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Pre-Christmas through Christmas in Stockholm, with train trip north in hopes of Northern Lights

I am planning a trip for 4 of us: my husband and I and our daughters 18 and turning 21, starting and ending in Stockholm. We will arrive mid-December and leave the day after Christmas. We do not have family or friends in the area, and one of us cannot do long walks or too much standing at one time.

I'm looking for hotel, bed and breakfast, and travel recommendations that will a) be welcoming and friendly at a holiday time when many people are indoors with family, and b) will make sense on the darkest days of the year. We would like to travel north to see if we can see the northern lights -- will there be enough light to see the landscape from the train?

I am looking for recommendations for things like a cooking class (when we have done this in other places, it has sometimes allowed us to be in someone's home, or the back of their restaurant or store), or other things besides museums, like visiting an animal shelter, see a working dairy farm, help volunteers sort donations for new immigrants, or something different from museums?

Re places to stay: I hope to find a slightly luxurious or a warm and intimate hotel for Christmas Eve and Christmas night, and/or smaller inns or bed and breakfasts, in Stockholm County or in the city center, where there would be enough people out and about and places serving food despite the holiday. I would also love recommendations for where to stay in Stockholm for our first few days, and whether to stay in Abisko or somewhere else on our northern journey.

I would welcome advice on any or all of this -- daylight, transportation, lodging, clothing, what is likely to be open and closed near Christmas -- apart from arrival and departure flights, nothing is booked yet.

Here's a potential itinerary:

Arrive Stockholm late Thursday afternoon, hotel, maybe explore the old city area (suggestion for nice, easy, good location to walk and stay up to overcome jet lag?)
Fri: Stockholm - Skansen (maybe), or indoor museums (Vasa, Nobel), maybe Stortorgets Christmas Market
Sat: Stockholm - (first day our older daughter who has spent the fall in Stockholm joins us) - Nobel or Vasa museum (whatever we missed the day before); maybe trip out of the city center? or enjoy the end of the City Christmas markets that close after this weekend?
Sun: Smaller town? Maybe rent a car for a couple days to see a different perspective, drive country roads?
Mon: Same smaller town?
Tuesday: back to Stockholm to do something, then take night train to Abisko, Kiruna, depending on recommendations
Wednesday: ride the train (will we be able to see the landscape on Dec 20?), stay in Abisko/Kiruna
Thursday: take train to Abisko Turistation (if not already there), book the trip up to the STF Aurora Sky Station (very expensive - it it worth it? Any other recommendations? What do you recommend for daytime?
Friday: Take train back to Stockholm (is this also a sleeper train?) or an intermediate town. Winter Solstice! Is this celebrated?
Saturday: ?
Sunday: Move to our splurgy or extra cozy and welcoming Christmas Eve lodgings in or near Stockholm
Sunday: Christmas. Recommendations for visitors without a local host?
Monday: to airport in time for a late-morning flight to London, changing plans to continue to US.

Posted by
6670 posts

You don't mention any dates, it would be easier to help if we know when you arrive and leave. But if you are in Sweden on the 13th you should really try to catch a Lucia celebration.

will there be enough light to see the landscape from the train?

Maybe, the sun sets early, but if travelling on the night train you can turn of the light in your compartement and watch the landscape lit by moonlight.

I hope to find a slightly luxurious or a warm and intimate hotel for
Christmas Eve and Christmas night, and/or smaller inns or bed and
breakfasts, in Stockholm County or in the city center,

Does it have to be in Stockholm county? It sounds like Tällberg is the place you are looking for. A small village in Dalarna (easy to reach by train) with a couple of hotels that are open over Christmas with celebrations. E.g. https://www.villalangbers.se/sv/julpaket-3-dygn

and whether to stay in Abisko or somewhere else on our northern
journey.

If your plan is to see the northern lights, Abisko is a great place to stay. Although it is important to remember that it is a natural phenomena and there are no guarantees.

what is likely to be open and closed near Christmas

Assume that everything is closed from around lunchtime Christmas eve and all day on Christmas day.

