The Only Packing List for 2 Weeks in Europe You Need

All I packed for 6 months in Europe - Find out how here!

I’m sold on the virtues of packing light, having done a five-month trip spanning three distinct seasons. I started off in Southern France, Spain, and Morocco in the summer, made my way through the Balkans in the fall, and ended in snowy Denmark. I did that all in a carry-on, and I’ve since adapted that original Europe packing list for shorter trips. So if you’re wondering what to pack for two weeks in Europe, I’ve got you covered, no matter the time of year.

From this, I’ve mastered the art of packing a carry on — from everything from a months-long backpacking adventure to a short jaunt through Europe. As a result, this packing list for 2 weeks in Europe can be your guide to packing light, no matter what the season, or even for longer trips. Just do laundry every 1-2 weeks as you would at home, and you’re golden.

I’ve created two separate clothing packing lists for Europe, one for spring/summer/fall and the other for winter. Spring and fall aren’t too harsh in Europe, so you can mostly bring the same things as you’d bring for summer, just with a few more layers. Winter, however, can be downright brutal, so I’m coming at you with some tips that helped me out even when I was north of the Arctic Circle (and nope, I’m not joking!). Don’t worry even if you’re packing for Europe the first time – this list is comprehensive and tested and filled with only products I actually use, not just ones I’ve heard about or stolen from other packing lists.

Kiruna Church Sweden - the jumping off place to see the Northern lights
Proof.

Packing List for 2 Weeks in Europe

Backpack and Related Gear

When I total it up, I’ve spent at least a year of my life backpacking across Europe, which is kind of insane to think about. As a result, these products have been tested time and time again, and I’ve eliminated anything that I’ve given up on the road (which is a lot). For the record, I’ve paid for every single item on this list out of pocket – not one thing on this packing list here is sponsored (and even if it were, you could expect my honest opinions, anyway). The only exception is that when I asked to become a Tortuga affiliate, they sent me the newest version of their bag to test out (I had previously purchased their original version out of pocket and loved it), so that I could be sure I’d still recommend it to my readers.

  • Travel backpack: While you certainly can travel with a suitcase, I prefer traveling around Europe with a carry-on sized backpack. When it came time to begin my travels, I chose a Tortuga 45L Backpack because they’re compact, carry-on friendly, and don’t scream “backpacker” as loudly as other bags. I used their original version for 2.5 years before Tortuga recently gifted me their newest version to trial, and I love it even more than the original (which my boyfriend now happily uses – in fact, he was even more excited than I was when I upgraded my Tortuga and he got my old one).
    • Why do I recommend Tortuga so much? Here’s why: this bag is 45L and has got three main compartments: one for a laptop and other flat objects, one giant rectangular compartment perfect for packing cubes stuffed with clothing, and one smaller compartment with pockets for passports, pens, odds and ends, etc. that I stash all my extras in – plus one small outer zipper pocket for anything you want quick access to. It also has a water bottle holder on the outside as well as buckles so that you can strap something like a yoga mat to the outside. Plus, it’s quite comfortable to wear, with a padded hip belt and comfort-molding shoulder straps complete with a chest strap so that you can distribute weight perfectly across your body in the event that you need to wear your backpack for longer than usual. Check out more specs and details here.
    • Does it pass budget airline requirements? I’ve literally taken it on 50+ budget airline flights at this point and never once been asked to check it in. I do tend to fly with priority boarding so that I can also bring my travel daypack as my personal item, but that only adds a few dollars onto my budget airline ticket, whereas adding checked luggage usually more than doubles my ticket cost.
  • Toiletry case: I absolutely love love love my eBags Pack-it-Flat Toiletry Kit which works kind of like magic – you won’t be able to believe how little space it takes up, yet how much it can fit. It’s kind of like the Mary Poppins bag… just when you think nothing else can come out it, there’s more. It has a ton of separators that help keep my toiletries organized when I travel.  Although it’s flat and compact, it fits virtually all my toiletries, which as a bit of a card-carrying girly-girl I have a lot of! An absolute must-have for your sanity when on a two week trip through Europe.
  • Packing cubes: I keep everything sorted and tidy with my eBags Packing Cubes. No, this post isn’t sponsored by eBags, I just think they make amazing, affordable travel gear! I use my large packing cube for bottoms and dresses, my medium packing cube for tops, and my small packing cube for socks and undies.
  • Laundry bag: Even if you’re only traveling for two weeks in Europe, I like having a separate bag for all my laundry day needs. This travel-themed laundry bag from Kikkerland is beyond adorable!
  • Small, cute travel backpack: Finally, I use a smaller backpack for all my day-to-day needs. I’m absolutely obsessed with my CitySafe backpack – it’s adorable, trendy, but also super secure. It’s slash-proof and has zippers that interlock and fasten, adding multiple levels of security a thief would need to go through in order to successfully pickpocket you. And I can’t stress enough how cute it is! Check it out here (and disregard that Amazon calls it a men’s backpack for some reason – it’s definitely girly-girl approved).

