Stockholm Christmas Winter Birding Tours

Stockholm Christmas Winter Birding Tours

If you are interested in Stockholm Christmas Winter Birding Tours, come and join us at Kaiyote Tours!

Stockholm Winter Solstice and Christmas

Stockholm is city of islands, which makes it especially convenient for boats, sightseeing, walking and birding year-round.  The city is full of great history, art, music, museums and restaurants.  There are palaces, cathedrals and many historic buildings to visit. The Stockholm subway is considered the longest art gallery in the world at 68 miles in length. 

Stockholm stretches across fourteen islands where Lake Mälaren flows into the Baltic Sea. The original old town, known as Gamla Stan, is in the heart of the city and is a charming, picturesque historic neighborhood. Just outside the city and along the Baltic Sea coast is the island chain known as the Stockholm archipelago, which includes approximately 24,000 islands and islets. The area has been inhabited since the Stone Age and was founded as a city in 1252.

Some of the activities will depend on the weather:  The last few years the temperatures in Stockholm have been warm, which has been great for being outside, walking and birding.  If we get a cold and/or snowy Christmas, there will be more indoor activities and boat cruise tours. 

Printable Bird List 
(This is a checklist of birds that we have seen on this trip)

  • Travel Dates:  December 20 - 27, 2024 (annual trip and dates don't change)  
  • Group Size:  46 travelers plus guides
  • Trip Length: 8 days
  • Rates:  Rate per person = $3,650 (no extra charge for single occupancy)
  • Rates include: Domestic transfers, lodging, breakfast, lunch, dinner, scheduled group tours, park entrance fees and basic travel insurance.
  • Not included: International airfare, customs & immigration fees and visas, alcohol, trip cancellation insurance.
  • Adventure level:  Easy, please check the "Welcome" page for definition  

Weather on Winter Solstice:  Sunrise 8:43 am, Sunset 2:48 pm, 6 hours of sunlight. High temperatures during the day are often in the mid to high 30’s and low temperatures are high 20's - low 30's.

Lodging:  On this tour, the lodging will be aboard permanently moored boats and yachts in the Stockholm waterway. On all the boats, the rooms are small and “cozy”, like most ships, but all the rooms have beds “on the floor”, meaning no bunks and there are waterbirds that you can view from your boat cabin:  Great Cormorants and Black-headed Gulls. 

The first four nights will be on one or two of the following ships, depending on what kind of room you need: 

1)  M/S Rygerfjord:  The Rygerfjord was built in 1950 at Mjellem & Karl’s shipyard in Bergen, Norway. In 1961 the Crossley machine was replaced with a Wichmann and enabled the ship to cruise at 12 knots (about 14 mph).  During the winter of 1970/71 the boat was renovated and the stern boat deck was built. She was revalued at 601 GRT and was classified for 100 passengers as opposed to the previous 365.  After 45 years of passenger service within Scandinavia, the Rygerfjord docked at its present position at Söder Mälarstrand in 1995 and has been slowly converted and upgraded over the years to accommodate over-night lodging.  

2) Den Röda Båten (The Red Boat):  Den Röda Båten is a wood and steel tugboat boat.  Built in 1914, it was previously a working boat that served the Göta Canal. There are two sister boats moored next to each other to accommodate travelers.  The "Red Boat" has some of the best Glögg, which can be "enhanced" by adding wine (traditional Glögg is alcohol free). 

3) Mälardrottningen Yacht:  The last three nights of the tour, including Christmas Eve and Christmas day will be aboard the Mälardrottningen.  The history of the Mälardrottningen is very interesting and it is always a special treat to stay on the yacht. Here are a few paragraphs copied from the hotel website: “When you enter the gangway of Mälardrottningen, you might be walking in the same footsteps of former movie stars, politicians and royals. The ship was built in 1924 for C.K.G Billings, a millionaire from New York, and the ship at that time was the world’s largest diesel driven yacht. 

The ship was later bought by the Woolworth-millionaire Frank W. Hutton. His daughter Barbara Hutton, the Woolworth heiress, received it as a gift from her father on her 18th birthday. Barbara lived an extravagant life among royals and movie stars and in the 1940’s she was married to Cary Grant for a short time. She later sold the ship to the Royal British Navy for one-pound sterling.

