Showing posts with label Abisko. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Abisko. Show all posts

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Lights in Lapland

Lapland’s biggest attraction

One of the elements which provides a year-round draw to Lapland is simply its natural light. It is unique. It is breathtaking. And the best of all, it is completely free to enjoy. At whatever part of the year you choose to travel to Lapland, you will witness natural phenomena which will provide a lasting memory. It is a haven with photographic opportunities, both for amateurs and professionals. There where the sun never sets in the summertime, the northern lights color the dark winter evenings. Lapland, a land of extremes. Extremely beautiful.

At this time of the year, in the summer, above the polar circle, the sun doesn’t set. The earth’s axis positions the North Pole towards the sun, which is called the northern summer solstice. This means 24-hour daylight and a great many opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts who want to stay out late. No flashlights needed! Midsummer (around the 21st of June) marks the start of a period with midnight sun and is traditionally celebrated with festivities throughout Lapland. 

Midnight sun near Bodø, Norway

No sunset in the summer, but an endless sunset in December, when the sun does not rise above the horizon. This causes a special effect of a warm, pinkish glow on the white snow, which is also known as ‘Kaamos’.

Kaamos light over Finnish Lapland

From September to April the Aurora Borealis makes its entry in the night sky. The Aurora is a spectacle of dancing green lights, an explosion of colors and motion. It is caused by solar eruptions that launch large quantities of energetically charged particles into space. As these particles approach the Earth, they are pulled in by the magnetic field, and drawn towards the magnetic poles. In the upper layers of the atmosphere - 50 to 65 miles above the Earth - the charged particles collide with oxygen and nitrogen atoms, and release their energy. A powerful natural process causing the magical northern lights.  

Northern lights in Abisko area, Sweden
Do you wish to go and see the lights with your own eyes? Abisko Aurora is a travel agent which specializes solely in northern lights holidays to Lapland.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Top 5 reasons to spend your vacation in Abisko in Wintertime

Spot the northern lights

Naturally, Abisko is the best spot in the world for northern lights observation. Watch the aurora forecast, or book a northern lights excursion, and you will probably be rewarded with one of nature’s most spectacular powers. The patch of sky over the Abisko lake remains clear despite overcast weather in surrounding areas. Excellent for observing the green, red and purple curtains dancing in the starry sky.

Try snowshoeing through the wilderness

The Abisko National Park, Lake Törneträsk, the mountains, all offer good trails for a snowshoeing experience. Snowshoeing is in fact hiking, wearing special shoes under your boots for trudging through tonnes of compact snow. Thanks to the snowshoes, you won’t sink into the deep snow, which makes walking much nicer.

Go snowmobiling through the mountains

Off the beaten track, into the wild. The Abisko mountains are the perfect surroundings for an exciting snowmobile adventure. These machines are quite easy to navigate, and don’t require the level of endurance that skiing or snowshoeing demand. A snowmobile definitely makes going uphill to a mountain top or remote cabin a lot more comfortable, and you are still being rewarded with the magnificent views. This turns snowmobiles into the perfect means of transport to enjoy the natural beauty of the Abisko area.

Catch fish from frozen lakes

If you have never gone fishing before, ice fishing will be an intense introduction! Drill a hole in  a frozen lake to catch an Arctic char, salmon, pike, perch, or whitefish.
Traditionally, once you drill a hole in the ice large enough for your bait, you make yourself comfortable on a reindeer skin. Through the hole you can see the crystal clear water, your bait and maybe an eager fish swimming by.
The enormous Lake Törneträsk doesn’t only have plenty of fish to offer, the view from the Lake is remarkable. Surrounded by mountain ranges, you feel quite small standing in the middle of the 70 kilometers long lake. And this is only the seventh largest lake from Sweden! While fishing, you can also admire the Lapporten high above Abisko.

Drive a husky sled

This is probably the most exciting activity in the Arctic North. The interaction with the animals is refreshing, and on a sled you feel very close to nature.

Many companies run dog sledding tours, from daytrips to multi-day expeditions, it’s all possible. In Abisko, the half day husky tour from the Abisko Mountain Station is a good introduction to husky sledding. 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Northern lights observation in Sweden

The essentials for northern lights observation: darkness, cold, and clear skies.
Where do you find this? In Sweden!

Especially above the Polar Circle, northern lights are frequently observed in Sweden between September and April. The best time of the year are the winter months, when the nights are very cold and the skies are clear. Around the time of the month when there is no moonlight, the skies are darkest, giving full stage to the aurora. But also when the aurora appears around full moon, the night show is amazing. The key is to get away from the city lights, which pollute the sky. Head out into the wilderness! The strongest light show is usually between 22-23pm.

