If you’re planning an adventure holiday in Swedish Lapland, you’ve come to the right place! This tried and tested 7-day itinerary visits some of the best places in Swedish Lapland including Lulea, Kalix, Haparanda, Kukkola and Kangos. It also includes adventure holiday essentials, from kayaking in the Baltic Sea, to sleeping in an igloo, husky hiking, salmon fishing, a woodfired sauna and river swimming, midnight sun hikes with a camp fire, feeding reindeer and foraging in the woods with a Sami family.
So if you’re ready to create your itinerary exploring Swedish Lapland, let’s jump into day one! This Swedish Lapland adventure holiday itinerary was planned in the summer months, but all of the destinations have an added charm in the winter – you may simply have to adjust travel times and adventure activities available.
Day One Swedish Lapland itinerary – Lulea + Kalix
To kick off your Swedish Lapland adventure holiday, plan to fly to Lulea, the capital of Norrbotten County, the name given to Swedish Lapland today. Lulea is a small but modern port town, with hotels and restaurants clustered around a main shopping street, plus an attractive waterfront area full of bars and eateries. If you need to stay a night in Lulea because you arrive late in the day, check out the Clarion Hotel Sense and the Best Western Plus Savoy for smart, central city options.
Otherwise, if you arrive before lunch, this itinerary starts with collecting your hire car in Lulea Airport and getting straight on the road to Kalix, a coastal town about 80 km away, which is an easy 1.5 hour drive. Kalix is worth your time for its proximity to the Baltic Sea and its fish-focused cuisine. The most famous ingredient in Kalix cuisine is a local fish-egg delicacy, Kalix löjrom. This King of Swedish caviars is made from the roe of vendace fish that swim in the brackish Baltic Sea water. Although small, these fish are tasty and prevalent in menus here.
Check in at Ice and Light Village, a unique complex of igloos in Swedish Lapland. During the summer months, this is a great place to get away from it all and enjoy the endless days on a peaceful river bank. During the winter, these igloos are a unique resource for watching the Northern Lights and cosying up on snowy days. Although there is no restaurant on site, owner Maarit Lindvall teams up with local chef David Palmbo to provide delicious platters and family sized buffets on request. Your breakfast is found in a fridge outside your door every morning.
Our first activity in Kalix is kayaking in the Baltic Sea with Mattias Johansson of Nordic Life Experience, a Kalix-based adventure activity specialist which also offers hydrobike and snowshoe excursions. This adventure holiday experience navigates the archipelago around Kalix so you are actually kayaking in the sea, but it has a river estuary vibe with pretty islands and calm currents. With Mattias, we took a 2.5 hour trip, which included navigating to an island where Mattias grilled some freshly caught vendace fish over a fire we built on the beach. All in all, a lovely, strenuous outing which doesn’t require much experience – just masses of enthusiasm!
After the kayak trip, return to Ice and Light village for supper and a peaceful rest in your igloo. Night night!
Day Two Swedish Lapland adventure holiday – Haparanda
Day Two is all about exploring Haparanda, a sleepy border town which is much more than it seems, just a 40 minute drive from Kalix. We transfer to the Haparanda Stadshotell, a splendid Art Deco-era hotel whose grandiosity for such a small town is a bit of a puzzle at first glance. However, the history of the hotel and the history of Haparanda are entirely entwined. Haparanda, on the Swedish-Finnish border, owes its importance to its strategic location, making it a magnet for political forces and a hive of activity during local conflicts over the centuries.
In its current incarnation, the hotel opened in December 1900 to a changing world order, when this confine would come under increased scrutiny as a key trading post and gateway between East and West. From the spies and traders that dined and stayed here, to the tragic stories of Finnish evacuees during the war of independence, this is a place which deserves your attention, when passing through Swedish Lapland. Today, this excellent hotel, which has been beautifully renovated to exalt its period features, should be your accommodation of choice in Haparanda. Owner Susanne Vallin is a knowledgeable and gracious host who expects you year round. Its wealth of different restaurant spaces – seating up to 500 diners – are the ideal canvas to show off the varied cuisine of chef Edvin Degerlund who is resident here.
After visiting local curiosities, including a general store which time forgot called Hermanson; the Finnish border – just a five minute walk from the centre, and marked by a heart where you can sit with one foot in Sweden and one foot in Finland; head back to the Haparanda Stadshotell. Degerlund’s rich menu includes local specialities such as Kalix Löjrom served with powdered reindeer and sour cream; and reindeer fillet with Västerbotten cheese, potato cake, tomato and tomatillo. Try everything!
Day Three Swedish Lapland adventure holiday – Kukkola
We continue up the river Torne on Day Three, heading ever further north for our Swedish Lapland adventure holiday. Today’s destination is Kukkolaforsen, a richly evolved rural resort which offers well-appointed rooms in low-slung huts dotted across the river bank. In the same family for five generations, this is where the Spolander family will make you feel right at home. There are so many different activities in summer and winter that this is a great all-year-round destination. Activities that we tried included traditional river fishing with nets and a dinner on the pier with cuisine from the Tornedalian culture, the recognised minority of people that live along the Torne river valley and traditionally had their own flag, food and way of life, joining the Finnish and Swedish sides of the river.
In the winter, look forward to a snowmobile safari, wine or chocolate tasting – while all-year-round activities include white water rafting and of course, the unmissable wood-fired sauna experience! Kukkolaforsen is part of an historic settlement including an old watermill, and it’s these ancient roots – married to a gift for modern tourism – that makes your stay here so special. Don’t miss the Tornedalian specials for dinner, including whitefish and salmon, with tasty new potatoes dipped in melted butter.
