This grand journey starts in Stockholm then takes you to Lulea, Abisko, Jukkasjarvi, Svolvaer in the Lofoten Islands, Tromso, Alta, Kirkenes, Saariselka, Sinettä, Kemi and Rovaniemi, so you can explore the very best of Winter in Lapland. Highlights include an evening walking tour of Stockholm, visit to Abisko Sky Station, the IceHotel in Jukkasjarvi, Viking Lofotr Museum, famous fishing village of Henningsvaer, Polar Park to see the Arctic animals; the award-winning Alta Museum and the Northern Lights Cathedral, a King Crab safari; a reindeer farm visit with sled ride; a visit to the Arctic Snow Hotel with overnight in a Glass Igloo, Husky farm visit with sled ride, a visit to Rovaniemi and delightful Santa Claus Village, a Sampo Icebreaker cruise with ice swimming, and (weather permitting) a visit to Kemi Snow Castle. Plus you can add some great evening optional activities.
On arrival in Stockholm, transfer to your hotel. Remainder of the day at leisure. Tonight at 18:00hrs meet your Tour Director and fellow travellers at the hotel for a short welcome meeting. At 19:45hrs, join for an evening walking tour of the beautiful Swedish capital. Overnight at the Scandic Anglais or similar.
This morning, enjoy a 3hr city sightseeing tour. The city of Stockholm is built on 14 islands, connected by 57 bridges and embraces the unique character of its 13th century Old Town and modern high-tech architecture. Stockholm's islands are bordered by Lake Malaren in the west and the Baltic Sea in the east where the archipelago, with its 30,000 islands awaits exploration. The capital is a big city with a small town personality and is proudly called 'Beauty on Water'. Your sightseeing tour with an Old Town walk, makes for a memorable morning and a discovery of contrasts. Go back 750 years in time and feel the medieval atmosphere of the Old Town (Gamla Stan) as you wander through its narrow streets. You will even see the 700-year-old cathedral of Stockholm, Seat of the Archbishop, along with Stortorget, where the Stockholm Blood Bath took place. At the end of the tour you will be transferred to Arlanda Airport for your flight to Lulea (1hr 20mins). Lulea is the largest city in Swedish Lapland and located at the mouth of the Lule River. Transfer from Lulea Airport to the hotel for your evening at leisure. Overnight at Clarion Hotel Sense or similar.
Today you will travel by coach to Abisko. The scenic ride across the top of Sweden gives you time to relax while taking in the beauty of nature. There will be a stop for lunch (not included) along the way. Meet your Tour Director in the hotel lobby at 20:15hrs then travel by bus to Abisko. From 21:00-01:00hrs, the unique Aurora Sky Station offers the possibility to gaze at the Northern Lights and stars from a large, outdoor terrace and lookout tower. Inside you find a Northern Lights exhibition with a comprehensive presentation of the Aurora Borealis. Perhaps in the warm cosy café you might treat yourself to fika (coffee break) and cake, or browse for a souvenir? Two overnights at Hotell Riksgransen or similar.
Today travel to Jukkasjarvi where you will enjoy a guided tour of the world's most well-known IceHotel, the first in the world dating back to the late 1980s. Learn the history of the impressive ice construction rising out of the snow and ice, in a new form every year. Afterwards, continue to Jukkasjarvi Church with some parts dating back to 1608, making it the oldest surviving church in Lapland. See the richly decorated altarpiece by Uppsala artist Bror Hjorth, depicting the revivalist preacher Lars Levi Laestadius, alongside the woman who inspired him to rid Lapland of alcohol, Maria of Aasele. The organ above the door is made from reindeer horn and birch wood, and the artwork in the centre of the organ, suspended over the pipes, symbolises the sun rising over Lapporten, the two U-shaped mountain-tops near Abisko which are one of Lapland's most enduring images. Then head next door to the Nutti Sami Siida where reindeer graze alongside the Torne River's banks and outdoor exhibitions show nomadic and modern Sami life. A traditional Sami lunch will be served. Return to the hotel mid-afternoon. 2nd overnight in Abisko.
Morning departure aboard the Arctic Circle Train for the 3.5hr journey to Narvik. Sit back and enjoy this beautiful journey on part of the Iron Ore Line, which played a central role during WWII, supplying the Germans with iron critical for wartime production of steel. Disembark with time for a casual lunch (not included) before continuing on by coach to Svolvaer, with its age-old history as a fishing village – a tradition which remains as one of the town's most important economical foundations. There is also magnificent nature, a great cultural scene with many galleries, plus the Lofoten War Memorial Museum. Tonight offers an optional Fishing Village Walk with dinner at Børsen Spiseri. Svinoya is the oldest part of Svolvaer and has thrived as a fishing village since 1828. Hear of the area's culture, stories of how the fishermen lived 100 years ago and what happened in Trollfjord in 1890. You will also be able to taste the stockfish. Please wear warm clothes and sensible footwear, also bring your camera. The evening moves along with a 3-course dinner at Børsen Spiseri– the most distinctive restaurant in the Lofoten Islands. Housed in a venerable quayside warehouse dating back to 1828, you will be served dishes made with unique, fresh, local ingredients from the Lofoten Islands. Three overnights at Svinøya Rorbuer or similar.
