Following nearly 10 months of having fewer than 10 hours of sunlight a day, when the summertime hits in Sweden, the country comes alive.
From May through August, the sun hovers in the horizon, toying with the idea of setting, but never really sinking too far below and letting darkness wash over the country. During these months, daylight lasts for nearly 20 hours. In July, the sun rises around 3:40 a.m. and sets close to 11 p.m. And in places north, like Kiruna, the sun does not set at all.
Temperatures can vary greatly between the north and south of Sweden, thanks to its proximity to the Arctic Circle. Depending on what outdoor activities people wish to enjoy, some places are better than others. With temperatures averaging a perfect 70 degrees (and going as high as the mid-90s) in the summer, it’s easy to see why the Swedes head out of their homes and spend time relishing all there is to offer in the country.
From taking part in the traditional bathhouse experience to enjoying the myriad of outdoor experiences in both the cities and countryside to dining on the freshest seasonal ingredients at organic restaurants and shops, there are plenty of reasons to visit Sweden in the summer.
The bathhouse experience
To non-Europeans, the thought of taking it all off in public can cause an anxiety attack. For those who don’t panic at shedding the clothing, a visit to a bathhouse during the summer is a perfect way to soak up the sun and enjoy a dip in the sea. A visit to a bathhouse includes a stop in the sauna, followed by plunging into the water, then laying out and working on a tan. While most do this entirely in the nude, those who don’t feel comfortable don’t have to. Not sure which bathhouse to visit? Malmo’s famous bathhouse, Ribersborg Kallbadhus, is not only a historic site, but also perched on the Baltic Sea. The attraction separates men and women and includes private changing areas. On a clear day from Kallbadhus, visitors can see the bridge to Copenhagen across the water.
Catch the wind
Along the coast of Sweden, there are ample opportunities to thrill the adrenaline junkie in you. Here, wind is prevalent, meaning there are plenty of spots to learn or perfect the art of wind surfing. Just outside of the college town of Lund is the Lomma Beach House. Located off-the-beaten path, it offers the chance to take lessons and head out into the Baltic Sea. For those who prefer to keep their body on the water, they also have stand-up paddle boarding.
Savor the culinary options
Many spots in Sweden are embracing farm-to-table dining and offer only seasons ingredients. Just outside of Gothenburg, the Gunnebo House is perfecting this trend. With a garden just outside its historic doors, Executive Chef Patrick Sewerin creates menus based on what is available from the garden. Down in Malmo, Salt and Brygga offers up an organic seasonal menu, complete with a large patio overlooking the sea. If you’re in Stockholm, give Ulriksdals Wärdshus a try.
No visit to Sweden in the summer is complete without trying the pickled herring or sill. In August, be sure to sample some crayfish when Swedes have traditional crayfish parties.
Also, during the warmer months, spots to enjoy fika come alive, too. Enchanting former homes and other historic sites like palaces are set in fairytale settings and offer coffee, fresh desserts and more. With little tables and chairs outside, with scenery to relish, these gems are a great way to spend a late morning. One such spot is the historic Flickorna Lundgren, located in Skäret, on the Kullen peninsula near Helsingborg. A popular spot since it opened more than 70 years ago; it serves more than 75,000 people each summer.
Try for a hole-in-one
With more than 300 golf courses spread throughout the country, Sweden is a golf-lovers paradise. Courses offer stunning Scandinavian scenery set against perfect golf weather. For a challenge, try one of the championship courses Kungsängen or Halmstad.
Head to a Festival
The Swedes know how to party. Starting the spring with Walpurgis Night and continuing through late summer, with the crayfish party, kräftskiva, festivals are plentiful. Beyond the festivals which are rooted in history, there are also music festivals spread throughout the country like Peace and Love in Borlänge, the Stockholm Jazz Festival, Siesta in Hässleholm, and even Malmö Festival all highlight the country’s love for music.
Catch a Late-Night Sunset
Thanks to its location in the world, the sun is out for most of the summer. While midsummer (yet another party) on June 21 is the longest day of the year, the sun still hangs out late through August. Sunsets during this time of year are spectacular. For those who are looking to watch the sun dip into the horizon, head to the western beaches. Malmo’s West Harbor attracts locals and visitors during the summer months who hang out in the eco-city and watch the sunset.
Lounge at a Beach
Southern Sweden offers some fantastic spots to enjoy the beaches. While the water never gets too warm, the sandy beaches here are ideal for passing time. Sandhammaren on the south coast is a popular spot. To kill two birds with one stone, head to the Kallbadhaus and then hang out on the sandy beaches in front of the site.
Other popular beach hangouts worth a visit include Sundersand in the southeast and Horsangs in northern Sweden. In Stockholm, there is the popular Langholmen beach.
Other summertime options
Sweden is a varied country with bountiful outdoor offerings. For those who are dive certified, the country offers many opportunities to strap on scuba gear and head under water. The popular dive waters off of Öland treats divers to wreck diving. Diving on the west coast delivers a look at the underwater life.
Boating is also popular, and aside from simply being able to head out on a boat of your own, Kullaberg offers a chance to go on a porpoise safari. The only spot in Sweden with this opportunity, the area is also home to an historic lighthouse and nature preserve to explore.
Cycling is another past time big in Sweden. Most cities offer special bike paths, bike rentals and more. A sure bet for bike enthusiasts? Try Klarälvsbanan through Värmland, a 130 mile path.
I was a guest of the Swedish Tourism Board, but all opinions are my own.
Read about more things to do in Sweden.
- Diana Edelman