10 signs it’s summer in the Nordics

Few people appreciate summer more than the people in the Nordics. Know why?

You must have guessed it right. They live in a place that is mostly cold all year round: from freezing in the winter to chilly -at least- in spring or autumn.

The sun, light and warmth of the Nordic summer are what they long for the other 9 months of the year. No wonder!

For most, it’s time for trips (although they get their dose of summer when they travel in masses to Southeast Asia during the Christmas holidays); for others, it’s time to relax, unwind, do activities, and enjoy the great outdoors in general.

In any case, summer can be awarded the title of “Favourite time of the year”!

No wonder most of the national holidays are during the summer months…

Here are the 10 signs that the long-awaited summertime has arrived in the Nordics

#1 Midsummer

There are very few things apparently that can compare to this holiday. It’s the epitome of the Nordic get-together culture. Whether watching bonfires or dancing around the pole, the Nordic people know how to enjoy the day. Alcohol and food are abundant. Joy is in the air and everybody is happy. When the calendar shows June 21st, it’s time to celebrate.

#2 Longer days & more daylight

When summer comes, days are long(er) and there is ample daylight. Some parts of Scandinavia and Iceland even have 24-hour long daylight. Ever wondered why hotels in the Nordics have thick curtains to shut out any light from outside? Well, you need them in summer, if you want to get any sleep and not wake up at 4 am!

#3 Green(er)

In many parts of the world, spring is the time when nature becomes green again, after the winter. In the Nordics, this usually happens in summer. It can even snow in May; it’s not that rare. That’s why nature reserves its energy for later on when the summer heat is there to stay. By the way, keep in mind that you can taste the most delicious strawberries in the world -perhaps- in Scandinavia. The morning cold (even during spring and summer) and the midday heat make the strawberries dead-sweet.

#4 Ice cream + liquorice = love

People in the Nordics love ice cream. But they also love (if not more) liquorice. Although it may melt in their pockets due to the heat, they can’t do without it. How about liquorice ice cream then?

#5 Warmer but wetter

Let’s be honest, it does not get hot in the Nordics in summer (although climate change has its toll on the weather patterns, bringing heat waves). Expect temperatures around 20C or 24C max. In very hot periods of time, they even have what they call “tropical nights” when the temperature does not fall below 20C at night. But, the weather might as well be wetter, even compared to spring. Extra heat brings more moisture, and rain is not uncommon. It sometimes gets crazy as you can experience all the seasons of the year in one day, with the weather changing every few hours.

#6 Empty cities

If you could travel in time and find yourself in an empty Copenhagen or Oslo without any clue about the date, there would be a way to orient yourself. If the city is empty, it’s July. For a whole month, everyone is on holiday. Some -if not most- businesses shut down. Work resumes in August when most employees are back. So, don’t expect much interaction with Nordic companies during July, and don’t get surprised if someone tells you “I am sorry, there is no one here to speak to or take on your request!”.

#7 Suntan at the harbour

When it’s officially summer, people flock to the city harbours to enjoy the sunshine and take a dive in the clean city waters. Cities like Copenhagen or Oslo are famous for their clean water, so their citizens (and tourists alike) can swim in the designated areas. Plus, you may also enjoy the sight of dozens (if not hundreds) of boats roaming around in the harbour or canals of the Nordic cities and towns.

#8 Festivals

Ready to rock the stage? Summer is the best time of the year to do it! The festival season starts with the arrival of summer. In Denmark, you can’t say it’s summer unless the famous Roskilde Festival kicks off. In Iceland, they have their own famous Midnight Sun Festival. And the list goes on…

#9 To the south

In most Nordic languages, there is an adverb meaning “to the south” meaning “travelling to the warm south of Europe to enjoy the sun, the heat and the beaches”. Most Scandinavians plan their summer holidays around the Mediterranean well in advance (starting after Christmas). Greece, Spain, Portugal and Italy are popular summer destinations. But sometimes, the “south” may also include places like Germany or even France. It’s a matter of perspective. For the Finns, for example, a summer option is also their humble cabin by the lake (including gazillions of mosquitos).

#10 New arrivals

Nature gets green in summer. But there are also other natural signs that summer has come. In Denmark, it’s the butterflies that signal summer (called “summer birds” in Danish). In Iceland, the arrival of the golden plover (migrating from Greenland to warmer places like… Iceland) is a sign that the summer has arrived.