Summer in Scandinavia, the Highlights

Summer in Scandinavia is a special time of year. The cities come alive in a whole new way when the sun finally begins to shine after the long and dark winter months. Surrounded by water, Stockholm and Copenhagen are both cities in which the beachy summer energy vibrates from morning until night. Here are some of our favorite aspects of summer in Scandinavia.

Stockholm Archipelago
The Stockholm Archipelago is a must while visiting during the summer. The archipelago is a vast region with over 30,000 islands to explore, and the closest islands are just a quick boat ride away! The area is full of calming coastlines, woodland areas, and quaint little beachside towns. You can head out to the archipelago for a day trip, or take advantage of allemannsrätten and camp somewhere on one of the islands for a weekend trip.

Check out our Archipelago Guide

Kalvebod Brygge harbor bath

Swimming in Copenhagen
The Copenhagen harbor is one of the cleanest in the world, which has created a culture of swimming in the metropolitan capital. Along the water, you’ll find various docks perfect for enjoying the sun, and plenty of inviting harbor baths. You’ll see the locals heading there after work and school to enjoy the last warm rays of sunlight. If you’re looking for a beach experience, you can bike to Amager Strand, a long promenade on the island of Amager. Bellevue is another great beach spot, located in Klampenborg, a perfect day trip from Copenhagen for a lovely day at the beach.

Midsommar in Skansen

Midsommer in Sweden
Celebrating midsummer in Sweden is a must. Midsummer, or midsommar in Swedish, is the day in Sweden when the summer solstice is celebrated. You’ll notice that Stockholm becomes deserted, as most Swedes head out to the archipelago or the countryside to celebrate with friends and family. Midsummer is arguably the most important Swedish holiday of the year, and a cherished tradition. The holiday is celebrated with flower crowns, a never-ending lunch party, dancing around a pole, and singing songs. A great spot in the city to celebrate the holiday is Skansen!

Looking to celebrate Swedish midsummer? Check out our guide.

Summer is festival season in Copenhagen. The city becomes an exhibition and concert space for excited festivals goers. Starting in June with Distortion which is a weeklong block party style music festival, the city has plenty of festivals come along hereafter. Other festivals to look out for are Copenhagen Photo Festival, 3 Days of Design, and Copenhagen Jazz Festival. Throughout the rest of the summer there are other festivals in Denmark that are worth checking out if you have the time. Roskilde festival is the biggest festival in Denmark, with past headliners being Lorde, Bruno Mars, and The Weekend. Smukfest, Tinderbox, Grøn Koncert, and Northside are other music festivals that take place in Denmark during the warm summer months. Pro-tip, often if you volunteer for one of these festivals, you get free access to many of the events, and it is a great way to meet other peers that are interested in similar things!

Moose Safaris in Sweden
Yes, you read that right. The Moose is the Swedish national symbol, and it is possible to head out on a safari to spot moose in their natural habitats. There are various locations throughout Sweden that offer moose safaris. Some allow for you to drive through the area and see the moose from your car or from a safari train, other safaris are hiking tours that take you through the forest to see moose and other wildlife. You can also view moose in Stockholm in the Skansen outdoor museum.

Sankt Hans Aften in Denmark
The summer solstice is also celebrated in Denmark, similarly to Sweden. The celebration of the solstice is related to the feast of Saint John, known in Denmark as Sankt Hans, hence the name. Opposite to Sweden, the Danes celebrate the evening before the feast of Saint John, on June 23. The holiday is celebrated with a bonfire, usually on a beach or near the water. Traditionally there is a straw witch at the top of the bonfire, although some people have stopped including that tradition and simply just have a bonfire. People gather around the fire, sing songs, drink beer, and hang out with friends. Often recent high school graduates will be hanging out around the fire with their graduation caps on, and you might see them throw their exam notes into the fire. Typical snacks on this evening are snobrød (a twisted type of campfire bread baked over an open fire), and hotdogs.

Free plays, concerts, and operas in Stockholm
In Stockholm, during the summer, one of the most popular activities of the season is attending a free play, concert, or opera. The parks become a main host for cultural activities. Parkteatern in Stockholm is an outdoor theatre program that arranges a variety of dance performances, as well as musical events all around the city parks during the summer. The theatre is available to everyone free of charge, and runs from June until September.

Boating in Copenhagen
During the summer, there are plenty of opportunities to set sail in the waters that surround the city. You can choose to take a guided canal tour of the city sites from the water. Options that are more budget friendly are taking the havnebus (Boat Bus) using your rejsekort to travel from one area of Copenhagen to the other. The havnebus can take you from Refshaleøen, all the way to Sydhavnen. You can also sign up for a Green Kayak, where you can paddle for free if you collect trash as you go.

Picnic & Park Season
Both Stockholm and Copenhagen are known for their green spaces that can be enjoyed all year round. In the summer, these spaces fill up with people enjoying the weather, basking in the sun, and hanging out with friends and family. Grab a book, or some friends, and go enjoy one of the many parks in these cities. Head to Frederiksberg have or Kongens have in Copenhagen and hang out in front of a former palace. Or join the Stockholm locals, and head to one of the many vantage points with scenic city views, such as Skinnarviksberget or Monteliusvägen.

More inspiration for your Summer with DIS

>> Where to Enjoy the Summer in Stockholm

>> Where to Enjoy Summer in Copenhagen

>> Summer at DIS

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