Swedish Lapland 4 day itinerary
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I had initially booked an organized trip where the company (Nordic visitor)takes care of everything for you apart from flight tickets to Sweden ( price includes 3 days food, activities & accommodation) because I didn’t know anything about Sweden & frankly was a bit stressed out about the initial planning. They however canceled a few days later and offered other days (wouldn’t work for us). I then tried booking through camp Ripan (same deal, everything is taken care of, 2700 USD for 4 days – better deal, activities & accommodation) but they were also booked out for the days we wanted. Finally, I opted to do my own research by writing down all the activities these tour companies were going to offer, and individually booking them. I ended up saving 1000 USD and finding a way…way better accommodation & overall better experience. By booking smaller local companies for activities, prices were better & the experience more personable. Everything was less touristy and we thoroughly enjoyed this experience. We learned a lot about Sweden this way too, talking to people who live there & own small businesses in the areas we visited.
Land in Kiruna
⁃ Check in into your hotel. I recommend Arctic gourmet cabins, where you get the owner/chef cooking meals for you (at an extra price) & honestly this will be some of the best food you’ll have ever eaten. His website claims he is the smallest gourmet restaurant in the world – only 2 tables in the restaurant. You’ll hopefully get to try reindeer, moose and local Swedish fish like Arctic char.
⁃ During winter, the sun sets at 2 or 3 pm, so it will be dark quick. You can either unwind in the cabins/whatever location you choose. Most places have a jacuzzi and sauna. Or book a night tour – like go to Abisko and see/photograph northern lights (what we had planned initially but canceled due to bad weather – we ended up seeing the northern lights from our cabin so that was fantastic)
Morning – Dog sled with Kiruna husky or any other local Kiruna company. Ask Johan for recommendations if you stay at Arctic gourmet cabins, he knows everyone!. Avoid bigger companies( like ice hotel tours) haha…they tend to be packed and less personable. Our last activity was with them and it was so tourist (they were the annoying & rude kind too, don’t be that person)
The night before had been super windy so our trail had been covered up. This meant we’re going to be creating a new trail and it honestly turned out to be quite the task. The dogs are very well trained but occasionally would choose to dive into the fresh snow and play around haha. It was cute to watch but we needed to keep going so at times the leader got quite frustrated. Some dogs would tangle up and it was our responsibility to get out of sleigh (if you weren’t the driver) and untangle them. The hardest task was pushing the sleigh in very deep snow in order to keep it moving, especially if you are a little heavy. My husband did all the work in the beginning and the leader asked him to ride in his sleigh to get a break, so I had an armory sleigh and had to be the driver. I learnt quick what to do and off we went. I had the opposite problem. The sleigh was flying!!! I think it was too light, so I had to constantly brake and prevent my dogs from overtaking the sleigh in front of me. I overturned twice too because it was hard to balance when the dogs picked up speed. After the sledding, we went to an arctic hut and had lunch then coffee. Overall it was a wonderful experience despite all the hiccups. We also saw the northern lights on this night after dinner. They appeared later, at 10pm
⁃ Afternoon : unwind in Jacuzzi/Sauna. During the night, you may want to stay up late to see the northern lights. Choose a location away from city lights. Arctic gourmet cabins were perfect for us since we would just walk outside, sit or stand by the fire and chit chat as we watched the lights. Johan gave us tips on how to photograph them using our DSLR camera.
Borrow snowshoes from your accommodation and snow show around. We were next to a frozen lake or river, so we walked on that as we watched the sunrise/sunset. It was quite the work out, perfect for our afternoon activity – an Arctic massage with hot stones. It included pick up and drop off. We got picked up at noon and the whole activity lasted for about 2 hours. The lady was very sweet, very bubbly for a Swede haha. We had a wonderful experience here, getting a massage as we listened to the fire crackling and the wind whistling outside. After the massage, we had some mint tea & a short tour of the husky kennels. The skies were also beautiful so we enjoyed walking around. In the evening we had some jacuzzi time, dinner, then were outside for 2 hours looking at northern lights.
⁃ Day 4: sleep in, check out. Go to the ice hotel to spend a night in the seasonal ice rooms (original ice hotel) or the year-round ice hotel. We booked a tour on this day so after checking in and getting a locker to put our luggage in, we got some overalls and boots at the desk and went on a Sapmi village/meet the reindeer tour. We learned about the Sapmi, fed reindeer, had a short but very thrilling ride on a reindeer sleigh, then ate reindeer meat with Lingonberry sauce & warm lingonberry juice. This was one of my favorite activities because I learnt so much. The ride to and from the ice hotel were on a sleigh pulled by a snowmobile through the forest and over the frozen lake. We then walked around the ice hotel, looking at all the rooms, taking a million photos of everything!!! Haha and at 8pm, the northern lights appeared so vividly and strong. They started on one side, ran across the entire sky, then started spiraling. It was a sight to behold!. We lasted outside for an hour, but the lights lasted for about 4 hours!!! This was the best show ever. The ice hotel allows guests (not staying there) to tour the rooms from 9a.m to 6 pm, so after 6, you can stroll around in your own pace from room to room. Technically people have already checked in but no one stays in the cold rooms and their personal belongings are stored away, so its nice to just walk around and enjoy the art.
⁃ Day 5: check out, maybe go to Kiruna town and stroll around, or plan an activity of your choice if not flying out until later.
⁃ Book things far out to get better prices and days/times you want.
⁃ The ice hotel experience is one of a kind and you honestly won’t be that cold since they have a sleeping bag and give you a brief of how to stay warm before going to bed. We chose the cheapest rooms and honestly wouldn’t have done it any other way because you see all the other rooms anyway, and once you fall asleep that’s it haha. The room booking also includes breakfast and a free tour of the ice hotel. The ice hotel restaurant was in our opinion not worth the money you spend there for fine dining. Arctic gourmet was so much better.
⁃ If you are a confident driver, rent a car. Even in really bad weather, the roads get plowed but there is still a good amount of snow on the roads. Taxis are expensive in this area.
⁃ Other activities to consider:
⁃ Northern lights tour (usually includes dinner in a teepee), but you can see the northern lights from the ice hotel or Arctic gourmet cabins where we stayed.
⁃ Horseback riding in the wilderness to see moose and reindeer in their natural habitat.
⁃ Ice fishing (you eat the fish you catch)
⁃ Ice sculpting at the ice hotel.
I hope this was helpful. Have a wonderful trip if you decide to visit Swedish Lapland, it’s truly beautiful.