Arriving in Swedish Lapland in early January, I stepped off the plane to a "warm" -10˚C (as described by a local)… this is a land of snowy wilderness, where there are more reindeer than people, allowing travellers to immerse themselves in nature in its purest form and escape the chaos of everyday life. Here are four reasons why Swedish Lapland should be your next holiday destination...
Swedish Lapland is the perfect place for both the hard-hitting adventure seekers and the relaxing-in-nature types alike, or those looking for a bit of both! If you're looking for a thrill, grab a snowmobile and whizz over the lakes in search of a moose, try heli-skiing or strap on some snowshoes for a hike. For a slower-paced, more relaxing experience try your hand at catching your dinner while ice fishing, heat up in a sauna or even try your luck at catching a sighting of the epic Northern lights. My favourite experience of the trip was being a musher for a day; arriving at the kennel to more than twenty energetic fluffy dogs, jumping and barking, raring to go. Cosy up in the sled or try your hand at steering your own as you skid over the ice.
One of the oldest cultures in Northern Europe, the Sami people live across Sweden, Norway, Finland and Russia and (fun fact alert) have over 300 words for snow and a total of eight different seasons. To the north of the Arctic Circle, near the town of Gällivare, lives a Sami called Lennart Pittja who runs Sampi Nature Camp, which comprises a handful of Lavvu tents, a communal fire pit and a dining cabin (there is no electricity or running water). I helped Lennart cook some fresh fish caught in the nearby lake and spent the rest of the evening entranced by his stories about the indigenous Sami people and their history. The Sami have been herding reindeer since prehistoric times - you also can experience a day with his brother Kenneth, the local reindeer herder.
Swedish Lapland is a snow-filled playground for family fun and its remoteness really lends itself to bonding time without having to contend with phones, televisions and the internet. Enjoy traditional games, reading and the Great Outdoors as a family - you won't be short of fun things to do. Grab some sledges (or a husky sled) and head out into the wilderness, returning to roast marshmallows before a steamy sauna to warm up!
From Lavvu tents to the Ice Hotel, Swedish Lapland is home to a range of cool new arctic retreats. North-west of Lulea in the village Harads lies the Treehotel. Opened in 2010 and run by Kent Lindvall, this off-the-grid masterpiece is a key attraction to Swedish Lapland. With seven unique rooms suspended in the trees and views across the vast land of snow, there is no other hotel in the world like it. The aptly named Mirrorcube, Bird's Nest and The UFO are just a few of the rooms swaying in the trees.
There is good reason the famous Ice Hotel attracts thousands of guests each year. 34 carefully selected artists from 13 countries travel to Jukkasjärvi and have just two weeks to carve their designs for each room. Some of the rooms this year, all at a toasty -5°C, featured Jellyfish, a Victorian suite, and for those of us with a sweet tooth, a Candy Shop. After collecting a warm sleeping bag, I slept on reindeer skins throughout the night to be woken up to a cup of warm lingonberry juice - a truly unique, totally Lapland experience!
So what are you waiting for? Grab your snow boots, get in touch and start planning your trip to the winter wonderland of Swedish Lapland.