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Journey to Swedish Lapland (virtually) through these photos

10Best logo 10Best 11/17/2020 Lydia Schrandt, Special to USA TODAY 10Best
a dog that is standing in the snow: Sami reindeer © Asaf Kliger/ / Sami reindeer

Welcome to Swedish Lapland

Swedish Lapland comprises vast swathes of wilderness – wide open spaces ripe for outdoor adventures beneath the midnight sun or the northern lights. Experience the magic of the North on this virtual tour.

a group of people walking across a snow covered mountain: Sami reindeer in a line © Staffan Widstrand/ Sami reindeer in a line

Sami community

Some 20,000 Sami live in Sweden, largely in the north. This indigenous Finno-Ugric community has their own language, flag, heritage and parliament. Many eco-tourism activities in Lapland, including reindeer sled rides and northern lights tours, are led by Sami guides.

a blurry image of a grass covered field: Northern lights over Abisko, Kiruna © Swedish Lapland Northern lights over Abisko, Kiruna

The northern lights

A highlight of a winter visit to Swedish Lapland is the chance to see the northern lights. Sweden’s proximity to the Arctic Circle makes it possible to experience the natural light display, a result of solar particles colliding with gases in the Earth’s atmosphere.

a man standing next to a lake: Midnight sun in Björkliden © Swedish Lapland Midnight sun in Björkliden

Land of the midnight sun

If you’re in the very north of Sweden (above the Arctic Circle) during the two months around the summer solstice, you’ll notice that the sun doesn’t set. This allows for long days of outdoor adventure.

a row of cars parked on the side of a river: Gammelstad Church Town © Swedish Lapland Gammelstad Church Town

The UNESCO-listed Gammelstad Church Town

The UNESCO World Heritage-listed Gammelstad Church Town is Sweden’s largest and best-preserved church town. Some 400 wooden houses surround the stone church, built in 1492. Guides in period costumes staff the open-air museum next to the church, offering a glimpse at what life was like in the village during the 1800s.

a bench is sitting in the snow: Arctic Bath © Anders Blomqvist/ Arctic Bath

Room with a view

A stay at Arctic Bath, a spa hotel on the Luleå River, means staying in a floating hotel that freezes into the ice in the winter, or in a cabin on land with floor-to-ceiling glass windows overlooking the wilderness.

a pile of snow: Sápmi Nature Camp © Lennart Pittja/Sápmi Nature/ Sápmi Nature Camp

Glamping adventure

Chase the midnight sun or the northern lights on a glamping trip to Swedish Lapland. This region boasts numerous luxury camping experiences, including the Sápmi Nature Camp. Located north of the arctic circle, this glamping site welcomes guests to stay in Sámi tents and experience Sámi culture.

a couple of people that are standing in the snow: Outdoor fika at Huuva Hideaway © Tina Stafrén/ Outdoor fika at Huuva Hideaway

Outdoor fika, a winter tradition

No matter the season or the region, the fika ranks as an important part of Swedish culture. Making time for fika means spending time with friends over a cup of coffee and a snack. The word 'fika' can be used as a noun or a verb, and you can fika just about anywhere.

Coffee cheese © Pernilla Ahlsén/ Coffee cheese

Coffee and kaffeost (coffee cheese)

In Northern Sweden, coffee is typically served with cubes of a squeaky cheese in a wooden Sámi cup known as a guksi. The warmth of the coffee softens the cheese and reduces its rubbery texture.

a snow covered forest: Treehotel © Tina Stafrén/ Treehotel

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Sleep in the trees

Treehotel, one of the most famous hotels in Sweden, lets guests sleep among the trees close to the Arctic Circle. Each tree room is suspended 13 to 20 feet above the ground. This room, known as the Mirrorcube, was designed by Tham & Videgård architects with mirrored glass.

a group of people posing for the camera: Jokkmokk Market event © Asaf Kliger/ Jokkmokk Market event

