Summer Loving: Three Nordic Cities That Do Summer Right
The Nordic countries might be known for epic winters, but they sure know how to enjoy summer.
Soaring temperatures and scorching days got you down? While summer can feel pretty harsh in the UAE, there are plenty of countries around the world that come alive during summer with festivals, open-air concerts, cultural celebrations, and life in the glorious outdoors.
From the land of the midnight sun and the world’s most beautiful country to cobblestone old towns right out of a medieval fairytale, here’s where to go to truly fall in love with summer.
1. STOCKHOLM: Summertime celebrations
Set on 14 islands and dotted with picture-perfect waterfront promenades, colorful harbours and verdant parks that make up one-third of its geographical area, Stockholm is a city unlike any other.
Summer is marked by beautiful blue skies and the kind of weather that makes it a joy to walk or bike around the city visiting its various neighbourhoods. There’s medieval Gamla Stan, or the Old Town, with its cobbled streets, mustard and peach-colored buildings, Gothic cathedral, Parliament House and the Royal Palace. There’s hipster Södermalm, where modern buildings stand next to 300-year-old wooden cottages, vintage and retro boutiques beckon with beautiful window displays, and Stockholmers enjoy fika (a coffee break) in Scandi-cool cafes.
Stockholm’s museums are far from boring. There’s the Vasa Museum exhibiting the 17th century Vasa warship; Moderna Museet, the museum of modern art; the photography museum Fotografiska; and the ABBA Museum, where you can pretend to be an ABBA member in a mock concert.
Stay at the posh Haymarket by Scandic in the city centre – it combines 1920s opulence with modern amenities. The historic building previously housed a department store where Swedish actor Greta Garbo worked as a shopkeeper.
In summer, Stockholm exudes a special energy and life moves outdoors. Stockholmers are seen running and biking around the city and its many parks, enjoying harbourside picnics, sailing and festivals like Parkteatern. But the ultimate celebration is Midsummer – on the longest day of the year, when the sun doesn’t completely set in places like Swedish Lapland, Swedes come together to feast, drink and dance around flower-adorned maypoles. The Skansen Open Air Museum is a great place to experience this celebration.
2. REYKJAVIK: See incredible landscapes
For many travelers who’ve been, Iceland is easily the most beautiful country in the world. Its spectacular waterfalls, awe-inspiring glaciers, relaxing hot springs and fascinating lava caves are the kind of sights you won’t find elsewhere, making it a bucket list-worthy destination. Summer is the best time to explore the country’s diverse landscapes without inaccessibility and weather issues.
Life in the capital Reykjavik, while pleasantly slow-paced, is never dull. With its colorful buildings, interesting street art, museums and a vibrant dining and nightlife scene, Reykjavik is home to most of the country’s population. In summer, you’ll see the locals make the most of the weather with festivals such as Secret Solstice and Reykjavik Fringe.
Head outside Reykjavik and a whole other world awaits. The country’s south coast is dotted with natural wonders – you can go on a guided hiking tour on Sólheimajökull glacier, get up close to Seljalandsfoss waterfall, visit the black sand beach Reynisfjara, and dip into the thermal waters of the Secret Lagoon. On the Snaefellsnes Peninsula in the west, you can see the famous Kirkjufell peak and wild waves on a black sand beach at Djúpalónssandur. To stay in the heart of mountains and lava fields on the Golden Circle, book a stay at the luxurious ION Adventure Hotel, which has an in-house restaurant and spa.
3. COPENHAGEN: City break and festivals
Curious about what makes Denmark the happiest country in the world? Spend a summer in the capital of Copenhagen and you’ll begin to understand. Among the first things you’ll notice are its many lakes, waterfront promenades and parks, and fit, active, and effortlessly well-dressed Danes cycling everywhere.
Summer days are well spent in the city’s most beautiful spots, such as Nyhavn (once home to Hans Christian Andersen) with its colorful toy-box facades along the canal; the harbour with the widely photographed statue of the Little Mermaid, the botanical gardens with a lake and glasshouses; and the King’s Gardens. You can also visit sights like Rosenborg Castle, the royal summer house that now houses a museum, and the Amalienborg Palace, the official residence of the royal family, where the changing of the guard takes place at noon daily.
Copenhagen, with more Michelin-star restaurants than any other Scandinavian city, is at the forefront of new Nordic cuisine and the restaurant scene is bursting with creative, unique and experimental dining concepts. From delicious street food in the Old Town and artisanal treats at the food market Torvehallerne KBH to trendy cocktail bars and a thriving live entertainment scene, Copenhagen promises to leave you with a full belly and in high spirits.
Stay at the hip Manon les Suites, which features bohemian decor and modern amenities, an Instagrammable pool area with private cabanas, and a location close to Copenhagen’s lakes and the city’s main attractions and sights.