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Lapland E




Midnight sun in Sweden

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Did you know that the sun in the northern part of Sweden does not set in the summer for a few weeks? From April to August it never gets completely dark at night. In the winter months you have the opposite phenomenon. During the polar night you will not see the sun above the polar circle for several weeks.

 midnight sun in Kiruna (Sweden)

Where to see the midnight sun?

The midnight sun or polar day can only be seen above the polar circle. Like in Kiruna and near the ice hotel. The sun stays above the horizon for 24 hours a day. The further south you go, the longer the sun will disappear below the horizon during the summer months. Around the 21st of June, even as south as Stockholm it never really gets completely dark at night, but here you can’t see the midnight sun.

When can you see the midnight sun?

Of course it can’t be cloudy. As you can see from the photo above, I have not yet succeeded in capturing the true midnight sun. That one sunny day when I spent the summer in Swedish Lapland, I got into the tent at half past ten with severe migraines. I thought I would get to see the midnight sun several times in the 2 weeks that followed. I still regret not setting my alarm at midnight at the time. In the days that followed the clouds came every night. So I have to go back 😉

Between April the 20th and mid-August you have the best chance of seeing the midnight sun. The higher you are, the greater the chance that the sun won’t disappear behind the horizon at night. Furthermore, it also depends on how north you are to know in which period the midnight sun can see. This website tells you when the next equinox is.

Sleep masks and biorhythm

How nice are those long days in the summer? The Swedes spend as much time outside as possible and get the maximum out of the summer. Perhaps the only drawback is that you sometimes have to sleep and that, if it doesn’t get dark outside, is more difficult. Although the Swedes are used to the long summer evenings and the dark winters, it can quite confuse your biorhythm as a visitor.

Most bedrooms have blackout curtains and a sleeping mask is not a luxury. Certainly if you go camping or if you are a poor sleeper, it is best to put a sleep mask on your packing list.

Staying at the ICE hotel

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When I traveled with the Inlandsbanan to Swedish Lapland this summer, I also booked a train to Kiruna and an overnight stay in the ice hotel. You are wondering what I was doing at the ICE hotel during summer? Well, since 2017 you can visit the ice hotel throughout the year.

IJshotel 365

ICEHOTEL 365

Oh deer-suite ijshotel 365

Last spring, they took large blocks of ice of 2 tonnes from the nearby river Torne. These blocks of ice were stored in giant freezers during the summer months so that they could start with the sculpting in September / October. The ice hotel then opened around December and remained until it started to thaw and the ice hotel disappeared again.

ijshotel

The ICE hotel in Jukkasjärvi (near Kiruna) is about 200 kilometers above the polar circle and was the first ice hotel in the world. Every year, dozens of snow and ice artists shape the hotel and ice bar. This temporary hotel will continue to exist in the future. And a permanent ice hotel will be added.

ijshotel na middernacht

For this permanent building, they devised a sustainable construction. The permanent ice hotel is covered with a layer of moss. Thanks to the midnight sun, they can get all the energy needed to keep the building at -5 degrees constantly from solar panels. The ICEHOTEL 365 got 18 art suites. Every year the interior will change.

ijshotel

Staying at the ICEhotel

ijshotel kwallen

The entire interior, from bed to table and chair, is made of ice. On the bed is a mattress on which a reindeer skin lies. These ensure that you do not get cold at night. Next to your ice room, you also have a warm room where you can get changed and where you can leave your luggage (so that it does not freeze). There is also a heated lounge in the main building where you can sit at the fireplace in the evening. The showers + saunas and the toilets are also at the main building.

ijshotel lobby

Warm area

warme ruimte ijshotel

Changing is done in a warm room in the main building. Each room has its own enclosed space with deckchairs and even a bench. You do not need any special clothes or extra layers to sleep in the ice room: a single and thin layer of thermal underwear (merino wool) is enough! You can also buy that thermal underwear on the spot. A hat and gloves can also be handy. You will also get shoes / boots from the hotel. There’s a good reason for it: if you’d leave your shoes next to your bed, in the morning they would be cold! Once you’re back in the main building, you can switch back to your own warm shoes.

ijshotel

Sleeping bag

Tip: Do not go to bed too early. In winter you may want to spot the northern lights, in summer you can catch a glimpse of the midnight sun (if it’s not cloudy at least). So I did not go to bed until midnight. You will receive a sleeping bag and a liner at the reception. Only take them to your room if you are going to sleep. The sleeping bag would freeze otherwise.

slapen in het ijshotel - slaapzak

That sleeping bag was a serious turn off for me. My sleeping bag stank! Really, they do not wash them between the guests. You have a liner sheet but still. I exchanged my sleeping bag for one that smelled less but the idea alone ruined the experience for me. In retrospect, I’d better had taken my own anti-freeze sleeping bag or put an extra scarf around my head so that the sleeping bag was further away from me and my poor nose.

ijshotel

In addition, I have to say that, thanks to the reindeer skin and the sleeping bag, I wasn’t feeling cold at all. Yes, in the morning my toes and my nose had a little cold, but it all worked well. I can imagine that if you’re in a sleeping bag with two persons, it’s even warmer.

ijshotel

Wake up call with blåbärssoppa

After some time I found a comfortable way to lie down and I turned off the light. And then the light was out and you could not see the ice sculptures anymore. Just to say how relatively it is to sleep in an ice hotel.

blabärsoppa in het ijshotel

By eight o’clock in the morning I was awakened by the receptionist who had a cup of warm berry juice. Delicious! I took some pictures to capture the experience and hurried to the warm space. After breakfast and a sauna, I took off again.

Visiting the ice hotel

Scupturen ijshotel

Is an overnight stay in the ice paradise too adventurous for you? Then you can also just visit the hotel and the ice bar. A ticket costs about 30 euros. Not cheap but definitely worth it! Even more, I would not stay overnight in an ice hotel again but would just go for a visit.

Ice Bar ijshotel

You can follow a workshop on the spot to make an ice sculpture yourself. You can also choose to stay in a warm room in Jukkasjärvi. Across the road is a restaurant where you can eat. Breakfast is also served there for those staying at the ICE hotel or in the warm rooms.

How do you reach the ICEHOTEL?

Most people choose the night train from Stockholm. I traveled with the Inlandsbanan to Galliväre and took the regular train to Kiruna. From here you can take bus 501 or the ICEHOTEL shuttle bus. Don’t forget to check the departure times, because bus 501 only drives 2 times a day. A taxi is also a possibility but in remote areas taxis are not very common. From Kiruna to Jukkasjärvi it ​​is about 30 kilometers.

From Stockholm there are flights to Kiruna. The flight takes one and a half hours. Kiruna Airport is 15 km from the ice hotel.

ijshotel

Is an overnight stay at the ice hotel on your bucket list? Or have you slept there and you want to share your story? Don’t hesitate to comment below!