Now that the world is reopening more widely, many have started to plan for upcoming adventures and journeys. Considering the idea of a winter getaway? We’re excited to share some highlights from Jean Tay, a travel specialist from Scott Dunn, who recently embarked on a thrilling adventure in March this year to experience the wintery magic of Sweden for herself:
“My trip was truly epic and a great way to come out of two years of zero travel. It was such an incredible experience to finally see the elusive Northern Lights in person and while I’m no speed junkie, I had so much unexpected fun exploring the frozen wilderness on a husky sled and zipping through the frozen lakes on the snowmobile. I also had the opportunity to make my own candy canes, which I’m sure the little ones will appreciate and enjoy, and I learned a lot about Sami culture and their food. I got to sample really interesting local food, from moose meat to nettle soup, sweets made from local blueberries and dandelion honey!
For those of you that are looking to catch the Northern Lights or are searching for a little more adventure for an upcoming winter getaway, there’s something for everyone here and I would highly recommend Sweden.”
Read on to find out more about Jean’s pick of stand-out properties as well as some highlight experiences that would make for a fantastic family adventure or romantic winter getaway. We’ve also included some insider tips that may come in helpful for those planning or considering a trip to Sweden in winter.
Best Time to Visit
If you’re looking to catch the Northern Lights, the best time to visit would be from October to April. The shoulder season, either in March or at the end of September more specifically, is when the skies are clear allowing full visibility of the awe-inspiring display, and it is also not freezing cold. In winter, the temperatures could dip to –35°C.
What to do in Sweden
If we’ve piqued your interest, here are some unique experiences that Scott Dunn can include in a carefully curated itinerary to Sweden just for you.
Built to a new design each winter, Ice Hotel in Swedish Lapland is literally one of the coolest places to stay in the world – made entirely from snow and ice with every room flaunting its own unique theme and design. Inspired by the ice architecture of the hotel? Try creating your own ice sculpture out of pristine, natural ice that’s been harvested from Torne River. Guided by a skilled sculptor, this class educates guests on the origins of the crystal block, an introduction on how to use the tools, and the techniques of basic ice sculpting. It is actually quite a therapeutic experience!
Jean recommends: After ice sculpting, make time to visit the Ice Bar where the bar and seats including the cups are made of ice. Each drink comes with a time limit (approx 45 minutes) as the cup melts if you don’t finish your drink in time. More reason for a bottom’s up!
A truly romantic and one-of-a-kind dining experience, venture out onto a frozen lake under the moonlight by snowmobile to a tipi tent with its own fireplace right atop the frozen waters. Inside, you’ll be served a delicious three-course candlelight dinner with a fireplace to keep warm and. If you’re lucky, you may even catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights dancing in the skies above!
A kid friendly activity, learn more about Sami culture and the magical emblem of Lapland; the Reindeer. The Sami people are an indigenous group who can be found across the Northernmost regions of Sweden, Norway, Finland and Russia. The Sami people in Sweden centre their livelihood around reindeer herding and on this guided experience, you’ll understand how the deer are integral to their daily life. As well as enjoying a cosy and delicious traditional lunch, you will also learn about the history and traditions of this formerly nomadic tribe.
Where to Stay
Sweden specialises in building properties in harmony with the natural surroundings. For a truly unique experience, we suggest splitting a stay between properties as they complement each other with its distinctive characteristics and varied location – providing a great snapshot of this wonderful part of the world. Our travel specialists would be delighted to advise our guests on which accommodation to choose for the perfect holiday getaway.
- For those looking to get off-the-grid in style: Loggers Lodge
Surrounded by scenic forests and completely off-the-beaten-track, Loggers Lodge offers the ultimate in terms of exclusivity and privacy making it a luxurious and cozy hideaway for two. Having recently undergone some renovations, the property now includes an additional glass cabin (for 2 more guests) that will provide incredible views of the snow-covered trees and breathtaking scenery. You’ll be well taken care of by private guides and will be able to tuck into traditional Lappish meals, made with local organic ingredients, courtesy of your private chef.
