Swedish Lapland

I recently went to Denmark, my fourth Nordic country, and it’s made me all nostalgic for my other three Nordic adventures… and they really were adventures! 

I have sat down to write about Sweden a thousand times but never seem able to put words to screen. My snowy adventure in Swedish Lapland in February 2013 was such a once-in-a-lifetime, out-of-this-world experience that my words will never be able to do it justice. But I’ve dug out the diary I kept at the time and am giving it a shot.

Just days after my 21st birthday I landed at Kiruna airport, a town nestled in the far north of Swedish Lapland. We were heading to Björkliden, out in the arctic wilderness, for four days and it was like nothing I had ever experienced before.

Swedish Lapland

Swedish Lapland

The plane landed in the dark, somewhat surreally, on a runway covered in snow. Within moments, our luggage was being driven off to the small ski resort we were staying in and we were gearing up in snowsuits and helmets so that we soon resembled giant slugs. And then – just an hour after getting off the plane – we were riding snowmobiles (skidoo) through the wilderness. I wasn’t driving so I just got to sit back – okay cling on for dear life – as we flew through snow-covered Narnia in the dark. As it was ‘warm for this area’ – a toasty minus 5 – and we were appropriately geared up, the cold only really stung your face at that point. The space was vast; just snow and trees and the occasional cabin on the lakeside (we whizzed across the frozen lakes no problem). It was unbelievable.

After a while, our guide stopped in the woods at a wilderness cabin. Once the skidoos were turned off, it was incredible how silent it was – apart from the occasional husky howl in the distance! The snow made it easy to see in the pitch black, helped by the vast amount of stars visible without artificial lighting. We were suddenly like kids on the world’s best snow day. The snow was knee deep and begging to be jumped in. And so that’s just what we did. I can also remember creeping to the edge of the woods, which had a sudden drop, and looking out across the frozen valley in awe.

We were taken into the cabin – which had several foot of snow sat on top of it like a weird hat – and sat around the open fire where we drank warm lingonberry juice and ate sandwiches in the warmth.

And then we were off again, whizzing across a frozen lake to the ice hotel!

Swedish Lapland

Swedish Lapland

Swedish Lapland

Swedish Lapland

Swedish Lapland

Swedish Lapland

The ice hotel is built every year from natural snow and ice from the Torne river and it is 100% on my bucket list to go back one day and spend the night. This time though, we were just popping in for a nose. From the outside, it looked like an enormous, extravagant igloo. We headed in through the reindeer skin doors into an entirely-made-out-of-ice lobby and then through to the Ice bar. There was a blue-glowing ice bar, a multi-coloured ice chandelier and Emile Sande was playing on the sound system! Vodka was the main drink on offer because it doesn’t freeze, so we all had a vodka cocktail and chilled – lol – in the bar area for a while. It’s a cliché, but it all felt so surreal.

Swedish Lapland

Swedish Lapland

Swedish Lapland

Swedish Lapland

Swedish Lapland

Swedish Lapland

We got a pre-arranged taxi to Björkliden. It was a long journey but when we were nearly there, my dad suddenly grabbed my arm and pointed and there were northern lights flashing through the window! We arrived a few minutes later and when we stepped out the taxi – bam – northern lights across the whole sky! They weren’t as dramatic as you see on the TV but they were a bright emerald green, creeping over the mountains and curling and dancing across the sky. We were wandering around vaguely looking for our cabin but with our eyes really fixated above. The temperature had dropped significantly and my hands physically hurt in the cold, but so worth it! When we eventually found our cabin, we stood on the balcony watching them across the whole sky.

The next morning, we had our first look at the area in daylight. That view. Our balcony overlooked a frozen lake and we were surrounded by snow covered mountains. Everything sparkled as the sun rose (about mid-morning) and we were treated to the northern lights during the day time which is a difficult one to describe – the colours of the sky were gorgeous!

What. A. Welcome.

Swedish Lapland

Swedish Lapland

Swedish Lapland