Author Archives: erin

Sweden: the entire country is open for accommodation bookings on Airbnb

2017-05-24

In the northernmost Nordic countries – Finland, Norway and Sweden – both local people and overseas travelers can enjoy an ancient tradition known as the Everyman’s Rights. It means that you are free to roam and even stay a night on anyone’s land assuming that it is not explicitly forbidden (I have never seen such a thing) and you are moving and staying far enough from homes and farms. There is simply so much space that it actually works fine.

Slottsskogen in Gothenburg, Sweden

Slottsskogen in Gothenburg. Sweden.


Now, Sweden’s tourism marketing organization has realized that with the Everyman’s Rights they have a gem in their hands that is truly an exceptional asset in the whole world (apart from neighbor countries that have the same concept). So, Sweden listed the entire country on Airbnb booking service.

Listing a country to an online booking service is ofcourse a tongue-in-cheek kind of thing, but it is executed with style. And everything, for instance, what the following listing in southern Sweden says about a destination is true. Take a look at the screen shot below.

Sweden listing on Airbnb
Bring your own tent and food, and don’t leave any rubbish when you leave. It is as simple as that. Making fire is a bit more complex issue. In national parks, there are fireplaces – for detailed information what to do in other areas, see the books listed at the end of the article.

Here is a video that tries to explain the beauty of the free roaming concept:

Via New Atlas.

For information on traveling in Sweden, the following visual travel guidebooks can help in planning a trip and making it. The books also include detailed descriptions of the Everyman’s Rights concept – what is allowed and what is not.

Gothenburg and Sweden’s West Coast (Klaava Travel Guide)
Lapland: North of the Arctic Circle in Scandinavia (Klaava Travel Guide)

Spring is the best time to enjoy snowy activities in the wild north of Scandinavia, Lapland

2017-04-06

The dark winter in the northern hemisphere has been left behind, and the sun shines brightly on snowy slopes of fells in Lapland, in the northernmost region of Europe. Even though the nights are cold, the days tend to be warm (if it is sunny – and it often is) making spring the ideal season to enjoy outdoors activities in the snow.

Aavasaksa, Lapland, Finland.

Aavasaksa, Lapland, Finland.


Skiing is perhaps the most popular way to experience the magic of the north. If you mention skiing to the local Finns, Norwegians, Swedes or Sami in Lapland, they may assume you are referring to cross-country skiing. It is a good idea to specify what kind of skiing you mean: downhill or cross-country. Cross-country skiing tracks can be found practically in every village, town and tourist center. Downhill skiing slopes with lifts are available in large resorts, such as Ylläs, Ruka, Levi (in Finland) and Riksgränsen, Björkliden (in Sweden).

Snowmobile safaris have become very popular recently. You can ride a snowmobile yourself (highly recommended – it is a lot of fun) or take a backseat on someone else’s snowmobile. Resorts rent snowmobiles and organize guided tours to the wilderness. Most places have designated tracks for snowmobiles, which means you have to stay on those tracks. The tracks also help you from getting lost in the vast region where people and towns are few (and mobile phone signal disappears after a minute or two).

Husky dog sledge tour in Lapland

Photo: Visit Rovaniemi/Tourism & Marketing Ltd.


There are, however, plenty of reindeer roaming in the wilderness. The animals must dig deep into the snow to reach plants to eat. The owners of the reindeer usually bring supplemental food to the animals on their snowmobiles.

Snowmobile rides are fun, but the engines make some noise. Dogs can take you to a completely silent ride in the snow. Huskies are more than happy to pull a sledge, and once they settle to their travel speed, it is amazing how silently they go. You can sit back, admire the scenery and appreciate the work dogs are doing.

When the sun sets, a magical show starts in Lapland. Spring is also a wonderful time to see the Northern Lights, because the nights are dark, but it is not cold as in winter.
The Northern Lights in Rovaniemi (Photo Copyright Visit Rovaniemi/Rovaniemi Tourism & Marketing Ltd).Photo: Visit Rovaniemi/Rovaniemi Tourism & Marketing Ltd.
The high season for spring travel in Lapland is March and April. Easter tends to be the busiest time at resorts and airports.