Sun: Smaller town? Maybe rent a car for a couple days to see a
different perspective, drive country roads?

How do you define smaller town? Not really that small, but Uppsala can be a good option. Charming town and many cozy cafés. Rent a car to drive country roads sounds like a bad idea. It will be dark a lot. And how are your winter driving skills?

Winter Solstice! Is this celebrated?

It is, but on the 13th. A remnant of the Julian calender.

Also, you do know that Christmas is celebrated on the 24th in Sweden?

Posted by
797 posts

Hi, WHAT a fun idea & I'm sure you will have a great trip. I agree a smaller city will be more welcoming / cozy than Stockholm over Christmas. However, celebrating Christmas here without family would be more about the weeks leading up to Christmas than the actual holiday. There will be twinkly white lights, small fire braziers & lots of electric candles lit in shop & apartment windows where ever you choose at that time of year.

  • There will be hardly anything open after 2PM on Christmas Eve through Dec 26th, Boxing Day (day after Christmas), except hotels and churches in Stockholm or anywhere else for that matter. (It seems there will be some restaurants open in Stockholm, none that I know of in Uppsala.)
  • As for a trip outside Stockholm, Uppsala (where I spend 3/4 of the year including Christmas) is a great choice as it's a university town with a gorgeous cathedral & castle on the hill. Check on the Uppsala cathedral holiday services if you like that sort of thing, the cathedral is wonderful.
  • If you're flying back to the US the day after Christmas, you may want to spend Christmas day in Uppsala. It's a 30-45 min train ride to ARN airport, easy. I would recommend the Radisson right next to train station, easy to walk downtown & quite a nice breakfast. If you wanted a 'splurge' hotel in Uppsala, Grand Hotel Hornan is on the river & close to some of the best cafes. Or Villa Anna, on the hill next to the Cathedral has an excellent Christmas smorgasbord, but a meal must be booked long in advance. Haven't stayed here, but it would be a lovely splurge. https://villaanna.se/en/

There's no need to rent a car at this time of year for this sort of trip. Lots of ideas on this thread about Stockholm, some of which are winter appropriate.
https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/denmark/first-time-trip-to-copenhagen-and-stockholm.

A friend loved this Stockholm hotel, luxurious with an amazing atrium restaurant, great location - https://hotelkungstradgarden.se/en/

  • If its not too cold, Skansen is an excellent holiday choice, we've been for Christmas music in the small church & there are lots of displays in the old houses, but it gets chilly on that hill. (I once tired to take photos of the Swedes sitting around log fires roasting hot dogs, but my hands were too cold!) Exhibits over the holidays - https://skansen.se/en/calendar/?date=2023-12-24. The Skansen Christmas market is on until December 18th. https://skansen.se/en/see-and-do/holidays-and-traditions/christmas/christmas-market/.
  • I really like the huge reindeer lights close to the Royal Dramatic Theatre & there are lots of places to see Christmas light displays in Stockholm - https://www.visitstockholm.com/events/stockholmsjul-christmas-lights/2023-01-15/. Here's a link to a downloadable map - https://stockholmsjul.se/english
  • Clothing - When I'm out & about in mid December I wear waterproof insulated boots (Merrill's), silk long underwear, sometimes with lined winter rain pants (I bike most days) or REI winter weight pants, a scarf & cashmere neck gaiter, wool hat that covers my ears, proper winter gloves, a long sleeved shirt, (others would add silk base layer) & a WINTER coat... you get the idea. If you happen to get caught out in Stockholm or Uppsala without enough clothing, go to Alewalds, neither outlet is not far from the central train station. http://www.alewalds.se/

FYI, Abisko is a 16 hour train ride from Stockholm, maybe ask others about Kiruna? Or do what we would tell our friends - Skip it and concentrate your time where you can always go indoors or enjoy local markets / excellent places to eat or have fika (Swedish afternoon tea / coffee with pastries).

