It’s difficult to define what makes the Swedish Lapland so magical. The mountains, the swiftly flowing rivers, the dense forests and the archipelago are a part of it, but it’s more than that. The Swedish Lapland is a place of traditions, a place where people live in harmony with nature. From the reindeer strolling the highways to the sauna culture to a slightly terrifying but oh-so-exhilarating off-roading experience, our Globetrotting Traveling Grandmom loved every minute of her time high above the Arctic Circle.
Introducing a Special Little Piece of the Planet
The Swedish Lapland is a place where traditions matter and are passed down for generations. Home to moose, an abundance of fish, and reindeer who will likely be the cause of any traffic jams you encounter, this is a magical place that begs exploration. In the winter months, the rivers freeze and Northern Lights dance in the sky. In summer, the Midnight Sun shines on this special little piece of the planet into the wee hours of the morning.
I was first introduced to this magical world and the incredibly nice people who call it home as I road-tripped through the region with three other writers. It gained a special place in my heart that I can’t wait to share with my grandkids. Here are a few of my favorite experiences.
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Attempting to Fish at Kukkolaforsen
For five generations the Spolander family has been offering tourism opportunities in the Swedish Lapland at Kukkolaforsen Tourism and Conference Center providing dining, accommodations, sauna experiences and fishing in the Torne River Valley.
Using a technique that dates back to the middle ages, fishing in Kukkolaforsen is done with a long handled net. They aren’t kidding about the long handle—it’s longer than I am tall! With the help of an instructor, I tried my hand at fishing for whitefish in the raging Torne River. While he made it look easy, I can assure you it wasn’t. And although I had no luck, thankfully freshly caught whitefish were on hand for us to grill.
The fish are grilled over an open flame in smoke huts. Sitting around the crackling fire in a 500 year old timber hut watching the fish cook and listening to the tall tales of the fisherman is an experience I won’t soon forget. And the fish? Well it doesn’t get any fresher. YUM!
The Torne River serves as a natural boundary between Finland and Sweden. In fact, as I was working that long handled net, I could look across the river and watch the Finnish fisherman catching the fish that were eluding me. And as the light changed (one of many times) a rainbow appeared to frame Finland right before my eyes.
When the river freezes in winter, ice fishing takes over. Of course, if you decide you want to visit Finland in the winter months you can just walk right across the river.
In the Swedish Lapland, Saunas are Almost Mandatory – And That’s Not a Bad Thing!
In Kukkolaforsen the sauna culture has a long history with roots in Finland. We were invited to sauna at every stop—and we took advantage of it as often as possible. Kukkolaforsen has specialized in sauna culture for decades and the village has become one of the best places to have a sauna in all of Scandinavia. Together with the Swedish Sauna Academy, that promotes sauna culture in Sweden, they are able to offer a range of sauna experiences along the banks of the beautiful rapids of the Torne River. And, yes, most Europeans sauna in the nude, but swimsuits are fine so I decided not to get naked…this time.
You’ll Be Entertained at Guesthouse Kangos in Kangosfors, I Promise
When I say the people who call the Swedish Lapland home are warm and inviting, I am most certainly talking about Johann and Eve, the owner/operators of Guesthouse Kangos who were an absolute delight. Located on the banks of the Lainio River, the guesthouse is comprised of a collection of 100-year-old wooden cottages which have been impeccably maintained and decorated with an unmistakable Scandinavian touch. If you’re seeking a place to get away from it all, this is that place.
Amid tranquil natural beauty you can relax in the riverside sauna, soak in the hot tub under the midnight sun or you can learn something new. Johan and Eve offer courses to learn photography, painting, jewelry making, knife making and a leather workshop.
Our adventures included an off-roading experience on a Land Rover designed course. The setting was perfect with deep blue lakes reflecting towering evergreen pines and reindeer grazing just out of sight. We started with a ride along with Johan and his business partner, Peter which was slightly terrifying. Then, we each took a turn at the wheel. We charged up steep embankments, crawled over massive boulders and flipped off the end of a wooden platform. There were screams—lots of them—but in the end, we conquered the course, managed to stay alive and toasted the good time with wine.
Just Being There is Enough
Sometimes it’s not what you do in a place that makes the experience so magical…it’s just being there. That is how I felt about my time in the Swedish Lapland. To be honest, I knew nothing about this part of the world before my visit. But as I peeked out the window of my cottage around 3:00 a.m. to see light still in the sky and bunny rabbits playing on the lawn, I knew it would be part of my soul forever. After all, there aren’t many places in the world where traffic jams are caused by wandering reindeer.