What you should know about traveling in Lapland

In the spring, be careful with the sun that also reflects from the snow: wear sunglasses and if you are exposed to the sun more than an hour or so, apply sunblock to your face.

I have written a guidebook (Lapland – North of the Arctic Circle in Scandinavia) that helps in all aspects of planning and exploring this exotic wilderness region both in summer and in winter.

Here are some bookstores where the Lapland travel guidebook is available:

Amazon.com
Amazon.co.uk
Apple iBooks
Barnes & Noble Nook Books
Google Play Books

Lapland travel guidebook, book cover image

Priceless experiences for a travel show host in Lapland

2017-03-21

The BBC Travel Show host Ade Adepitan visited Finnish Lapland in winter in order to discover how the indigenous Sami people live and how tourism actually helps them to keep their old culture alive. The host spent his time in Inari region which is the central place for Sami in Finland.
BBC Travel Show, Finland Special in Inari, Lapland
The Travel Show episode 163 (Finland Special) shows how reindeer get their food in winter, how people fish when the large Lake Inari is on ice and how it is possible to move around in wilderness even in winter.

The whole show is good fun, but especially the segment where the host Adepitan rides a snowmobile for the first time is priceless. Just look at his face and reaction when he turns the gas throttle. BBC doesn’t allow watching the Travel Show outside the UK, but here is a link for those whose computer or smart device has a British Internet address.

The Lapland episode of the BBC Travel Show only shows the Inari landscape in winter. Here are a couple of photos from my Lapland travel guidebook that show the sceneries in summer. Thousands of road travelers, fishermen, hikers, cyclists, all types of outdoor lovers like to travel around the region in summer. Skiers are the biggest group of travelers in winter.

Inari Lake, Lapland, Finland

Inarijärvi, FInland.

Lake Inari, Finnish Lapland: fishing at night.

Next time when the Travel Show visits Inari, I would like to recommend them the Siida Sami Museum. It is the best place in Lapland to get comprehensive information on Sami people, their history, culture, way of life, and current means of living.
Inari Siida Museum. Lapland, Finland, Europe

Tips for traveling in Lapland

A journey to Lapland can be an experience of a lifetime, but independent travelers should plan their trip because the distances can be long and services are only available in towns and in some villages. The guidebook (Lapland – North of the Arctic Circle in Scandinavia) helps in all aspects of planning and exploring this exotic wilderness region.

Here are some bookstores where the Lapland travel guidebook is available:

Amazon.com
Amazon.co.uk
Apple iBooks
Barnes & Noble Nook Books
Google Play Books

Lapland travel guidebook, book cover image

The best destinations for landscape photography in Lapland, in the northernmost region of Europe

2017-03-07

Lapland is a vast wilderness region in the northern Europe. It is a land of Sami people and reindeer, fells, fjords, rivers, marshlands, and many types of wildlife. In other words, a fabulous destination for outdoor lovers, road travelers who appreciate majestic landscapes and for nature photographers. I recently wrote a guidebook to Lapland, and since I have extensively toured the region I can tell that it provides almost endless opportunities for delightful nature photography.
Rovaniemi, Arctic Circle. From travel guidebook LaplandThe Arctic Circle in Rovaniemi.

Before I share you my recommendations for the best places to visit and to take those perfect pictures of fells, fjords, villages, reindeer and people of Lapland, let me give you my estimation what is the most photographed place in Lapland. It probably is the Arctic Circle in Rovaniemi, Finland. Rovaniemi is a major traffic hub in Lapland where tourists arrive across the world. The Arctic Circle is only a few miles from the airport and from the city, and it has developed into a major attraction.

Top 5 places in Lapland for exciting landscape photography

Abisko, Sweden

Abisko, Sweden. Lapland, north Europe
The scenery in Abisko is magnificent both in summer and winter. In summer (July and August) it is warm and you can shoot through the night because there is some sunlight even at midnight. In winter, it is cold and dark, but the Northern Lights, snowy landscape and perhaps spending a day on a ski track makes it all worth it.