Day Four Swedish Lapland adventure holiday – Hulkoffgarden
Not too early a start on the fourth day to transfer to Hulkoffgarden, just a 30 minute car ride up the Torne Valley. Let Pia and Kurt Hulkoff show you life on a Tornedalian farm, complete with reindeer and horses, and lots of contact with nature. Accommodation is family-orientated with entire floors in the guesthouse featuring connected rooms and shared facilities, so it’s ideal for bigger groups.
While many guests at Hulkoffgarden will just enjoy sitting in nature and relishing the peace, or perhaps feeding the reindeer, Pia and Kurt will be delighted to arrange cooking classes and other farm activities to get to know the animals better. Expect to eat modern cuisine with lots of local and international influences, featuring plenty of home-grown ingredients.
Hulkoffgarden can also act as an alternative accommodation choice or stopping point to Kukkolaforsen at this part of the Torne river, if you have fewer days available to explore the area.
Day Five Swedish Lapland adventure holiday – Kangos
Big drive day today – all the way up to Kangos and finally into the Artic Circle. This more than 200 km trip is completely worth it to stay in the majesty that is Pinetree Lodge near Kangos, run by adventure and activity specialists Explore the North. Sleep in wooden cabins overlooking a peaceful lake on the edge of a pretty wood, surrounded by vast spaces of mountains and nature.
At Pinetree Lodge in Kangos, get ready to head into the wild with summer and winter activities involving an extraordinary group of guides – and an extraordinary pack of huskies. From sledding to snow shoe treks and cross-country skiing, to midnight sun and dog hikes, plus rafting and other excursions, this is the perfect destination year round.
We tried the husky hike – a fun excursion taking huskies for a walk with a pause for a midday barbeque. Pinetree Lodge Kangos is home to the biggest husky kennels in Swedish Lapland with around 180 friendly, socialised and well-behaved dogs. We were even invited to cuddle the puppies to help get them used to human contact which was a real treat!
Another activity we tried here was the midnight sun hike with one of Explore the North’s experienced guides, Alfie. We headed into the forest at dusk (around 10pm) and walked an easy 3 km walk up to the top of a nearby summit. Here, in time for the midnight sun glow, we set a fire and drank hot lingonberry juice while we ate some cake. This excursion takes place after dinner so plan to eat some proper food before heading off.
Pinetree Lodge has a wonderful house restaurant, as well as a fun pub which opens during the busiest times of the year. Our dinner included a hearty leg of lamb and stuffed vegetables. Delicious!
Day Six Swedish Lapland itinerary – Huuva Hideaway
It’s time to return south, and Huuva Hideaway turns out to be the perfect base to stay between the Artic Circle and Lulea. It’s also an extra special destination, thanks to hosts Pia and Henry Huuva and their daughter Maja.
The Huuvas are a family of Sami, the protected minority in Sweden and the last indigenous population in the European Union. Staying at Huuva Hideaway is therefore a magical way to get close to Sami culture and understand how this originally Nomadic tribe lived. Associated with the transhumance of reindeer colonies, the Sami discovered that the reindeer could be partially tamed, and so took care of them in the winter months when food was hard to find, while allowing the animals to roam freely in the summer. Today, Sami culture retains its rich connection with the reindeer as a way of life and font of food and clothing. Although Henry Huuva makes his living from carpentry and hosting guests at Huuva Hideaway today, the whole family is deeply in touch with the Sami roots and way of life.
During our stay at Huuva Hideaway, we enjoyed foraging for berries in the woods and even making cocktails from plucked herbs and fruits. We also took part in a traditional Sami meal, featuring small blinis made from reindeer blood and other local delicacies. When the weather took a turn for the worse, we sheltered round a fire in the tipi tent and ate moose meat and drank boiled coffee, while Henry told us stories about Sami culture and their shamanic beliefs.
This is a wonderful opportunity to not only get back to nature in Swedish Lapland, but also to have a true encounter with a Sami family and learn something about the last indigenous culture in Europe.
Day Seven Swedish Lapland – Gammelstad Kyrkby + Lulea departure
The last day is basically a chance to return to base for your return flight home from Lulea. However, if you have some time, it’s worth heading out of Lulea on the ten-minute drive to reach Gammelstad Kyrkby. This is essentially Lulea ‘old town’, a little further inland, and is a perfectly preserved example of an church town, with whitewashed cottages positioned around an historic church. It dates back to the times when churchgoing was obligatory, so merchants and farmers from all over Norrbotten County kept a small cottage here for their weekly pilgrimages into town to attend church. When this custom fell out of practice, the centre of Lulea naturally shifted towards the coast, a more strategic place of business. But Gammelstad Kyrkby is a lovely time capsule and worth your time – the local guides are also excellent!
Our seven day itinerary in Swedish Lapland ends here, so I hope you have picked up some inspiring tips for planning your holiday in Swedish Lapland. This wonderful region of Sweden lends itself perfectly to outdoors activities, so a Swedish Lapland adventure holiday is ideal if you are looking for a way to let off some steam and engage with local culture. Don’t forget to leave any questions in the comments section, or come and find me on Instagram, where I have posted lots more tips and tricks about my trip to Swedish Lapland.
Testaccina was a guest of Heart of Lapland