For me, as for Bryan Adams (please, don’t judge my music taste) and for a lot of you I guess, summer is a special time of the year. As one Russian song says: “Summer is a small life”, meaning that it’s a whole life on its own, isolated from the rest of the year.
At the end of every scholar year I have the feeling that summer is going to bring something, something exciting, something incredible in my life.
And here, in Sweden, the relation to summer is even more particular.
I had a conversation with a Swede who told me that for a lot of people in northern Europe, Scandinavia and especially in Sweden, summer is a sort of a huge getaway. Summer is the time that everyone is waiting for, the time during which we can do everything we were dreaming about during the cold winter. And especially in Sweden summer brings hope and people believe that it will arrange things and everything will be better afterwards.
Summer is here, and then there is nothing.
For my part, summer is the best season to visit Sweden. Of course, the country is extremely beautiful when it’s white under the snow but summer offers so much to do and see in Stockholm!
First of all, the sun almost never goes down. On the huge contrast with winter, when the sun comes up only for 4 hours per day, in summer the sun goes down only for 4 hours… and around midsummer it goes down and comes up almost immediately!
Second of all, the courses at the university have already finished so we students have a lot of free time.
Also, in Stockholm a lot of places are simply… closed from October to May.
Ferries don’t go everywhere in the archipelago and even a lot of cafés are open only during summertime.
So here’s why Stockholm is great during this special part of the year:
As a I have already written several times, nature is an important part of the city. You can’t count all the huge parks, rocks, forests, natural reserves on the fingers of your both hands. And of course, the best part of the year when you can take advantage of it is when the leaves are green and the flowers are blossoming! Take a walk at Monteliusvägen, have a picnic in Djurgården, admire the sculptures of Millesgården…
Stockholm, Stockholm, water, water. What’s the point of having water surrounding you if you don’t go for a swim? To my surprise, Stockholm has a lot of beaches… downtown. Yes, downtown. So you can literally swim and see the buildings all around you and people walking from work. I guess it’s not the only city that has it but you can’t possibly imagine people swimming in the Seine in the middle of Paris and even less in the river Moskva! The famous beach of Långholmen full of families with kids, the small beach at the end of Rålambshovsparken, the cool Reimersholmen with rocks and an amazing view… In short, you have choice.
* Cafés outside
As I said, a lot of cafés are closed during wintertime, so it’s really exciting to discover new places. Go for a fika in Rosendals trägården, a real botanical garden in the middle of Djurgården, admire the view of Stockholm from Fåfängen or just sit on a terrace in Sofo of one of your favorite cafés which has probably put tables outside. Summer is THE time of the year to recharge your solar batteries for the winter.
* Open air museum – Skansen
Just imagine: in the 19th century a man realizes that the society is changing because of the industrialization so he starts collecting clothing, furniture, artisanal tools. He buys a huge land in Djurgården and builds the first open-air museum in the world (!) reconstructing interesting buildings and recreating the atmosphere of the life during this time.
I just fell in love with Skansen when I visited it and I think that one of the best parts of the year to go there is when it’s quite warm.
First of all because you can have a long walk. A LONG walk. It’s pretty big so you can surely spend several hours there.
Second of all, because in different buildings, in the pharmacy, the bakery, the peasant’s house, there are people dressing in costumes of the era, baking bread or just explaining the interior. It’s great! You can really feel traveling in time…
Third of all, you can take the funicular for sure because it is (surprise!) closed form November to May, except for some special dates (check the schedule).
Fourth of all, as Skansen is also a zoo, I guess it’s easier to see the animals (?).
* Gröna Lund
This amazing amusement park in Djurgården is also open only from May to September. I love especially the retro atmosphere with the carrousel and the illuminated signs. What is great is that there are also a lot of open-air concerts.
Great plus: if you buy the season ticket for 199 SEK (around 22 euros) you can see all the concerts for free! The line-up for this year includes Lenny Kravitz, Iggy and the Stooges, the Hives and many others, so it’s pretty cheap!
* Terraces of the clubs
In the middle of May almost every week-end one or several clubs and bars open their terrace for summer. F12, Berns, Mosebacke Etablissement to name just a few.
Also, some clubs are open only during summertime, such as the famous Sommar or Under born that transforms in Trägården during summer. The never-ending daylight of a Swedish summer night, the multicolor light-bulbs and (for the smokers) the possibility to smoke technically IN a nightclub, it has something to offer to everyone.
* Ferries – other islands
During summer it becomes very easy to escape the city and hide on one of islands of the archipelago. The archipelago is huge so no need to write about every island. But if you want to get away from Stockholm just for one day or even an afternoon, I advice you to go to Fjäderholmarna (“feather islands”… how cute!!), which are quite small but very nice and only 30 minutes from Nybroplan (in Östermalm). You can also take a ferry (or a bus with your SL card) and enjoy the sun in Vaxholm, Nacka or Sandhamn.
* * *
All the same, at the end of the conversation about summer with my swedish friend, he said something that left me perplexed: “Anyway” he said “summer is just a part of the year like the others and after it everything will get back to normal. I don’t want to keep getting “post-summer-hang-overs” in October and November. Maybe we shouldn’t wait for summer too much and just enjoy every day of the year…”
Of course, summer will not bring you great changes, but I guess it’s easier to be hopeful and think positively when it’s 20°C outside and the sun is shining…
… just don’t forget, that after the winter, there’s always summer.
Special thanks to Sebastian Lindholm for the inspiration.