Kilpisjärvi, Finland

Kilpisjarvi, Finland. Saana fell in Lapland, Scandinavia.
Saana fell is the landmark and the most photographed item in Kilpisjärvi, but there is much more. Kilpisjärvi is located in the fell region, but you don’t have to go far towards west when the landscape changes quite dramatically. After entering Norway, gently sloping fells turn into mountains, gorges and fjords of Norway. Great variety for photographers in a relatively small area.

Lofoten, Norway

Lofoten, Norway. A fishing village port on shore of a fjord
Lofoten is a large archipelago on the northwest coast of Norway. When you arrive on Lofoten, you can forget about rushing from one place to the next. The landscape is all about mountains and fjords across the islands. Small villages and tiny fishing towns here and there on the shores remind travelers that people live here, too. The sea provides additional photography opportunities: whale, seal, and bird watching tours give a new perspective to the scenery and wildlife.

Tromsö, Norway

Tromsö, Norway, view from mountain above town
Tromsö gives photographers opportunities not only to capture images of spectacular sceneries, but also city life. It is a vibrant city, full of young energy that university students bring to the streets, many restaurants, bars and cafés. Since mountains and fjords surround Tromsö, hiking to the heights or taking a sea tour provide many new angles for photographers as well.

Ylläs, Finland

Reindeer at Aakenus fell in Yllas-Pallas national park Finland, Lapland, north Europe.
Ylläs is a year-round destination for vacation-goers who seek outdoor activities, but especially Finns love to hike in this fell region in autumn. Fabulous fell sceneries around the year, reindeer, wild berries, and the colors of autumn. In addition to the environment, Ylläs and the region around it is a home for a few resorts that make traveling and staying in there easy and convenient.

How, where and when to travel in Lapland?

A trip to Lapland requires some planning because the distances can be long and towns are few. The guidebook (Lapland – North of the Arctic Circle in Scandinavia) I wrote helps in all aspects of planning and actually traveling in this exotic region.

Here are a few bookstores where the Lapland guidebook is available:

Amazon.com
Amazon.co.uk
Apple iBooks
Barnes & Noble Nook Books
Google Play Books


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Take a 360-degree train ride to the mountains and fjords of Norway at home

2017-02-20

Traveling in western and northern regions of Norway is a dream come true for everyone who admires dramatic sceneries. The downside is that it takes more time than most sightseeing trips because of those majestic landscapes. Yet, it is possible to choose road travel, sea cruises or even train journey (in some parts of the country). The Flåm railroad in western Norway is probably the most popular section for train travelers. Now, you can watch how a train ride along the famous Flåm railroad looks like.

Flåm, the end station of the railtrack, is a village at the bottom of a fjord. The track starts from Myrdal, a station on the mountains that is connected to Oslo and Bergen via railroad. The 20 kilometer journey from Myrdal to Flåm is considered the steepest railtrack for passenger trains (with the most spectacular sceneries along the way) in the world.

The Flåm railroad company has recorded a 44 minute film of the whole journey in 360 degree video format. You can view the video below, and change the viewing angle as you wish.

A good question is why capture a train ride in a 360-degree video? The camera that has recorded the journey was attached at the front of the train. It doesn’t make sense to rotate the image and watch back because all you can see is the train’s front window. Look down, and you see the railroad track. Probably a better result could have been achieved with an ordinary weatherproof camera. Perhaps the experience on a virtual reality device is better than on a computer. Nonethless, the journey itself is impressive, and definitely one that we will have add to our bucket list.

We can recommend another magnificent train ride that starts from Norway and ends in Sweden. Originally, the railroad track between Narvik, Norway and Kiruna, Sweden was constructed for transporting mining produce, but nowadays it is a popular way to access some of the best sceneries, hiking trails and skiing tracks in Swedish and Norwegian Lapland.

A major road that connects not only two Nordic countries, but places like Abisko and other national parks to the rest of the world follows the railroad track. Here is a video captured during road trips between Narvik and Kiruna.

