Winter wonders of Sweden
Travel & Tourism
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Winter is nearing its end and small hints and glimpses of spring are appearing in every nook and cranny, yet some parts of the world are still experiencing some deep winter weather temperatures accompanied by ice and snow that just won’t go away anytime soon.

Winter is nearing its end and small hints and glimpses of spring are appearing in every nook and cranny, yet some parts of the world are still experiencing some deep winter weather temperatures accompanied by ice and snow that just won’t go away anytime soon.

Those of us who live in mild to hot climate crave the cold, we look for it in air-condition malls, homes, cars… you name it, we try to look for locations cool enough to satisfy our “need for freeze” for a long while.

The answer to your “need for freeze” is spending your next vacation in Sweden, the land of 95,000 lakes, northern lights, frozen rivers, dog and reindeer sledding, the Swedish Chef from the Muppets, lots and lots of fish and of course the epicenter of IKEA (and no Swedes don’t speak like the Chef).

Sweden is well known for its neutrality, the friendliness of its people, the efforts for better environmental friendly lifestyles for its citizens and their ability to survive the harsh winters, it’s the perfect place to catch your last chance of winter before spring and summer arrive.

Still not convinced? Let me help you with that. Imagine a sunny winter’s day, fresh and clean white snow, wool hats and thick gloves, a lake, a forest and a wooden house.

Can you see it now? Swedish winters have quite low temperatures from late September until early May with temperatures dipping well below zero for most of the time; the northern parts of the country, also known as Lapland, are blanketed by snow almost throughout that whole time period, making it ideal to go ahead and plan a fun filled late winter (by our standards) vacation.

First stop, Stockholm airport, there are daily flights to a number of cities in Swedish Lapland such as Kiruna, Arvidsjaur, Storuman, Hemavan and many more with regular daily flights north of the Arctic Circle.

Activities and accommodations are in abundance in Swedish Lapland, there’s the famous Ice Hotel in Jukkasjärvi, chasing the northern lights in Abisko National Park a few kilometers north of Kiruna also known as the prime location for viewing them due to clear skies almost all year long,

husky dog-sledding across frozen Lake Skabram outside Jokkmokk, snowmobile rides to the mountain top of Dundret in Gällivare, stay at the infamous Treehotel in Luleå with its wide variety of tree topping rooms in the shape of UFO spacecrafts, birds’ nests, micro cube and mirror cube too overlooking the Lule river and so much more.

The easiest method of transportation between the cities would either be by bus or train for their close proximity to each other.

The winter months are supreme for watching the Aurora Borealis. January to March are popular months known for their long dark nights.

There are less chances to be hit with summer storms, which result in higher probability for ideal watching. The auroras are an unpredictable, natural event that appear all year round but need clear dark skies to appear in the most vivid of green, intense red and dazzling violet.

The Abisko National Park is home to bears, reindeers, vast forest grounds and some of the driest and clearest skies in Northern Sweden. The Abisko Mountain Station is the only hotel accommodation located within the park; it provides adequate lodging for such location.

The Aurora Sky Station is situated on Mt Nuolja, some 900 meters above sea level. A chairlift a few meters away from the Mountain Station provides assistance to reach the station, and it’s best to visit during the night.

The Aurora Sky Station holds a café, souvenir shop, a look-out tower, a northern lights exhibition and guided tours. To keep watch for the aurora, there is a large dark outside deck area with chairs and beverages on offer to stay warm.

For a warmer setting, a 4-course Swedish meal is available upon reservation whilst keeping a look out for the aurora through the station’s large picture windows overlooking the park.

A great way to also check out the Aurora Borealis is by snowmobile. Night snowmobile excursions are aplenty and it gives the visitor the experience to discover the surrounding forests while chasing the lights.

The excursions can last up to 4 hours; riders can rest in cabins of the indigenous Sámi, the aboriginal Scandinavians, and get warm with a bowl of reindeer soup and continue on with the excursion.

