(December 2011) This winter, it is even easier for tourists to experience the thrill of Swedish Lapland, as Visit Luleå has now launched fixed departure activity tours, which operate up to three times a week with a minimum of just two participants. All the activities, which include brand new hovercraft archipelago and Northern Lights tours, as well as snowmobiling and driving on ice, are within easy reach of the city, which makes Luleå the ideal destination for those who want a winter break without donning skis.
Luleå, set just south of the Arctic Circle in a stunning white winter desert, is a microcosm of everything that is great about Swedish Lapland but, instead of having to drive hours between each point of interest, everything is accessible within around 30 minutes. This means that visitors can spend all their time enjoying the new winter activities on offer on the ground, including:
· NEW: Hovercraft archipelago tour – Brand new for 2011/2012, this spectacular hovercraft tour over pack-ice fields gives visitors a chance to explore the outer islands of the archipelago and even go for a walk on the towering ice on special trails – from 2,135 SEK (£203)
· NEW: Northern Lights adventure – Donning snowshoes, adventurers can explore otherwise inaccessible terrain on this brand new, two-hour guided tour. Participants walk through the Brändö forests where Northern Lights can be spotted under the correct conditions, which scientists are claiming are better this year than for the last 50. During the tour, guests will find out more about life in the wilderness, and learn how to light a fire in the snow and prepare dinner under the open sky – from 975 SEK (£93)
· Ice driving – Test your driving skills on ice! Take both cars and go-carts for a spin on six specially created tracks along the beautiful frozen Ebbenjarka lake – from 1,495 SEK per person (£142)
· Dog sledding - Visit a husky farm and take off on a two hour dog sledding adventure through frozen lakes and forest. Alternatively, get involved and learn how to drive and command your own sled- from 1,335 SEK (£127)
· Snowmobiling – A favourite winter pastime of the locals, enjoy an exhilarating snowmobile excursion through snow-covered forests and to superb viewing spots – from 1,215 SEK (£116)
· Snowmobile pack ice tour – A snowmobile tour to the island of Brändöskär, a 17th century fishing village in the outermost archipelago, next to the Bothnian bay. Along the way the guide tells participants about life in the northern wilderness and gives them a chance to try ice-fishing. Lunch is cooked over an open fire in a large muurikka pan – from 2,150 SEK (£205)
· Ice breaker – Jump aboard the ice-classified Arctic Explorer and head out into the frozen archipelago, breaking through the ice as you go. And the particularly adventurous can don a survival suit and take a dip in the Arctic Ocean! Only available for ten people or more – from 1,235 SEK (£118)
All of these tours can be booked with transfers and are now available via www.tour-lapland.com or by calling +46 70 684 48 65
For those who also want to try out some skiing whilst they’re in Swedish Lapland, there is a great resort for all abilities just one hour from Luleå. Storklinten features ski-in, ski-out chalets and is the perfect introduction to skiing for beginners or for families with small children. There are also plenty of great activities in the area including a Samì camp, adventure night in a tipi, ice fishing, snow-shoeing and snowmobiling. For more information, visit www.storklinten.se
After an active day, visitors will need a place to rest and there is no shortage of places to stay in Luleå and the surrounding area. However, the most unusual is the Treehotel, about an hour’s drive away from Luleå and just 15 minutes from Storklinten, which opened last year. Whilst there are some tree-based hotels in the world, none benefit from the same architectural concept as this hotel. There are five completely unique themed Tree Houses, created by five separate architects, with more to come in 2012. Home to the world’s first tree top sauna and offering the possibility of sipping on cocktails in the ‘UFO-tree cottage’, it could be considered the world’s largest outdoor playground for adults. Each cabin is built high in the pine forest and offers under-floor heating and an eco friendly toilet. Showers and meals are taken in the nearby guesthouse. Rooms at the Treehotel start from 3,990 SEK (£382), based on two sharing on a b&b basis. For more details visit www.treehotel.se.
Luleå and the surrounding area is featured by a number of UK tour operators including Weekend à la carte, Simply Sweden, Best Served Scandinavia, Sunvil and Taber Holidays. New for this season, Black Tomato has also launched packages to Luleå and Swedish Lapland for the first time.
Scandinavian Airlines (www.flysas.co.uk / 0871 226 7760) offers flights to Luleå via Stockholm from £204 per adult including taxes and surcharges.
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