Looking at photos of the Borealis aurora shining through a clear night’s can cause major FOMO for the travel enthusiast. Luckily, we were fortunate enough to see the rich colors of the Swedish Lapland northern light up close and personal.
With minimal planning, my boyfriend and I were able to organize a seventy-two hour Sweden itinerary. Although there are many countries you can view this natural wonder from, we chose the town of Kiruna, Sweden.
Why Kiruna made our Sweden Itinerary
Located just 150 kilometers from the arctic circle, Kiruna is located in the heart of the Swedish Lapland. A quick 90-minute flight from Stockholm will land you in the perfect spot to launch your search of the astrological wonder. From Ice Hotels to cozy, upscale hostels, there is a wide range of accommodation to choose from.
Best ways to view the Lapland Northern Light
Whether you prefer to snowmobile, travel by a reindeer-drawn sleigh, or huddle around a lakeside fire, there is an abundance of options to see the Lapland Northern Light. Ultimately, we choose to soak in the views from the comfort of our bed!
SkyArk is a small business located in Kurravaara, a 20-minute drive outside of Kiruna. They encourage you to take a deep breath, slow down, and soak in the natural beauty. Our lakeside cabin included a 180-degree skylight, designed with stargazing in mind! Throw on a pair of slippers, pour yourself a cup of tea, and take in the unforgettable views.
I must admit that we didn’t stay cozy for long because we quickly learned that the best place to see the Lapland Northern Light is to stand in the middle of a frozen lake. This sensory experience includes the sounds of ‘singing ice’, which we learned is the sounds of the ice shifting. Once you have experienced the auroras, defrost your body by partaking in the sauna culture of Scandinavia. SkyArk offers guests a mini sauna with stunning views of the lake.
The cabin alone was enough to recommend Skynest as a must do on any Sweden itinerary. However, the genuine hospitality of Elin, Albert, and Andrea really made the experience spectacular! From the excellent tips on viewing the northern lights, preparing delicious fresh breakfast, to offering us rides into town, we could not have asked for better hosts!
Making the most of sunlight in Sweden
Given that Kiruna is located 150 kilometers from the arctic circle, winter comes with shortened daylight hours. With the sun not rising until 10AM and setting at 2PM, there wasn’t much daylight to work with. Given my boyfriend and I needed to work remotely for parts of the trip, we took a slower pace, however, Kiruna has plenty to offer the adventurous tourist on a Sweden itinerary:
- Check out Kiruna Church One of the most iconic buildings in Sweden, Kiruna Church is a stunning piece of architecture, modeled after a Sami goahti (cot tent). Fun fact, this church will be moved in 2025 as part of a city renovation effort. The move will support the local iron ore mine, which is the lifeblood of the local economy.
- Take a Tour of the Ice Hotel View the incredible ice sculptures with you jaws dropped! Each hotel room as commissioned by different artists and has its own unique vibe.
- Learn about the Sami Culture The Sami museum is a short fifteen minute walk away from the Ice Hotel. Enjoy a warm coffee by the fire in the tent and learn about the history of the indigenous people of Northern Sweden. Added bonus, you can purchase some moss to feed the reindeer located in the outdoor park on the property!
Life is short, be sure to Fika!
Fika is a tradition that involves making time to enjoy coffee and treats among friend. Personally, I’d consider this to be a critical part of any Sweden itinerary. Located in the heart of Kiruna’s city center, Fika by SPiS has a cozy and quiet atmosphere with a wide variety of treats to choose from.
Be sure to try the Kanelbullar, a pasty spiced with cinnamon and topped with sugar. It pairs perfectly with a bold cup of coffee in the afternoon. Digital nomads beware: the wifi signal and plethora of power outlets make this the perfect spot to get caught up on work.
We certainly made plenty of time to sit back, relax and enjoy the Lapland Northern Light during our time in Kiruna. I’m determined to find the Fika culture back home in the states. Hopefully, this won’t be our only visit to part of the world. I’m sure the summer months have even more adventure to offer!