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‘Five things I miss about Swedish summers’

As Sweden's cities empty out for summer, The Local's Paris-based contributor Oliver Gee reflects on the five most awesome things he misses about summertime in Sweden.

'Five things I miss about Swedish summers'
Swedish summer, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways. Photo: Sara Ingman/

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Sweden in the summer is a most glorious thing. Very few countries in the whole world have such a dramatic change between the seasons, and this alone projects Swedish summers into some kind of ephemeral heaven of ripe strawberries, long nights, and more strawberries.

Here are five things that I really miss about Swedish summers.

People are friendlier

Call me controversial, but Swedes just aren't super friendly when the weather is cold. And it's understandable. Who really wants to spend any time on small talk when it's -25C outside?

But there's a magic moment at the end of winter – I think it's when they finally get rid of the gravel on the roads and sidewalks – and right at that precise second the Swedes brighten up 500 percent and it lasts until the end of summer.

They'll stop and chat, they'll invite their neighbours over for cake and coffee, and they'll think twice before leaving passive-aggressive notes in the laundry room.

The Swedes are at their best in summer, let's be honest. Photo: Anders Wiklund/TT

The midnight sun

In my first summer in Sweden, I distinctly remember playing cards in a park at midnight purely by the light in the sky. I'd never seen anything like it. And while, of course, you don't always get midnight sun – especially further south – those long summer nights really do seem endless.

There's something magical about those long summer nights. Photo: Staffan Widstrand/

The swimming spots

I think many Swedes take it for granted that they have such clean and beautiful lakes around every corner. These lakes so pure that you can not only swim in them, but can almost drink from them.

And the beauty of it is that even in Stockholm, the capital city, you can easily find excellent lakes and swim in them without a problem. How many capital cities can boast that? And while we're talking about swimming spots, let's not forget that there are actually great alternatives to lakes in the archipelagos of Stockholm and Gothenburg, and there are even some fine spots in Malmö too.

READ ALSO: The best swimming spots in Stockholm

Late evening swims is one of the best things about the Swedish summer. Photo: Moa Karlberg/

The cities are like ghost towns

The big cities in Sweden empty out as the weather gets warm, with Swedes heading to their sommarstugor country houses, or simply for a holiday in Thailand. Or Greece. Cities like Stockholm are fantastic when they're empty, you can get a whole new perspective on the town, you don't have to wait for a spot on the café terraces, and you don't need to queue for too long for a drink at an outdoor bar.

You can finally get a seat at outdoor restaurants. Photo: Christine Olsson/TT

You can explore the great outdoors

Sweden is beyond wonderful when it comes to hiking, cycling, or climbing in the summer. Why not try climbing Kebnekaise, Sweden's highest mountain? You'd have to be a lunatic to try it during the winter, but the summer is another story. It's magnificent. All the snow is gone, the sun shines all day, and the scenery is breathtaking.

READ ALSO: Top five tips for climbing Kebnekaise

Now, while you're out enjoying the great outdoors, don't forget that you can suddenly pick all kinds of delicious treats that are growing right under your nose. Mushrooms, apples, raspberries, blueberries and wild strawberries.

In fact, the Swedes love their secret wild-strawberry-picking spots so much that they even have a word for them – smultronställe – which has come to mean any kind of spot that you enjoy visiting. And for me, my smultronställe is Sweden. In the summer, of course.

THE LOCAL GUIDE: Foraging in Sweden, what to look out for and when to pick them

There's nothing quite like exploring the outdoors in summer in Sweden. Photo: Moa Karlberg/

Oliver Gee has worked for The Local Sweden and The Local France. He currently hosts The Earful Tower podcast in Paris. Follow him on Twitter here.

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