The town of Luleå in Swedish Lapland is a gateway to some of the very best Northern Lights viewing in Scandinavia. But, there’s far more to this region than just hunting the aurora. With its surrounding forests and oceans, frozen over between December and April, it’s also a winter playground tailor-made for adventure. Chosen by our Sweden specialists, we’ve picked out our top ten excursions and activities that will make your winter holiday truly unforgettable. Expect everything from snowmobiling to Nordic winter skills to reindeer experiences in the company of a local Samí guide. There’s even the chance to strike out by yourself, exploring at your own pace on snowshoes and cross-country skis.
What’s more, with a new direct flight from London Heathrow set to launch in December 2021, this gem in the wilds of Lapland is set to be even more accessible than ever.
1. Sunday night dinner at Brändön Lodge
The dark skies around Brändön Lodge offer ideal conditions for viewing the Northern Lights. This end-of-the-weekend tour takes you far from the lights of Luleå to a cosy log cabin on the frozen sea, perfectly poised for spectacular aurora viewing. As your guide keeps an eye on the sky, you’ll settle down to a hearty two-course dinner, served by an open fire, which showcases the best of nature’s pantry. Then, with luck, you’ll head outside to enjoy a stunning display of the Northern Lights.
Sunday night dinner at Brändön Lodge
2. Snowmobile tour to the Archipelago
One of the best and most exciting ways to experience Swedish Lapland is by snowmobile, revving your engines to explore icy forests and frozen seas in the company of an expert guide.
Wrapped up in warm clothing, you'll be picked up at Brändön Lodge to experience a thrilling snowmobile ride across the frozen ice, pausing to learn about the area's unique flora and fauna and local history. You’ll also stop at remote fishing villages and head out along snow-bound trails teeming with local wildlife and spectacular ice formations. Your tour ends with a delicious lunch, served by the fire in the wilderness.
Snowmobile archipelago tour
3. Northern Lights photography tour
This tour is the perfect introduction to photographing the Northern Lights. You'll be picked up from your accommodation and whisked into the wilderness, where your expert photographer (who'll also be your guide) will pick out the best spots to catch a glimpse of the aurora borealis.
Provided the conditions are right, you'll then be shown the essential skills for capturing this spectacular natural phenomenon. Warm drinks will be served along the way.
Northern Lights over Luleå
4. Gammelstad tour
The UNESCO-listed Gammelstad is the finest surviving example of a Middle Ages Scandinavian village. And, this expert-led excursion brings its idyll to life. Between included transfers, you’ll be led along winding laneways between 14th-century cottages and churches, all painted in the region’s iconic red and white.
Gammelstad in winter
5. Sami Reindeer experience
Starting at Brändön Lodge, you’ll meet your local Sami guide, Henrik Andersson, who’ll introduce you to his unique culture and way of life.
It’s then time to visit the reindeer enclosure where you’ll learn about the “year of the reindeer”, the eight seasons of the reindeer herder, before joining the herd for a walk in the forest, heading out towards a remote Sami encampment. Here, you’ll settle down by the fire for a hot drinks, lunch and the chance to hear more of Henrik’s stories from the wilderness.
The legendary Henrik Andersson
6. Dog Sledding - Drive your own team
Travelling into snow-clad forests and along frozen rivers, this is your chance to experience an ancient method of transport, even driving the sled yourself. Indeed, taking reins of your very own team of huskies is, without doubt, among the most thrilling experiences in travel.
Before you set off. your expert guides will show you the ropes, and give a safety briefing, before you spend two unforgettable hours racing through the wilderness to experience Lapland at its dazzling, wintry best.
Dogsledding near Luleå
7. Nordic Winter Wilderness Skills incl. lunch
This adventurous excursion brings to life the challenges of surviving in the arctic wilderness. With three action-packed hours in the company of an expert guide, you’ll learn how use snowshoes, make a fire in the snow and make tea and coffee over your open fire.
Your guide will regale you with stories about their arctic life and you will learn about the wilderness and wildlife of Sweden’s northernmost region. You’ll also spend some time in a traditional Sami teepee where, together, you’ll make a typical wilderness lunch before relaxing on reindeer pelts to enjoy your meal around the open fire.
Nordic winter skills
8. Tour to the Ice Roads
Experience the unique thrill of a on the icy roads of the Luleå archipelago. You'll be joined, of course, by an experienced guide who’ll do the driving, driving on roads specially built over the frozen sea, will take you on a two-and-a-half hour sightseeing tour across the ice roads. You'll pause at the surrounding archipelago islands and learn about the local flora and fauna, as well as taking a walk on the ice.
Luleå's ice roads
9. Icebreaker Piteå
Step aboard an arctic icebreaker for the chance to explore the vast winter landscapes of Swedish Lapland. Setting off from near the town of Piteå, you’ll smash your way across the frozen sea which, in the depths of winter, is iced over right the way across to northern Finland.
Along the way, you’ll pause to take a walk on the ice itself and, if you’re feeling brave enough, why not take the chance to don a dry suit for a bracing plunge in the icy depths? Don’t worry, you’ll have the chance to thaw out with hot drinks served back onboard.
10. Equipment hire
This is your chance to go it alone and discover the wilds of Swedish Lapland at your own pace. The forests surrounding Brändön Lodge are a winter playground, and frozen sea ice serves all sorts of options for a spot of wintry fun. Take the chance to explore independently, either by snow shoes, fat bike or cross country skis.
Cross-country skiing near Brändön Lodge