A land of myths, legends and phenomenal natural light displays
High above the Arctic Circle lies a land of myths, legends and phenomenal natural light displays. Discover Swedish Lapland in all its winter glory, home to the gravity defying Ice Hotel, frozen seas and some of the best spots in the world from which to be entranced by the life changing Northern Lights.
We begin our adventure into Swedish Lapland aboard a flight from London to Stockholm. On arrival in the Swedish capital, we connect with our direct, internal flight to Luleå where we transfer to our hotel for the next two nights, the 4-Star Clarion Hotel Sense. Located in the heart of this coastal city, this modern hotel is within easy walking distance of many of Luleå's most popular landmarks. After checking in, we take some time to settle in and enjoy dinner together.
This morning we are driven the 45 minutes to Piteå by coach. Here we embark on a boat trip unlike any other as we take to the waters of the Piteälven River on a specially adapted craft that forges its way steadily through the ice that forms further out to sea. As we start to break into the thick open water ice shelf that is main feature of winter in this part of the world, the moment is marked with a satisfying crunch and a creak as our vessel successfully breaks through the frozen elements. We plough onwards, the hull slowly churning up broken chunks of the Gulf of Bothnia until we reach a point at which we can climb down onto the ice itself, enjoying a hot drink at the same time to help keep the chill weather at bay.
We return to Luleå this afternoon where you have some free time to look around. Perhaps make a visit to the church or make your way to Gammelstad Old Town. Being a named a UNESCO World Heritage site due to its status as a well preserved 'church village', Gammelstad is home to a collection of traditional wooden houses that were once a common sight across Scandinavia. Later this evening, we enjoy an excursion to Brändön Lodge, a log timber building on the edge of the frozen Bothnian Sea. Here we are greeted by a local Sami artist, who introduces us to an exhibition of Sami art and handicraft. We also learn more about the fascinating culture of these ancient people. Additionally, the unique location of this remote lodge provides us with an excellent opportunity to try and see the elusive Northern Lights.
After check out this morning, we make our way to the railway station. Saying goodbye to Luleå we board the train to Kiruna, setting out underneath a low-slung winter's sky. Travelling ever further northwards we are treated to sweeping snow-laden Swedish vistas as we near the country's northernmost town, positioned ninety miles north of the Arctic Circle. On the quiet outskirts, we fi nd our home for two nights, the 4-Star Camp Ripan. We are treated to a special dinner tonight, sitting down to a creative fourcourse menu inspired by the Northern Lights. We also enjoy a spellbinding slide show on Aurora Borealis before returning back to the hotel.
We begin today's explorations with a visit to the famous Ice Hotel, the first of its kind, located just outside of Kiruna in the village of Jukkasjärvi. Since 1989, every winter the snow and ice here has been transformed into a life-size work of art in which the entire structure of the hotel is a blank canvas for artists who sculpt their work from the frozen waters of the Torne River.
Each spring the structure melts when the warmer weather arrives, making each season's creation a complete one-off . In the late afternoon we enjoy a 'Sami experience', discovering the lives and culture of Sweden's indigenous people. We travel to a Sami village where we meet the reindeer, enjoy a traditional Sami feast in a 'lavvu' (Sami tent) and listen to local folk tales.
After checking out of our hotel, we head to the train station where we catch the direct service straight to Björkliden. An outstanding resort located amongst the mountains of Swedish Lapland and 250 kilometres north of the Arctic Circle, this is a destination famed for it's world-class skiing, but also for being one of the best places in Europe to see the Northern Lights.
After checking into our accommodation, the Hotel Fjället where we enjoy a three night stay, we can look forward to our evening's expedition out into the wintry wilderness. Firstly however comes dinner followed by a fascinating talk by Aurora photographer and expert Chad Blakley. After revealing some of his secrets about the best way to capture the image of the gamboling lights that might appear in the sky tonight, one of his experienced colleagues will escort us out onto the snowy tundra for a chance to put our new found skills to the test. From our viewpoint in the heart of Abisko National Park, renowned as one of the best spots in the world from which to spot this magical light show because of very specific weather conditions that mean clouds here are a rare occurrence, we wait in anticipation for the performance of a lifetime.
Your day is at leisure to relax and soak up the beauty of our surroundings until this evening, when we wrap up warmly and set our for the Aurora Sky Station, an observation centre that forms part of the research facility here.
We travel by coach out into the park, and after an exhilarating ride to the summit on a traditional two-seater ski lift, we have time here to look out on the huge expanse of sky visible from the panoramic windows. Free from light pollution, this is another priceless opportunity to see the mythical, swirling Northern Lights as they put in hopefully yet another appearance for us.
Today you might like to unwind at the hotel, perhaps taking advantage of the on-site sauna, or restaurant with views stretching out over Torneträsk Lake. Tonight we enjoy a final group meal together back at the hotel.
After breakfast, we return to Kiruna today, transferring to the airport by coach on our arrival. From here we board our flight to Stockholm, where we join our connecting flight back to London.
After moving unexpectedly to Abisko National Park with his wife a little over five years ago, Chad made the area his home after one magical winter inspired him to make chasing, photographing and helping visitors discover the magical Northern Lights his life's work. A professional photographer since his teenage years, Chad's passion for the art form makes him the perfect guest speaker to help us begin to capture the best possible images of the Aurora for ourselves. Note: If Chad is unavailable, one of his guides will deliver the talk.
Please note that while every departure of this tour features the same excursions, they may not necessarily be in the order listed above.
Provisional departure and return times, where available, can be found together with our dates and prices by clicking on the 'Prices & Availability' button. We write to all booked customers approximately 10 weeks prior to the start of their tour to advise the exact departure and return time for their particular group.
An escorted experience and all travel arrangements
Comfortable accommodation in your destination
Delicious meals included
Exciting excursions and free time to explore
A land of myths, legends and phenomenal natural light displays