Insider tip: While here, sign up for front-row seats of the Northern Lights and admire the panoramic frozen vistas while seated in a state-of-the-art heated glass carriage pulled by a snowmobile.
- For group-travellers or families: Brändön Lodge
Located on the Luleå archipelago, this cosy lodge is perfectly set up for families with private two-bedroom log cabins overlooking the sea. Brändön Lodge makes an ideal base to explore the Lappish wilderness anytime of the year – offering guests their own space and privacy with a plethora of extraordinary experiences such as guided foraging and seal safaris, ideal for bigger groups.
Insider tip: For a truly unique experience, enjoy a hovercraft adventure across the frozen waters of the Luleå Archipelago. Encounter towering icebergs, fields of pack ice and incredible views as you journey across the frozen sea to the outermost islands.
- For those looking for wilderness adventures: Arctic Retreat
Hidden away deep in the forest, the exclusive and intimate Arctic Retreat is located in one of the most stunning spots in Swedish Lapland – offering 3 duplex log cabins with a truly exclusive, authentic, and personalised experience. Warm up in your private hot tub while soaking up the incredible views of the Lappish wilderness. For the adventurous, experience everything this magnificent area has to offer including husky sledding, snowshoe walks, hiking, snowmobiling, ice fishing, and Nordic skiing. This great escape is the perfect location to enjoy the most relaxing experience with almost complete silence and serenity.
Insider tip: Taking all 3 cabins would be perfect for a group or a large family travelling together – offering a completely exclusive experience.
Jean’s Top Tips:
- Immerse yourself in local culture as you mingle and dine with the local Sami. Sami, also known as Laplanders, is a local tribe in Finland and Norway whose typical livelihood involves reindeer herding. Through my journey in Sweden, I met Anna who is a reindeer herder, and Eva Gunnare who harvests and incorporates nature’s gifts such as flowers, vegetables, and herbs in her cooking. I highly recommend her nettle soup with dandelion honey, her candies which are made of blueberries, lygon berries, cloudberries as well as mushroom focaccia which was absolutely delicious. For the more adventurous meat eaters, I also recommend trying some moose meat delicacies which are especially delicious and nutritious owing to the mooses’ diet of nutritious forest plants.
- Bring a Swimsuit for the Sauna and Ice Dips. You never thought you would need a swimsuit in freezing cold Lapland. But you must try cold bathing, which involves ice dips along the coastlines and at the edges of inland lakes after a sauna. Cold bathing has been long thought to have healing abilities. In fact, the region is known for many health retreats. The Arctic Bath Hotel’s spa and ice bath is a must-visit for me.
- Stay an Extra Night in Stockholm. Most travellers only stay one night in Stockholm on the way to Lapland. I think it is worth spending another night here to explore the numerous attractions, restaurants and (e.g. Mathias Dahlgren, a 2 Michelin stars modern gastronomic restaurant), cocktail bars (e.g. The Terrace Bar at Lydmar, the perfect spot to enjoy cocktails and live music).
For families, I would recommend including experiences such as a visit to a candy factory and checking out museums (e.g. ABBA The Museum or the VASA (ship) museum). If you’re visiting around late November to Christmas time, you’ll have the chance to wander round some of the most colourful Christmas markets and try Swedish delicacies from glögg, a spicy mulled wine, to traditional gingerbread and polkagriskola (peppermint toffee).
- Opt for Aurora Wake Up Calls. Most hotels will alert their guests when the Northern Lights are visible. However, if you want to be extra vigilant, I recommend downloading the Aurora forecast app on your phone to determine the best daily timings to catch any light activities.
Also, I’d like to add that the lights may not be very visible to the naked eye so I highly recommend taking along a professional camera to capture the lights well. The lights come in varying shades from yellowish green to blueish purple and can be very pretty to photograph. But it is quite a phenomenal experience to just settle beneath the ever-changing lights and watch the sky do its magic.