Start in Sweden’s cities where Christmas markets set the tone for jovial merriment before heading out into its stunning landscapes. Here, everything from husky sled trips to snowmobile excursions make for an unforgettable Christmas, perhaps set to the mesmerising Northern Lights.
Come the season, Sweden’s cities are alive with festive cheer that’s far from limited to its markets. Lights deck streets as goodwill can be found throughout Stockholm’s cosy inns. Head to the city’s Old Town where the Christmas market dates back to 1915, featuring traditional Swedish handicrafts and delicious food. Think smoked sausages and the ubiquitous pickled herring. You’ll also find markets in Malmö and Gothenburg, where 80 log cabins add to the intimate atmosphere.
A winter holiday spent in Sweden is a chance to realise all your Christmas ideals. Head to Abisko National Park to track the local Donner and Blitzen or skip through the snow on a sled pulled by huskies as you take the reins to learn about the indigenous Sámi culture. Perhaps make a snowshoe trip to a traditional camp complete with conical tents and roaring fires. Or, for an injection of speed, take control of a snowmobile to sweep through icy fields to a backdrop of snow-capped peaks.
And, Santa’s isn’t the only magic in the air with the stunning Northern Lights making almost-regular appearance in Sweden’s night sky. Indeed, the long winter nights – coupled with still, cloudless skies – make for ideal aurorae viewing. Strap on a pair of cross-country skis to get away from the light pollution for the best chances of spotting them.
Head out of the cities for some of the most atmospheric stays. Hole up in your very own log cabin, perhaps complete with outdoor sauna, or book into the original ICEHOTEL. While rooms – reconstructed each season and adorned with ice artwork – look daunting at first glance, warm reindeer skins and a morning spent in the sauna make for surprisingly comfortable stays. You’ll also have the delights of the ice bar to warm you up before bed.
Equally unique, the seminal Treehotel offers stays in everything from mirrored cubes to cabins that seem to float in the pine forest canopy. For something more adventurous, there’s Northern Lights photographer Frederick Broman’s Aurora Safari Camp, set deep in the forests of Luleå. Here, canvas fire-heated tents are your observatories for the spectacular aurorae, unspoilt by any artificial light source.