Scenic road and railroad from Narvik, Norway to Kiruna, Sweden from Klaava on Vimeo.

More spectacular Arctic landscapes and useful information on
traveling in Lapland is available in this travel guidebook.


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Travel photo gallery 2016: Lapland, France, Belgium

2017-01-24

In 2016, my long project of photographing and writing a travel guidebook about Lapland was completed and the book will be published in early 2017. Since it was a long project, photos from Lapland has been included in earlier galleries as well.

Lapland covers the northern regions of Norway, Sweden and Finland, which makes it a large area to travel (geographically also Russian’s northwest region is Lapland, but it is not featured in the book). It has been called as the Europe’s last large wilderness and that is exactly what it is. Outdoors lovers’ and road travelers’ perfect destination.

View sceneries from north, south and central Europe:
Reindeer at Aakenus fell in Yllas-Pallas national park Finland, Lapland, north Europe.

Even without daylight, mysterious lights glow in Lapland in winter

2016-12-23

The daylight period is short or even non-existent in Lapland during the weeks before and after the solstice, but it doesn’t mean that it is completely dark in winter in the Europe’s northernmost corner. Snow covers the ground in the whole region, efficiently reflecting every beam of light the stars, the moon and other sources emit. Other sources? Yes, the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis) can transform the whole sky into an exciting lightshow in Lapland. Let’s take a look at a photo gallery that shows this phenomenon.

Northern Lights. Copyright Visit Rovaniemi/Rovaniemi Tourism & Marketing Ltd
The Northern Lights in Rovaniemi (Photo Copyright Visit Rovaniemi/Rovaniemi Tourism & Marketing Ltd).The Northern Lights in Rovaniemi (Photo Copyright Visit Rovaniemi/Rovaniemi Tourism & Marketing Ltd)

The Northern Lights in Kakslauttanen  (Photo: Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort).The Northern Lights in Kakslauttanen (Photo: Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort).
NorthernLights, through a glass ceiling. Photo: Kakslauttanen Arctic ResortThe most comfortable position to view the Northern Lights in Kakslauttanen (Photo: Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort).

Read more about the Northern Lights in this article that also features tips for photographers. A travel guidebook to Lapland is available here.

The most likely places to see the Northern Lights are north of the Arctic Circle. In fact, the light shows are frequent in the north, it is just the weather conditions (clouds) or summer (too much sunlight even in night) that may prevent viewing the lights. It is possible to see the Northern Lights south of the Arctic Circle as well, but the chances are much lower than in the north.

So, where do you travel in order to be inside the Arctic Circle? In Europe, the destination is Lapland. Here is a map where you can see the Arctic Circle. You can also spot the photo locations on the map: Rovaniemi in Finland right on the Arctic Circle, and Kakslauttanen about 250 km / 155 miles north of Rovaniemi (via road).

Map: Lapland, Arctic Circle, Sami region

The Icehotel in Swedish Lapland to stay frozen and open for guests around the year

2016-12-12

During winter, there is an abundance of raw material available in Lapland if you want to build a hotel using blocks of ice, or a castle from blocks of snow. In fact, an icehotel has been operating in Swedish Lapland in the tiny village of Jukkasjärvi near Kiruna for many years, and a huge snowcastle is built every winter in the city of Kemi in Finland. Both are commercial establishments that accommodate guests in hotel rooms and serve visitors in restaurants inside the arctic buildings. Now, the Icehotel in Jukkasjärvi has announced a plan to keep the building in ice around the year, and open for guests.

Icehotel, Jukkasjarvi, Kiruna, Sweden, Lapland

Icehotel in Jukkasjärvi in Swedish Lapland.

Even though Lapland is not a tropical paradise during the summer, temperatures rise to +25 C / 77 F in July and August. Not to mention that the sun doesn’t set at all in Lapland during late May, June and July. It won’t be an easy task to keep a large building made of ice intact and safe during the months when temperatures are above freezing point.