Posted by
7 posts

Sadly, we aren't arriving until the 14th and will miss St. Lucia festivities. We live in the northeast US, so snow and ice are part of every winter, and I like driving in winter, but I wasn't thinking through the low light in a country with different signage -- @Badger, you are right to ask if that isn't the right thing. My husband has had a lifelong wish to see the northern lights, so it's worth maximizing our chances for that, though I know nothing is certain. We like trains. But conceivably we might want to take the train up and if flights aren't too expensive, fly back (two of us are just over 60, two are youth, so maybe that will help with fares?).

Posted by
7 posts

Tällberg is the place you are looking for. A small village in Dalarna
(easy to reach by train) with a couple of hotels that are open over
Christmas with celebrations. E.g.
https://www.villalangbers.se/sv/julpaket-3-dygn

Thank you for this recommendation -- I will check it out! Also the suggestion of Uppsala over Christmas.

Posted by
7 posts

the sun sets early, but if travelling on the night train you can turn off the light in your compartment and watch the landscape lit by moonlight.

Thank you for the idea of considering the light of the moon for our foray to the north. The December "Cold Moon" (it seems people here in the US are increasingly promoting names for full moons) is December 26 this year, I see. So it will not be full in the 18th-22th window I am considering for our trip to Kiruna or further north, but it will be waxing and more than half full.

Will northern lights, if they are active, still be visible in a night with moonlight?

Given the closeness to the shortest day, do you have thoughts about what would be pleasant to do in the north country, apart from hoping for action in the sky? Reindeer? Dogsled puppies? We're not attracted by the Icehotel concept, or icy swimming, but exploring town museums (about the mining? science? Sami contemporary politics? local history? cooking?) would be appealing.

I welcome suggestions about this northern adventure. Perhaps we should go to Kiruna and decide whether to continue north, but with the Christmas season, it feels risky not to have lodging and transport reservations in advance. Am I being too conservative?

Posted by
6670 posts

If you're flying back to the US the day after Christmas, you may want
to spend Christmas day in Uppsala. It's a 30-45 min train ride to ARN
airport, easy.

17 minutes by train if I'm not mistaken. 30-40 minutes by bus. I agree that it is a good place for Christmas. If flying home on Boxing day, Tällberg is unfortunately a bit too far away for a Christmas stay.

I would recommend the Radisson right next to train station, easy to
walk downtown & quite a nice breakfast.

While Radisson is a nice hotel, I'd suggest staying a bit more central. You are still within walking distance of most sights at Radisson, but a more central hotel is not a bad idea. Hörnan or Villa Anna are great options if you want to splurge, but there are more central mid range hotels as well.

If its not too cold, Skansen is an excellent holiday choice, we've
been for Christmas music in the small church & there are lots of
displays in the old houses, but it gets chilly on that hill.

Skansen is great. And there are opportunities to go inside if you feel that it's too cold.

I really like the huge reindeer lights close to the Royal Dramatic
Theatre & there are lots of places to see Christmas light displays in
Stockholm -
https://www.visitstockholm.com/events/stockholmsjul-christmas-lights/2023-01-15/.

Sorry to be a party pooper, but those are elks (moose to North Americans) and not reindeer…

My husband has had a lifelong wish to see the northern lights, so it's
worth maximizing our chances for that, though I know nothing is
certain. We like trains. But conceivably we might want to take the
train up and if flights aren't too expensive, fly back (two of us are
just over 60, two are youth, so maybe that will help with fares?).

In that case, Abisko is a great place to visit! The night train from Stockholm and Uppsala stops in the village, and at the tourist station. Making it very easy to reach.

Will northern lights, if they are active, still be visible in a night
with moonlight?

In general, yes. But there are many factors to take into account. A half full moon adds a bit of light and will make seeing the lights a bit harder. But, it is rarely up all night. And it also depends on where the moon is located in the sky. The northern lights are in the north, so if the moon is in the south it is less of a problem.

