Jul 31, 2009 6:07:14 AM
Sweden when the sun shines
You think Sweden you think snow, right? Think again. When the warmer weather comes - and it can be surprisingly warm - this country’s packed with outdoor pleasures.
Visit the Arctic for the midnight sun
Nothing is more truly odd than pulling aside heavy black curtains at three in the morning to bright blue skies, white fluffy clouds and birdsong. It messes with your head in the most delightful way. The Arctic is astoundingly green and warm during the Swedish summer; take a horse-back day trip with local Sami guides through the forests outside of Kiruna. Lunch on a haunch of dried reindeer in the eerie quiet of the forest.
Valborg is a big celebration around Sweden, particularly in Uppsala, where centuries-old student traditions remain strong. Celebrations start in the morning down by the river Fyris and keep going well into the early hours. Don’t miss the Champagnegalopp: thousands of students mass around the Carolina Redivia library, waiting for a signal from the balcony to rush to the nearest student club and begin downing champagne. It’s quite a spectacle.
Take a walk around Stockholm’s Old Town
Bits of The Old Town (Gamla Stan) of Stockholm date back to the 13th century and the area is stunning, particularly when the sun shines off the water. Many of Stockholm’s major sights are here, but don’t forget to stroll around the winding cobbled streets and take in the vibe of the area.
Cycle around Gotland
Gotland, Sweden’s largest island, is magic in the summer. Ferries arrive in the medieval town of Visby, where the city walls still stand and old siege weapons are on public display. Hire bikes and camping gear and cycle south, taking in farmland and forests, stopping to have a look at the occasional village church. There are no stresses about where to camp – Sweden’s laws allow you to camp pretty much anywhere that isn’t private land.
Try some local delicacies
Swedes love their sil (herring) and pickle it every which way (try mustard!). It’s often served with snapps. If you’re particularly adventurous, sample Surströmming, raw jellied fish fermented in a barrel for a few months. Or not…a lot of Swedes won’t touch the stuff!
In the summer, you’ll see this game being played everywhere. Think of it as a complicated version of skittles. It’s a game that lends itself to being played with a beer in hand and the rules make it easy for newcomers to jump in part-way through, so if you see a game, ask if you can join in. Rules can vary, so just go with the flow and aim at whatever your friends seem to be pointing at.
Visit a holiday cottage
Sweden, with its many lakes, is covered with holiday cottages in bright reds and yellows. Spend a couple of days chilling by the water out in the countryside. Make bonfires. Go swimming. Drink some snapps.
Tempted? Buy our Sweden guide by the chapter and get planning!