Sweden and Summer

How to celebrate summer like a Swede.

Ah, summer time! The three weeks we spend all year longing for in Sweden. Jokes aside, summer in Sweden always feels incredibly short! The weather is nice for some time, but soon the rain returns and it quickly becomes Fall. So Swedes understand the importance of taking full advantage of this fleeting time! And here is how.

Enjoy Summer Without the Distraction of Work

To fully enjoy this short season, Swedes commonly take three to five weeks of vacation during the summer. This allows them to fully embrace the wonderful weather, summer activities, and time with family without the distraction of work.

Some companies, like mine, also move to summer hours. From June 15 – September 15, my working hours move from 8:00-17:00 to 8:00-16:00 without any reduction in salary. This allows me to get outside and enjoy the days that much more.

Break Open the Cabin

Many Swedes have a summer cabin and seclude themselves here for the summer to relax. They are often located near the water – perfect for enjoying the many lakes and island here!

If you don’t have a cabin in your family, consider renting one for a month or so from Airbnb and Swedish holiday rental website Stugknuten. Or, invoke your right to allemansrätten and pitch a tent! Either way, do as the Swedes do and get out of the city for a few weeks.

Explore Sweden

Since Sweden is looking its best during the summer (sommar), this is the prime time to start exploring this vast country. It is the perfect time to visit open-air museums, like Wanås Konst, and head to summer islands like Öland and Gotland. And what is so nice about exploring Sweden is that you can find so many places that feel like you’ve taken a trip to a different country.

In fact, there is an area of Southern Sweden dubbed The Swedish Riviera. It stretches from Åhus in the northeast to Ängelholm in the northwest of Skåne, the county I live in. In the Swedish Riviera you will find miles of sandy coast dotted with colorful wooden cabins. You’ll also see many little sheds called badhytt, which are bath houses used for changing and storing beach equipment. These are owned by individual families and are passed down from one generation to the next.

Since we were unable to leave Sweden during the summer of 2020, I spent much of my vacation exploring this long country! From Abikso to Skanör, there was plenty to see and enjoy!

Looking for places to visit in Sweden? See my top five spots here.

Enjoy Picnics and Berry Picking

These are two quintessential Swedish summer activities that I have come to love since living in Sweden. During my trips to Abisko throughout the past two summers, we picked a ton on berries, including cloudberries (hjortron, rubus chamaemorus) and Artic Bramble (åkerbär, rubus arcticus), both shown in the pictures above. These berry beauties pack a high vitamin C punch! Biking around the village of Niemisel in Northern Sweden and pulling off to the side of the road whenever we spotted a burst of berries was a highlight of my summer travels. So definitely take to the forests and find some berries!

Picnics are a thing all Swedes seem to do and it has me wondering why I didn’t spend more time picnicing in California. But luckily I am making up for it in Sweden. Swedes love to pack a picnic and enjoy the nice weather. Not sure what to bring? Let me detail it for you here!

The Perfect Swedish Picnic

  • A picnic blanket – It does rain often and there is nothing worse than sitting on wet grass. Be sure to have a picnic blanket that has a water-proof bottom!
  • Champagne – Swedes love the bubbly and while drinking in public is technically illegal, everyone here does it. Don’t forget to bring some glasses!
  • Kubb, or other lawn game – Kubb is a lawn game where you toss a wooden batons (kastpinnar) at wooden blocks (kubbar) with the objective of knocking them over. You can think of it as a cross between bowling and horseshoes. 
  • Fruits – Don’t forget to bring some fresh fruits, especially strawberries! Double points if they are hand picked!

Prepare for the Sun to Never Set

In Southern Sweden the sun shines from 3:30-23:30. In Northern Sweden, the sun never sets in the summer. So be ready to never know what time of day it is and get way less sleep. Blackout curtains become a must for many homes, but I also find the eye mask is an underrated solution. And it is especially helpful when you are staying at a friends or camping, as I was in the photo above in Abisko!

This Christina Fischer silk eye mask is my favorite. It is Danish and made with 100% upcycled silk.

Fun Facts:

  • Under the Annual Leave Act, we are entitled to a continuous vacation of four weeks during the period of June – August.
  • However, the Annual Leave Act does not always apply to all industries. For example, in the pharmaceutical industry a continuous vacation of three weeks is the maximum. And some individual employment contracts may also be exempt.
  • You get paid to take vacation here! Vacation pay will usually consist of one’s ordinary monthly salary, fixed salary supplements, and a daily vacation pay increment (or bonus). The amount of vacation pay increments one receives is regulated by the Annual Leave Act or any collective agreements.
  • Åhus, a city in the “Swedish Riviera”, is the birthplace of Absolut vodka. It was created in 1879!
  • A part of the beach in the Swedish Riviera is called Ålakusten (the Eel Coast) as reference to the centuries-old tradition of eel fishing that still continues today.

Tess’ Tips:

  • Midsommar is fast approaching! Start collecting flowers for your flower crown!
  • Many cities offer a summer bus pass (sommar biljetten)! It is a great deal that allows unlimited rides throughout the region. In Skåne, the pass is valid between June 15 – August 15, 2021 and costs only 699 SEK (~$75 USD).
  • Many business close for the summer season, so don’t be surprised to see that your favorite local pizza place is closed all July! It is worth calling ahead to be sure they will be open, even in large cities like Stockholm.

Hope you learned some new Swedishness today and I’ll see you in the next post!


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