Essential Clothing to Pack for Europe (Spring, Summer, Fall)

Wondering what to pack for Europe for two weeks? Here’s all the things you should cram in your travel backpack (with cubes, naturally) – with girly girl travelers who love shoes and dresses and not checking luggage in mind.

Bucharest in the fall, with some of my wardrobe staples!
  • 3 lightweight tank tops in different colors
  • 1 chambray or other button-up shirt to wear as a light jacket or shirt
  • 1 medium-weight jacket for cool nights (a denim or leather jacket would be perfect here) — you can leave this off if you’re traveling in peak summer, though
  • 2 linen or airy cotton V-necks
  • 1 pair lightweight linen or cotton shorts in black or neutral
  • 1 pair denim shorts
  • 1 large but lightweight scarf(great for too much AC, surprise church visits, or just for varying outfits)
  • 1 light sweater or cardigan
  • 2 pairs black leggings or ponte pants
  • 1 pair skinny jeans
  • 1 or 2 midi skirts, which are surprisingly good in hot weather
  • 1 black mini skirt
  • 2-5 lightweight summer dresses
  • 1 maxi dress
  • 5-7 pairs of socks
  • 7 pairs of underwear (or 14, if you’re determined to make it without doing laundry)
  • 1-2 bikinis/swimsuits
  • 1-2 pairs pajamas or sleeping clothes
  • flipflops or Birkenstocks
  • 1 pair running shoes (I love my black Nikes)
  • 1 pair comfortable ankle boots (I love my Lucky Brand ankle boots)

packing list for europe: All I packed for 6 months in Europe - Find out how here!

This sounds like a lot — it is! But it all managed to fit into two packing cubes (I actually didn’t even need to use the third one, as I kept all my underwear, socks, and sleepwear in pockets that come with my backpack).

Depending on how much you pack and how attached you are to your clothes, it’s always an option to send some of your belongings or souvenirs you bought on the road. You can use an international shipping service like Shiply to compare rates and send home items cheaply.

Packing List for 2 Weeks in Europe in Winter

Packing for winter in a carry-on isn’t that hard — just think smart, wear your heaviest clothes on the plane, and think about layering as much as you can. This will work for even super cold weather, but not for something extreme like a ski holiday.

PSST – Planning a longer winter trip? Here’s my guide to packing for a long-term winter trip in Europe.

Traveling Europe in winter isn’t as bad as it seems
  • 2-3 pairs jeans
  • 2-3 pairs warm leggings leggings (I love these fleece-lined leggings since I’m sensitive to wool and can’t wear it)
  • 1 warm sweater dress
  • 1 super warm, big wrap scarf
  • 1 woven fleece-lined hat that covers your ears
  • 1 pair waterproof gloves or mittens (mittens are usually a bit warmer but more annoying to use, so I’d bring gloves if it’s kind of cold and mittens if its f*#!ing miserable)
  • 2-3 thermal tops (I love the thermal tops from 32 Degres and buy them in bulk from Costco when I’m home)
  • 2-3 warm sweaters (wool if you can stand them)
  • 1 pair waterproof knee-high boots (I have an older version of these ones from Blondo and use them every winter for the last nearly 10 years – I’ve only had to get them re-soled once)
  • 1 pair flat ankle boots (again, my Lucky brand ankle boots come in handy!)
  • 6-7 pairs warm wool socks (I like Smartwool)
  • 7-14 pairs underwear, depending on whether or not you want to do laundry
  • 1 super warm parka-type jacket. I have this one from North Face.
  • 1 medium-warm jacket, like a UNIQLO Ultra Light Down (great for layering under your other jacket in case of extreme cold) or this knockoff ultralight down jacket