Dress up warmly, brave the cold, and hunt the northern lights in these top locations in Swedish Lapland.

Abisko National Park

Located about 100 kilometers north of Kiruna, this is the very best spot for northern lights observations. It’s scientifically proven that the sky above Lake Törnetrask remain clear more often, despite cloudy weather in the surroundings. Thanks to this microclimate, chances of seeing the northern lights are higher in Abisko than anywhere else in the world.

Some interesting activities make a visit to Abisko even more worthy. You can go up the mountains by cable car to the Aurora Sky Station. The view over the lake and the Lapporten is amazing, and it’s the perfect vista point for the aurora.

The Torne River area

For example the village of Jukkasjärvi, at the border of Lapland’s largest river Torne, is an excellent place. Besides, Jukkasjärvi hosts the world’s famous ICEhotel. You can head out on husky sleds or snowmobiles on a northern lights hunt, or dine at a wilderness camp under the dancing green lights.

Other spots on the Torne River are Nikkaluokta and Vittangi. Lodging opportunities are a bit more complicated or less comfortable, but for northern lights observations you’re in the right place.

The inland Gällivare area

This is the heart of Lapland, very isolated and in the middle of the wilderness. The little number of villages and inhabitants make sure that there is no light pollution, and the large number of frozen lakes enable plenty of good spots with an open view at the sky, even in the middle of the forests. Luckily there are some comfortable, small-scale wilderness lodges where you enjoy a relaxing holiday. During the day, husky sledding and snowmobiling over the deserted taiga landscapes is an interesting pastime, while in the evening northern lights are the main theme.

No idea what to expect of a wilderness Lodge? A good example is the Pinetree Lodge, which can be booked through

Good luck northern lights hunting

Monday, July 14, 2014

Town on the move

What if your cities’ foundations are starting to show cracks? No panic, just move the entire town!

It is the fate that awaits the mining city of Kiruna. Kiruna is Sweden’s northernmost city within the Arctic circle. The town thanks its existence to the local iron ore mine, the world’s largest underground mine. It is the economic heart of the region employing the majority of the cities’ inhabitants for the past 100 years. Iron ores are rocks used to make iron and steel.

It is the exploitation of the mine which now necessitates the move of Kiruna. Part of the cities’ buildings are in danger of collapsing, because of fissures starting to spread towards the centre. Moreover, the local mining company wants to dig deeper, making it possible to release some 800 million tons of ore that are still in the ground.

A project of some scale: dazzling numbers

The entire town will be moved three kilometers to the east. In total, some 23.000 inhabitants will be relocated. Some buildings will be tore down and rebuilt at a new site. Others will be taken apart and put back together at the new spot, like IKEA furniture so to speak. This will happen to the old church of Kiruna. 

The church of Kiruna was built in 1912 and is Sweden’s largest wooden building, voted the most beautiful Swedish building in 2001.

Moving a town is a vast project involving a great number of actors: city planners, architects, landscape designers, biologists, urban designers, civil engineers, construction workers, social anthropologists… Moreover, it is not something which is completed in just an instant. It will take up 20 years at least. Some even speculate about 40 or 50 years. The city centre and the shopping street are scheduled to be finished in 2018.

Not to mention the cost of the project. The mining company already spent a good 4 billion kronor on the project and has earmarked another 7.5 billion. The company first has to buy people’s homes, for them to be able to buy a new home at the new site. A difficult exercise when it comes down to estimating market value!

A second chance in urban design

To be honest, Kiruna was not the most inspiring of Swedish towns, seen from the touristic angle. Apart from the church, not too many noteworthy buildings solicited a visit. This whole move means there is a great opportunity for urban planners to develop Kiruna along new and well-thought of  visionary lines. So the city council issued a design competition, which was finally won by the project Kiruna 4 Ever, by White Arkitekter AB.

And what about the people of Kiruna? Are they sad they have to part with their familiar places and corners? Not at all! The people are quite happy with the move. Apart from getting a good price for their property, they also get to live in a town which incorporates modern ideas for sustainable development with ample opportunities for leisure, culture and sports and guess what: new opportunities for tourism as well.

The airport of Kiruna is the starting point for most holidays to Swedish Lapland. Also the holidays of Abisko Aurora to the ICEhotel of Jukkasjärvi, to the Pinetree Lodge - deep in the wilderness  - and of course, to Abisko, the perfect base for those wanting to experience the northern lights.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

How to spend a winter's day in Swedish Lapland?

