I met an amazing couple from Sweden when I was making my epic summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro and ever since then, I have been intrigued with all that Sweden has to offer the people who live and travel there.
I think it’s about time to add Sweden to my adventure travel bucket list. Read on to discover why visiting Sweden, especially in the winter, is simply amazing!
When asked ‘what do you know about Sweden?’ most people would probably pause before replying that it is the home of IKEA and Abba, and possibly something about the ICEHOTEL. They’re not wrong, but Sweden has so much more to offer than chic and well-priced furniture and a good sing along.
Sweden has the ability to take your breath away in every season, and if you are visiting in the winter make sure you give yourself plenty of time as there is a lot to do.
It should come as no surprise that there are oodles of activities to do in winter in Sweden; when snow covers your home for 5 to 6 months of the year, you too would soon learn to embrace the winter season. From the Scandic institution of cross-country skiing, to the delights of husky sledding and the unbridled adrenaline rush of snowmobiling, the Swedes have got winter covered. And that’s not even mentioning Fika.
So, what is there to do in Sweden in the winter? I’m glad you asked!
The Swedes, and in fact the Scandinavian’s as a whole, are besotted with cross-country skiing. From gliding through pristine, snow-capped forests to whispering across frozen lakes, cross-country skiing is an incredible way to experience nature at your own pace. You can hire all the equipment and an instructor, usually fluent in English, will be thrilled to introduce you to this national sport.
Sweden might not be well-known as a skiing destination other resorts in the U.S. or Europe yet, but with EasyJet now flying direct to the airport 1 hour and 40 minutes from Sweden’s largest ski resort – Åre – you can be sure that Sweden’s combination of stunning scenery, world-class ski slopes and high-quality hotels won’t stay a secret for much longer. The resorts in central Sweden are very family friendly, but it’s easy enough to avoid the peak family times and resorts if you’d rather more of an adult vibe.
A good network of internal flights, trains and busses means it is easy to reach Sweden’s skiing areas from elsewhere in the country – ideal if you’re already in Stockholm or elsewhere in Sweden. If you are an adventurous skier, some of the ski resorts in Swedish Lapland offer un-groomed ski slopes and have an incredible powder record as well as heli-skiing and ski-touring options.
Glamping beneath the Northern Lights
If the ICEHOTEL intrigues you but you would prefer something more authentic then you will love the chance to go camping in the snow in Lapland. Small scale experiences such as glamping run by a Sami family – the Sami are the native reindeer herders of Lapland – give you the opportunity to get an authentic taste of the winter wilderness.
In the heart of the forests of Swedish Lapland, snuggled beneath reindeer hides you can sleep in traditional Lapland style tepees heated by a roaring log stove.
In the day you can explore the forest on traditional skis and snow-shoes and have the opportunity to meet a traditional reindeer herd. At night the remote location provides the perfect conditions for viewing the Northern Lights. Small scale glamping style experiences are the perfect wilderness escape for refreshing your body and soul, plus when you work with the native people you help support the local way of life and culture, giving you a double heart-warming glow.
When you first go husky sledding and you’re surrounded by upwards of 16 dogs yapping excitedly as they strain against their harnesses, eager to be on their way, you wouldn’t be alone in wondering how this can be relaxing. Regardless of the noise, the dogs’ enthusiasm is infectious, and you will soon be itching to fly into the forest or across the fells.
Yet once the dogs are released everything will suddenly go quiet. It is now just you and the wind in your face and the glorious, snowy world you’ve been plunged into as the dogs fly through their beloved forest on silent paws.
Like husky sledding, cross-country skiing and snow shoeing, snowmobiling is a great way to explore the snowy landscapes of Sweden away from the beaten track. Unlike the others, this is a winner for petrol heads and anyone who loves the roar of an engine. There are marked snowmobiling trails in Sweden but it’s just as pleasant to hire a guide, who will help you explore safely and find hidden gems and tasty pit-stops.
You need a driving licence to drive the snowmobile, but most snowmobiles can take a passenger if you’re traveling in a group and some of your group can’t, or would prefer not to, drive.
If you want to get back to basics, without skis, animals or engines then snowshoeing should be on your activity list. With nothing more complicated to think about than picking up your feet, snowshoes allow you to explore the snowy wonderland of Sweden under your own steam. Just the crunch of fresh snow beneath you and the creak of trees and rustle of wind.
Hunt the Northern Lights
Central and northern Sweden has great conditions for viewing the Aurora Borealis, otherwise known as the Northern Lights, thanks to low light pollution and a good chance of the solar winds being strong enough to create auroras in those latitudes. As well as dedicated Aurora hunting trips and Northern Lights photography courses some companies provide evening husky sledding, snow-shoeing and snowmobiling trips so you can combine your activities.
This one is on a lot of bucket lists, so if you’re in Sweden you should definitely think about giving it a go. As well as organised trips, some hotels have their own detection equipment and do a wake-up service if the lights appear. Alternatively, if you’re looking to save money, there are a lot of apps and websites that will give you the information to hunt them yourself.
If you love all things engine and adrenaline then you should definitely give ice-driving a go, although obviously not in your hire car! It’s time to go all James Bond and drive across a frozen lake in the heart of Sweden – with an instructor of course!
That being said, if you do hire a car in Sweden and head off the main roads in winter don’t be alarmed if you reach a road that appears to your eyes to be little more than snow compacted into sheet ice. The snowy conditions mean it is law to have winter tyres from November to April, and that applies to your hire car too. You will be astounded by the difference the right tyres make, but still take care on the roads if you’re driving yourself in the winter.
With most coffee shops offering a pastry or treat of some description – try the cinnamon buns! – even the most dedicated healthy eater would be hard pressed to avoid temptation when they venture inside between activities to warm their hands around a coffee or tea. But thanks to Fika you don’t have to. It would, of course, be silly to visit a country and not enjoy one of its traditions, and Fika is exactly that; a Swedish tradition.
What is Fika? Fika is a Swedish term for a social coffee break which usually includes something sweet. Taking a moment to reconnect with the people around you, whether that is colleagues, friends or family, while enjoying a drink and something sweet is a habit we believe should be up there with Hygge as Scandinavian traditions go. But either way, now you can enjoy that cake guilt free.
If you are intrigued by Fika, you’re going to love the traditional foods found in Sweden. If you’re ready to tantalize your tastebuds with authentic Swedish fare, you simply must check out these 15 traditional dishes to eat in Sweden!
Ready to Go?
There is much more you can do in the winter: ice fishing, winter swimming in holes cracked in the surface of frozen lakes (you go in a sauna first), reindeer safaris, ice skating, ice climbing, and staying in a real life tree house are all things you can do in Sweden in the winter as well.
For personalized suggestions on what to do in Sweden, contact the team of experts at skiSweden who will be more than happy to chat to you about adventure ideas.
After booking your adventure to wonderful Sweden, be sure to purchase travel insurance too. I always buy my travel insurance with the cancel for no reason option. You should too!
Author Bio: Hannah is the marketing co-ordinator at Scandinavian Travel, the home of skiSweden. She began working for Scandinavian Travel in 2014 as part of the skiNorway team and has been helping them deliver exceptional holidays for discerning travelers ever since.
Have you ever been to Sweden? If not, do you want to go? Let us know in a comment below what excites you the most about visiting Sweden.
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