Smart Toiletries & Hygiene Supplies

  • 1 Diva Cup (for people with periods): better for the Earth, better for your luggage — the Diva cup is reusable, hygienic, and actually way more convenient than tampons or pads as they need to be changed less frequently. They’re really comfortable once you get used to them and carry a lower risk of TSS or leaking.
  • 1 pack of GoToobs: These reusable, easy-squeeze bottles are great for filling with your need-to-have toiletries that are hard to source on the road.
  • 1 folding toothbrush: I love this so much because those stupid clip-on toothbrush protectors always get lost or broken in my bag!
  • 1 bar Lush solid shampoo with a metal carrying case: I love the Seanik shampoo bar, as it breathes life into my easily greasy, thin hair!
  • 1 dry shampoo: For days when showering is just too hard
  • 1 pack hair ties: For days when getting out dry shampoo is just too hard
  • 1 small hairbrush: The folding hairbrushes always break for me, so I go for a small, sturdy mini hairbush
  • 1 pair Tweezers: Because god forbid I go more than a few days without plucking those random chin hairs that love to pop up overnight.
  • 1 Neutrogena solid sunscreen: Who doesn’t love a good solid for liquid swap? Great to keep in your bag without worrying about sunscreen explosions
  • 1 razor and pack of favorite razor heads: It can be hard to find my favorite brand abroad sometimes, so I always bring them with me
  • 1 anti-friction stick: Because if you got thick thighs like I do, this is a godsend against fighting the devil that is chub rub. Vaseline also works in a pinch.
  • All your makeup and can’t-live-without toiletries (moisturizer, face wash, etc) — make sure they are travel-sized (less than 100 milliliters/3.3 ounces). If not, put them in a GoToob in a size suitable for a two week trip to Europe.

Travel Medicines & First Aid

  • 1 bottle Pepto Bismol tablets / bismuth salicylate (pill form): Because the last thing you want when you’re having an upset stomach is to try to find a pharmacy that speaks your language
  • 1 bottle Imodium: For real D-Day intestinal emergency days. I try not to take this unless it’s a massive emergency (i.e. I have to travel that day and don’t have a day to dedicate to shitting my brains out).
  • 1 pack Pedialyte rehydration packs: Theoretically it’s for babies with diarrhea; I use it for hangover emergencies, because I’m an adult.
  • 1 bottle Aleve: I can never find Aleve outside of the US and I find that it works better than other painkillers for me personally. 
  • 1 pack Excedrin Migraine if you’re prone to migraines like I am
  • 1 bottle Dramamine if you’re prone to motion sickness like I am (why do I travel, again?)
  • 1 pack Bandaids: Or two if you’re as much of a goddamn clutz as I am
  • 1 small jar Tiger Balm: Great for everything from headaches to hangovers to sore muscles to mosquito bites
  • 1 pack mosquito repellent wipes: I always forget to bring the big bottles with me, so I keep a few wipes in my purse usually

Random Odds & Ends That Make Life Less Terrible

  • 1 sleep mask: This contoured one is total bliss
  • 1 pack earplugs: The best in class, able to withstand even a 12 person dorm
  • 1 set mini padlocks: For securing your valuables in hostels or your daypack on public transit. If you’re prone to losing things, choose ones with a combination instead
  • 1 of your favorite journals: I love Moleskine notebooks, personally, like the hipster wannabe I am.
  • 1reusable water bottle: Make the planet suck less – use less plastic! The water in Europe is drinkable basically everywhere with few exceptions, so save money and plastic and use a reusable bottle.
  • A few reusable shopping bags: Great for separating nasty clothes from tolerable ones, or for shoving random things that won’t fit in your backpack or suitcase at the last minute when checkout is rapidly approaching
  • A large microfiber travel towel: Believe me, get the big one, unless you love running from a shared bathroom to your room with your ass hanging out. Great for impromptu beach days, too!

