Swedish Lapland – the far northern region of the country – is home to two of nature’s most spectacular phenomena. From the soothing rays of the Midnight Sun to the swirling kaleidoscope of the Northern Lights, a trip north will be well worth your while.
A haven of Mother Nature’s wonders and a beacon beckoning travellers from around the world, Sweden’s nature knows how to put on quite the show with its natural phenomena the Midnight Sun and the Northern Lights.
While Sweden may not be the first place that comes to mind for sun-worshippers, during the early summer months, there is hardly a better place to soak up some rays. Why? Because during this magical time of year, the sun shines 24 hours a day across northern Sweden.
To see the sun when the clock strikes twelve, you’ll need to make your way north – the further north, the better. In Jokkmokk, just north of the Arctic Circle, you can see the Midnight Sun for 32 days in a row. And venture even nearer the North Pole to the quaint village of Abisko, and you’ll enjoy 55 days when the sun never sets. Just beware, the exposure to this phenomenon may disturb your sleep cycle!
The Midnight Sun never completely disappears; however, it dips quite low, hovering just above the horizon. It hangs here in the limbo between sunset and sunrise for several hours, radiating a soft glow that is a photographer’s dream come true. Shadowy silhouettes against a fiery sky, being out in Swedish nature during this enchanted moment is an experience you won’t soon forget.
The Midnight Sun shines bright in northern Sweden from late May until the middle of July.
Swedish Lapland – the sparsely populated region in the northeast of Sweden covering almost a quarter of the country – is the best place to see the Midnight Sun. Jokkmokk is a small town in the centre of the region surrounded by stunning natural landscapes, making it perfect for a late-night hike or a midnight dip in the nearby lakes or rivers. From major northern cities like Kiruna, Gällivare and Luleå, you can take a train to Murjek station and then a one-hour bus to Jokkmokk.
Head over to the Abisko Touriststation to take part in their midnight hike to the top of Mount Nuolja. Located 250 km above the Arctic Circle, Abisko is a short 65-minute train ride from Kiruna or a scenic 17-hour train ride from Stockholm.
Other activities for the active night owl include a Midnight Sun horseback tour or a late-night round of golf. You can even squeeze in a twelve o’clock ski run at Riksgränsen on the Sweden-Norway border.
The yin to the Midnight Sun’s yang, the Northern Lights (Norrsken) provide another perfect excuse to visit Swedish Lapland. As the Earth continues its rotation around the sun, the eternal days of sunshine in Sweden’s northern latitudes give way to an endless night. Known as Polar Nights – when the sun doesn’t rise above the horizon – for many in these northern parts, the summer insomnia becomes an unrelenting urge to hibernate. But, don’t give in. This imposing darkness has a silver lining.
As the sun hides just below the horizon, its passive light reflects off the glistening snow and the world becomes awash in blue. However, blue isn’t the only colour you’ll see on these long winter nights.
The Northern Lights are one of the most incredible natural phenomena in the world, northern Sweden being one of the best places to witness them in all their grandeur. Streaks of greens, reds and purples dance across the night sky, putting on a breathtaking display with an other-worldly quality that is both eerie and entrancingly beautiful.
From as early as late September all the way until early April, it is possible to see the Northern Lights in Swedish Lapland. As with the Midnight Sun, the further north, the better.
Jokkmokk and Abisko aren’t only top spots for enjoying the Midnight Sun, they are also perfect destinations for seeing the Northern Lights. Definitely worth a visit is Abisko’s Aurora Sky Station. The surrounding mountains result in clear nights, greatly increasing your odds of seeing the light show from the station’s observation deck.
For the quintessential northern Swedish experience, journey 20 minutes by car east of Kiruna to the Icehotel, just outside the charming village of Jukkasjärvi. The ICEHOTEL was the first of its kind and offers several Northern Lights Safaris to enable you to get the most out of your trip north. Safari options include snowmobile tours and specialised photography excursions.
Whether you’re after endless sunshine or the perfect pitch-black canvas against which to view the Northern Lights, follow the compass north to picturesque Swedish Lapland.
Image: Tomas Utsi/imagebank.sweden.se