Traveling to Lapland in the far north of Sweden is a journey even for those living in the middle of the country. Sweden is long (really long) and the journey from the south of Sweden to Lapland is at least a few hours by plane or a very, very long car ride. Or, you could take the Inlandsbanan, which takes you more than 1000 kilometres (620 miles) from Kristinehamn in the south to Gällivare above the Arctic Circle. Here are a whole bunch of reasons why the 100-year-old Inlandsbanan is the best way to travel to Lapland.
When you travel 1300 kilometres (807 miles), you’re going to see a lot of scenery. You’ll begin in Kristinehamn, in Värmland, which is a beautiful area filled with lakes, forests, and charming towns and villages. A good tip is to get here a day or two early and explore the area, before getting on the train, which will reveal just how diverse the topography of Sweden really is. Given that Sweden is more than 1500 kilometres (932 miles) long and this journey is 1300 kilometres long you’ll be seeing everything from lush greenery in the south to snow-capped mountains in the north – even in summer.
Sweden is a lot bigger than most people realise and of the nearly 300 municipalities you will travel through 19, including some of the most beautiful in Dalarna and Värmland. Every municipality offers something different and each one is keen to show off for visitors, so expect lots of local colour and heritage, whether that’s through activities, food, or culture.
The train stops pretty regularly along the way, giving you ample opportunity to get out and explore the surrounding countryside. In Sweden, what better than making like a local and foraging for berries and mushrooms? Swedish forests are filled with free produce, basically, although be sure you know what you’re picking, as some berries and mushrooms are poisonous.
While there are certain dishes that are cooked and eaten in every corner of Sweden, there are also regional specialties – and this is your chance to try them all. Up north in particular you can try things like reindeer, which is lean, tasty, and delicious, no matter how it’s prepared – and it’s prepared a lot of different ways! With the rise of New Nordic cuisine, local ingredients are increasingly used in restaurants, giving you the opportunity to truly eat locally and sustainably.
Sweden is filled with vast, wide open spaces that are heavily populated by local wildlife, such as moose, badgers, endless varieties of birds, and so much more – including wolves and bears. Yes, you need to be aware of your surroundings and take care, but the guides on the Inlandsbanan will not put you in danger or allow you to get into any dodgy situations. And to see one of Sweden’s majestic moose is a singularly awe-inspiring experience.
The Inlandsbanan guides, called train hosts, are full of knowledge and are keen to help you find out more about the places and countryside the train travels through. They remain on the train when you go off on an excursion or to your hotel, and they are full of advice and will help you find the best places to eat, drink, or play. Take advantage of this wonderful resource.
Every trip is unique
Inlandsbanan likes to say that every trip is unique and can be tailored to every passenger’s needs. Organised tours with a variety of packed programmes will suit everyone, from families with kids to young travellers looking for adventure. In fact, if you want over-the-top adventure, they’ll make sure you get it, but if you want something more laid-back and chill then that’s also available. Whatever kind of trip you wan, just ask – you will have your needs fulfilled. And remember that as you travel from south to north, what you experience outside the train will change pretty dramatically, so make sure you take advantage of local activities and events.
Sweden’s history is long and varied, with plenty of skirmishes, acts of bravery and horrible acts of war. But history of course isn’t limited to battles – it’s also about culture, food, and, in Sweden’s case, royalty. Take this chance to discover how Sweden has evolved over the centuries in many areas, and how the past impacts the present.