Morning departure by coach to the Viking Lofotr Museum, where you can see the excavation of the largest known Viking house and take a guided tour of the museum, complete with several permanent exhibitions including audio guides. Then travel through idyllic, Leknes village, before reaching Reine where we enjoy lunch at a local restaurant. Afterwards, continue via Nusfjord before returning to Svolvaer early in the evening. Time at leisure.
Today we head towards Henningsvaer, one of the most famous fishing villages in the Lofotens, inhabited by only 1,300 people. Time at leisure to explore on your own, before continuing to Kabelvaag, (another important fishing village) with a stop at the North Museum (Nord Museum). See a history of the local fishing industry, presented in one of the best-preserved squire farms in the Lofotens. In Northern Norway's first medieval city, you will find the main stately building (1815), authentic fishing huts and boathouses, while the Museum offers exhibitions on Lofoten fishing history, ports, lighthouses and traditional crafts. Return to Svolvaer mid-afternoon. Tonight offers an optional Northern Lights Search by bus. Travel past frozen lakes, silent forests, beaches and small fishing villages as you prepare to hunt for the Northern Lights. As it is impossible to predict when the Aurora will appear, your guide will keep a close eye on the sky.
Continue by coach from Svolvaer to Tromso stopping en route at the famous Polar Park. This is the world's northern most animal park and your guided tour passes many Arctic animals including wolves, bears, deer, elk and reindeer. Onwards to Tromso where the evening is at leisure. Tonight at 19:45hrs you can join an optional cable car ride up Mount Storsteinen. After a short transfer from the hotel to the cable car station, you will board a gondola which will transport you to 421m above sea level to enjoy spectacular panoramic views of Tromso and the surrounding islands, mountains and fjords. If you are lucky, the Northern Lights may even make an appearance! Two overnights at Scandic Ishavshotel, Radisson Blu Tromso or similar.
Start today with a 3hr city sightseeing tour, including Tromso University Museum, where we learn about the nature and culture of northern Norway, and the indigenous Sami people. Next we travel around the island, passing Lake Prestvatn and crossing the bridge to the Arctic Cathedral, a masterpiece built by Jan Inge Hovig in 1965. It reflects northern Norwegian nature, culture and faith, and has a monumental stained-glass window. The tour ends with a visit to the Arctic experience Polaria, where the co-dependency of sea and land life is both seen and felt. Polaria is located within walking distance of the hotel, should you wish to extend your visit. At 18:30hrs, we head out to the Aurora Camp, where over 300 friendly huskies are waiting to greet you. A visit to the puppy enclosure is also possible! Enjoy a traditional Norwegian dinner in a cosy Gamme Hut and prepare to search for the Aurora, while a warm fire outside sets the mood and keeps you toasty. Late evening return to the hotel.
Travelling from Tromso to Alta sees stunning scenery and includes two ferry crossings with lunch en route. Sit back, relax and enjoy the views! On arrival in Alta, check-in at the Thon Hotel or similar, for two overnights. This evening is at your leisure. Tonight offers an optional horse-drawn sleigh ride at a nearby, country farm. Pulled along by a charming Norwegian Fjord horse, your sleigh glides through the forest and along Alta River, as you sit back, snuggled warmly in blankets. Along the way, stop for a light supper served around a warm fire. Maybe the Northern Lights will appear!
Today visit the award-winning Alta Museum, on an early settlement site dating back 11,000 years, with exhibitions on local culture and history. Northern Europe's largest and richest rock carving site has walkways around the 2,000-6,200 year old rock carvings, depicting the life of hunters and fishermen. After a guided tour of the museum we visit the Northern Lights Cathedral - an elegant, modern construction with architecture inspired by the Aurora. Tonight offers an optional visit to Sorrisniva Ice Hotel and Aurora search. Travel by bus into the countryside to the family owned Sorrisniva adventure facility, perfectly located to maximise your chances of seeing the magnificent Aurora. Experience the world's northernmost ice and snow hotel, built from the ground every year with different themes, while also enjoying its serenity and silence. Wander amongst handcrafted ice sculptures or perhaps visit the ice bar for a drink (not included). Later a knowledgeable local guide will take you to search for the Aurora. Learn more about the natural phenomenon as well as the local history of Alta. Your guide will also be happy to help you catch some beautiful images with your own camera.
Early departure by coach this morning as we head east to Kirkenes, through beautiful northern Lapland. Sit back and enjoy breathtaking nature and landscapes, with a stop along the way for lunch in Karasjok. Late afternoon arrival into Kirkenes and evening at leisure. Overnight at Thon Hotel Kirkenes or similar.
