After its long, dark winter, it’s no surprise Scandinavia celebrates summer like nowhere else in the world. From late May until August, darkness barely falls, so Scandinavians flock outdoors to make the most of the magical golden light, pleasant temperatures and surrounding nature. Excited to join in the festivities? Discover our favourite spots for summertime fun in the scenic region below.
Solstice celebrations in Helsinki If you’re lucky enough to be in Helsinki, Finland, in late June, there is nowhere better to celebrate Scandinavia’s traditional summer solstice on Midsummer Eve. The islands off the city’s coastline light bonfires and host parties long into the night, so one of the most unique things to do in Helsinki is to join a dinner cruise from Market Square to see the many bonfires from the water while feasting on Finnish delicacies. Head to the island of Seurasaari for folk dancing and a lively party. If your trip doesn’t coincide with the Midsummer Eve festivities, join the Highlights of Helsinki shore excursion to see many of the city's incredible highlights, including Market Square, Suomenlinna fortress (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) and the Presidential Palace.
Wild swimming in Stockholm Situated right on the water and spread over 14 islands, the port of Stockholm in Sweden comes to life in the summer with a vibrant café scene, lake swimming and fantastic cycling lanes for exploring. For a summer holiday destination without even leaving the city, follow Stockholmers themselves to Långholmen. Once a prison island but now an idyllic car-free spot for relaxing, visitors can rent a kayak, watch entertainment on open-air stages and lie back on the beach, cooling off in the lake when temperatures rise.
Abundant nature in Gothenburg The world’s most sustainable city, according to the Global Destination Sustainability Index 2019, Gothenburg is Sweden’s second largest city and the best place to get outdoors and enjoy the long Scandinavian days. You can take a wildlife boat tour around Gothenburg's stunning archipelago islands to see the local grey seal colonies, tour the city itself on a long Paddan canal boat or climb to the hilltop fortress Skansen Kronan. In the summer months only, a café at the top means you can take in the city views with a well-deserved ice cream. Afterwards, stroll around the stunning Botanical Garden, one of the largest in Europe, with 16,000 species of plant, an arboretum and even its very own waterfall.
Unique dining in Copenhagen It may be magical in the winter but Denmark’s capital city, Copenhagen, is also the perfect summer holiday destination, with open-air restaurants lining cobbled streets, picnics in urban parks and open-air concerts. For harbour-front dining, head to La Banchina in the trendy area of Refshaleø, where you can take a dip after dinner then head straight to the restaurant’s very own wood-fired sauna. For those who like a pint or two, Princess’ lively beer walk takes in the brightly coloured Latin Quarter, Rosenborg Castle and some of the city’s 200 breweries.
Rooftop tipples in Oslo Sightsee with a drink in hand from one of Oslo’s rooftop bars and gaze at Norway’s laid-back capital city. Usually only open between May and September, Oslo’s rooftop venues are the best place to linger in the open air and enjoy the city like a local. For the best view of all, the 34 Sky Bar on top of the Radisson Plaza Blu Hotel offers a sweeping outlook over the city and Oslo fjord beyond. You can nibble on delicious, modern Scandinavian tasting platters while admiring the panorama there, too. If the sun’s not shining, try the Thief Roof Bar, which has glass walls, a sliding glass roof and heaters, so you can enjoy the cosy couches and views of hilly Holmenkollen whatever the weather.