The untold story about the Swedish weather

Most people picture life in Sweden as great: good work-life balance, closeness to nature and a well established wellfare state. However, there is one thing that is always percieved negatively: the weather. I don’t think many people would move to Sweden just to enjoy good weather, but in my opinion it is often described too negatively. As often happens, Swedish weather has some bad things, but also some very good things. Forget about the intimidating long, dark winter days: in this post I will show you why Swedish weather is also amazing and some of the best ways to enjoy it.

Endless summer days

Being so far north, the duration of the day hours change a lot during the year. This means that during the shortest day in winter Sun goes up at 8:45  and down at 14:50 (approx.) in Stockholm. Surely, is sometimes hard to cope with this, although a nice evening with friends and loved ones always helps to cheer the moods up. Also, during this time of the year the whole city is decorated with Christmas lights which make it look very cozy, despite the cold and darkness.

To compensate, days are endless (almost literally) during the summer months. You better buy good curtains when you move here, because in the longest day of the year in Stockholm sun rises at 3:30 am and sets at 22:10. The short length of the nights is not the only thing that makes them special. Summer nights in Sweden have a characteristic sky colour, more dark blue than black. This phenomena is known as “Midnight Sun”, and refers to the fact that during the summer solstice the Sun can be seen 24h a day in the regions close to the polar circle. Since Stockholm is not that far north, the Sun can’t be seen at night, but nights are lighter than usual and hence the sky has a lighter colour.

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Sunset picture taken from Södermalm on the 5th of June 2019… at 21:43h! Image credits: Inés Rivero García.

You might be wondering, how is life with so much Sun hours? As a Spanish, I am very used to long days full with Sun, but I still felt super active last summer! I also appreciated the sunny weather way more than I normally would, since I was missing it during the winter, and as a good Stockholmer I did what Stockholmers do: spend as much time as possible outdoors reading, doing sports or enjoying time with my friends.

afterexam
Picture taken after our last presentation of the first year of the Molecular Techniques in Life Science. Location: Skinnarviksberget. Södermalm. Image credits: Inés Rivero García.

Blue skies all year round

Another thing I like about Swedish weather is that there are blue skyes almost all year round. For me, the only month with a really bad weather is November, since days get shorter by the minute and it is always gray and rainy. This being said, and although of course there are rainy days all year round, the rest of the months have a pretty decent number of “sunny” (or, not rainy) days. Even in January and February, when it is coldest, the skies are cloudless. Personally, this makes everything much better: tolerating the cold is not so bad if you can catch a ray of sun on your way to class, or spend a lecture break synthesizing some vitamin D while you catch up with your classmates.

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A beautiful sunset after a sunny day viewed from Haga Parken. Image credits: Inés Rivero García.

Since I moved to Sweden I have learned to appreciate sunny days much more, and although I have always liked them, now I get extremely happy when I wake up in the morning and see the sun shining.

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Perfect running day. Location: Djurgårdsbrunnsviken. Image credits: Inés Rivero García.

The perfect summer temperature

This might be a rather unpopular opinion, but I think that Sthockholm’s summer can have the perfect temperature: they give you those warm, summer vibes without being (generally) to hot to do anything. Of course, they are not the best if the plan is to spend the day on the beach or swimming pool (Swedish people are able to swim at much colder temperatures that I am able to, I’m still working on that :D) but they are great for picnics, bike rides and outdoor sports. They also give you the chance to do touristic sightseen without melting under the sun.

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Enjoying a picnic evening with my classmates. From left to right: me, Sofia, Astrid and Amparo. Image Credits: Miren Urrutia Iturritza.

As you can see, there is much more to Swedish weather other than darkness and cold. Knowing that brighter days will come is something that helps me push through the long winter days, and I try to seize them as much as possible when they arrive.

Got any questions about studying at Karolinska Institutet or living in Stockholm? Drop me an email.

\Inés

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