Top 5 Natural Activities in Sweden
Northern Europe is a unique destination, and one that too few people take advantage of. Visiting the Scandinavian Peninsula allows travelers to experience a culture that is quite distinct from the rest of Europe, and at the same time have some truly magnificent experiences in nature. Sweden is the perfect example of this. For those that really want an escape from civilization and normal tourist activities, here are our top five activities for rural Sweden:
1. Chasing down the aurora borealis
One of the single largest draws of traveling to far northern latitudes is the potential for seeing the northern lights. This spectacular phenomenon, which often appears as broad sheets of intense color in the sky that can move with surprising speed, is caused by the collision of charged particles and atoms in the upper atmosphere, and is frequently visible in rural areas. If you really want to experience Sweden, you have to find a way to maximize your chances of an astronomical show.
2. Dog sled treks
The companionship between humans and domesticated wolves and dogs goes back tens of thousands of years, and this traditional relationship remains strong in Scandinavia. Remote villages still rely on dog sleds as their primary form of long distance transportation. As a visitor, you can go on adventure trips for anywhere from an afternoon to a week in the harsh but beautiful environment, traveling by sled. These are exhilarating trips that allow you to take your time in taking in your surroundings, and bond with the hardworking but playful huskies that work as teams to transport people and goods.
3. The IceHotel
Okay, so it’s not a traditional, authentic dwelling. But look at this thing! Redesigned each year after it melts in the spring, the original IceHotel in Jukkasjarvi is a work of art. From stylish suites to a full bar to a wedding chapel, the hotel is an act of creativity and impermanence that has been copied elsewhere but remains the best. Guests can choose to stay in a cold room or one designed for actual human habitation.
Whether alpine or cross country, skiing plays an important role in Swedish culture. Lapland and other rural areas have numerous top-ranked resorts that enjoy much shorter lines than most mountains in Europe, Oceania, and North America. In rural areas, skiing and snowshoeing can actually be necessary to get from place to place when roads are entirely buried. Far better than taking a bus!
Sweden doesn’t have to be cold, and if you choose to visit in the summer months, you will find the climate wonderfully temperate (not to mention get to experience the famed “midnight sun”). This is a great time for hiking in places like Abisto National Park, where the 425 km Kungsleden (“King’s Trail”) originates. Trekking the trail in its entirety takes about a month, and takes the intrepid visitor through one of Europe’s largest natural areas. Of course, shorter trips are possible as well.
While Stockholm and other major Swedish cities can be great places, the country really shines in its countryside. The raw natural beauty of the far north is something entirely different from what most travelers have experienced before, and is not to be missed.