This morning join a 3hr King Crab Safari. This giant of the sea, living in Kirkenes Fjord, can reach up to 2m across and weigh 15kg. Depending on weather/ice, this excursion might be by boat or snowmobile drawn sleigh (no snowmobile driving; passengers' sit in a sled drawn by the guide's snowmobile). Once the King Crab has been caught, transfer to a remote cabin, where it is cooked for a delicious lunch. Continue south to the centre of Sami world at Inari, the capital of Lapland, to visit the Sajos Sami Cultural Centre and Parliament. Set in the heart of Sapmi, in a unique natural landscape on the shore of Lake Inari, it serves as a centre for Sami self-governance, culture, education and know-how. Modern conference premises, facilities and technology go hand in hand with authentic, living, Sami culture. Continue on to tiny Saariselka village, the centre of Finland's winter sports. Your evening is at leisure. Overnight at Santa's Hotel Tunturi or similar.
This morning we make our way to Sinetta, just outside Rovaniemi. Along the way, enjoy a delightful visit to a traditional Sami reindeer farm. Meet the farmers, dressed in their colourful Sami clothing, as they tell you the importance of reindeer in their culture. Learn how to throw a Suopunki (Sami lasso) before relaxing with a short reindeer-sleigh ride (two persons per sleigh), moving through a white landscape where the only sound is the music of reindeer bells. Lunch is included at the farm. The afternoon is at leisure. You might like to take an optional Snow Sauna & Outdoor Jacuzzi at the hotel tonight. The snow sauna has walls made of snow and ice - only the sauna benches are made of wood - an astonishing combination of thick steam within intimate snow walls. Afterwards you soak in the outdoor Jacuzzi, as you admire the Northern Lights or spectacular, starry night skies over Lapland.
Tonight is a truly magical experience, as an overnight at the unique Arctic Snow Hotel sees you check-in to a private Glass Igloo. Weather permitting, you can watch for the Northern Lights or millions of stars from the comfort of your bed. Your stay includes a traditional, Lappish 3-course dinner in a magnificent wooden Kota, where fresh salmon is slowly grilled over the fire, in a huge pit. For those who are feeling adventurous, tonight you can upgrade to an amazing overnight in a Snow Suite, instead ot a Glass Igloo. Each year the Snow Hotel is built anew, with local artists designing and creating the ice and wall sculptures that decorate the hotel and Snow Suites. Each suite is different and offers a unique arctic experience, as you spend the night as the Sami once did in a snow igloo. Special Arctic sleeping bags keep you warm on a your mattress over the ice bed, at an ambient temperature of between 0° and -5°C. Bathroom facilities are located in a warm section of the hotel, just nearby.
After your wonderful overnight we head to Rovaniemi for an afternoon visit to a Husky Farm. The barking of happy dogs will welcome you and the head 'musher' will tell you all about the life of these hard working Arctic animals. Then enjoy a sled ride in pairs, with 1 person driving and the other seated in the sleigh, along forest trails. Refuel with a traditional outdoor meal of Lappish sausage grilled on the campfire, followed by Lappish pancakes. Afterwards, visit wonderful Santa Claus Village, his official home. Step into a magical world and meet the man himself, send a letter from his Post Office, stand with each foot astride the Arctic Circle and more. This evening, you may like to join the optional Aurora Camp by Snowmobile adventure. Experience the Arctic night by driving in the wilderness, through a snow-covered forest and on a frozen river, to discover the phenomena of the northern sky. The camp's theatre shows a film about the myths and facts, and there is also time for you to roam around, take a brisk sleigh ride or just lay back in the snow observatory, by the open fire, to admire everything overhead. With a little luck, the sky is clear and the Northern Lights appear, as you enjoy a delicious reindeer burger before returning to town. Drivers of the snowmobile must hold a drivers' licence. Two overnights at Hotel Santa Claus or similar.
Today we head to the town of Kemi and our first stop is the fabulous SnowCastle. Pure white snow walls surround the gigantic SnowCastle, the biggest of its kind in the world - built entirely out of snow and ice, with a special snow slide and amazing snow sculptures. Then we board Sampo Icebreaker for a cruise on this remarkable vessel, breaking through the ice of the northern Gulf of Bothnia*. This extraordinary experience includes a guided tour of the ship and 3-course meal… PLUS… swimming in amidst the largest ice field in Europe. Wearing a snug survival and floatation suit (dry suit), just jump in the sea - you can't help but float! You stay completely dry and a guide is with you at all times. Early evening return to Rovaniemi.
*Construction of the Snow Castle is weather dependent and may not be completed until mid to late January.
**Departure on 03 December 2020 will include a visit to the Ranua Wildlife Park (instead of travelling to Kemi and doing the Sampo Ice Breaker Cruise).
***Subject to final schedules, the Sampo Experience will either include a four hour cruise with lunch on board or a three hour cruise with lunch onshore prior to the cruise.
Tonight there is one last optional excursion offered – dinner and Aurora watching at Snowland, the world's 'coolest' and biggest Igloo Restaurant. Here you will feast on a delicious dinner with local specialities. After dinner, sit out on the restaurant's terrace by the bonfire, searching for the Aurora Borealis one last time.
Transfer to Rovaniemi Airport and end of arrangements.
Maximum group size: 32 persons
All optional excursions must be pre-booked.