Top 10 summer tips
Here are 10 tips for enjoying summer in Sweden – from south to north.
1. Swim in sustainable Malmö
Sweden’s Copacabana is in Malmö, the country's third-largest city in the very south. The sandy beach of ‘Ribban’, Ribersborg, stretches for about 2.5 kilometres and is surrounded by green areas.
Neighbouring Västra Hamnen (Western Harbour) is a Swedish summer hot spot as well, boasting wooden swim decks all along the boardwalk. This sustainable district – a five-minute bike ride from the city centre – grew out of a housing exhibition, Bo01, and is filled with interesting architecture. Its restaurants and cafés burst with life during the summer.
There are plenty of green sightseeing tips in Malmö – here's a further read.
2. Stay in a cottage
Today, there are more than 600,000 privately owned holiday homes in Sweden. Some of the most popular summer house destinations can be found in the provinces of Småland, Skåne and Öland, but there are cottages for rent all over the country.
This summer treat is not just embraced by Swedes – the Dutch, Danes, Norwegians and Germans are among those who have also discovered the charm of the Swedish sommarstuga (summer cottage). If you want to spend summer like a Swede, make sure to spend a few nights in a cottage.
3. Follow the trail to Gotland
A short ferry ride northeast of Gotland lies the smaller island of Fårö, where the great director Ingmar Bergman (1918–2007) lived. Its natural limestone monoliths, raukar, dramatically dot the coastline.
4. Go west!
Swedish summer is normally festival season. Gothenburg's Way Out West, or WOW, is the country's most popular music festival, with some 30,000 visitors per year prior to the Covid-19 pandemic.
In 2020 and 2021, WOW was cancelled because of the pandemic, but the three-day festival is scheduled to take place again in August 2022.
Staged in the park of Slottsskogen, this festival brings top-notch acts, all done with a sustainable touch. Since 2012, WOW only serves vegetarian food – a decision which reduced the festival’s carbon footprint with 20 per cent. SJ, a state-owned railway company, contributes to the cause of sustainability with a special festival train from Stockholm.
If you happen to be at the festival, we suggest you check out a few other spots in Gothenburg.
5. Explore the archipelago
Sweden has tens of thousands of lakes and islands – and the archipelagos of Gothenburg and Stockholm are just a short ride from the city centres. There’s always the possibility of going boating or kayaking, something that Swedes really make use of. Allemansrätten, the right of public access, makes it easy to explore small islands and inlets on your own. And there are boats in abundance, with Sweden being the world’s fourth most pleasure boat-dense country.
6. Take a dip, or just hang out in Stockholm
Stockholm, the ‘Venice of the North’, is situated on 14 islands, where Lake Mälaren meets the Baltic Sea. The city has as many as 30 official beaches for swimming, but many more unofficial ones. Summertime, people tend to take a dip wherever they feel like it – Lake Mälaren has been clean enough to fish and swim in since 1971. Here's a good guide.
Climbing Skinnarviksberget on the island of Södermalm for a stellar view and an ad-hoc barbeque is just one of many tips for one of the Swedish capital’s bright summer nights.
7. Pick blueberries in Dalarna
Dalarna is perhaps the quintessential Swedish province, with its red wooden cottages, deep green forests and Dala horses. The red colour of the houses, falu rödfärg, consists of ochre pigment from the copper mine in Falun mixed with linseed oil. Using a few more colours, the famous painters of Carl Larsson and Anders Zorn captured the spirit of Dalarna.
This region is perfect for immersing yourself in traditional Midsummer celebrations or listening to Swedish folk music. When you need a break from all of this loud Swedishness, head into the woods for some quiet blueberry picking.
8. Bargain at flea markets
If you drive through the Swedish countryside, you’re bound to come across a few loppis signs. Loppis, or loppmarknad, means flea market and could very well be the most important word to know on a Swedish road trip. Follow one of those signs for a chance to hang out with the locals and check out their (soon to be former) belongings in garden or garage sales. Items may include anything from treasures to trash, but that’s all part of the flea market charm, right? Going to loppisar is something of a Swedish folk sport.
9. Go hiking by Höga Kusten
Höga Kusten, ‘the high coast’, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Its hilly scenery with high islands, steep shores, smooth cliffs and deep inlets is the highest land uplift in the world. Formed during the Ice Age, it is literally rising from the sea. So is the lighthouse hostel of Högbonden, an interesting place to stay the night. Höga kusten is popular among hikers, who take advantage of the right of public access. The area is also home to Sweden’s arguably weirdest food, surströmming, fermented or sour herring.
10. Catch the midnight sun
The further north you go, the brighter the Swedish summer nights. If you go all the way up above the Arctic Circle, the sun doesn’t set at all for a couple of months in the summer. Summer temperatures in the sparsely populated north of Sweden are often a comfortable 15°C, but can actually reach up to 30°C on occasion.
Tip: Go trekking above the tree line – there are no mosquitoes up there, and the view is better, too. You can stay in cabins along the road or bring a tent. If you’ve already experienced the northern lights, why not catch the midnight sun?