Sweden, Norway and Finland have lots of things in common.  The landscape in the north for instance is very similar, and all three share the midnight sun, the northern lights and the Arctic Circle.

Arctic CircleArctic Circle.JPG

Did you know that you can step right across the Arctic Circle and never know it was there?  This is because the Arctic Circle is an imaginary line, and so you can’t actually see it at all. The Arctic Circle runs parallel to the equator and officially lies at 66° 33′ 39″ latitude.  The word Arctic comes from the Greek word Arktikos which means ‘near the bear’.  It is named after the group of stars we call the Great Bear, which hangs just over the North Pole.

Did you know that…

The midnight sun happens around the time of the summer solstice (21 June) and the polar night around the winter solstice (22 December).

The word ‘solstice’ comes from the Latin words ‘sol’ (sun) and ‘sistere’ (to stand still).

North of the Arctic Circle lies the land where in summer the sun doesn’t set, while in the deep winter there are long stretches of polar nights, when the sun never gets above the horizon.  On the Arctic Circle there is one day of midnight sun and one polar night each year.   But as you go further north, you’ll have more days of midnight sun or polar nights, depending on the time of year of your visit of course.  At the most northerly point in Europe, there are 76 days of midnight sun in summer, and 63 days of darkness (polar nights) in winter.

Ice Cold

Lofoten Magic ice (2).JPGWay up in the north of Sweden is the Ice Hotel. The name is a bit of a give-away, as the whole hotel is made of ice.  The hotel melts every year in spring and is re-built again when it gets colder in October.  It takes tons of ice to build and once the structure is ready, artists come in to decorate it with beautiful carvings and ice sculptures.  Everthing inside is made of snow and ice, from the glasses you drink out of, to the beds you sleep on, which are covered with reindeer skins for warmth.  And you need them too, as the temperature outside can be as low as -30°C and inside it is never warmer than 5°C.  A ‘cool’ place in every way.

Moose on the loose…

Bergen Bryggen Moose.JPGThere is lots of wildlife for you to discover in Sweden, including reindeer, wolves and wolverines.  And because the countryside is mostly empty, wildlife is …well…wild. 🙂 The animal you will spot most easily is the Moose, which is the largest type of deer.  It can be as tall as 2 metres and can weigh about 400-500 kilograms.  About 250,000 moose roam around Sweden, so don’t be surprised to see one on your travels.  They usually start wandering around as the sun goes down and have no fear of crossing roads, so they are a  real danger to drivers. It’s not an animal you would want to bump into, as the moose will probably walk away unharmed, leaving your car crumpled…

Brown Bears

Stockholm Skansen bears3.JPGThe northern part of Sweden is home to the brown bear.  They are quite shy and would actually prefer not to see you at all, so you may not see them as you travel around.  Brown bears can grow to be 2.3 metres in length and can weigh anything upto 300 kilograms.  They are quite big beasts.  But did you know that baby bears are the size of a squirrel when they are born and weigh about the same as a tin of baked beans?  They do a lot of growing very quickly to get to their adult size.  If you would really like to see brown bears, there is a fantastic open air bear park in Orsa.  It is the largest bear park in northern Europe and well worth a visit.

This text is taken from various sections of the ‘My Travel Kit for Sweden’.  If you would like more information, please contact me.