During the Second World War the ship was anchored for a short while in Panama and later on moved to Norway where it was used as a training ship. During the fifties the ship was used as a passenger ferry between Stockholm and Åbo in Finland. Since 1982, Mälardrottningen has been at its current location and only leaves the dock for maintenance every fifth year”.

Next is Food: Yummy!

1)  Winter Solstice:  There will be a winter solstice afternoon dinner cruise with a traditional Swedish Smörgåsbord (called Julbord in Swedish) aboard the M/S Waxholm III, which is a classic archipelago ship from the maritime golden age; built in 1903. This is a 3-hour dinner cruise through parts of the Stockholm Archipelago.  This boat has the best Glögg (traditional mulled wined).  

2)  Christmas Eve:  After a great day of birding at the Djurgården, a very special dinner at the historic Diplomat Hotel, which was built in 1911 as a residential palace. During the 1940’s and 50’s, the building housed the embassies of Romania, Chile, Persia, Hungary, Italy and Canada and in 1966, was converted to a hotel. Elements from the former state apartments have been carefully preserved for the now 130 rooms of the Diplomat Hotel.  Dinner is a multi-course meal of traditional and modern Julbord foods.  

3)  Christmas Day:  Traditional Swedish Julbord (Christmas Smörgåsbord) will be at the Grand Hotel.  Built in 1874, the Grand Hotel has been a center piece for important events in Sweden and it is truly an opulent, grand old hotel.  Similar to the Mälardrottningen, when you step into the lobby of the Grand Hotel, you are walking in the footsteps of royalty, presidents and movies stars.  From 1901 – 1929 the Nobel Laureate Banquet was held at the Grand Hotel.

4)  All other lunches and dinners will be at a variety of local cafes and restaurants.   It is a tradition to have one dinner at Michelangelo’s Italian Restaurant and another one of our favorite spots for dinner is Sjatte Tunnan: The Medieval Cellar.  

Evening Events:  Depending on the local schedule there will be some evening events such as concerts.  If you have special interests such as opera or theater, please let us know in advance so we can get tickets for you.   Both the Royal Swedish Opera House and the Dramatic Theatre House are extremely beautiful and opulent!  

Museums:  Every day there will be time to visit a museum and there are a lot of museums in Stockholm.  There is about 6-hours of light and so there is a lot of time for birding and when the sun goes down, time for a museum or concert.  We highly recommend the Vasa Museum, the National Museum, Asian Art Museum, the Medieval Museum and a visit to the Royal Palace, just to name a few. Just let us know what your interests are and we will find the right activities for you. 

Basic itinerary

Day 1:  Arrival in Stockholm
Flights from the States usually arrive in the late afternoon at the Stockholm Arlanda International Airport (ARN).  You should schedule your flight for arrival at the airport on December 20th.   You will be greeted at the airport and transferred to the M/S Rygerfjord Ship Hotel which is moored along the banks of Södermalm Island in Stockholm. We will stay on the Rygerfjord for two nights. Stockholm has numerous Christmas markets to visit and plenty of traditional Glögg to drink and Pepparkakors to eat. Glögg is similar to mulled wine and but is stewed with cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, dried Seville orange, and clove.   Pepparkakor is traditional Swedish gingerbread cookies, made using special cookie cutter shapes, like hearts and stars, very thin and made with cardamom, cinnamon, cloves and ginger.  Dinner will be on one of the lodging boats.

Day 2:  Södermalm, Stockholm
Morning birding along the waterfront and local parks with great close up views up Common Blackbird, Blue Tits, Great Tits, Common Redpoll, Fieldfare and Tufted Ducks.  Winter Solstice: In the afternoon, a 3-hour afternoon dinner cruise on-board the M/S Waxholm III, a 120-foot historic archipelago ship built in 1903.  This Julbord cruise is a fantastic dinner and great fun.  Birds we have seen from the boat:  Black headed Gulls, Great Cormorant, Goosander (Common Merganser), Common Goldeneye. 

