Sweden is synonymous with snowy mountain peaks, Christmas markets and reindeer-sledding in the wilderness. However in the months of June to August it puts on a summer extravaganza that belies its winter magic.
The Midnight Sun is a natural phenomenon that occurs in the Arctic Circle in summer where the sun hangs low in the sky throughout the night - which is a little like experiencing a sunrise and sunset at the same time. The Swedes have a spring in their step at this time of year, using the extended hours of light as an excuse for dancing at festivals until the sun comes up (higher up in the sky that is).
It is also the perfect time to retreat to the countryside, breathe in the crisp air and take a plunge in the crystalline lakes. We’ve rounded up the best summer activities and places to go…
Dancing at festivals
There are lots of festivals that take place over the summer months in Sweden that cater for every taste. Whether you want to dress up in medieval garb, dance around a maypole at Gunnebo Castle in Gothenburg or simply enjoy a riveting rock concert (or a pop one for that matter), there is something for you there. The Summerburst Festival in Gärdet, Stockholm is one of the most popular festivals in Sweden, while the Sweden Rock Festival in Sölvesborg, featuring bands like Aerosmith, takes place in a stunning seaside location, combining great music with sensational landscapes. For a history lesson, head to Medeltidsveckan in Visby where Medieval Week in August celebrates Swedish history with fire shows, theatrical performances, jousting and medieval markets.
Visit Swedish Lapland
Who says that Lapland is better in winter? Summer breathes new life to Swedish Lapland; snow melts away to reveal lush greenery and glassy lakes ideal for kayaking. The birds and other wildlife species (like moose, beavers and bears) come out to play, making it an ideal time for birdwatching and wildlife tours. Dog-sledding huskies make great summer hiking companions too, guiding you through the endless forest trails. Stay in a woodland cabin in total seclusion to reconnect with nature or if you’re feeling really brave get the real camping experience at Sweden’s most primitive hotel – the Kolarbyn Ecolodge, where you’ll stay in semi-underground huts and catch your own dinner.
Stay at the ICEHOTEL
While the main ICEHOTEL melts at the arrival of warm weather and is rebuilt annually, the ICEHOTEL 365 – a section of the hotel with permanent ice suites and an ice bar - is still very much standing in summer thanks to a solar-powered refrigerating plant which keeps it at a nippy -5°C throughout the year. The Torne river, from which blocks of ice are harvested to build the hotel, has thawed and now gushes in full force, so you can enjoy thrilling activities like fishing and white-water rafting – and even camp out in the wilderness and learn to make your own fire. Even the evenings present a perfect opportunity to enjoy the outdoors, with the chance to listen to Sami folktales around a camp fire under the stars and meet reindeers, with direct transfers to the Sami village of Rensjon from the ICEHOTEL.
Golf and skiing in Björkliden
Tee off in the Midnight Sun in Björkliden, one of the Northern Hemisphere’s most scenic golf courses, which is nestled in the mountains of Swedish Lapland just a few kilometres from the Norwegian border. Located just 250km from the Arctic Circle, the golf course is open 24 hours a day in summer so you can carry on through the night and get the full 18-hole experience (good news for golf enthusiasts). It is also home to Sweden’s highest ski resort – a top destination for summer skiing, with magnificent views and some of the best vertical drops in Europe.
Go on a tour of Stockholm
Stockholm has it all. Made up of 14 islands, it is an oasis of green parks, pretty cycle trails and museums – and it’s near the sea so you can have a beach holiday that isn’t far from the action of the trendy capital. Djurgården, a lush green island in the centre of Stockholm, is a visual treat best enjoyed on guided bike and jogging tours. You can also take a dip in the surprisingly mild waters of Lake Mälaren and Eriksdalsbadet, Sweden’s national swimming arena. Afterwards, dive into the history of Sweden at the Moderna Museet, featuring exquisite 20th and 21st-century art and the Vasa Maritime Museum where the 17th century Vasa warship is displayed, still intact despite the fact that it capsized on its maiden voyage.
Hiking and cycling in Gothenburg
Sweden’s second-most popular city, the archipelago of Gothenburg is made up of over 20 islands and is great for outdoor activities like hiking and cycling. Cars are not allowed in the southern part of the archipelago which not only means that the air is fresh and unpolluted but it’s perfect to explore by foot, bike or kayak. The northern part of the archipelago, accessible by ferry, is perfect for water-based activities including seal safaris, fishing and boating trips. Food consists of fresh meat and seafood and of course, fika (coffee and cake) – the ultimate form of indulgence in Sweden. The Ersdalen nature reserve offers the best rock climbing experience in Gothenburg, with scenery that is bound to stop you in your tracks and river cruises if you wish to see the region’s fascinating fishing harbours, bridges and shipyards.
If you'd like to explore the land of the Midnight Sun in summer, why not take a look at our tailor-made holidays in Sweden? You can also give us a call on 020 7337 9010 or make and enquiry to create your own bespoke trip with our experts.