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Christmas in Sigtuna

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ABOVE: A costumed resident of Sigtuna communes with her dog.

Also see: Christmas in Stockholm

Sigtuna is the oldest living town in Sweden, and one of the most picturesque. The town, which dates back to around 980 AD, has a medieval street plan, 12th and 13th Century ruins, and ten runic monuments within the town center (including one whose inscription is a runic counterpart to "Killroy was here").

photoBecause it's only 35 minutes from Stockholm, the town is a year-round weekend destination for citydwellers who come for pretty lakeside scenery, atmospheric restaurants, attractive hotels and B&Bs, shopping, and--during the holidays--Christmas markets or Julmarknade. Sigtuna is also convenient for visitors arriving at Arlanda Airport, which is nearby.

Sigtuna offers not just one, but two Christmas markets:

  • photoThe Julmarknad in the town proper, which takes place on the four Sundays before Christmas Eve. Outdoor stalls sell Swedish Christmas sweets, smoked sausages, reindeer meat, glögg (mulled wine), and a wide range of Swedish handicrafts and other gifts.

  • The indoor Christmas market at Steninge Slott, a.k.a. the Steninge Palace Cultural Centre (see photo), just outside the town. which is open daily from late November through December 23. The upper floor of the stone barn is filled with handicrafts and Christmas decorations, and you can book a table for lunch or dinner in the restaurant downstairs.

Sigtuna also has plenty of traditional shops, including two that I found especially intriguing during my visit:

  • photoTina Kalén's small workshop in the town center, where the designer--whose hats are featured in the SAS airline catalog--makes all the clothing items by herself. Although some of her designs are sold by shops in Ireland, Italy, and New York, most are available only in Sigtuna.

  • photoLottas Garfveri, or Lotta's Tannery, at Långgatan 9. Lotta Rahme is the author of Leather: Preparation and Tanning by Traditional Methods, and her garments and other items made of fish skins are as beautiful as they are fascinating. (Next time I visit her shop, I want to buy a fishskin cape!)

While you're in Sigtuna, allow time for sightseeing: The town is filled with interesting monuments, buildings, and museums.

Places to stay

Sigtuna is well-supplied with hotels and B&Bs, including two that I've inspected personally:

  • photoThe stunning five-star Sigtuna Stads Hotell (see inset photo), a 27-room member of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World group that has been redecorated in a style that blends retro Swedish modern design with the building's original 1909 architectural features.

  • photoMona and Björn Sörving's Vennerbo, a country B&B where you'll have three dogs and two cats to keep you company. Vennerbo is just under 3 km (2 miles) north of Sigtuna. For the ultimate in coziness, ask for the cottage with timber walls that has a double bed, second bed, baby cradle, and private kitchen.

How to reach Sigtuna

Sigtuna is easy to reach by rental car, taxi, or (from Stockholm) a combination of commuter train and bus. For directions and maps, see the Sigtuna Foundation's "How do you get to Sigtunastiftelsen?" page.

For more information

To plan your visit to Sweden's oldest medieval town, visit Sigtuna Tourism's comprehensive (and multilingual) Web site at www.sigtuna.se/turism.

Related articles at Europe for Visitors:

Christmas in Stockholm

Stockholm travel articles


Photo Credits:
Christmas market and Stads Hotell photos by Krister Fransson/Sigtuna Turism.
Steninge Palace Cultural Centre photo courtesy of Steninge Slott.

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