1. Some of Sweden's best beaches are right here
We've already given you our top-five list of tropical-like seaside spots you would hardly believe are in Sweden, with a few right in the centre of the capital.
Stockholm boasts some 30 official bathing spots in total (and then of course there are the unofficial ones – for more information consult your nearest Swede) and each is as unbelievable as the next. Beaches aren't just for daytime adventures either, they present the perfect opportunity to make the most of Sweden's long summer nights. Where else can you go for a sunset-lit swim in the city centre of a European capital at 11pm?
READ ALSO: Five beaches you won't believe are in Sweden
Tanto Beach on the Södermalm island in central Stockholm. Photo: Jessica Gow/TT
2. There's actually space to walk on the pavements
As soon as the Nordic summer knocks on the door, you'll spot your Swedish work colleagues shooting out of the office before you even have time to finish the sentence “let's meet up for a fika at some poi…”. Most of them will be swiftly on their way to their summer cottages ('sommarstuga') in the countryside where they will spend up to four weeks or longer. Yes you read that right, four weeks.
But hey, who needs them anyway? With fewer people around you can finally find a place to sit at the city's outdoor bars, relax on Tanto Beach without feeling the breath of the stranger on the towel next to you, and walk down Götgatan without bumping into the unfortunate date you filed under 'seemed like a good idea at the time'. Just remember to stay away from the packed tourist areas around Gamla Stan.
Cyclist on the island of Djurgården in summer. Photo: Werner Nystrand/Folio/imagebank.sweden.se
3. Stockholmers (and Swedes) are friendlier in summer
As much as we love both Stockholmers and Swedes in general, ask anyone not from the capital city and they will tell you (usually backing it up with self-experienced stories only loosely based on real events) that its residents have a reputation for being a bit standoffish and snobby. Be this true or not – the stereotype certainly falls down in summer.
The transformation is almost magical – when the sun comes out the few Stockholmers left in the city really change. People say hello at shops and bus stations! Strangers smile at each other! Neighbours hold doors open! And best of all: any worries shy Swedes usually have about mixing different friendship circles fade away as they mingle in the sunshine at all those barbecues, picnics and swimming sessions.
READ ALSO: Ten Swedish phrases you only hear in summer
Don't they look extra friendly? Photo: Susanne Walström/imagebank.sweden.se
4. You never knew public transport could be this good
Stockholm is known for its gorgeous archipelago with almost 30,000 islands, rocks and islets within a day trip of the capital. So as we mentioned earlier, you don't even have to leave the city to be able to enjoy Sweden's summer greenery or the deep blue water of Mälaren. And ssshhh, here's a secret known only to the locals: it won't even have to put too much of a strain on your wallet.
The trick is to make sure you avoid the tourist boats leaving from Strömkajen in central Stockholm and instead hop on the commuter ferries, which will take you to exactly the same places but for far fewer kronor. Keep an eye out for signs for Waxholmsbolaget, which runs all commuter traffic in the archipelago – you can even use your Stockholm public transport card (SL kort) to pay for some ferry tickets.
One of the ferries in central Stockholm. Photo: Jessica Gow/TT
5. You can enjoy a more relaxed working culture
Since so many Swedes tend to claim their holidays in four-week blocks, this means most workplaces pretty much empty out as Swedish colleagues head for the hills (by which we mean their 'sommarstugor', see number two in this list). If you're the only foreigner in your office reading this right now, we suspect you failed to catch on to this before it was too late and found yourself left behind to answer the phones.
But this also brings you an opportunity to do a little happy dance around your office (while nobody is watching). Why? No boss around keeping a hawkish eye on your work over your shoulder, no more arguments over who gets the last cinnamon roll at 'fika' break, longer-than-usual lunches and complete ownership of the communal music player. Result!
Unfortunately, because there's no one else in the office, you may also be stuck on kitchen duty all summer. However, since it's just you and a few other expats left in the office, is there really any need for all those dirty cups to go in the dishwasher? Or are your talents better utilized leaving work early to go for a drink? It's the latter, of course.
Many Swedish offices clear out in summer. Photo: Melker Dahlstrand/imagebank.sweden.se
6. Stockholm's got the coolest outdoor hangouts
Did somebody mention leaving work early to go for a drink? Sweden's capital undergoes a rapid transformation every year when the sun comes out. Outdoor bars areas spring open, giving the city's residents a boost of energy after the harsh Nordic winter. There's something for everyone, from buzzing hipster watering holes to elegant upmarket wine bars.
READ ALSO: Ten unmissable outdoor bars in the capital
So, while your Swedish colleagues desperately try to while away the hours clearing out the basements of their summer houses, killing slugs in the garden, having long conversations about where to find the best strawberries, and arguing over the rules of card games with relatives they don't like – you're looking cool sipping a cocktail at one of Stockholm's hottest outdoor bars.
One of Stockholm's hip outdoor bars. Photo: Conny Fridh/imagebank.sweden.se