2016 in the Scandinavian Arctic

Every year we (travelers, travel magazines and companies) make lists and predictions about places to go. And usually this time of year I am dreaming about warm destinations and thinking of ways to escape the freezing cold, but this year is different.

Norway and Scandinavia is beautiful during wintertime and I find myself fascinated by the northern lights, purple and turquoise sky's, geysers and glaciers. I am hoping 2016 will be filled with arctic adventures and great stories to share with you. So my contribution this year is:

top 5 arctic destinations for 2016.

 

1. Lapland, Finland

Lapland, known as the home of Santa Clause is at the top of my list. This destination has made a name for itself in the tourism industry with its quirky hotels, northern lights and snow covered landscapes.

Lapland is home to only 3% of the Finnish population, yet it covers more than 30 % of the countries land area. Situated at the northernmost region in Finland it is home to the only Indigenous people in the European union, the Sami. The areas rugged nature is also home to wolves, wolverines, reindeer's and brown bears making it the perfect destination for wildlife safari.

How to get there: Rovaniemi, the capitol of Lapland is accessible by train, bus, car and by plane.
When to go: I have heard the best time to go is from the end of February until the beginning of April. This period has more daylight than December and January and the average temperature is about -10 degrees Celsius.
Where to stay: Kaukslauttanen Arctic Resort is world famous for its glass igloos. If you are planning a trip to Lapland this is, in my opinion the ultimate place to stay.

http://www.kakslauttanen.fi/en/

 Picture from Pinterest

Picture from Pinterest

If you are planning on going and you would like to know more about Lapland, the official travel guide of Finland offers a lot of helpful information.

http://www.visitfinland.com/lapland/

 

2. The Svalbard Islands

 Photo: Maria Eline Sørensen

Photo: Maria Eline Sørensen

Situated north of mainland Europe, midway between continental Norway and the North Pole lies Svalbard Islands. This archipelago in the arctic Ocean is home to the northernmost settlement in the world with a permanent civilian population. The islands are known for having more polar bears than people and is said to be one of Europe's last great wildernesses.

Longyearbyen is the largest populated area on the territory of Svalbard an is easily accessible to the general public. Longyearbyen has about 2000 inhabitants and welcomes more than 50.000 tourists every year.

With an amazing repertoire of adventure activities for tourists and breathtaking nature it is becoming a very important and popular tourist destination. It has long been a dream of mine to experience the majestic polar bear in the wild and in Svalbard you have a very good chance of seeing one.

How to get there: Flights leaving from Oslo and Tromsø everyday.
When to go: If you want to see the polar bears the locals will tell you the best time is during the summer from June to September. If you want to see the polar night and northern lights, the best time is between November and February. 
Where to stay: The Isfjord Radio Hotel was once a solitude outpost for radio operators located about 90 km from civilization in Longyearbyen. Today it is one of the most popular places to stay while visiting Svalbard. There are several ways to reach the hotel and dog-sledding is in my opinion the best one. During summer season you can travel to Isfjord Radio by open boat across Isfjorden. The trip takes about two hours. For more information about this hotel check out this website:

http://basecampexplorer.com/spitsbergen/hotels/isfjord-radio

For more information about The Svalbard Islands visit:

http://www.visitnorway.com/places-to-go/svalbard-islands/

 

3. Lofoten, Norway

 Photo: Sjur Vammervold

Photo: Sjur Vammervold

Lonely Planet magazine recently featured Lofoten on its front cover. Showing a snow covered landscape with a small postcard-looking fishing village nestled in the fjord. Lofoten is often described as one of the most scenic parts of Norway and I have been dreaming about visiting for years.

Lofoten is famous for its breathtaking and dramatic nature welcoming rock climbers, kayakers, downhill skiers, hikers and nature lovers from all over the world. It is also famous for its rich bird and sea life as well as excellent fishing year round. Last year several hundred thousand people visited the archipelago and its popularity is growing.

The four main islands are separated from the mainland by the Vestfjord, but are all connected by bridges and tunnels, making it easy to get around with a car or a bike.

