Could you imagine sleeping in a hotel made of ice one day? Or even getting married in an ice church? The Icehotel in Jukkasjärvi, Swedish Lapland, offers you all of these and many more experiences and from this year onwards, even year round! We had the pleasure to take a look at the 27th Icehotel and what can I say? This place was as magical as they say!
Taking into consideration how expensive, difficult and exhausting it was to get to and from Kiruna, the last thing we wanted to do is spend even more money on expensive tours. And Kiruna offers a lot of those! If you're willing to spend $150+ on a tour that lasts 2 hours, Kiruna seems to be a good place to do so, but I can understand if that's not what you had in mind!
Planning a visit to Swedish Lapland? Here's my newest video from my Youtube channel, showing you all the things you can do and see in Kiruna when visiting! Oh and if you plan on going skiing, don't make Simon's mistake! He was genuinely afraid he had destroyed my camera, haha. Luckily it all went well and it lived to bring you the footage!
If you're following my Youtube channel, you already know that the sun has made its way back to the Arctic which means my favourite part of winter has only just begun! Yes that's right! While some parts of Europe already prepare for spring, we here in Northern Norway prepare for the best part of winter - the bright one! As you may know, Northern Norway experiences polar night between late November and late January which means that during this time, we don't get any sunlight at all and only 2 hours of daylight each day.
Believe or not though, living in and exploring the Arctic isn't always as breath-takingly gorgeous as Instagram and Pinterest might make us believe. Sometimes it can be really messy. Like basically every time there's a snowstorm (she says while the wind is howling through her apartment at 69° North). Snowstorms can be simple - like when they're messing up your hair, smudging your glasses, disrupt an otherwise scenic view or lead to flight delays. Or they can be dramatic - like that day when Simon and I got stuck on top of a mountain in a snowstorm.
Simon was so kind to explain all and everything about polar night not long ago and while he described a few of the many things you can do here during the dark months as a tourist, I'd like to write about how we who actually live here cope with polar night. Now first things first, those who have grown up with polar night, like Simon, don't really have any issues with this time.
In case you read my post on the Northern Lights and you want to come to Tromso or just anywhere north of the Arctic Circle, you need to know something first. These regions experience something that is known as polar night during the winter. So what is polar night? Due to the angle of the earth relative to the sun, the sun will not rise above the horizon at all during the winter months in the region north of the Arctic Circle.
It's 8.30am on a Saturday morning at the harbour of Tromso in Northern Norway. The town is still asleep and there's no one around except for a few tourists on a boat named "Aurora Explorer" who capture mountain Tromstalstind at sunrise. It is a gorgeous sight indeed - a snowcapped mountain illuminated by pink sunrays.
So you finally decided to visit Tromso to see the Northern Lights. Let me explain you what the Northern Lights are, give you some tips on when and where to see them and share some mythology surrounding it. The Northern Lights are aptly named, because you can only see them in the northern parts of the world, that is the Arctic Circle and above...
Finland is the only Nordic country I haven't visited yet. Shocking, right? Well while I'm still dreaming of playing in the snow of Finnish Lapland one day, Mae-Gene from The Wandering Suitcase has already spent a vacation in a Finnish winter wonderland and is here today to tell you all about winter activities beside watching the Northern Lights!
Through my research and talks to various Greenlanders, I found out so much about the country, its people and culture, that goes far beyond all those other "10 interesting things about Greenland" posts. I mean: "Greenland isn't green but Iceland is - how crazy" - seriously?!!
Not long ago, the Norwegian airline Wideroe announced a new direct connection from Tromsø and Oslo to the Lofoten Islands, starting in spring 2017. This is good news not only for tourists but also for those like me who live up north. You see, Northern Norway is an incredibly big area. The region consists of three counties: Nordland, Troms and Finnmark.
If you just want to visit the main sights and museums in town and go on a guided Northern Lights safari at night, you really don't need to rent a car. However if you'd like to get outside of town and explore the beauty of Northern Norway at its best, I can highly recommend you to rent a car!