Given the closeness to the shortest day, do you have thoughts about
what would be pleasant to do in the north country, apart from hoping
for action in the sky?

Visit Abisko has a few options, https://www.visitabisko.com and so has the Tourist station, https://www.swedishtouristassociation.com/facilities/stf-abisko-turiststation/ In Kiruna you can visit the mine, https://kirunalapland.se/en/activities/lkabs-visitor-centre/ and the church is also worth stop. Or take a dogsled tour.

I welcome suggestions about this northern adventure. Perhaps we should
go to Kiruna and decide whether to continue north, but with the
Christmas season, it feels risky not to have lodging and transport
reservations in advance. Am I being too conservative?

No. I'd not recommend going there without accomodation and travel booked. And while you don't need to book them ASAP, you should also not wait too long.

Posted by
7 posts

Thank you!

I have to take inventory of the extent of our ability to splurge -- we are not usually extravagant, and the price of the Julpaket exceeded my imaginings, but I fell in love with the Christmas celebrations of the hotel in Tällberg @Badger gave as an example, Villa Långbers -- they have the best of all the festivities among the hotels on the (slightly out of date) https://en.wikivoyage.org/wiki/Tällberg webpage. I have just written to Villa Långbers to see if perhaps they would let us do the 3-day Julpaket from the 22nd to the 25th, instead of the 23rd to the 26th, while I ponder expenses, as I haven't worked out our other local travel and accommodation costs yet.

Then we, taking the excellent advice of @Badger and @Sandancisco, could start in Stockholm, go to Uppsala for a couple of days to be in a more compact city, leave from there to go to Kiruna or Abisko, then either back to Uppsala for Christmas Eve til our flight, or if we can swing it, down to Tällberg for the holiday, then back to the by then familiar Uppsala hotel for the eve of our flight home on Boxing Day.

I researched the threads about December travel last year, and saw a note (perhaps from Badger) in November saying that the train ticket sales for Christmas had opened pretty recently -- do you know if I will be able to book now, or will need to wait? I am debating doing 2 compartments with 3 bunks each - my daughters together and my husband together (maybe we could book the whole compartments to be private?). The alternative would be booking 4 seats in one sleeper compartment with 6 bunks, all of us together with two other travel companions. I'm not sure we would be sure of seeing out the window for any moonlight views if we did that.

Thank you both so much for your guidance so far, and your good questions, which have led me to feel clearer about what I'm trying to accomplish. I have seen others in this forum planning a full year ahead of time, so I am feeling very last minute in comparison!

Posted by
797 posts

I fell in love with the Christmas celebrations of the hotel in Tällberg

THAT sounds lovely! As long as you're back on Dec 25th in Uppsala for your Dec 26th flight, to give yourself some leeway in case of delays. Trains are less reliable than they once were pre-pandemic, though still great. Since that's already a splurge, you may want to stay at the Radisson rather than Hotel Hornan, HA.

Sounds like you're from the right part of the country to understand how to dress for winter! It won't be as cold as you're use to, but last Christmas I distinctly remember taking a walk in 15F with a breeze blowing, so it can get cold too.

I can't seem to find the thread now, but I distinctly recall a website for dog sledding where they would 'allow' you to work / feed the dogs too... maybe you will find it. What fun!! You still have time to make these plans, but I wouldn't delay too long. I would also suggest having a close look at train times for your travel days. And it looks like Norwegian Air (which is usually cheaper than SAS), flies from Kiruna to ARN a few days over the weekend in December.

BTW, the Swedish Krona is at a recent record low to the USD, so it's a good time for whatever splurges you can afford!

