It’s getting colder. It’s darker earlier. Breaths freeze when you exhale. The streets are icy and slippery. Unlucky fellow students limp on crutches because they were caught by the ice All you want to do is stay inside your room with a hot cup of tea or coffee, but you have a lecture at the other end of town. Running noses. A symphony of coughing in the lecture theatres. Nothing unusual, it’s a standard winter, the same thing every year.
But are you longing for a different winter time experience – something fun, something exciting? How about a trip to Sweden?
It’s the place you associate with blonde-haired blue-eyed people, meatballs, and copious amounts of snow and ice. It’s the place with big scary animals in the woods, the place with signs saying: ‘Beware of the moose’. Why would you possibly go somewhere even colder than where you are right now? Why would you put yourself into the danger of freezing to death?
Simple answer: It’s different. And it’s fun.
Just imagine a frozen sea. A beach covered in white fluffy snow. Waves on the shoreline frozen just before they break. Solid streams. Gusts of cold air flowing into your lungs. Giant glittering ice crystals that make you feel tiny, a piece of rare magic presented by nature. But Sweden has so much more to offer than just the aesthetics of a beautiful landscape. The views are amazing, but by having a closer look at some of the things offered by the Swedish winter wonderland, you understand that they’re so much more than just beautiful.
As in any other country having fun is based on making the right decisions on where to go and what to do once you‘re there. There is something for everyone. Grab some friends, your family or some stranger around you and go onto the ice. Enjoy the perfection of natural ice. Slide along the seaside while the sun shines upon your face. If you want to move a bit more, turn it into a race or get a bunch of people to form two teams for ice hockey. There’s no better way of having a hockey match than having an (almost) endless match field (and you certainly don’t feel cold anymore). Mind the edge though. If no one is as far out as you, it usually means that you’re about to break in…
If you prefer staying on actual land, have a snowball fight on the beach – preferably at night. Anyone can lie on a sandy beach. Anyone can throw snowballs in fields of snow, but very few places combine this. So, head to Sweden, wrap up warm, very warm, head down to the beach and start forming snowballs. You’re going to need them…
Round up the night with a special type of beach bonfire by using the snowballs that are left (if any). Build a pyramid out of the snowballs and place some candles in it before closing it completely. Make sure you’ve got a hot drink, I recommend ‘glögg’, a mulled wine. Unlike an actual fire, this one is something to watch rather than a source of heat. But it’s stunning.
If this is not enough activity for you, you might want to consider the option of winter camping (if you really want to get the adrenaline going) or a safari. Yes. Safari. Sweden doesn’t offer you giraffes, lions or riding elephants. Instead we have the “Big Six” which include the wolf, brown bear, wolverine, lynx, musk ox and moose. And of course the beloved reindeers, which might be preferred on a plate once in a while, but are even better in the woods.
For those interested in an experience that involves more sightseeing and slightly less activity there are plenty of buildings, fountains and sculptures that are waiting to be in one of your pictures. Take your camera and explore the winter version of the town. What would it look like without the ice?
If you are looking for exclusivity, travel to the north to Jukkasjärvi, better known as the place with ‘the ice hotel’. Experience a completely different world of staying in a hotel of ice designed by artists, pure ice combined with wood and reindeer skin to sleep on. Alternatively, stay in an igloo that was naturally carved by Tännforsen, a waterfall that freezes in winter. Much more authentic and even closer to nature.
And once in Sweden – use the chance to see the northern lights. The likelihood of seeing this natural phenomenon is higher in winter and definitely one of the things not to be missed.
Curious about how it feels to experience this? Take your pick and make this winter experience different. Give it a touch of Sweden.
Photos: Eva Jermutus