Pair the UNESCO-listed gems of Luleå with a luxury hotel stay in Sweden's remote Haparanda on the Finland border, linked with an ultra-scenic train journey. Begin among Luleå's old-town charm for Northern Lights photography workshops and ice trail tours before hopping on the region's brand-new rail route that'll see you traverse the archipelago coastline to arrive in Haparanda and its luxurious Stadshotell. This turn-of-the-century gem offers gourmet, three-course dining, sauna sessions and more. You'll also have the chance to head on the likes of nighttime snowmobile safaris and aurora hunts, walk across the border to Finland (remember the time difference!) and enjoy an included two-course dinner at a stylish lodge under – with luck – the Northern Lights.
Luleå & Haparanda rail adventure
Day by day itinerary
Day 1 » UK to Luleå
Take advantage of the new direct flight from London Heathrow to Luleå where, on arrival, you'll take your included transfer to the Elite Stadshotell. Overlooking the city's beautiful Stadspark, the Elite Stadshotell is situated within walking distance of popular shopping, cultural and historical areas, with luxurious suites, yoga lessons and a sauna facing the waterfront. Take advantage of one of Luleå's many award-winning restaurants for dinner at leisure tonight, such as popular gastro pub Bishops Arms, opposite the hotel, as well as several fine dining options. Then, this evening, there's the chance to head out on an optional Northern Lights photography tour that'll see you head into the outskirts of town, where little light pollution allows for excellent aurora viewing.
Day 2 » Explore Luleå & train to Haparanda
After breakfast you've got the morning to explore Lulea, the only place in the region where the sea freezes over come winter, allowing for ice skating and walking on the ice roads. We'd also recommend booking onto a private city tour, pausing at Lulea's UNESCO-listed Gammelstad's wooden houses, ancient stone church and local museums. You'll then board the train to traverse along the northern coast of the Gulf of Bothnia, marvelling at the snow-dusted archipelago views outside. On arrival, transfer to the Haparanda Stadshotell, one of the country's famous turn-of-the-century hotels.
Once the only contact between the West and Russia and China, it's now been restored to its former glory. Expect everything from yoga lessons to cosy, fur-trimmed rooms – some with private Jacuzzis and saunas – alongside a fine-dining restaurant where you'll enjoy tonight's gourmet, three-course dinner – think Kalix roe and smoked reindeer on toast with lingonberries served among a gorgeous candle-lit setting. Then, this evening, you've got the chance to head out into the wilderness for a nighttime snowmobile safari and aurora hunt.
Stay: Haparanda Stadshotell
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner
Day 3 » Explore Haparanda & return to Luleå
After breakfast, why not relax with a sauna session or spa treatment at the hotel? Or, perhaps stroll over the nearby border – remember your passport – to Finland's Tornio and visit the many museum and art galleries. Just be sure to remember the 1-hour time difference! Then, this afternoon, take the return train journey to Lulea and check back in to the Elite Stadshotell to prepare for your final exciting evening. You'll then leave the city to transfer to Brändön Lodge, just 30 minutes from Luleå. Home to one of Swedish Lapland's best Northern Lights lights viewing spots, you'll indulge in a two-course dinner at the lodge's cosy timber-walled cabin before heading to the open fires of the outdoor tipi tent to warm up before you head out with an expert guide to hopefully spot the aurora.
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner
Day 4 » Return to the UK
After breakfast you've got the morning at leisure – be sure to explore Gammelstad if you haven't already or sample one of Lulea's many cosy restaurants for lunch before returning to airport in time for your flight back to the UK.
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