How to get there: Lofoten is accessible from boat, plane, train and bus. There are regular flights from all the major cities in Norway to Bodø Airport, Harstad/Narvik Airport, Svolvær Airport, Leknes Airport and Røst Airport.

There are daily trains all year between Stockholm, Kiruna and Narvik. From there, you can catch buses to other destinations in the archipelago. There are also trains from Oslo, via Trondheim and Fauske to Bodø. From Trondheim, the train takes around 10 hours to Bodø.

Express passenger boats are scheduled daily all year around between Bodø, Svolvær and Værøy. There are car ferries from Bodø to several places in Lofoten, and between some of the islands themselves. Both north-bound and south-bound, Hurtigruten, The Norwegian Coastal Voyage, calls daily at Stamsund and Svolvær in Lofoten.

Information about transportation from: http://www.visitnorway.com/places-to-go/northern-norway/the-lofoten-islands/?lang=primary

When to go: If you want to experience the midnight sun, the summer months between mai and september are the best. If you wish to experience snow and northern lights January- end of March is the best time to go.
Where to stay: If you are traveling to Lofoten during the summer months I would recommend bringing or buying a tent. If you want more comfort the famous old fisherman's cabins called "rorbuer" is a very good alternative.

 

4. Northern Norway

Like Lapland, Northern Norway is by far the largest and most sparsely populated part of mainland Norway. It is one of the most varied wildlife-watching destinations in Europe. The Eurasian lynx, northern Europe’s only large cat species, the Arctic fox and the Wolverine can all be seen in remote national parks in the northern parts of Norway. And close to the Swedish, Finnish and Russian boarder brown bears are hiding in the thick and wild forests.

Northern Norway is also home to a big part of the Sami population (40.000). Around 2,600 Sami people in Norway make their living from herding reindeer, and the majority of the region of Northern Norway is actually used for raising reindeer.

Because of good marketing and social media channels such as Instagram the tourism in the Northern Parts of Norway are now booming. So why not travel to this hidden gem before everyone else does.

How to get there: The northern part of Norway is huge and easily accessible with any kind of transportation depending on where in the area you are planning on going. 3 Norwegian Airlines will take you pretty much everywhere. Norwegian, SAS and Wideroe. If you wish to take the train, check out NSB.
When to go: If you want to experience the midnight sun, the summer months between mai and september are the best. If you wish to experience snow and northern lights January- end of March is the best time to go.
Where to stay: If you want a front row seat to view the fabulous Northern Lights why not try Sorrisniva Igloo Hotel in Alta. Bring your sleeping bag, a hat and warm underwear and enjoy a very different way of spending the night.
http://www.sorrisniva.no/7463-2/sorrisniva-igloo-hotel/?lang=en

 

5. Iceland

 

 Photo: Nikoline Dybsand

Photo: Nikoline Dybsand

Geysirs, Glaciers, Waterfalls, picturesque Landscapes and Northern Lights all in one destination. No wonder Iceland's tourism is booming. This place has it all and it is quickly becoming one of the worlds most popular places to visit.

Last year Iceland had more than 1 million visitors. Considering the fact that Iceland's population is about 300.000 people, that is a lot! I have applied for a semester abroad in Iceland this fall and hopefully I will be able to go. Spending 4 months in this paradise of a place would be a dream come true. So fingers crossed.

How to get there: You can sail or fly to Iceland. Several airlines fly to and from the Island every day and Smyril Line maintains a regular scheduled cruise- and car-ferry service with the M/S Norröna between Iceland and Europe
When to go: Again depending on what kind of experience you would like. But it is a popular destination year round with plenty of activities no matter what the season.
Where to stay: I love AirBnb and in Iceland I found the coolest place to rent. The lady who rents it out has had more than 150 visitors and I can understand why. Great Value!
check this one out: https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/947086?s=-Lf50OyX

 

I hope this was inspirational and that some of you will consider a vacation in the Scandinavian arctic this year.