Posted by
6670 posts

I have to take inventory of the extent of our ability to splurge -- we
are not usually extravagant, and the price of the Julpaket exceeded my
imaginings, but I fell in love with the Christmas celebrations of the
hotel in Tällberg @Badger gave as an example,

There are other hotels in Tällberg as well that might be worth looking at. Many of them have similar packages. The link was just an example and not my recommendation that they are the best. But if you can take an afternoon train from Tällberg you won't miss much. Assuming there is an afternoon train of course. Last Christmas day there was a 15:04 departure from Tällberg that arrived in Uppsala 17:33. You might also want to ask them if they have any suggestion for travel from between the hotel and the station. The station is a bit outside the village, within walking distance but in the winter a taxi can be nice.

An option a bit closer can be Gimo Herrgård, a bit outside Uppsala. http://www.gimoherrgard.se They have previously had Christmas celebrations. Not quite as nice surroundings as Tällberg though. Or Jul på Uplands, at Uplands nation in Uppsala. Free, but donations and help is always welcome.

Then we, taking the excellent advice of @Badger and @Sandancisco,
could start in Stockholm, go to Uppsala for a couple of days to be in
a more compact city, leave from there to go to Kiruna or Abisko, then
either back to Uppsala for Christmas Eve til our flight, or if we can
swing it, down to Tällberg for the holiday, then back to the by then
familiar Uppsala hotel for the eve of our flight home on Boxing Day.

That sounds like a good plan. One thing you should not miss is to try a Julbord, a traditional Christmas smörgåsbord. While it is served at Christmas, most restaurants serve it in December. Although the quality varies, and there are some that should be avoided. But a nice option in Stockholm can be to combine it with a cruise around the city and archipelago, https://www.stromma.com/en-se/stockholm/christmas/ And in Stockholm remember to walk past NK, the large department store close to the central station. They usually put a lot of effort into decorating their shop windows.

I researched the threads about December travel last year, and saw a
note (perhaps from Badger) in November saying that the train ticket
sales for Christmas had opened pretty recently -- do you know if I
will be able to book now, or will need to wait?

Train tickets for Christmas are not for sale yet. SJ's plan is that they will go on sale later this month. Although Vy might be selling the night train tickets to Abisko/Kiruna, it might be worth checking.

I am debating doing 2 compartments with 3 bunks each - my daughters
together and my husband together (maybe we could book the whole
compartments to be private?). The alternative would be booking 4 seats
in one sleeper compartment with 6 bunks, all of us together with two
other travel companions.

You can also book a 6 bed compartment for your own, with two beds empty. That would be my suggestion. It is not that much extra and worth it in my opinion. The big difference is that the 3 bed compartments are sleepers while the 6 bed compartments are couchettes. And you can also book 3 bed compartments private, or just two 2 bed compartments.

Trains are less reliable than they once were pre-pandemic, though
still great.

Especially in the winter there is always the risk of weather related delays.

And it looks like Norwegian Air (which is usually cheaper than SAS),
flies from Kiruna to ARN a few days over the weekend in December.

*Sometimes cheaper than SAS. Other times SAS is cheaper. And to Kiruna, SAS is usually more frequent.

Posted by
797 posts

We were out at Gamla (Old) Uppsala having a nice lunch & wandering around the Viking king grave mounds yesterday, be sure you put it on your list of things to see in Uppsala! We really like the lunch spot, not to mention the small but excellent museum. Gamla Uppsala is about 5K outside Uppsala, you can reach it by bus or taxi. There's a nice restaurant with quite good food, Odinsborg, just next to the royal grave mounds. It looks like the restaurant is open through December 24th, but I would reconfirm once you arrive. Lots of signage in the area in English.

Posted by
6670 posts

The Christmas train tickets are now for sale, and there are three direct trains from Tällberg to Uppsala on Christmas day. Plus two with a change in Borlänge.

Posted by
7 posts

Update/Report of Trip We had a great experience, thanks to all the advice, with special thanks to Badger.

