What to pack for summer in Scandinavia

Visiting Scandinavia during summer is exciting: lots of outdoor adventures, breathtaking landscapes to explore, amazing things to see, and beautiful people to meet. The list of things to do and places to discover are our biggest priorities until we have to start packing for vacation. Then, we all have a mental bullet list with us – some have actual lists – of things that we must take with us. 

But do you know what to pack for summer in Scandinavia? If it’s your first time going to Sweden, Denmark, or Norway, we suggest that you read this humble guide, as you may be missing something important that will be needed when arriving there. If you are a veteran, however, keep reading as well. Maybe you will discover something you didn’t know before.

Either way, people may be surprised about some of the things on this list, others may think we missed something. One thing’s for sure, you should be well prepared. You cannot count on a typical warm sunny summer trip. In Scandinavia, all types of weather are possible between June and September.

What will you be doing there?

The Scandinavian summer is ideal for hiking, mountain climbing, biking, bird watching, sightseeing, swimming, the list goes on and on. So, what will you be doing on your trip there? It’s an important question to ask yourself before you begin picking your clothes. Let’s list a few things based on your activities there:

  • Camping: pack a sleeping bag, a sleeping pad, a spork, a collapsible cup, and a tent (if not straying on cabins). Take some bug spray too. There is no need for a camp stove unless you want to go off-the-grid camping.
  • Hanging out at beaches: swimsuit, sandals, and sunscreen. There are lots of places where you can swim in Sweden, Denmark, and Norway. Pretty basic, but with a caveat: even though it is summer, at some point you will get chilly weather, so packing some thermal swimwear is smart, even if you are lucky and end up not using it. Also, take a purse or a beach bag with you. Don’t forget the sunscreen!
  • Hiking / visiting the fjords: pack a nice pair of sneakers for hiking, and think about something else that you can use in a cold and wet place. Like exploring Copenhagen in the rain, on a boat visiting the fjords, but also on a sunny day. Also, bug spray is a must. All Scandinavian countries are full of mosquitos during summer.
  • Enjoying the nightlife: this is very subjective, but remember to pack something nice for the booming nightlife scene in Scandinavia. Scandinavians usually dress informally, wearing jeans, shirts, or skirts. But they are also very fashionable.

Prepare for the weather

Summer in Scandinavia can get really warm, but also a bit chilly at times. Always check the weather before going on a holiday there. In Scandinavian countries, it rains, and when it does, it will get chilly for sure. So:

  • T-shirts and short sleeve clothing are totally fine. But take a comfy sweater, a light jacket, or something similar. Also, take a raincoat or a windbreaker.
  • Shorts, yes, but pants too. Fewer shorts, more pants.
  • Tough, waterproof shoes are needed for outdoor activities. But for exploring the cities, a pair of sneakers is fine.
  • A nice hat is a good idea to protect from rain and cold, sure. But also to protect your head from the sun. When it is sunny, the sun is annoyingly strong in Scandinavia.
  • Just to be safe, take a light scarf with you, they are very versatile and may be useful.
  • We already said that, but don’t forget your sunscreen and your bug spray. 

The midnight sun

During summer, the sun is out for a long time in Scandinavia. The sun can stay up there for 20 hours, and in some places, it will not set until the summer is over. Keep that in mind when deciding what to pack for summer in Scandinavia.

  • An eye mask: if you happen to have trouble sleeping with the sun up.
  • Sunscreen (it is always useful to remember this one, as people do not seem to give it proper attention).
  • Lip balm: it can get quite windy there, and it might be dry. 
  • Sunglasses: bring your shades, as there is no doubt you will need them.
What to pack for summer in Scandinavia

Needed accessories

If you enjoy photography, then you already know this, but accessories are important when traveling. When packing for your vacation to your holiday in Scandinavia, remember to take your camera, for sure, but also:

  • Extra batteries: some places are too far away, and some attractions need a boat ride. Take some extra batteries or an extra power bank with you for your devices.
  • Travel binoculars: not necessary, but very recommended. You will be doing a lot of sightseeing, as Scandinavia is the most beautiful place in the world.
  • Waterproof cases: you need to keep your phone, passport, and your sensitive items safe from water. Waterproof cases are especially needed if taking boats or going to beaches.
  • A money belt is not needed to visit Sweden, Denmark, and Norway as all of those countries are very safe. It’s up to you.
  • Day bags: a small backpack or something like that, to make your life easier.
  • Maps: it is nice to have some, just in case your phone dies.

Where will you be staying?

If staying at a hotel, don’t worry about this paragraph. But if staying at hostels, then don’t forget to pack:

  • Some travel towels, and a set of travel sheets. You never know if the hostels will charge you extra for those, or if they have them at all.
  • Pillow.
  • Pillowcase: it’s way better than just stuffing your pillow in a t-shirt.

Extra things to consider

Some of the things above will depend on your personal preference. They are not necessary to pack with you. But others, like bug spray, are indeed a must. On the same note, sunscreen is really important, as the sun can be harsh all day in some places. Make your life easier and take some of those with you.

Additionally, consider what kind of bag you are taking with you and where you will be staying while in Scandinavia. For instance, if you are going on a camping trip, hard shell suitcases are inappropriate for this purpose. The recommendation is a carry-on backpack or a duffel bag, but make sure they are water-resistant: this way, you will be fine in most situations.

Finally, do consider adopting a lifestyle that is about living every day with mindfulness and awareness, as it can make traveling an even more deep and more beautiful experience. A good introduction to this way of life is the 10 Ways to Start Consciously Living post by Maia Conscious living.

So, what do you think? Did we miss anything? Are you getting some bug spray and sunscreen right now? Let us know in the comments.

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