One has to keep in mind that the Lapland is within the boundaries of the Arctic Circle, so dressing warmly is an understatement; visitors must dress in heavy duty winter outerwear, lots of layers,

the least amount of cotton as possible since cotton can retain moisture and cause a chill effect, polyester based thermals are very important, the middle layer should provide sufficient insulation and fleece is a great choice, jeans are out of the question so winter pants lined with fleece are the better and safer choice.

Lastly, a good down jacket is ideal. To keep your feet warm, always go double, wool socks are best to keep the feet warm and toasty with good heavy duty snow boots to help keep away the moisture from seeping in.

It’s advised to never take showers before an outing and moisture based products aren’t recommended since they can cause frostbite. On that note, the winter months are dark, the sun rarely rises and when it does, it’s more of twilight than actual sunlight except in early and late winter months.

If by any chance the auroras aren’t as strong as one would expect, stargazing is never a bore in such clear skies. The conditions are perfect for stargazing due to the scarcity of urbanization in northern Sweden, so sit back, relax and enjoy the show; you might catch a meteor too!

The first ice hotel concept appeared in Sweden more than 20 years ago.

The ICEHOTEL is one of the rarest and most magnificent of experiences anyone could ever have located a few kilometers from Jukkasjärvi. Everything is literally made of ice, even the plates served for your meals are ice.

The beds are made of ice, tables, chairs, halls, the whole structure is ice and more ice, and it’s surreal. A reindeer enclosure is located near the ICEHOTEL, reindeer sled rides are one way to get a feel of how the Sámi aboriginals once moved from one location to another.

Visitors get to feed the reindeer, pet them and get acquainted with them before their ride. Each visitor gets pulled with one reindeer on a wooden sled like the Sámi once used.

Dog sledding is also a great way to check out the surrounding forests pulled by the infamous huskies, beautiful and strong dogs well trained to manage the pull of the sled for long periods of time.

It can be a bit of a challenge since dogs are relatively smaller than a reindeer, so be prepared to move around a bit, fidget and shift your weight from one side to the other to accompany the dogs’ pulling pace.

There are a number of accommodations around the Jukkasjärvi area, so the ICEHOTEL isn’t the only available hotel; many cabin like accommodations are available in different price ranges depending on one’s financial ability.

Being outdoors is a natural part of the arctic lifestyle and during winter, skiing and ice skating come naturally to the inhabitants and visitors alike.

Dundret mountain resort is located a few kilometers from Gällivare, a hundred kilometers above the Arctic Circle, famous for raising cross country skiing professionals. The conditions on the mountain are great from October until May and skiers of different skills can enjoy the mountain with well-groomed slopes for beginners and challenging routes for the pros.

Wintertime in the mountain provides many activities such as cross-country skiing and alpine skiing, snowmobile rides, dog-sledding and for the adrenaline junkie, heli-skiing, yes it’s a thing.

Sweden’s fjards (flat inlets), the Luleå Archipelago in the Gulf of Bothnia freezes over entirely from November to April of every year, the archipelago is made up of over 1500 islands and thus becomes one of the largest playground for ice skaters.

The great white expanses of ice are great for ski treks and skating surrounding Luleå city. After a day of fun filled activities, enjoy a relaxing sauna session followed by a roll in the snow, the way Swedes do it. If you’re feeling a little bit braver, take a dip in the freezing water through a hole in the ice, they say it helps decrease muscle soreness, but it’s not for the weak hearted.

Winter in the Swedish Lapland is like no other, each winter escape has its own magical experience and Sweden provides one that can’t be found anywhere else south of Scandinavia.

The combination of stargazing, chasing the Aurora Borealis on snowmobiles, polar ice dips, tasty and healthy cuisine and reindeer sled rides can only be found in Scandinavia. It’s never too late to experience winter as late as March than here, it’s bound to be an experience of a lifetime.

 

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