STOCKHOLM: I chose the Frey Hotel's family-size room (sleeps 3/4, queen bed plus a couch that was made up upon arrival) for arrival. It was on the 6th floor, had a quirky full-sized zebra stencilled on the wall above the couch/bed, but most importantly, was a corner room with large windows looking out to the 18th c. roof of the old post office (nice old street) and over Vasagaten (big avenue). We added a single room when my other daughter joined us, which was charming, looking out into the courtyard, with classic Swedish white wood paneling surrounding the twin bed, and a day bed opposite (costs extra to be made up as a tiny twin room). The location was great for walking, steps away from an elevator down to the main train station and subway (as well as a short walk to the above-ground main entrance hall). There was enough room for 3-4 of us to hang out without feeling too cramped. NOTE: when we returned for the night before our flight home we had two ordinary double rooms, which weren't quite as nice.

AIRPORT TRANSPORT: We took the Flyggbuss to Stockholm when we arrived, because we could see it pulling up outside the luggage arrival carousel and we just grabbed it and paid with a credit card, no advance tickets, to the driver. It was very full (3 of us, 3 available seats), and the nice part of it was that it made stops throughout the surrounding neighborhoods of Stockholm, giving us a glimpse of areas we wouldn't otherwise have seen and putting the city in context. On the way back, we took the Arlanda Express train, which was much faster (20 minutes vs 45 minutes) and only a bit more expensive.

KIRUNA and ABISKO TRANSPORT by train/bus: We decided to skip Uppsala and stay in Stockholm until traveling north, which worked well for us. I purchased a 6-bunk compartment ticket for 4 people to Abisko online in the US, but planned to have us get off in Kiruna. The SJ Rail notified me by email the morning of our departure of a derailment on the line that damaged the infrastructure north of Kiruna, and prevented sleepers from continuing beyond Boden. The sleeper compartment we got into at 6p in Stockholm was great (though hot! our return compartment was a much better temperature). Sheets and 6 water bottles were provided. We had to get out at 5am, switch to a regular train with just seating (no reserved seats), then in Kiruna, switch to a bus (they let us just come back the next day to get the bus leg of the trip, and no one was checking tickets). We arrived close to the same time we would have on the non-stop train trip. On the way back there was a close to 2-hour delay waiting for the sleeper car to be ready in Luleå.

KIRUNA & ABISKO lodgings and activities: We stayed at Camp Ripan in Kiruna and the Abisko Turistation in Abisko.
1) Kiruna--the whole city--is being demolished and relocated by the mining company. Camp Ripan is quite near the old city, between the two (20 minutes walk from the parking lot serving as the main bus stop), but there was a lot of heavy equipment all around beyond the campus. The Ripan cabins felt more urban than expected 2) There was a lot of daylight, even though it was the December solstice -- it became dark by 3pm, but there was plenty of light for activities. 3) The Abisko Turistation had lots of cozy, individually quirky little living rooms, libraries, that make it a lovely place to hang out.
Activities: We splurged at Camp Ripan on the Sami Northern Lights Photography evening tour, even though it was snowing (that meant there was last minute availability=I didn't book ahead). It was WONDERFUL - equipment, cameras, and an amazing guide.
In Abisko, we napped at 3p with the lights out, letting our eyes dark-adjust, and at 5p we saw northern lights from the window!

TÄLLBERG - Villa Langbors for Yulpacket/Christmas. A splurge - great food, charming town. Can tell more if asked

Posted by
4351 posts

Thanks so much for coming back with your report! What a wonderful Christmas adventure! I would love it if you added (or over in the Trip Reports section copied this and added) a lot more about what you did! I don’t know that I will ever do a trip like this but it is really appealing.

Posted by
6670 posts

Thank you so much for your trip report! It's always nice when people come back and tell us how their trip went. But I'm sorry to hear you got caught up in the train problems in the north. A freight train derailed before Christmas and due to the extreme weather fixing it has taken time.

But I'd love to hear more about your stay in Tällberg and if you had a great Christmas.

Posted by
9882 posts

Thanks so much for coming back with some report. Indeed I would be interested to hear more about your experience at Tallberg.

This sounds like a really unique trip !

