Swedish Language Blog

Five Fun Swedish Summer Vacation Tips Posted by on Jul 31, 2015 in Uncategorized

The other day, I sent an email to a library in Sweden in search of an obscure recording. ‘Twas no use. The response was simple: “I’ll be on vacation for the next four weeks.” I should have known better. It’s summer in Sweden. And summer in Sweden means vacation.

Most folks working a salaried job in Sweden have about six weeks of paid vacation. A few years back, when I first began working, I started with five weeks of paid vacation. It’s a beautiful thing. But all that time off might be intimidating. Let’s take a look at five fun tips for your next Swedish summer vacation.

Fun Tip #1: Head to the country. Not everyone in Sweden has a sommarstuga, a summer cottage. The classic summer cottage is painted red and sits alone in the Swedish countryside. It’s where folks escape to when they need some peace and quiet. It’s where they go for their midsummer party. And later in the summer for their crayfish party. However, while the summer cottage is a wonderful trope in the Swedish imagined consciousness, it’s not for everyone. Those things cost money. And while plenty of people might have the vacation time, they don’t always have the vacation spot. That being said, if you have the chance to head to a red Swedish cottage, you totally should. Make friends with someone. Or find a place to rent if you can afford it.

Fun Tip #2: Relax. Working hours are limited. Store hours. Restaurant hours. Bank hours. Library hours. Nearly any place you can think of that might employ someone, might need to limit its opening hours. Especially during the month of July. It can be frustrating if you’re used to being able to buy a bowling ball at three in the morning. Or borrow a book on a Saturday afternoon. That being said, it means that a lot of those people are getting some well-deserved time off—and so, in all probability, are you. Enjoy it. You know how much you’re enjoying your time off from work? Think about how much everyone else is also enjoying that time off.

Fun Tip #3: Forage for food. Everyone picks blueberries. And strawberries. And mushrooms. Ok, that’s not true. But it almost is. There are a whole lot of forests in Sweden. Huge swaths of forests on huge tracts of land. In those forests are delicious edibles. Go find them. Because Sweden has Allemansrätten, there’s a lot of opportunity to wander around the woods in search of deliciousness. Plus, it’s beautiful. Some folks get a little protective of their foraging grounds, though. They might not be willing to share. Those people are mean. Find a friend, check out some park websites, do some research, it won’t be too tough to find what you’re looking for. That said, be careful with mushrooms. Some of those things are poisonous.

Fun Tip #4: Go swimming. Sweden has a lot of coastline. Like a lot. Look at a map. It just keeps going. There are beautiful sandy beaches, there are imposing craggy cliffs, there are wavy, grass-lined shores (no amber waves of grain, though). There are lakes and rivers and ponds and streams and seas. Enjoy them. Remember, Allemansrätten gives you a lot of access. Get out on the water, take a deep breath, and jump in. The water can be a bit cold, even if the beach looks like Key Largo.

Fun Tip #5: Don’t leave the country. Seriously. And if you don’t live there, go visit. Sweden is hard to beat during the summer. Hop on a train, rent a bike, find a cheap flight, borrow a car, take a taxi, find a way to explore. Sweden is so much more than just the big cities like Stockholm and Malmö. Uppsala has thousand-year old burial mounds. Gävle has a museum dedicated to the Swedish-American labor martyr, Joe Hill. Vadstena has an old Birgittine monastery founded by Saint Birgitta of Sweden. Explore the medieval churches that weren’t painted over after the Reformation (there are witches and devils and unicorns, oh my!). There are old castles dotting the landscape of Skåne in towns so small that they are hardly towns anymore. Head north to Jokkmokk and learn about Sweden’s indigenous population, the Sámi. Don’t plan on sleeping much. There’s not much darkness up north.

Of course, not everyone celebrates a Swedish summer the same way. Some people will say that it’s not summer until you’ve picked your first blueberries. Or that you absolutely have to go to the country. There’s no one thing that makes a Swedish summer Swedish. You celebrate however you want. That’s the beauty of living in a country with so much vacation time. You’re in charge. Tell us in the comments below what you do during your summer vacation.

You may have noticed that it’s been a bit quiet on the Swedish blog for a while this summer. We’re just trying to be culturally appropriate. It’s summer vacation. We’ll be back with more posts soon, so don’t worry!

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About the Author: Marcus Cederström

Marcus Cederström has been writing for the Transparent Swedish Blog since 2009. He has a Bachelor's Degree in Scandinavian Studies from the University of Oregon, a Master's Degree in Scandinavian Studies from the University of Wisconsin–Madison, and a PhD in Scandinavian Studies and Folklore from the University of Wisconsin–Madison. He has taught Swedish for several years and still spells things wrong. So, if you see something, say something.


  1. Kevin Franck:

    My way of enjoying Swedish Summer is leaving Sweden over the last couple of years. It’s cheaper and you actually get a summer elsewhere. What can I say, I’m from San Diego California and I actually miss the deserts southwest.

    • Marcus Cederström:

      @Kevin Franck That makes sense, it’s not easy to enjoy much desert landscape in Sweden.