While I would advise you to bring at least a camera, really any camera will do, if you plan on seeing and shooting the Northern Lights in the Arctic - the pure fact that it is possible to capture the lights with a phone shows that you don't really need a DSLR (even though I really really want to have one...)!
The Lofoten Islands are truly the most fascinating place in Norway and although I do realize that the whole country is beautiful as hell, this archipelago in the Arctic is pretty much Norway in a nutshell. It's got everything! Fjords, mountains, farmland and even beaches that attract surfers from all over the world. Can you believe that?
Autumn in the Arctic is a special time. Not only because the leaves turn orange and make for beautiful snapshots but first and foremost because the sun is back! After 4 months with constant daylight, it's so good to finally being able to experience sunsets again!
Whenever I see the big cruise ships arriving to Tromsø during summer, I ask myself how on earth the tourists can have a good time here. Why? Because all they do during their 8-12 hours they have in the city, is going sightseeing by bus, shooting the Arctic Cathedral and Tromsø Cathedral, and going shopping for souvenirs.
Special treat for you: I have the boyfriend over to tell you all about what life as a reindeer herder in the Arctic is like. Simon tells you everything you never knew about what reindeers herders do in the 8 different Sami seasons!
Ever wondered what life in the Arctic was like? How often can you see the Northern Lights? What is Polar Night? And does Midnight Sun mean that you can see the sun every day at midnight? Click through to read the answers!
So yes, I guess I did a great deal of exploring Northern Norway already. Still, there are a couple of places on my Northern Norway bucket list that I haven't visited yet and while I also have pretty much the whole South of the country left to discover too, I figure that it's best if I check the places "nearby" first.
The cabin itself also had stories to tell with a portrait of Simon's great-great-grandfather hanging in the living room and well, no running water during winter as the pipes freeze and of course, no bathroom - an outhouse instead.
We have the mountains literally right off our doorstep and can enjoy a view on Tromso Island from above after a 10 minute climb. The view is equally spectacular as the one you get by taking the cable car, just that this one is totally free.
At that point, I had only stood on skis for less than 5 minutes and now I had to hurry to get to the side of the road. Of course I started walking as that is what you would normally do, right? But with two long sticks on your feet, this isn't exactly easy so I stumbled upon my own feet and fell into the roadside ditch.....
So don't worry, as long as you stick to woolen/fleece clothing and the right layers, you probably won't freeze to death! In fact, during my recent vacation to Swedish Lapland, I was sweating more often than I was freezing...
Tromso Camping is situated on the mainland of Norway and not on Tromso Island. That means, it's close to the Arctic Cathedral, the cable car and Tromso's biggest mountain Tromsdalstind. The camping site itself is situated in a valley, right next to a little river and with a view on the cable car station Fjellheisen. There are ski tracks and hiking trails close by, as is the yacht harbour of Tromsdalen and the ice skating rink.
Every Saturday of Sami Week, the National Championship in Lasso Throwing takes place on the market square. The Sami people, who traditionally survived on reindeer herding, used lassos in order to catch their reindeer. Nowadays, they use more modern techniques but the lasso throwing is still an important part of reindeer herding.
Now, while I still haven't learned to ski during my 1 and a half years in Norway, I did attend the National Ski Championship when it took place in Tromso in January. And saw the Norwegian king for the first time. And almost froze to death. But I digress.
We're right in the middle of winter and the city is full of snow, yay! Well at least, every now and then inbetween those days were it's raining and everything turns to ice... Anyway, the boyfriend and I went on a tour to the ski jumping tower recently and the views over a wintery Tromso were just so amazing!
I only stayed in Fauske for 3 days but Simon and I managed to put a great deal of roadtrippin into those days. From the area around Saltstraumen, to a place simply called Straumen and the area around Fauske itself, we saw a lot just by driving around.
Fauske only has about 10000 inhabitants and there really aren't any sights. I however think that there's a few gems in the town nonetheless which make it definitely a place to visit. At least if you're up for a hiking trip in the middle of nowhere that is.