Absolutely everybody would love to see the magic of the northern lights dancing in the night skies at least once in their lives. It should be an inevitable feature on everyone’s bucket list, as it is absolutely a unique natural phenomenon. It can only be seen near the earth’s magnetic poles, above the Polar Circle at 66° north, between September and April.

In this time of year, this Nordic region is covered in snow and faces negative Celsius temperatures. Northern lights can only be seen in the evening, when the sky is dark. So, what should you do during the daytime?

Luckily, there is plenty of choice! Whether you are a sporty adventurer or comfort traveler looking for a taste of the local ambience, there is an activity to suit everyone’s taste. Here are some suggestions: 

Local culture
A day excursion to the Norwegian Fjords is an absolute highlight of the High North. For example from Abisko in Sweden you can cross the mountainous border to Norway by minivan with an experienced local guide, and admire the panoramic view over the fjords of Narvik.

Reindeer remain an important part of life of the Sámi people, the native inhabitants of Lapland. Getting to know their traditional way of life, exploring an authentic reindeer farm, and hand-feeding the reindeer is definitely an interesting trip. Besides, not only Santa drives a reindeer sled, you try it yourself!

The original ICEhotel of Jukkasjärvi, constructed out of the bluish ice of the Torne River, is probably the most famous Swedish spot in the world. A hotel that melts away every year when spring comes, and is reconstructed in autumn by ice sculptors and designers from all over the world, is something you shouldn’t miss when you are nearby! 

Active and accessible for everybody
Try husky sledding! It’s fun, it’s easy, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. The dogs love running in the snow and pulling your sled through winter wonderland. Take your chance and go for a sled dog ride! 

Remember the tennis-racket shaped shoes the Eskimo’s wear in cartoons? It might look funny but it makes walking in the snow a whole lot more comfortable! Instead of winding up in the snow up to your knees, these snowshoe maintain your weight up the thick layer of snow. Go for a walk to experience it yourself, and don’t worry, the modern version of snowshoes look not bad at all!

Bet you never driven a snowmobile before? The good news, you don’t have to be a superhero to go out for a drive. An experienced instructor will provide you with all the instructions you need for a safe drive over the taiga. Conquer your fears, and you’ll see that it’s a lot easier than you though, and a lot more fun!

Adventurous tours for sporty explorers
Looking for something more? Go for a full day snowmobile tour in the Abisko mountains. At lunchtime, an on-the-road campfire is lit for the outdoor lunch. Drive up to an icy mountain lake to go ice fishing, and if you’re lucky, prepare your fish for dinner!

Waiting for the northern lights to appear in the evening can become very interesting when spicing up your days in the High North with unique activities during the day. If you consider a trip to Sweden, combining the northern lights with all these exciting activities, the incoming tour operator Abisko Aurora is a good choice for a tailor-made program catering to all your wishes.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Swedish cuisine: there’s more than just meatballs!

One of the best extra’s when traveling to Swedish Lapland is definitely the cuisine. Truly fresh and high-quality food which most of us haven’t even heard of, and often can’t even pronounce! Leaving Sweden is always with the feeling that your appetites have been completely satisfied.
Although Swedish meatballs are enjoyed in Ikeas all over the world, there is far more to this Scandinavian country’s cuisine than the ubiquitous meatball. 
Swedish food can’t be talked about without mentioning berries. There is no chance you won’t eat a dish decorated with lingonberries or a toast with cloudberry jam. Native only to Swedish Lapland, these tart berries were a key ingredient in an ancient Scandinavian medicinal tea and no breakfast is served without cloudberry jam.
Obviously, there is an amazing variety of fish, from the famous Arctic char and crayfish to Kalix Löjrom, known among the caviar enthusiasts as the ‘gold of the North’. It is frequently served at the Nobel prize banquets.
You should definitely try Elk and Reindeer as well. They are delicious in combination with local forest mushrooms.  Reindeer meat has been used in the native Sámi diet for centuries.
And of course, there is Smörgåsbord. This is a typical meal served buffet-style with a variety of hot and cold dishes. Bread, butter and cheese are standard items. It’s customary to start with cold fish dishes, which are generally various forms of herring, salmon and eel. Afterwards, people usually continue with other cold dishes, moving on to the hot ones. Dessert can also be served as Smörgåsbord! 
If you are looking for a spot in Swedish Lapland with exquisite local cuisine, try the small-scale Pinetree Lodge, the up-scale ICErestaurant in Jukkasjärvi, or the restaurant of the Abisko Mountain Station. 

Enjoy your meals in Swedish Lapland! For sure, that will not be a problem at all! 

