It’s tempting to think of Swedish Lapland as a small compact area full of all things magical and Christmassy: little elves working in Santa’s workshop, reindeer frolicking around snow-covered paddocks, sitting on Santa’s knee and reading him your list. But a lot of people (including myself at first) don’t usually know where in the world Lapland is. To prove this, I asked my friends to see what they thought. These are the answers I got:
- Santa’s grotto
- Where Santa lives
- Finland? No. Iceland
- I thought Arctic but I don’t even know if it’s in the Arctic?
- North Pole? No?
As you can see there is a lot of confusion in this area. To put it simply, Lapland is a vast region that stretches north of the Article circle, through areas of Sweden, Norway, Finland and even parts of Russia. See map below for help…
If you are after the ultimate winter wonderland experience, this part of the world can definitely deliver. From the unique places to stay to the unusual delicacies, Swedish Lapland is full of surprises! Here are ten reasons why it should definitely be on your list.
1. THE SNOWY SCENERY
Jump in the car and drive out into the countryside, and you will be transported into a different world. Tall snow-covered pine trees sit quietly beneath a pastel pink sky, and absolutely everything is covered in thick, thick layers of crisp white snow.
2. THE NORTHERN LIGHTS
The Aurora Borealis frequently flickers to life across central and northern Sweden, and the show is even more spectacular once you have crossed the Arctic Circle.
3. THE SKY
The incredible colours that are cast across the sky each day are breath-taking! In the depth of winter, the sun peeks above the horizon to give around 4 hours of daylight a day, meaning magical colours appear.
4. THE CUISINE
Swedish Lapland is home to some of the finest (and most unusual) cuisine. Restaurants serve reindeer, moose Carpaccio and elk. If you are not too keen on these, then go for the Arctic char – a fish similar to salmon that is often served with creamy mash.
An hour north of Luleå lies the sleepy Swedish town of Harads. Just outside this little town you will find The Treehotel where you can sleep suspended from the trees in a giant UFO (don’t forget to press the button on the tree to bring down the set of stairs!). The UFO’s next door neighbour is the Bird’s Nest, and the other side of that, The Mirror Cube.
6. THE ICEHOTEL
If you are thinking of travelling to Swedish Lapland it would be criminal not to at least visit The Icehotel, in Jukkasjärvi. The 50 Art Suites are designed and sculpted by different architects from around the world. The Icehotel is rebuilt every winter from snow and ice blocks that are taken from the Torne River a few hundred metres away, before melting back into the river sometime in April.
7. THE REINDEER
Reindeer are both herded and wild in Sweden, and you will often come across a pair of reindeer gingerly crossing the road. Travel up to Rensjön and visit a traditional Sami family, where they introduce you to a few of their 500 reindeer, give you a detailed history on how they herd them, and then serve up reindeer soup for lunch (!).
If you’re partial to a jet-ski get yourself on one of these. I can confirm they are incredibly fun!
Put on your warmest gear and go snowshoeing – the traditional Arctic mode of transport! These paddle-like slats are attached to the bottom of your boots and enable you to walk through deep snow. Watch out for the moose tracks!
10. THE MOOSE
Keep your eyes peeled for the elusive wild moose!
TIPS FOR VISITING SWEDISH LAPLAND:
- Take the right clothing. This includes thermals, ski jacket, salopettes, ski gloves, thick socks, hat, scarf and warm snow boots – the temperatures can plummet to – 40 degrees so these are essential!
- To view the northern lights, get as far away as light pollution as possible and wait for your eyes to get used to the darkness. If it is a clear night, there will be thousands of stars in the sky and (hopefully) wisps of green light dancing around. Take a tripod with you to capture this on camera
- If you are planning on snowmobiling, take your driving license with you as you wont be able to drive without it
- Camera and phone batteries die really quickly in these temperatures, so take spares and don’t rely on using your iPhone for very long (it will turn itself off after around 2 minutes)
- Make sure you try the Arctic char
- If you are staying at the Icehotel, make sure you are staying in an Art Suite. These are a little more expensive than the Snow Rooms but are way more impressive and will make your experience much more special
- Eat in the Icehotel restaurant and your meals will be served on blocks of ice
- Take a backpack with you as you are only able to take an overnight bag up into the treehouses at the Treehotel
HOW TO GET THERE:
- We flew into Luleå and out of Kiruna as we wanted to go to both the Icehotel and the Treehotel. The flights are indirect and go from London Gatwick via Stockholm on Scandinavian Airlines
- If you are planning on visiting both towns, there is a scenic train that runs between the two that takes you right through the snowy wonderland
WHERE TO STAY:
- Brändön Lodge, Luleå
- Pine Bay Lodge, Luleå
- Sörbyn Lodge, Luleå
- The Treehotel, Harads
- The Icehotel, Jukkasjärvi
- Camp Ripan, Kiruna
- Hotell Fjället, Björkliden