A few weeks ago, in the middle of December, K and I decided to take a short trip to the north. After spending two nights in Abisko, and witnessing the amazing northern lights two days in a row, we drove down to Jukkasjärvi, home of the Icehotel! Having come this far north, it only made sense to check out the famed hotel and the ice sculptures that are re-created every year!
The drive from Abisko to Jukkasjärvi took about 1.5hours and was very scenic. We drove along lake Torneträsk for a better part of the journey and stopped several times to take in the beautiful views of the lake which was frozen in parts.
Later on too, it was just beautiful to drive through snow-covered trees on both sides of the road. The small village of Jukkasjärvi is located about 17 kms outside of Kiruna and that makes it very easy to reach when flying in from Stockholm as the airport is only 15mins away!
We were staying at the Ice Hotel and drove straight to it as I had booked us a snowmobile ride for the afternoon. As you can see, I was trying to make the most of our limited time in the north!
We had opted to stay in a regular room at the hotel instead of in one of their ‘ice’ rooms. These rooms are created every year by different artists and are very varied in their themes and decor. As you have guessed, these ice rooms are frozen! Everything inside is sculpted out of ice including the bed. Guests staying in these rooms are given access from 6pm until 10am the following day – there is only so much time one can spend in freezing conditions! Of course, the guests are provided with proper sleeping gear and guidance on how to make the most of their time in these rooms.
Others like us, are allowed to visit these rooms and the other ice exhibition including the ice bar during the visiting hours. As guests of the hotel, we didn’t have to buy a ticket for this section of the hotel. Outside visitors are allowed in with a ticket. You can get more information on their website.
By the time we had check in and walked around the hotel, it was already time for our snowmobile ride. We were given full snow gear to wear including balaclava masks, helmets, snow boots, snow suits and gloves. It can get very cold if you are going to spend 2 hours or more in -15 degrees! Having done that in Abisko, we knew fully well what to expect.
Our tour started at the Icehotel and we drove across some frozen lakes and vast open spaces where all you could see was miles and miles of white. The trail also ran through the neighbouring forest full of snow covered trees. When we started the ride, there was still some daylight but by the time we finished, it was pitch dark. Mid-way through the ride, our guide stopped to make us some hot coffee which we gladly ate with some kanelbullars (cinnamon buns).
I was grateful for all the gear that was provided because without those, I am sure I would not have had any fun freezing to death!
Back at the hotel, it was time to pay the Ice bar a visit. Carved fully out of ice, the bar served all drinks in ice glasses. It was a fun experience to sip cold drinks at a frozen bar clad in warm clothes from top to toe!
We ate dinner that night at the hotel’s restaurant. the food and service were lovely. The restaurant also serves a set menu on ice but that has to be pre-booked.
The next day was our last day in the north. Our flight was booked for the afternoon so I had booked us a husky sled ride for the morning! After much research, I had zeroed in on Husky Tours Lapland and wasn’t disappointed. They were located about 30mins away from the Icehotel. Although they offered pickups, we had decided to drive to them instead. As we approached the kennels, we could hear lots of dogs just barking away. Our guide explained that as soon as the huskies are readied for the sleds, they just get super excited and just want to get started instead of waiting around. Basically, these dogs are working dogs and love to run.
What I really appreciated about this company was that they were local and that the dogs looked like they were being well looked after. The owners knew each one of their 90 dogs individually and of course, every dog had a name.
K and I got our own private sled because the company didn’t want to mix groups. And that I thought was very responsible of them, given the Corona situation. They even asked us to wear masks inside their changing cabin. Something unheard of in Sweden really!
Like the snowmobile tour, we were given a lot of warm gear. And soon we were ready for our ride. Since this company is located outside of Jukkasjärvi, it’s very quiet and remote on own trails. We sped past more frozen lakes and forests and since the tour was in the morning, we were able to see more than the day before.
We stopped at the company’s teepee for a quick coffee break which also gave us time to meet and interact with the dogs. They weren’t very pleased about stopping so soon and made sure we heard their displeasure.
Soon we sped off again. There was something truly magical about sledding through the quiet trails with nothing but snow and no one but the dogs and the guide for miles. It was in my opinion, the best way to end our holiday in the north. We came back with some amazing experiences and cannot wait to explore more of the beautiful north.