Electronics & Camera Equipment

  • Laptop, if necessary: I bring my Macbook Air everywhere but other people may prefer a tablet or an inexpensive netbook. I work on the road so a user-friendly, lightweight laptop is a must.
  • Kindle Paperwhite: Depending on where you travel, English-language bookstores can be few and far between. I love the Kindle Paperwhite because the screen is glare-free, making it easy to read even in direct sunlight.
  • Travel camera: I use a Sony A6000 because it’s lightweight for a professional caliber camera, inexpensive, and a HUGE step up from a smartphone. You may want to replace this or add a GoPro too, especially good for adventure activities like volcano boarding and diving (just check to see if you also need an underwater house for your GoPro if you dive, as many of the newer models are only good to 10m — not nearly enough for divers)
  • Portable charger: As an electronics-addict, I’m always running out of juice. Bring a portable charger to save yourself many headaches! Anker is a reliable brand and what I personally use.
  • Adaptor, if necessary: If you are coming from the US or Canada, you will need an adaptor for your electronics. Also, keep in mind that if you are visiting both the UK and continental Europe that they use different plugs (and even within, there are exceptions: for example, Malta uses UK plugs!). Bring auniversal adaptor that you can use on your Europe travels and beyond.


Disclaimer:
 This post contains affiliate links. That means that if you purchase something using one of these links, I will receive a small commission at no added cost to you. 

No items were sent to me for this Europe packing list for two weeks; all are products I’ve purchased independently or something as close to it as possible as I could find.

The sole exception is the Tortuga Setout Backpack – I bought the original version with my own money, and when I asked to become an affiliate of their program, they sent me the new one to try out and ensure that I still like it and can recommend it, as the one I carried was discontinued. 


Further reading: 

  • Want more ideas on what essentials to bring on your trip to Europe? Check out this guide to travel gear and resources from Europe Up CloseI backpacked through Europe for six months, summer through winter, with only a carry-on size backpack! Here are the essential things to bring.

9 Tips For Traveling with an Anxiety Disorder

I was diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder and panic disorder at age 18, after a months-long nervous breakdown that began in my first year of college, hit fever pitch on my first solo trip to Ecuador, and kept at it until halfway through my sophomore year. Despite my love of new places, traveling with anxiety this intense felt impossible.

I’ve since addressed my anxiety through counseling, reflection, journaling, building my friendships, and seeking medical treatment. This has been my journey. Yours will, invariably, vary. Since attaining treatment, I became well enough to travel to over 30 countries over the last 9 years. My anxiety has not disappeared, but it is in check. I am aware of it. I acknowledge it. At times, I give in to it. But it does not rule me.

Read more

2 Days in Edinburgh: A Budget-Friendly Edinburgh Itinerary

The U.K., on the whole, is not a budget destination. But with one of my best friends in the world living in London, how could I resist the opportunity to visit her? I spent a week with her in London and we went to Edinburgh for 2 days for a quick weekend getaway.

Edinburgh’s center is very walkable and compact. This makes 2 days in Edinburgh a good amount of time to get a feel for the city’s vibe – or if you’re rushed, you can even do quite a lot with just 24 hours in Edinburgh. Of course, though, if you wanted, you could spend a ton more time exploring every nook and cranny of this extremely lovable city.

 While some of the things to do in Edinburgh are expensive (like the pricy-but-worth-it Edinburgh Castle, which cost me nearly $27 for a ticket plus audio guide), there are still many amazing cheap and even free things to do in Edinburgh.

This 2 day Edinburgh itinerary works as part of a larger Scotland itinerary or as a standalone weekend trip. It balances out some of the pricier Edinburgh attractions with plenty of wonderful free things so that you can tackle Edinburgh on a budget.

free things to do in Scotland
The Edinburgh castle doesn’t come cheap, but it’s well worth it!

Read more

10 Reasons to Travel to Sweden in Winter

Sweden’s climate is by no means tropical, but winter in Sweden doesn’t have to be as bad as you think.

Swedish winters can be downright enjoyable and magical, granted you pack the appropriate winter clothing. Stockholm’s average winter temperature hovers right around freezing, but in Northern Sweden, you’ll see more extremes, ranging from freezing to -30 C!