Posted by
7 posts

But I'd love to hear more about your stay in Tällberg and if you had a
great Christmas.

Our stay in Tällburg was lovely, and we had a great Christmas. I hadn't fully realized what an old-fashioned town it was, and with new-fallen snow (and snow that continued to fall), it was like stepping into an old illustration of putting sheaves out for the tompten on Christmas Eve. Villa Långbers had gourmet food -- the chef was amazing -- it is a great hotel! Our suite was on the top floor of an older traditional-style house (exterior staircase), bedrooms under the eves, the matrimonial queen on one end, twin on the other end, with a bathroom with attached sauna in the middle. No fridge; refrigerated wine rack in twin room didn't keep food we saved for our not-up-for-formal-dining family member very cold. The clientele was mostly grandparent age, and there were no young children and MAYBE one or two teens, but pretty much any children with parents were in their 20s or 30s or 40s. The food was a double-edged sword for us, as it was a set menu for the evening meal (with assigned sitting times -- one night we were assigned 8pm) which was not ideal for every member of our family. If I were to go back, I would stay someplace else, as it was beyond our price range.

BUT the Villa was my ace-in-the-hole for Christmas, and it was in a beautiful location, at the 'top of Tällburg' with a view of the lake and the town below. The Julpaket was not quite as homey as I had envisioned -- the tree trimming was from a zipper pack of silver and red balls from a big box store (but it was a nice opportunity to meet others who also felt in the mood to trim a tree, and meeting strangers is not to be minimized!). There was no caroling at the hotel (I had misunderstood and thought there would be), a Christmas standards soundtrack--mostly in English--played almost always. The Dalarna fiddlers who came to play after the tree trimming stood in the dining room amidst the diners who had the prime sitting (we did not), which means that to hear them we had to be bold and (with a few other Swedish guests) barge in ourselves (myself--no one else in my family will risk shame like that) and take empty seats at tables or stand at the edge. Interestingly, none of the fiddle music was remotely familiar, even though I grew up on an international assortment of Xmas music ('Jultid is here again, and happy days we'll have 'til Easter!') The TV Jullotto and KallaAnka (Donald Duck) were fun to observe briefly, but neither held nostalgia or Christmas feeling (I'd bought a lotto card but gave it to to fellow tree trimmers). We missed the arrival of "Santa" on Christmas Eve, but I entered the main building just as "Santa" was leaving with his sack, and he recognized me, greeted me in English (We were the only foreigners without Swedish family there), and unprompted, handed me 4 packages, one for each of us (nice local linen kitchen tools and a wooden butter spreader, it turned out). The 5am bus trip on Christmas morning was well worth the extra charge and getting up that early -- the chartered bus went to all the Tällburg hotels, one by one, to pick up guests, then to a nearby town (I'm forgetting where) to a large church filled with candles, with fiddlers and two organs and a choir, and a minister who spoke super-clearly and made people laugh (I didn't understand, but had I known more Swedish I would have), and -- for me, an important part of Christmas -- hymns for the congregation to sing, the last of which was O Come All Ye Faithful in Swedish. It was spectacular.

We loved walking around the town for 3 days, meeting friendly cats, and doing some browsing in the stores. A daughter was sick & there was no pharmacy or convenience store in town. I walked a charming path through the woods that connected with the road to the train station, opposite which there was a small grocery (meds and comfort food), and caught a lift back by good luck in a hotel van meeting the train.

Posted by
6670 posts

Thanks for coming back! Glad to hear that you enjoyed your Christmas, despite some issues. Meeting a friendly cat can always cheer up a trip! I hope you didn't find the traditional Swedish Christmas food too weird…

Posted by
797 posts

Sounds amazing!! Thanks so much for letting us know how your trip went, sounds like you had quite an adventure, which will also help others plan their getaways. Very intrepid of you to venture so far north & to make the best of any of the quirks. I did laugh about the Donald Duck cartoons, once you've watched them 15 years in a row, well they become nostalgic?!