Wild Adventures beyond the Arctic Circle
Have you ever met one of those people who’s always going on about just how well travelled they are? Well bring them the perfect gift from Sweden’s rural north – reindeer cheese. This traditional tasty treat, also known as renost, is a staple of the Sami, the area’s indigenous people, whose precious reindeer herds have been used efficiently for food, clothing and other resources for centuries.
This culturally significant, most northerly part of Sweden, cradled between the arms Norway and Finland, lies hundreds of miles from the bustling cosmopolitan capital of Stockholm. It’s a land of snow and ice, a rustic idyll of woodlands, beautiful lakes, majestic mountains and tumbling rivers, with the rugged coastline of the Bay of Bothnia framing the south eastern shore. The chance to experience a more remote way of life might be calling you, but it’s not all hiking boots and wild swimming. The region is also home to a number of sizable towns filled with fascinating museums, colourful markets, top restaurants and of course a plethora of cafes where you can partake in your daily Swedish fika coffee and cake.
The busiest times of year for visitors arriving into Swedish Lapland are the summer months for long days under the midnight sun, or the depths of winter for husky sledding and other snowy activities. Low season aficionados however will find the fewest crowds and best prices during spring April to May or autumn September to November. At these times the weather can be unpredictable but never extreme. Like all good low season travellers, you’ll be prepared for seasonal changes expecting the weather may be sunny, overcast, rainy, snowy, cool or warm. These months offer a unique insight into arctic lifestyle at some of the most beautiful times of year. In the spring snow starts to melt but if you really want to join in snow shoeing, ice fishing and skiing this is still possible with snow falling as late as June in the very north. Elsewhere though, the thaw means easier access to stunning hiking and biking trails, waterfalls are in full flow and rivers and lakes rich in a bounty for anglers. With longer days and clearer routes, road trips around this spectacular area return to the agenda. Come autumn we are back into the season for Northern Lights coverage with the eerie green glow appearing from early September. With no snow on the ground, the region feels darker even than it does during winter making the aurora colours extra vibrant. In addition, the tranquil lakes haven’t yet frozen and so the reflect the night sky, giving the gift of a truly unforgettable evening.
The Beautiful Outdoors
Enjoying nature is a way of life for the Swedes. Spring and autumn hiking is popular with locals, whether a romantic stroll with your other half, a fun day out with the family or a longer trek over a week or more. The areas around Arjeplog, Jokkmokk and Årrenjarka are especially good choices. Fat biking is increasingly popular with tyres to suit all seasons. Snowsports at Riksgränsën, the legendary ski resort 200km within the Arctic Circle, remain accessible until June and sees skiers descend pistes that cross the Swedish/Norwegian border under the midnight sun. Kayak the still waters of magnificent lakes and dine on the trout, salmon or grayling caught locally that very same day.
Science has confirmed what intuition has long known. Getting out into nature, unplugging from wi-fi, and a bit of pampering does us the world of good, lowering heart rate, reducing anxiety, and promoting a sense of wellbeing. Forest bathing, the practice of spending time wandering the woods is increasingly popular, with a number of eco-lodges and glamp-sites hosting a perfect escape without compromising on quality. The sauna of course is away of life with just about every accommodation provider offering this traditional hotspot as standard. Or indulge in a full spa experience with massage treatments and infinity pools looking out over the slopes of endless Lapland vistas. Now that is enough to make even your most well-travelled friends as green with envy as the Northern Lights above you.