Arctic Scandinavia: Lapland in Norway and Sweden
Fall in Love with Winter Again!
Arctic Scandinavia is truly a place for the traveller who seeks ‘something different.’ Due to its latitude, there are extreme differences between summer and winter. This article concerns the winter face of Arctic Sweden and Norway, and what a face this is!
In the dark winter months from mid-December to late January the sun will never rise. Only the glowing blue twilight of the polar night will illuminate the white rolling mountains by day, and by night the shining moon and more stars than you ever knew could possibly exist (and maybe the Northern Lights). To illustrate the remoteness, imagine the distance from London to Edinburgh in the UK, and how many towns and cities there are between the two. Travelling the same distance in Arctic Scandinavia may have you coming across an array of tiny fishing villages, a vast, remote national park, and a local town. Or just nothing…
Kiruna is a small unassuming town and it is mainly the surroundings which draw the attention of the traveller. A memorable excursion is a dogsledding trip with Kirunanature.com. This can be a pre-booked half-day tour – just perfect for a taster of dogsledding, or a number of days camping, staying in Sami huts, and travelling the area by sled.
“The friendly and knowledgeable guide picked us up from our hotel and took us to the dog kennels. The first thing I can recall is hearing the dogs’ almighty din! They, like us, were excited to get going on a winter adventure. Once zipped into our warm arctic suits, with furry hats and gloves, (provided) we climbed aboard the sled (usually no more than 4 people per sled). Immediately the dogs fell silent as the sled was yanked forward… After sliding along through this fantasy winter wonderland for just under an hour, the dogs guiding us through the forest and over frozen lakes, we stopped at a traditional Lapp tent to eat snacks around a fire, then travel back through the snow, hardly daring to believe it’s real…”
Husky trips and tours like this run at approximately 900 SEK per adult and abut 600 SEK per child. Students always get discounts on trips and excursions. There is a massive choice of excursions including overnight excursions, mixed activity excursions, and night northern lights searching excursions. See below for useful websites with more information.
|ICEBAR at ICEHOTEL!|
The best idea is to book excursions before you go to avoid disappointment. Most trip organisers only require payment on the day, however if booking through the Icehotel pre-payment is usually necessary.
For more information on Kiruna and activities visit:
www.icehotel.com and http://www.kirunalapland.se/en/Home/
HotelThe 3 star rustic but charming Ditt Hotell Jarnvagshotellet is situated at the Kiruna rail station. In fact the hotel is practically on the platform! The owner was very kind and friendly, and the hotel has a personal feel. Rooms are comfortable, clean, warm and very reasonably priced. A basic but substantial breakfast was included. There was also a sauna, as you will find in many hotels in this part of the world.
Staying at ICEHOTEL provides a few different options including the exquisite ice sculpture rooms - completed by local and international artists, with ice furniture, and a different dramatic theme for each room. There also more basic ice rooms with ice furniture, 'snow' rooms - like an igloo, and 'dry' (indoor) accommodation. It is a constant -5 degrees in the Icehotel, and you sleep in Swedish army sleeping bags, on top of surprisingly comfortable Reindeer hides!
The ICEBAR at the Icehotel is fantastic to visit, and although drinks are expensive, it is a wonderful place to drink and have a dance. Make sure to drink soft drinks within half an hour or they will freeze solid!
Abisko National Park
For information about Abisko you can visit:
Snowman Ski Resort and Bardufoss Area(also featured in skiing section)
A great place to stop is the Malselv Resort near Bardufoss (Malselv fjellandsby). This ski resort is tucked away up the side of a mountain. The view down into the valleys below faces West and when the sky is clear the array of colours is magnificent. In the daytime hours the sun creeps upwards behind the mountains in the distance, and sinks ever so slowly again after midday, never reaching the horizon.
Skiing: The ski hire is reasonable and runs at about 800 NOK for half a day for an adult, including a ski lift pass. My experience at this ski resort was in the late afternoon and at this time it was dark. The slopes were well lit and very near to the warm sanctuary of the café, which has a lovely warm fire – much appreciated after getting so cold out on the -20 slopes!
Hotel & Accommodation Suggestions
The Snowman resort has a good choice of accommodation, including fantastic clean and modern apartments with exquisite mountain views. If you are travelling as a group this can work out very economically (for Scandinavia). This accommodation is not on most major hotel booking sites. Visit Snowman resort website at:
Hotel and Food Suggestions
3-star Viking Hotell Tromso, is a great hotel with very friendly staff. Clean and tidy, with a lovely varied breakfast. Contact details: Grønnegata 18, 9008 Tromsø, Norge - 77 64 77 30
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