Stockholm - Been There

Sweet Swedish summertime

A low birthrate and high life expectancy means Sweden faces the problem of a shrinking labor force to pay the growing pension load of a ageing population. One solution is to encourage immigration and the country now has large foreign-born populations from Finland, Yugoslavia, Iraq and Iran.

Photo by Johner Images / Alamy

Stockholm - Been There

Sweet Swedish summertime

In Sweden, everyone is looking forward to the long days of summer.

Dan Hayes
Dan Hayes Travel Writer

When those short six hour winter days are traded in for sweet nineteen hours of sunlight in July, that's the moment when many Swedes will escape from the city, attractive as it is, to summer houses out in the Stockholm Archipelago and the wider countryside.

“Lots of people own them here,” says Lindgren as we warm up over a cup of coffee and a saffron-colored, raisin-studded Santa Lucia bun. “Our family has had a summer cottage since the 1960s, though the building actually dates back to around 1900. It’s built entirely of wood and is a classic example of a traditional country house."

“What’s important in terms of its design is simplicity, functionality and light. In summer we want to make the most of the sunshine because in the winter we don’t see much of it. So we have stripped wooden floors, simple furniture and south-facing windows."

"Outside it’s painted in a famous red color known as falu rödfärg,” she says. “Traditionally, that was made from by-products of copper mining and it is used on wooden houses to make the timbers resistant to wind and rain. It also looks pretty good against the dark green background of a forest.”

As many as 20 percent of Swedes own a second home to which they can retreat during the long days of summer. And the attraction of a bolthole out in the woods or on the banks of a lake is not restricted to the locals. The nation’s country cottages are being increasingly snapped up by outsiders, with Norwegians, buoyed by their enduringly strong economy, proving particularly enthusiastic investors.

“Norwegians and Swedes have a lot in common," says Lindgren. "We both have a long history of loving the outdoor lifestyle – and lots of us aren’t really satisfied with living in cities all the time.”

It has long been a tradition for Swedes to own a second home in which they spend a large part of...

It has long been a tradition for Swedes to own a second home in which they spend a large part of the summer, but increasing affluence has seen a decline in their use as people go abroad on holiday. The gap has been filled with foreign owners, particularly from Denmark, Germany and Norway. Photo by Johner Images / Alamy

Johner Images

Johner Images

Agency
Alamy

It has long been a tradition for Swedes to own a second home in which they spend a large part of the summer, but increasing affluence has seen a decline in their use as people go abroad on holiday. The gap has been filled with foreign owners, particularly from Denmark, Germany and Norway.