The Swedish coastline can be a wild and dramatic place to be in the winter. A place where Swedes must resort to huddling into purpose-built communal saunas to give them the warmth and courage to take a momentary dip into the often freezing Nordic seas.
In the summertime it’s a similar picture, but with a major shift in the time spent in the sauna vs the sea. Whether it’s on the edges of large Swedish towns or major cities like Stockholm, Malmo or Gothenburg, or you’re visiting your friend’s summerhouse in a rural fishing village, Swedes love getting in the sea.
Spiking out of the Swedish coastline up and down the country, you’ll discover manmade platforms of concrete and wooden slats, with handy steps into the refreshingly clear water. These aren’t made for boats, this is the Brygga. An essential part of Swedish country life.
There will be a changing zone at one end, with conveniently placed benches and clothes hooks, where you can elegantly slip into your wetsuit or, if your inner-Viking is calling, just a swimsuit/shorts.
This is the Swedish Brygga way, and like with many other Scandinavian traditions, it’s got its quirks…
Go Your Own Way
A trip to the brygga is a family affair… Some people go on foot, some walk on all fours, and some take the rickety old bike from the garage. You might want to make your way down fully dressed, in your special brygga bathrobe, or just ready to jump in at the earliest opportunity.
The Community Hub
Brygga life is NOT just about diving into the sea and leaving again… it’s the community hub. It’s where friends gather to gossip, families catch up on the latest domestic dramas, and lone swimmers chat to new friends.
The Shoe Rule
Brygga etiquette is extremely important. Rule number one, don’t walk on the brygga in your normal footwear! Before you spot the families playing in the sea, you’ll see their shoes neatly lined up along the top of the walkway. As you take yours off, make sure you clock how busy the water might be, especially if you’re slightly shortsighted and can’t quite count how many blurry figures you can just about make out ahead.
Paws Off The Platform
Whilst the whole family usually heads down to the Brygga for a dip, not everyone is welcome on the platform. Four-legged family members must enviously watch on from the shoreline. But they’ll get their turn on the beach in no time.
Soothing Swedish Seas
Post-sunset on a summer’s evening is the perfect time for a bit of Nordic wellness time. Have a dip in the bracing ocean, then sit in your robe and watch the sky’s hues shift into nighttime oranges and blues. There’s nothing like that sense of calm one feels when sitting by the sea.
Whatever The Weather
You wouldn’t exactly expect the Swedish climate to inspire a generation of outdoor swimming lovers. In the wintertime, this is a far stretch from submerging yourself in the warm waters of the Med off the coast of Italy, or floating around in the Adriatic on a trip to the sun-soaked Croatia. But whether it’s January or June, a trip to the brygga, with a ritualistic check of the water temperature that often ranges from 2-20 degrees centigrade, is something ingrained in Swedish culture.