Even with the cold weather, there are still so many things to do in Stockholm, so just pack warm and enjoy the beauty of the city without the summer crowds.  With preparation and the right mindset, Sweden in winter is absolutely lovely — read on to learn why!

The obvious — the Northern lights are the most amazing thing you’ll ever see

The Northern lights are only visible from September to the end of March. In Abisko, which is considered by many scientists to be the best place in the world to see the Northern lights, we saw the lights 3 out of 3 nights — a definite must-add to your Sweden winter itinerary.

Granted, 2 of the 3 nights were rather cloudy, so we saw a few green streaks of aurora that quickly got covered by the clouds. However, our final night we had a cloudless night, and the lights were even more vibrant, magical, and amazing than I could have imagined.

sweden in winter

Seeing the Northern lights in Abisko is completely free once you get there. Just walk as far away as you can from the light pollution and stare up at the sky.

Don’t think you have to spend hundreds of dollars at the Aurora Sky Station or on a photography tour. With the proper weather conditions, you should be able to see the lights as soon as you walk outside and let your eyes adjust to the darkness.

I do recommend using the Sky Station’s live camera and running outside as soon as you see a flash of green. I thought that February was the perfect time to go, as you’re not subject to the “Polar Night,” where the sun does not fully rise for 28 straight days, right around the winter solstice.

When I went in mid-February, the sun rose just before 8 and set a little before 4, almost a solid 8 hours of sunlight.

Pro Tip: I highly recommend staying somewhere in Abisko where you can easily get away from light pollution – STF Turiststation is where I stayed. Abisko Mountain Lodge also comes highly recommended, but I can’t speak for it personally.

It’s not as cold as you think

Stockholm’s average high in February is about 30F, or -1C. On average, it’s a bit colder than other popular winter destinations, like New York or Paris, but not quite as cold as Montreal or Vermont, some popular North American destinations. The cold is no reason not to visit Sweden in winter!

Hotels in Stockholm are super cozy and many even have their own saunas to warm you up in the winter. In fact, even some Stockholm hostels (like City Backpackers!) have their own private saunas!

Northern Sweden’s winter, however, can be a totally different story. We were lucky and it was about 25F (-4C) during the day, and as low as 9F (-13C) at night. However, it can easily get down to -22F (-30C) at some points during the winter.

Luckily, if you’re staying in Abisko, one of the best places to visit in Sweden in winter, many hostels and hotels offer warm clothing rentals. These are often free if you book an activity with them. When I did dogsledding, I borrowed a super warm waterproof jumpsuit from the tour company, but I was fine in my regular layers all other times, even at night. The key to staying warm?

Three words: FLEECE. LINED. LEGGINGS. Worn as a layer under jeans or a second pair of leggings, these are amazing. Fleece-lined leggings saved my California pansy-ass many a time in NYC and stood up well in winter in Sweden.

Also, don’t underestimate the power of some woolly socks and an ultra-thin down jacket for layering under your standard winter jacket – the second layer of down really helps. Also, make sure you have waterproof shoes or snow boots, as nothing will make you feel colder faster than wet feet.

As the Norwegians say — there’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing. For the record, I totally disagree, but I also do know that packing well can be the difference between being cold and being miserable.

I’ve included a recommended packing list at the end of the post (and I have a full dedicated Sweden in winter packing list here!) so if you’re wondering what to wear in Sweden in winter I’ve got you covered!

Flying to Sweden in winter is cheap. Really cheap.

Sweden winter vacations are actually surprisingly affordable. Flying from New York? On Norwegian, you can find cheap flights as low as $315 roundtrip to Stockholm, regular price – no error fares needed.

From Oakland or LA, as low as $342 – again, roundtrip! With flights that cheap, I didn’t even bother using my airline miles from travel hacking.

Plus, since winter is the off-season in Stockholm, you’ll find that accommodations will be a tad cheaper (with the exception of right around Christmas-time).