Monday, June 9, 2014

An Aurora Odyssey through Lapland

3 different northern light locations in one holiday, it's now possible! Not only is it plenty of fun, it also puts your Lapland experience on a higher level. 
3 unique spots on the globe, all located high above the Polar Circle at at least 66° north, each with their own atmosphere but they all have one characteristic in common: The Aurora Borealis. 

We followed the northern lights on this amazing journey through winter wonderland...
A holiday produced by Abisko Aurora, combining 3 unique spots in one trip. The perfect choice to discover the northern lights. 

Pinetree Lodge
Pinetree Lodge

Start at the Pinetree Lodge. A beautiful wood-constructed lodge in the middle of the Swedish pine forests. Charm, cozyness and comfort dominate here in this wilderness lodge with only 50 beds. Upon arrival, we experience the 'true high north' feeling listening to the crackling log fire and later on in the hot Swedish sauna. A perfect way to compensate for our first day in the cold outside temperatures. 

dogsledding Pinetree Lodge
Dogsledding through pristine wilderness
The following day, we venture outside and therefore get dressed-up in down outdoor clothing, so we don't even notice the -15° anymore. This lodge is famous for its private husky kennel. Thankful for the artic clothing, we don't hesitate to jump on our huskysled and start mushing! After a lot of barking and jumping while waiting to depart, the dogs start running  and the beauty of the great untouched nordic wilderness surrounds us entirely. Of course we also go for a ride on the snowmobiles, as the frozen lakes and rivers are the perfect environment for a first-time snowmobile driver. 
After a delicious three-course dinner - reindeer steak with wild berries and mashed potatoes - we go out for a walk on the frozen lake right next to the lodge. With a clear view on the open night sky, we wait to see the northern lights dancing above our heads. 

After 3 nights in this wonderful lodge away from the world, it's time to go exploring furhter. The original ICEhotel of Jukkasjärvi is our next stop. We are curious to see in which kind of uniquely sculptured Art Suite we are going to spend the night. The Reindeer skins on the large bed of snow and ice comfort us that we won't be freezing cold tonight. They say sleeping in the cold is healty, so let's do it! But only after a good night cocktail in a glass of ice - naturally - at the ICEbar. Provided with a warm thermal sleeping bag, we're off to bed. It's funny to think that in a couple of months, by the end of spring, our room ánd the entire ICEhotel construction will be melted away, back to the Torne River from where the ice surrounding us comes from. The circle of life at the ICEhotel! 
icehotel jukkasjarvi

A cup of hot berry juice served at your bedside makes waking up at -5° suddenly more comfortable. An extensive breakfast makes it even better, and ready we are for our train ride through the mountains to our last stop, Abisko. This is the best spot in the world for northern lights observations. We filled up our nights with the only the very best northern lights excursions, to maximize our chances of seeing the magical aurora's. 
Up the mountains we go by cable car, to the Aurora Sky Station. The view over the mountain ranges, the large Lake Törnetrask, and the famous rock formation is stunning. The northern lights decide to join us, and we are first-line spectators of one of Nature's most fascinating powers. 
Not only a visit to the Sky Station, but also a night out with northern lights photographer Chad Blakley is a must-do in Abisko! Using his professional SLR photo cameras, we are ready to make our own photos of the lights. The odds of seeing the aurora are about 90% in Abisko, thanks to its clear skies and excellent location. Thanks to Chad's tips and tricks, I get to go home with a great self-made photo of the aurora to impress all my friends and family with.

abisko aurora skystation
Abisko Aurora Skystation

The adventurous outdoor activities in the Pinetree Lodge, the glamour of the ICEhotel and the wonderful scenery of Abisko turned Lapland into an unforgettable destination, all lit up by the aurora…

Check out Abisko Aurora the world’s only tour operator combing these 3 magical spots.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

The best ICEhotel experiences

1.      The original ICEbar

A drink in the ICEbar is a highlight of everyone’s stay at the ICEhotel. Drinking colorful vodka cocktails out of ice glasses at a bar made of ice, whilst surrounded by ice from floor to ceiling. The temperature is -5° Celsius, both the bar and the glasses, no ice cubes needed!