Architectural Digest reports that the Icehotel management is going to use solar power to keep the frozen structures in -5 C / 23 F through the summer months. The solar power will be used to keep the walls and structures inside the hotel cool, because the outmost walls will be constructed from concrete. Pretty smart: since the sun is up all the time during the Nordic summer, why not suck its energy and keep things cool with it.

ice blocks for icehotel

Big blocks of ice for the construction of Icehotel.

Klaava Media’s travel author (who is writing a book about Lapland) visited the Icehotel in spring 2016, and only ice was used for the building at that time. She had an opportunity to follow how the icehotel is built. Here is how it is done.

The Icehotel is located on the shores of lake (some people argue it is a river, but it definitely looks like a lake) Jukkasjärvi. When the lake freezes in autumn, the construction of the hotel can begin. Special tools are used to saw huge blocks of ice from the lake. A forklift with custom-made fork lifts the block from the lake. Forklifts transport the standard-size ice blocks to the construction site, or to the warehouse.

View a video that shows how ice blocks are being lifted from the lake and transported to the warehouse.

Once the concrete exterior and the solar power system is ready, the Icehotel intends to keep nine deluxe suites (complete with private saunas and baths), 11 art suites, an ice bar, and an ice art gallery open during the summer (year-around). Hotel founder Yngve Bergqvist believes they will actually be more energy efficient than earlier: “We will produce around 75 kW between April and September, leaving an energy surplus that we can utilize to run existing buildings such as a restaurant, offices, and warm guest rooms.”

Summer of 2017 is the first summer when the Icehotel will be open even and ice after the snow has melted from the ground and from the lake around the site.

The road to the end of the world: Nordkapp, Norway (North Cape)

2016-07-05

The peak season for traveling to the northernmost point of Europe is in July and August. The trip to Nordkapp (North Cape) in Norway can be made any time of the year, but the weather is the most temperate and roads are open in summer (in winter, there can be delays), and you can experience the midnight sun as well. As magnificent as Nordkapp is, the long journey over fells and along the shores of fjords can be even more spectacular experience than Nordkapp itself. Take a look at our photo and video tour to Nordkapp (there is more in Lapland travel guide that is available for download).

nordkapp, north cape in Norway

Weather can quickly change.

There are two routes that take you 100 km/62 miles from Nordkapp. The routes meet at Olderfjord, where only one road leads north to the top of the European continent. The road from Alta to Olderfjord is perhaps faster, but perhaps a bit boring (if any road can be boring in Norway) as far as scenery is considered. The road from Lakselv to Olderfjord provides spectacular sights because it closely follows Porsangerfjord’s coastline.

There are no ferry rides on the way to Nordkapp, but there are two long tunnels. Both tunnels are narrow, dark and wet. They plunge a long way down before a steep ascent back to daylight begins. For cars, motorhomes and motorbikes the tunnels are like driving a steep downhill and uphill in the dark, but for cyclists they can be very dangerous because of poor visibility and narrow lanes.

We met a few fishermen who like to travel to Lapland every summer, and occasionally they visit Nordkapp as well. One of them had been unlucky, he had traveled to Nordkapp four times, and every time it was covered in fog. If there is no fog, wind can blow so hard it is difficult to walk straight, but hey, there is only the Arctic Ocean around you at Nordkapp.

It is a long way to Nordkapp, but the journey itself is an experience that you will remember for the rest of your life.

Video filmed during a single trip to Nordkapp shows the majestic landscape and the quickly changing weather.

Find out more road travel tips and essential information on touring in Lapland in travel guidebook Lapland.

Travel photo gallery, on the road to Nordkapp.

nordkapp, this is the end of the road in Europe

End of the road: the Arctic Ocean.

nordkapp , a scenery on the road

A scenery along the road to Nordkapp: Porsangerfjord.

nordkapp tunnel, reindeer

Reindeers can hike over the mountain to avoid the tunnel, but everyone else goes via tunnel.

nordkapp landscape

Landscape at the end of the road.

nordkapp on the road along shores of Porsangerfjord

Snack and photography break on the shores of the fjord.

nordkapphallen in nordkapp, cafes, shops, exhibitions

Nordkapphallen provides shelter for weather, and feeds hungry travelers.