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Ingmar Bergman's house, Fårö, Gotland
Photo: Simon Paulin/imagebank.sweden.se

Things to do

Where Big Names Find Peace

Holidays are a private affair in Sweden and curiosity is aroused every time a celebrity reveals their summer home. The most famous houses are surrounded by a mystical aura.

Björn and Benny from ABBA fled life on tour as soon as they got the chance and hid themselves away in their basic little cottage on the island of Viggsö in the Stockholm archipelago. In this isolated environment, they created 70s hits such as “Ring, Ring”, “Fernando” and “Dancing Queen”.

Creative work and summer homes go together for many creative Swedes, but most often the goal is relaxation. When Hollywood star Malin Åkerman needs a break from showbiz, she travels to picturesque Falsterbo on the southern point of Skåne. Ex-footballer Fredrik Ljungberg visits his native area of Båstad and Tylösand, where they know how to party.

One of the things Sweden is best known for internationally is its stated aim to achieve consensus in politics. We sometimes call this the Spirit of Harpsund, after the Prime Minister’s country residence in Södermanland. It was here that Tage Erlander, regarded by many as the Father of the Swedish Nation, took a private trip in a rowing boat with Nikita Khrushchev, leader of the Soviet Union – a tradition which many foreign heads of state have since enjoyed.

And nothing makes us as proud as when major international stars buy their own little red house with white trim. We nod in approval when Will Ferrell and his Swedish wife settle down in the small town of Gnesta south of Stockholm. The same applies when Kofi Annan and his Swedish wife choose to spend the beautiful Swedish summer in south-eastern Sweden.

Will Ferrell has often praised the temperament and dry humour of the Swedish. But like us, he mostly just wants to be left alone when the summer arrives. “They live here because they want peace and quiet, they don’t want lots of curious people running around”, says an anonymous neighbour to the local newspaper.

Kofi Annan also ended up in Sweden thanks to his wife. Their summerhouse in rural Svalemåla on the island of Gyön is in the same area that Nobel prize for literature winner Harry Martinson used to spend his summers.

Then we have Luis Figo, one of the world’s most famous footballers, who built his own house near the small northern Swedish town of Sollefteå. It’s worth noting that the most exclusive aspect for a summer home is not to find the Swedish Hamptons or a version of Lake Como. Here isolation is the measure of happiness.

Swedish Cabin Fever

Us Swedes are a strange lot. We enjoy feeling a bit miserable. This isn’t necessarily painful; instead it’s often more a bittersweet sensation of homecoming.

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