Day 3:  Södermalm, Stockholm
Today we will be moving to a new boat called the Den Röda Båten (The Red Boat), we will stay on Den Röda Båten for two nights. It is located on the waterfront next to the Rygerfjord and it will be another unique lodging experience. In Stockholm, the list of museums and buildings of historic and architectural significance is long (over 100) and so, depending on individual interests, this day will be full of sightseeing and getting to know the history and culture of Stockholm. For those that are interested in birding, there will always be time to check out the winter birds of Stockholm. A short walk from the boat lodging are several parks full of winter birds and besides the waterfront, Stockholm has several large parks for winter passerines.  Let me know your specific interests and I will find an activity for you.  If you prefer or if the weather is very cold, there is an option to have lunch on one of the historic canal boats while touring the archipelago for a couple hours. Boating in Stockholm is wonderful, but we see more birds from on the land.  

Day 4:  Södermalm, Stockholm
Stockholm is the capital of Sweden and is rich in maritime history. On this day there will be a visit to the Vasa Museum. The Vasa is a Swedish warship built between 1626 and 1628. The ship sank after sailing for only a few minutes into its maiden voyage in August 1628. After most the valuable bronze cannons were salvaged in the 17th century the ship was largely forgotten until it was located in the late 1950s in a busy shipping lane just outside the Stockholm harbor. In 1961 the ship was brought to the surface and with much of it still intact, it was restored and now is open for viewing at the Vasa Museum.  It truly is amazing because the ship is very large, 226 feet long and 90% of the boat is still original.  The Vasa Museum is located on an island called the Djurgården, which was a game park created for the Royals in 1579.  This area is great for birding and walking where you can find:  Hooded Crow, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Eurasian Jays, Great Cormorant, Grey Heron, Eurasian Treecreeper, Green Finch, Eurasian Siskin, Blue Tits, Great Tits and Eurasian Magpie. 

Day 5:  Riddarholmen, Stockholm
This day is Christmas Eve and for the next three night we will be staying on the Mälardrottningen Yacht located on Riddarholmen Island. Located only about a half a mile away from Södermalm, the Mälardrottningen is moored close to Gamla Stan, which is the historic center of Stockholm.  There will be numerous options for activities today including Christmas concerts and festivities. In Stockholm there is a “Living Advent Calendar”, which is a new tradition started in 2005 and from December 1st through the 24th at 6:15pm each day a different window of an historic building opens and there is singing, storytelling and festivities for each window for 20 minutes. Each advent window is at a different location in the historic area of Gamla Stan and it makes a great addition to each day to walk through Gamla Stan and find the new window for each day. In Sweden, Christmas Eve is when the big celebration happens and many of the businesses close early.  Dinner will be at the Diplomat Hotel.  

Day 6:  Riddarholmen, Stockholm
On Christmas day we hope it snows and creates a beautiful city landscape!  One of the tallest (and sometimes the very tallest) Christmas tree in the world is the Skeppsbron Christmas Tree in Stockholm, measuring 125 feet. Stockholm is a great city for walking and birding and we will see a lot of birds to add to our list.  In the heart of the city are large flocks of Mute Swans, Mew Gulls, Eurasian Coots, Black-headed Gulls, Common Goldeneyes, Tufted Ducks, Jackdaws, Eurasian Tree Sparrows and even a few Canada Geese. On a rare occasion we have seen Barnacle Geese.  In the late afternoon hundreds of Jackdaws all come home to roost atop the Grand Hotel. Dinner will be at the Grand Hotel for a traditional Julbord. 

Day 7:  Riddarholmen, Stockholm
The day after Christmas is a day to be outside and we will be taking a day trip to a small island community called Waxholm.  There is a daily ferry boat that leaves Stockholm in the morning and travels over one hour through the archipelago to get to the island of Waxholm.  Along the way there are beautiful sites and birds to see and we will return to Stockholm in the early evening.   

Day 8:  Fly day
Flights usually leave in the morning and you will be transferred to the airport for your flight home

Please note:  The lodging described in this itinerary is always our first choice based on availability.