Next level hygge: Danish Summerhouses

Next level hygge: Danish Summerhouses

Traditionally, a summerhouse is a home used for relaxation. These type of second residences are extremely common in the Nordic countries of Norway, Sweden, Finland, and of course, Denmark (in Danish: sommerhus). 

These second residences give you that ability to completely get away from everyday struggles. Comparing this to the United States, a Danish summerhouse would be equivalent to a cabin at the lake or in the woods.

As a former Montana girl, getting away to a cabin in nature is nothing short of spectacular. In Montana, my dear Aunt Annie lives on Flathead Lake full-time and has a cabin that us family are lucky enough to frequent. I grew up picking Flathead cherries, boating, swimming, hiking, going to Glacier National Park, and soaking up that cabin life. 

Similar to this concept in Denmark is the summerhouse, where it is total vacation mode. This is a place where you unplug from the world around you with family or friends. You can leave your work, studies and stress behind and plug into total relaxation.

In the summertime, people often leave immediately after their Friday work day and head to their summerhouse for the weekend. Generally, Danes have six weeks of paid vacation every year… yes, six weeks. Most people use their time throughout the year and always during July.

Actually, the city often feels a bit empty during July. There are much less people and even the bus schedules change to accommodate the lack of people. Even if you email a government agency or university, there will be an automatic reply: we are on summer vacation and will be back to you in August. I love that Danes value their time off to this extent.


In Norwegian, a summerhouse is often referred to as a hytte. My Danish in-laws have a quant and charming summerhouse in Ebeltoft, Denmark which they named Molbohytten. It is extremely common to give your home or summerhouse a name that is displayed on the exterior of the house.


In Denmark, you can only live in a summerhouse for a maximum of six months during the year, unless you are retired. All around the country, there are specific summerhouse neighborhoods and even summer towns. These neighborhoods are full of Danes, Norwegians, Swedes, and especially Germans (because they are not near the ocean). 

The food

Food is essential for the summerhouse experience; it has a special way of bringing everyone around the table together. Part of the concept of hygge is shared responsibility. Whomever makes the food, it is generally custom that the others in the group then do the dishes and cleaning to share the burden. Of course, it depends on each family, but in our family my mother in law does most of the cooking, while the rest of us do the dishes and walk the dog to balance out the duties

One of the benefits of living by the ocean is of course the fresh fish. My husband’s grandma, mormor (this means mother’s-mother in Danish), she has a summerhouse on the west coast of Denmark in Løkken.  This is sincerely one of my most favorite places in the world, the home is on the rugged and raw cliffs.

One thing my mother-in-law does each time in Løkken is make fresh fish, parsley sauces and potatoes. Some time during the day, she goes down the the boats that just docked on the shore and bargains a good price for the freshly caught fish. Immediately, my mother-in-law returns to the summerhouse and make mouth watering Danish food.


An important staple for summerhouse towns are gelato and ice cream shops. Danes love a cold ice cream on a warm day. Most of the time, you can smell waffle cones from a block away. We always follow our noses to the nearest gelato shop, get an ice cream and sit down at the nearest cozy spot.

Another thing that is unique to Løkken is a candy store called Bolcheriet. Here, you can see strong men making huge, handmade taffy right in front of you. The men wear tough gloves and work the huge slabs of candy, then feed it through a machine where it cuts the taffy into hundreds of small pieces. The workers always let people watch the process and offer fresh sample to the customers. 

Quality Time

More than anything, a summerhouse is a place for quality time and relaxation with your family. For example, playing games is a perfect way to invest in some hygge. Staying up after dinner with a beautiful glass of red wine, a card game and candlelight is just perfect.

It is also common to play games outside such as Vikingespillet. Essentially, this is a game with two separate teams that use wooden blocks to knock over each other’s blocks. It’s so simple, yet entertaining. Another common game is Pétanque, where you have balls that are filled with water (giving them a good weight), whomever throw the ball the furthest gets the most points.

One of the key ingredients of hygge is this type of simplicity. Quality time, games, swimming, walking, eating, etc., are all simple things that lead to beautiful effortless memories.