A stylist’s guide to a Scandinavian summer

Cabins on land next to water.

Having lived in Oslo for the past decade, U27 Shanghai member and stylist Alice Wang shares how to make the most of the Nordic sun

By Alice Wang    Above image by Hayley Pfitzer    Saturday 22 August, 2020    Short read

It was a little past 11pm, a normal Friday summer night in Oslo, Norway. My friend Francesco and I had just stepped out of the restaurant, Brutus, where we had spent half the day indulging in Norwegian tapas and natural wine. His face lit up like he had just witnessed the most extraordinary thing. ‘How is this possible?’ he repeated for the next five minutes, as he stared up at the sky in awe. I explained to him that summer nights in Oslo stay as bright as a late afternoon sky in his native Italy up until midnight. In some parts of northern Norway, the sun doesn’t set for a whole two to three months of the season. 

As a third-culture kid who has spent the past decade and all of my adult life in Norway, I have come to appreciate the slow-paced Scandinavian lifestyle – although it took quite some years of adapting. 

One thing I know for sure: there is no place in the world that does summers better than Scandinavia. When you live in the Nordics, the sun is a rare visitor during the cold six months of winter. So, the relationship that the Scandis have developed with sunlight is also the common denominator that brings everyone together to make the summers so magical here. 


Scandinavians are obsessed with getting tanned. Therefore, it is no surprise that the most popular activity in the summer is sunbathing, often combined with day drinking. Oslo offers numerous amazing spots for both activities, the most convenient being Sørenga and Tjuvholmen in the heart of downtown by the harbour.

When I want to take a break from the city, I pack a good book, some food and ride a city bike down to Huk at Bygdøy where there is a sandy beach, cleaner water and less people. For those seeking more privacy and a truly idyllic experience, there are ferries that take you from the harbour to nearby islands in just half an hour.


Being the seafood lover that I am, nothing can top the seafood-based cuisine in Scandinavia. The prawn buffet is a popular dish eaten at restaurants or at home where you share a bucket of reker (prawns) that are freshly boiled and served cold. You peel the prawns, spread them over a slice of bread, top with mayo and lemon, and repeat. Home-grilled burgers and pølse (hot dogs) also make a quintessential part of the Scandi diet. 

Aside from Brutus, which I mentioned earlier, a few hidden gems that have left an impression on me are: Bass, Roald & Umberto, Lemongrass, L’ardoise and Ben Reddik. If you’re looking more for ambience, such as outside seating by the water, the harbourside has a number of restaurants to choose from. Louise Restaurant, for example, is known for its fresh seafood, and is a place where you can enjoy a long dinner by the sea and people-watch for hours. That is the epitome of the unhurried and stress-free Scandi life. Don’t miss the food courts, such as Vippa and Oslo Street Food, which have different types of ethnic cuisines. 
Glassware and enamelware on a simple table.
A cooked fish fillet on a plate.

Shopping and culture

Oslo is loaded with architectural gems, thanks to the huge revamp of its harbour in recent years. The spacious and newly opened Deichman Library by the waterfront is my go-to place to sit with a coffee and work. The renowned Snøhetta-designed Opera House, the Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art and the soon-to-open Munch Museum are all within walking distance. 

As a big design and interiors fan, I often roam around Kollekted By, Milla Boutique and Sanatorium for inspiration. Those looking for an even more unique art experience should plan a day trip to Villa Stenersen and Henie Onstad Kunstsenter museum, although they require some effort to get to.

To become acquainted with the fashion, visit Ganni, Holzweiler, Acne Studios and Samsøe Samsøe, as well as the concept stores Moniker, F5, Ensemble, YME Universe and Mark+Brandy for cool Scandi and international designers. For menswear, Luck Oslo, Hunting Lodge and Dapper are firm favourites with locals.


Because the days are so long with 18 to 19 hours of daylight, nights out in Oslo are also quite lengthy. Alcohol prices in bars are relatively expensive, so Norwegians usually resort to vorspiel or pre-parties before the dancing starts somewhere with a good DJ. When the bars close at 3am, the party continues at nach (afterparties). By the time you finally call it a night and go home, the sun is already shining bright as day. 

My love for electronic music has taken me to venues such as Blå, Jæger, Ostara and Kulturhuset this summer. But if I just want to enjoy a glass of good wine at a bar with ambience, I’ll head to Territoriet and Andre Til Høyre.  
A sparsely decorated bedroom with a bed, plants and a lamp.
A stylish bar interior.
People walking on a large concrete ramp with modern city buildings behind it.

Nature, camping and cabin life 

Scandis really take their ‘escaping the city and reconnecting with nature’ seriously. The hyttetur or cabin trip tradition was one of the first things I learned about Scandinavia. During lockdown here in April and May, when it was prohibited to travel to cabins, there was a massive wave of address changes so that people could legally stay in theirs. 

There is a Norwegian law rooted in their culture for appreciating nature, which gives the people ‘the right to roam’ or legally camp wherever and whenever (with some exceptions). Taking a week-long road trip and making different camping stops along the way is one of the must-do summer activities. City residents also flock to places like Sognsvann and Maridalen for a quick camping getaway in the wild, as they are only half an hour from Oslo by public transport.
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