You got your trip booked, you are excited to explore Scandinavia, but what do you bring? Working as a Scandinavian tour operator, one of the common questions that I got was; What do I pack for my trip to Scandinavia?
The first thing that comes to mind is a swimsuit, don’t forget that. Growing up in Sweden, summer was my favorite time of the year. Warm summer days at the white sandy beach in Halmstad, and long hours of light, to enjoy the summer evenings.
At second thought, raincoats. Don’t forget raincoats. Just like that one time, the whole family was excited to spend the day at Astrid Lindgren’s outdoor event park. Yes, Pippi Longstocking’s author, Astrid Lindgren, has an amusement park where all her story characters come to life. There was only one problem it was pouring down rain. Luckily, we came prepared and had our raingear packed in our day backpack. We got the kids and adults in rain gear, and we stayed dry. Most importantly, we enjoyed the Pippi Longstocking show, along with other fun events, and had a wonderful time.
Like we say in Scandinavia;
There is no bad weather, only bad clothing.
If you travel Scandinavia in June, July, and August, you will most likely experience a variety of weather. Usually, June can be on the cooler side, but July and early August are nice and warm. If you visit the southern part of Scandinavia with Denmark, south of Sweden, and south of Norway, it is usually warmer than up north in the Lapland area. I say, usually, because some days you will get spring, summer, and fall weather all in one day. Summer temperatures will usually be in the high 50s to high 80s.
With most summers spent in Sweden, this is my;
Scandinavian Summer Packing Checklist
When You Book Your Trip, Make Sure to
- Have a valid passport that is good for 6+ months after returning from Scandinavia.
- Get a credit card that will not charge a hefty fee for international usage.
What to Keep in Your Carry-on Luggage
- Travel documents – vouchers, airplane tickets, visa (if necessary), passport.
- Credit card and some cash.
- Smartphone with headphones.
- Electric adapter for your electronics. Scandinavia uses 220-volt electricity, and the plugs with two round pins, type C and F plugs.
- Portable charger – today, we use the phone as a camera, GPS, to find destination information, you name it, so it’s easy to drain the battery quickly. This can easily be solved with a portable charger, allowing you to charge the phone on the go.
- Sanitizing wipes – a lifesaver if you travel with kids.
- Facemask – hopefully this is something we don’t have to bring in the future, but for now it’s a must on the list.
What to Pack for Your Scandinavian Adventure
Before we start getting into what to pack, consider what to pack in. Are you traveling around from place to place, or will you stay in one location? If you stay in one city, a suitcase will be perfectly fine. If you travel around, make sure you have a luggage that either is easy to bring along with wheels or a large backpack.
Now for what to put in your luggage;
- Walking Shoes / Hiking Boots / Sandals – depending on the activities you plan on doing, you might want to bring sneakers, sandals, and hiking boots. The most important part is to make sure you bring comfortable shoes. Don’t buy a brand new pair of hiking boots, get blisters, and be miserable. Bring shoes that you know you can walk longer distances in, whether it is hiking boots, sneakers, or flats for the cities.
- Short Sleeve and Long Sleeve Tops – bring a few of each. The trick in Scandinavia is to layer up. If you go out hiking, you might want to start with a short sleeve top, long sleeve top, and a light fleece jacket. When you get warm, take a layer off and stay comfortable. Later in the evening, if it gets chilly, you might have to put that fleece back on. Layers allow you to control your temperature and stay comfortable.
- Sweater / Hoddie / Lightweight Jacket – when you are out and about, you will see people hanging their sweater around their neck. Scandinavians always prepare for that chilly evening. Again, it comes back to layers. It’s a good idea to pack something warmer, for cooler days and evenings.
- Shorts / Skirts / Dresses – when the sun is out, and you get those really nice summer days, it can get hot. Bring shorts, a skirt, and dresses. Perfect for warm days but also if you want to go out and do some casual dining.
- Pants / Leggings – like mentioned, some summer days are on the cooler side, and you’ll need a pair of pants, jeans, or leggings to stay warm. If you hike, the pants that you zip off the legs to turn into shorts will come in handy.
- Umbrella – at some point, it will most likely rain, that is just Scandinavia. Spending your vacation in the city, shopping, visiting museums, and mostly staying indoors, you will get away with using an umbrella to keep dry.
- Rainjacket – If you plan on hiking, boating, visit amusement parks, and enjoy the outdoors, bring a raincoat to keep you dry. It will allow you to enjoy the planned outdoor activities even though you might get some rain. Those rain jackets have saved our fun so many times.
- Swimsuit – for the days on the coast, by a lake, or the fjord, bring your swimming suit. If you hang out with the locals, don’t be surprised if they invite you to an evening swim, it’s a must during Scandinavian summer.
- Casual Dining – when you go out to eat in the evening, the Scandinavians will dress informal but fashionable. They show up in a dress, button-down shirt or blouse, and a nice pair of shorts, pants, jeans or a skirt.
- Long Scarf – when traveling, I always bring a scarf, you can wrap it around you if you get cold on the airplane. It takes no space, and it is easy to carry with you when you are out and about. A scarf can come in very handy, plus it’s stylish and a fun addition to your outfit.
- Must-Have – Underwear, bras, socks, and PJs.
- Sunglasses, a Hat, and Sunscreen – love the sun, but it can be harsh up north. Make sure you bring your sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat for protection.
- Lip Balm – the Scandinavian air can be dry, and a lip balm will come in handy. Get a lip balm with SPF in it to protect from the sun as well.
- Bug Spray – in certain areas, you will run into some mosquitos. If you are out in the woods, near water, bring mosquito repellant spray. I heard from somewhere that it’s best to buy the local spray, that it will work best on the mosquitos in that specific area. Now, if that’s true or not, I’m not sure of. But, I tend to buy the local stuff. If I go to Florida, or Scandinavia doesn’t matter.
- Eye Mask or Sleep Mask – if you go up north where midnight sun exposes 24 hours of sunlight, you want to pack an eye mask to block out the sun while sleeping. In fact, during the summer months of June and July, if you go anywhere in the Nordic countries, bring one. Hotels don’t always have blackout curtains.
- Day Backpack – bring something that will hold your phone, rainwear, a water bottle, and that souvenir you might want to buy. I often use a backpack for carry on luggage, which works great as a day backpack.
- Scandinavians have style. They are fashionable but informal. If you attend business meetings and fine dining, the locals like to dress up, jacket and tie for men, dress or suit for women works well.
- Clothes are often made out of natural materials like linen, cotton, silk, and wool.
- If you want to play it safe, wear black, and you will blend in.
That’s it, my ultimate summer packing list for Scandinavia, what would you add to the list? What are the things you never travel without, feel free to share in the comment section below.
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