Jokkmokk Market

For more than four centuries, the Jokkmokk Market has served as a community gathering place. Held on the first Thursday every February, the market features concerts, exhibitions and shops selling Sámi handicrafts.

a group of people cross country skiing on a snow covered slope: Cross-country skiing adventure © Anna Öhlund/ Cross-country skiing adventure

Cross-country skiing

Skiing has been a way of life in Swedish Lapland for thousands of years. For much of the year, cross-country skiing is one of the best ways to enjoy the great outdoors.

a group of people cross country skiing in the snow: Dog sledding adventure © Anna Öhlund/ Dog sledding adventure

Dog sledding

Dog sledding is a favorite winter adventure in Northern Sweden. Trips range from a couple of hours to days. A team of Huskies can cover between nine and 25 miles per day. As you zip through the snowy forests and across the icy flatlands, keep an eye out for reindeer, arctic hares, wolverines and even the occasional Arctic fox.

a man standing on top of a snow covered mountain: Sarek national park hiker © Fredrik Schlyter/ Sarek national park hiker

Sarek National Park

Sweden is home to 30 national parks, including Sarek National Park. This is a land of glaciers, narrow valleys, river deltas and mountains rising more than 6,500 feet above sea level.

a person riding skis on a body of water: Canoeing on Byske river © Ted Logart/ Canoeing on Byske river

On the water

During the summer months, Lapland's thousands of lakes and numerous rivers set the scene for canoeing, kayaking and fishing. One of the best areas for a paddle is Skellefteå, the southern gateway to Swedish Lapland.

a large body of water: Island of Hamnskär © Ted Logart/ Island of Hamnskär

Sweden's archipelago

When you think of Sweden, you might not immediately think of islands. But the country has an extensive archipelago extending along its entire 2,000-mile coastline. 

a person standing in front of a mountain: King’s Trail © Michael Jönsson/Scandinav Bildbyrå/ King’s Trail

Hiking the King’s Trail

The King’s Trail (Kungsleden), the longest and most famous hiking trail in Sweden, attracts hikers from around the world each summer – and skiers each winter. The trail winds for some 250 miles through the Scandinavian Mountain Range.

ICEHOTEL © Asaf Kliger/Icehotel/ ICEHOTEL

World's first ice hotel

The village of Jukkasjärvi is home to a Swedish icon, the original Icehotel. Opened in 1989, the year-round ice hotel features works of art carved into the ice by artists from around the globe. The ice blocks used to build the hotel each year are harvested from the Torne River.

a hand holding a fish: More than 50 species of freshwater fish can be found in Sweden © Anders Tedeholm/ More than 50 species of freshwater fish can be found in Sweden

Fishing in Northern Sweden

No matter where you are in Sweden, water isn’t far away, Some nine percent of the country is comprised of rivers and lakes. The four national rivers and more than 30,000 lakes in Lapland make the region a fly fishing paradise.

Moose in Swedish forset © Swedish Lapland Moose in Swedish forset

The king of the forest

Sweden is home to around 350,000 moose – known as the kings of the forest. Bulls can stand more than six feet tall, and each year, there are around 6,000 traffic accidents involving a moose.

a hand holding an apple: Blueberries from Sweden © Swedish Lapland Blueberries from Sweden

Wild blueberries

The policy of Allemansrätten, the "Right of Public Access," allows everyone in Sweden to roam freely across the land. In the summer, this often means heading out into the wilderness to pick wild blueberries, lingonberries, cloudberries and mushrooms.

a car parked on the side of a snow covered road: Lapland Ice Driving © Swedish Lapland Lapland Ice Driving

Ice driving

When Lake Uddjaur freezes over, it becomes one of the world’s most unique driving schools. At Lapland Ice Driving, visitors can drive a Porsche, Lamborghini, Maserati or Ferrari across 15 miles of arctic ice track.

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