The very first ICEbar was created in the ICEhotel in 1994. Since then the bar is re-created each year to a new theme. The cocktails served in the bar, all based on the Swedish Absolut Vodka, are inspired by the surroundings and heritage of Swedish Lapland. Try the Rain of Memories, created to celebrate the northern lights, made from Absolut Mango, cucumber syrup, sparkling wine, lime juice and Blue Curaçao. An innovative cocktail in a unique setting!

icebar jukkasjarvi

2.      Sleeping on a bed of ice

It’s not only sleeping in a temperature of -5° Celsius, it’s also sleeping inside a piece of art. This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. And even though it’s -5° inside, it’s better than being outside where it is -30°! You are kept warm in your ice bed by a mattress of isolating reindeer skin, and a specially designed thermal sleeping bag that keeps you warmer than your bed at home.

art suite icehotel jukkasjarvi

3.      Meeting the indigenous Sámi people

Usually they are pretty hidden in Lapland, living on remote locations, herding their reindeer. Luckily, there is a reindeer farm in the forests surrounding the ICEhotel. It’s fascinating to see the original inhabitants of Lapland in their local habitat, in authentic colorful clothing, and reindeer skin shoes. You can learn all about reindeer, how to catch them with a Lappish lasso, and take a ride in a reindeer sled, just like Santa!

sami reindeer icehotel

4.      Go for a husky safari

When entering the husky kennel near the Torne River, you’re struck by how energetic and noisy the dogs are. As soon as they take off, the serenity sets in. These dogs are clearly happiest when they are running. There is a stop on the road in the-middle-of-nowhere for coffee and cake by an open fire. The huskies on the other hand cuddle up next to each other to keep warm. So friendly and warm these animals are! They are definitely the highlight of the trip.

5.      Watch the northern lights

You should see this miracle of nature at least once in your life. The magic of the green lights dancing in the night skies is unforgettable, not to mention standing in the unique setting of snow-covered pine trees and fairytale-like frozen lakes. The northern lights can be seen in the entire north of Scandinavia, take a look at for the best northern lights holidays in the Abisko area and the ICEhotel. You don’t want to miss out on this!

aurora icehotel

Monday, May 26, 2014

Aurora hunters: Chad Blakley at Abisko

Lights over Lapland: aurora photo hunting

In search of an unforgettable experience while staying at Abisko? Participate in a most interesting and instructive activity: go aurora hunting with top photographer Chad Blakley!

Chad Blakley AbiskoChad is bound to help you greatly improve your skills for creating tangible memories.
If you spot the northern lights, you will bring home amazing pictures, for sure.
Chad, an outgoing American with a great personality was drawn to Lapland in pursuit of his charming wife Linnea. Together they run the specialized agency “Lights over Lapland”, offering their customers top-notch expertise during an excursion focusing on one goal: capturing the Aurora.
Chad furnishes you with the perfect tools for this mission: a professional, digital SLR camera and a tripod. Insert your own SD memory card and take your treasure pics home with you.
The Northern Lights excursion is organized daily from November till the end of March in small groups of maximum 10 people. Don’t worry about the freezing winter cold. You can borrow a warm outdoor jacket.
Bradt travel guide calls Abisko “probably the best place in Scandinavia to see the Northern lights”.
Chad Blakley AbiskoAt the large frozen Törnetrask lake surrounded by a vast mountain range, you can enjoy clearer nights than elsewhere in Lapland.
Xplore the North offers unique trips to Abisko, a wide range from active to relaxing programmes, according to your preferences.
For more information: check out the Chad & Linnea’s website: Lights over Lapland.

Or book a full Abisko stay including Lights over Lapland phototrip.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

When and where to go for northern lights

Everybody wants to see the magical northern lights, yet everybody wonders: what is the best time and place to see the northern lights?

Abisko aurora borealisA basic rule:  always keep in mind that the northern lights are a natural phenomenon and can never be guaranteed. However, that’s what makes aurora hunting so magical, you never know when and where exactly they will appear, but finding them gives you all the more joy.

There is northern lights activity between October and April. Basically, this entire period offers great chances for spotting the aurora. It depends on the intensity of the solar wind bouncing off the earth’s magnetic field, to determine whether or not you’ll observe the lights on a certain night. Generally, it is said that the lights are seen best when there is low lunar light. For example when there is no moon. From

experience we know that it should not be the overriding reason determining the timing of your visit. A northern lights show by full moon is incredibly fascinating. Being in the right spot, is proven to be even more important, the one with the highest chances of a clear night. This spot being Abisko, high above the polar circle in the north of Sweden. 

Abisko northern lights

In Abisko the percentage of nights between October and April when the lights are viewed register highest. The spectacle of seeing them from up the mountains in the Aurora Sky Station is unimaginable. You should see it for yourself.  The highest chances of actually viewing the northern lights in combination with the stunning mountain setting of Abisko, in the middle of a National Park, makes this destination your logical choice for a northern lights trip.

It’s easy to conclude that spotting the northern lights just comes down to ‘location location location’.