Pro tip for Abisko: While Sweden is not as popular in winter as it is in summer, Abisko still books up quickly, so be sure to book well in advance. Be sure to book all Abisko lodgings well in advance – use a booking service with free cancellation like Booking.com to ensure your holiday runs smoothly, as places tend to book up literally months prior.

a lovely winter day in Sweden

Sweden really knows how to do winter activities

Dog-sledding through Abisko is one of the most amazing experiences I’ve ever had. Although it was a bit pricy (my two-hour tour through abisko.net was 1200 SEK, about $144 USD, and included snowsuit, snowshoes, and cross-country ski rental for 3 days), I highly recommend it if you can make room in your budget for it —it’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Even if you don’t do a dog-sledding tour, you can rent snowshoes and cross-country skis from most hotels and hostels for a very reasonable fee.

For the more adventurous, there are also numerous ski resorts — Björkliden is another famous one, just a few kilometers away from Abisko — where you can ski or snowboard. You can even ski just outside of Stockholm at Hammarbybacken! If you’re up North, ice-climbing and snowmobiling are two other popular winter sports, but you’re going to have to pony up quite a bit of cash to partake.

dogsledding in sweden in winter
Dogsledding is a Swedish winter activity that simply shouldn’t be missed. Photo credit Hassan at Abisko.net

A traditional Swedish sauna is an amazing reward for a day braving the cold

Many hotels and hostels in Northern Sweden, and even some in Stockholm, have free sauna access included — Winterday Hostel has a sauna and STF Turiststation does as well.

It’s especially fun to run from the sauna into the cold night air — splash a bit of snow on yourself or dive in if you’re brave. Even more amazing? When you run from the sauna into the snow and look up to see the Northern lights undulating above you.

Stockholm, Sweden in the winter is beautiful – even to this winter-hating New Yorker

In Stockholm, they don’t salt the living hell out of their sidewalks the way we do in the overly litigious United States. New Yorkers will rejoice to know that there are no giant slush puddles lurking at every corner! The snow is packed down well, so it isn’t really that difficult to walk on, but do be careful as it can get a bit icy from time to time. Snow shoes with decent grip will help.

There’s so much to do in Stockholm in the winter, it’s hard to get bored – from excellent museums to cozy coffee shops and tempting food halls, it’s a fantastic winter city.

Pro Tip: Stockholm has a well-deserved reputation for being an expensive city, but making some smart moves like buying a Stockholm Pass for museums and transit can save you a ton of money.

stockholm sweden in winter with frozen canals
You don’t get views like this in summer

Snowy days in Abisko National Park are magical

With snow-covered mountains everywhere, the landscape almost looks like a black and white photograph.

Black trees jut up from the snow — and that’s pretty much it, except for a wink of blue sky from time to time. The Kingsleden is a beautiful hike in the summer, but we loved walking to the frozen waterfall about 2 kilometers away from STF Abisko Turiststation.

frozen waterfalls in Abisko National Park
Frozen waterfalls in Abisko National Park – must be seen to be believed

Fika is amazing, but it’s even better when it’s cold outside

Fika is the Swedish institution of dropping everything to sit with a friend and socialize for an afternoon coffee and pastry. There was nothing more satisfying than warming up our cold bodies in a coffee shop with a delicious espresso drink and a kanelbullar (Swedish cinnamon bun), chokladboll (cocoa pastry ball coated in coconut) or prinsesstårta (Swedish “princess cake” composed of marzipan, sponge cake, pastry cream, and jam).

If you go between New Years and Easter, you’ll find semla, which are soft spiced buns filled with marzipan and whipped cream. Delicious!

You’ll miss the crowds if you travel to Sweden in winter

Stockholm was so quiet during our time there that it was hard to believe almost 2 million people live in and around the city. It wasn’t uncommon for us to walk for miles without encountering a crowd, even on the weekends.

As a bonus, hotel prices are much lower (with the exception of the period right around Christmas), meaning you can get some insanely good deals if you book ahead.

Gamla Stan in winter
Even the touristy heart of Gamla Stan is quiet in the winter!

More “golden hour” for beautiful pictures

Skilled photographers eagerly seek out the golden hours — the hours right before sunset and right after sunrise — when the sun low on the horizon casts a beautiful, magical glow on your pictures.

