The Swedish Laplands are one of the only places in Europe where you can really feel like you are seeing nature at its unrefined best. Think tall forests, sweeping snowy plains, majestic craggy mountains and very little habitation, and you have the Laplands. Home to the indigenous Sami people (called Sápmi in their own language), Lapland has many interesting cultural and wildlife adventures in store for the eager traveller.
Findings suggest that Sami people have lived in the Arctic for over one thousand years, across modern day Finland, Norway, Russia and Sweden. Sami people are all over Sweden but there is a concentration of the indigenous population in the Northern Laplands, where they traditionally lived and farmed reindeer. Today, only 10% of Swedish Sami earn a living from grazing reindeer, while many create family businesses that combine tourism, fishing and crafts. This is perhaps due to the difficult relationship the Sami have with the Swedes – although a UN recognised indigenous people now, Sami culture and people have been oppressed over the centuries.
Sami culture is spread all through Lapland, but Jokkmokk is its beating heart, just north of the Artic Circle. Here, visit the Ajtte Sami Museum and Mountain Garden as well as many local craft and food markets. Our Taste of Swedish Lapland by Rail package takes you to this fascinating meeting place as well as Gallivare and Kiruna, both iron-ore mining centres that are unrefined but charming.
Nearby Kiruna, visiting the world famous ICEHOTEL is an experience like no other, a hotel carved out of ice every year in the winter. Stay overnight as a part of our Absolutely Ice Deluxe package in a thermal sleeping bag on a bed built of snow and ice, covered with traditional reindeer hides and have a drink in the stunning IceBar. On the same tour, visit Harads, a quaint village where you can stay in a treehouse at the TreeHotel.
Lulea, on the coast, is the capital of Lapland and is the perfect base to try out some thrilling activities. With lakes, forests and mountains surrounding, in the summertime hike, kayak and fish, while in the winter, try your hand at dog-sledding, snow shoeing and snowmobiling. In Lulea itself, lose yourself in history in the World Heritage listed Gammelstad Church Town, which has a 13th century church and roots in the Middle Ages.
In the wintertime, the Laplands are the ideal place to watch the Northern Lights and there is no better place to be than in Abisko National Park. Adventure opportunities abound with back country skiing slopes and even the chance to climb a frozen waterfall in Abisko canyon on our Abisko Adventure package! Take a chairlift up Mount Nuolja to be in the ideal position to spot the green flames of Aurora Borealis from the Aurora Sky Station.