pair them with a nice blouse.
Lastly, I’d recommend a pair of fleece-lined tights that can be worn underneath jeans or leggings on the colder days.
These three pieces will help you fit right in with the minimalist Scandinavian aesthetic while remaining comfortable.
These are the best leggings for women that travel!
As you plan what to wear in Scandinavia in winter, you’ll want to minimize the number of shoes you bring. Pack no more than three pairs of shoes.
Find out how to choose the best travel shoes here!
I packed these LL Bean Boots as a waterproof option, and wear them with wool socks to stay warm and dry. In addition, I suggest this pair of black boots from Franco Sarto. They are not only super comfortable, but versatile. They match nearly everything and can easily elevate an outfit.
Find out why ankle booties are some of the best travel shoes for Europe!
I also brought a pair of light athletic shoes for workouts and to give my feet a break from boots now and then. This pair is very stylish and can be worn around the city while still looking put-together.
Check out the best waterproof boots for travel!
Bring a dark, heavy coat for your trip to Scandinavian cities; most women wear black coats, which fit with the neutral and classic style. Also, don’t forget a warm beanie, which is both stylish and practical. Lastly, add a pop of color with this pair of cashmere gloves. They have tech-friendly fingertips so you can snap photos on your phone without needing to take them off—win-win!
Don’t forget to check out these winter accessories for women!
Scarves are my favorite accessory, especially in cold weather. Don’t forget yours when planning what to wear in Scandinavia in winter. The above options stick with a neutral color scheme that will fit with your wardrobe and keep you cozy. I would also recommend bringing a pair or two of high-quality wool socks to wear with either boot option.
Toes are generally more sensitive to the cold, so investing in a nice pair of socks is definitely worth it, especially when you spend all day exploring the city.
For more ideas, take a look at these warm winter scarves!
Scandinavian Outfit Inspiration
For a day out in Stockholm or Copenhagen, stick with dark colors and comfortable fabrics. Here I pair a classic (and affordable!) cashmere sweater with a wrap scarf and black leather bootie. To break up the outfit a bit, I’d wear a medium wash jean. Finish the look with a wool coat and black leather tote.
In fashion-forward Scandinavian cities, style and comfort don’t have to be at odds. Choose high-quality pieces in neutral colors to fit in fashionably. And don’t let a little cold weather deter you from visiting. By dressing appropriately and planning ahead, you can travel to Scandinavia in winter and have a wonderful (and stylish) time!
Struggling to make a capsule travel wardrobe? Learn how!
What are your tips on what to wear in Scandinavia in winter? Please comment below!
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For more packing tips, please visit these Europe Packing Lists:
- How to Pack for Europe
- What to Wear in Norway in Winter
- What to Wear in Finland in Winter
- What to Wear in Denmark
Suggested travel resources:
- Lonely Planet Europe on a Shoestring
- Lonely Planet Scandinavia (Country Guide)
- Travel Shoes for Europe
- The Best Carry-on Suitcases for Europe
I hope you liked this post on what to wear in Scandinavia in winter. Please share with your friends on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. Thanks for reading!
Author Bio: Katie Melloh is a travel addict (30+ countries and counting!) currently pursuing a master’s degree in international development. Her other interests include fair trade coffee, exercising her taste buds as a cheese-obsessed vegetarian, and reading historical fiction. She writes for her blog Her World Over and for Unearth the World, a social enterprise for ethical volunteer trips.