In Sweden during winter, the sun never rises that high in the sky for long, meaning that you have even more time during the day to capture the magic of golden hour. Also, it’s easy to catch the sunrise without having to wake up at the asscrack of dawn — something that my lazy self enjoys.

Kiruna Church Sweden
The beautiful Kiruna Church illuminated by the golden hour
kiruna church in sweden
Golden hour in Kiruna

Finally — Don’t forget travel insurance! Be sure you’re insured when traveling in Sweden in winter, especially if you’re doing any outdoor sports. I use and recommend World Nomads – they’ll cover you if you get unexpectedly sick, slip on ice, hurt yourself during a wintry activity, or have winter weather interfere with your travel plans. Get a free quote here.

What to Pack for Sweden in Winter

Even though Sweden in winter is not nearly as cold as you likely think, you should still pack smartly and bring all the necessary cold-weather clothes from home, as buying them in Sweden will be outlandishly expensive. Below, I’ve listed my top essentials and my recommended products. If you want a complete packing list, refer to the winter section of my two weeks in Europe packing list which will cover all your other packing needs.

  • Waterproof boots. I just brought my waterproof leather Blondo boots that I have legit owned for 8 years (I did get them re-soled once). If you’re looking for a proper snow boot, Sorel and Keen are the two brands I hear recommended most often. I’m planning on buying a proper pair of snow boots this year now that I live in Bulgaria so I’ll update this with my recommendation once I’ve invested in a proper pair of boots. But what matters most of all is that the boots are waterproof; unfortunately, using a mere waterproofing spray on other shoes isn’t enough.
  • A knit hat. Honestly, any beanie will do as long as the knit is fairly tight, but a fleece-lined knit hat will give you a bit of extra warmth (and the pompom will look cute on Instagram).
  • Thermal base layers. I personally can’t tolerate wool as it makes me feel like my skin is on fire, but if you know you can wear wool without issues, merino wool base layers are the standard recommendation for cold weather. However, fleece-lined layers work great for me. I have these 90 Degree by Reflex fleece-lined leggings for my bottom base layer and I wear a UNIQLO 32 Degrees thermal layer for my top base layer. I bought my 32 Degrees thermal top at Costco, by the way, and it was even cheaper than on Amazon. If you can tolerate wool, merino wool leggings from SmartWool are the gold standard.
  • Wool socks. Despite my previous screed against woolen clothing, I actually can tolerate wool if it’s just on my feet. I bought two pairs of SmartWool socks for this trip and was quite pleased with them! I recommend bringing three pairs though because it’s nice to have socks to rotate out during the day, as they often get wet from snow.
  • Waterproof snow pants (if you go to the Arctic Circle or go skiing/snowboarding) I didn’t have these, but I was really jealous of my friend who brought her snowboarding pants. These snow pants are well-reviewed but I haven’t personally tried them. I was okay with the combo of thermals and jeans but would have been way drier with some snow pants. Get a size larger than you think so that you can wear jeans and leggings underneath for maximum warmth. You don’t need these if you just go to Stockholm or stay in the south of Sweden, though.
  • Waterproof gloves. Gore-Tex waterproof gloves the gold standard and got me through many a winter bike rides in NYC. I also have a cheap thin pair of gloves I used during the daytime that could work with my smartphone. I got mine from Target but this pair is similar.
  • An ultrawarm parka and also a thin ultra-light down jacket. Yes, I’m a total baby when it comes to the cold (it happens when you grow up in California). I live in my North Face parka every winter and consider it an excellent investment. There are cheaper down jackets you can buy for sure; just make it goes down to at least mid-thigh, trust me. I also layer my Uniqlo ultra-light down jacket underneath. You can buy yours at Uniqlo but this jacket is really similar and cheaper on Amazon. They roll up really small so it’s not a pain to bring two jackets. Just wear your heavier one on the plane.
  • Camera + tripod for capturing the Northern lights: I use and swear by my Sony A6000, which is an excellent and affordable option if you’re looking for professional-quality photos. If you’re going to try to photograph the Northern lights or take lots of sunset and sunrise photos, I recommend bringing a tripod as you’ll need it to stabilize your camera for long-exposures. Tripods can be very expensive but I just used a cheap-o Amazon tripod and it suited my purposes for this trip.

Want more winter travel inspiration?