It may feel like spring in much of the U.S., but the winter wonderland of Jukkasjärvi, Sweden is still attracting tundra loving tourists. Located nearly 125 miles north of the Arctic Circle, an area known as Lapland is home to more canines than humans and is the site of the original ice hotel. Click through the next few pages to get a glimpse of Lapland's highlights, from dog sledding to the Northern Lights.
The ICEHOTEL l is built with a combination of ice and snow—called "snice"—that's formed into walls, ceilings and staircases. The tables, chairs and beds that decorate the rooms are also sculpted from ice. The hotel is rebuilt every November with ice harvested from the nearby Torne River and lasts until mid-April when the ice melts and the runoff rejoins the river. Now celebrating its 20th incarnation, the hotel is both an exhibit hall for artists and an endurance test for the adventurous who don't mind spending a night in 23 F (-5 C).
A series of snow-packed arches and ice block hallways lead visitors to the hotel's 47 rooms. There are three room choices: snow rooms, ice rooms and the most expensive and dazzling option, the art suites. It takes 100 people, including a selection of artists who apply to design the art suites, help create the ICEHOTEL every year. Bathroom facilities are located in a heated facility nearby – so it's best not to drink too much before going to bed. For those who prefer heat and something soft to sleep on, warm rooms outfitted by IKEA are also available.
Perhaps the most popular feature of the Ice Hotel is ICEBAR, a partnership with Absolut Vodka. Starting at roughly 7 p.m. each night, house music thumps inside the igloo-like watering hole and one of the most photographed bartenders on the planet pours Wolf Paws (Lingonberry juice and Absolute vodka) into square goblets made from Torne River Ice.
The hotel features an ice church, which hosts about 200 weddings and 20 baptisms every year. It may be Sweden's answer to Las Vegas' drive-in chapels, but the serenity and pristine beauty inside its snow-packed walls banishes any tackiness.
Not to be missed is one of the regions oldest buildings, Jukkasjarvi's small wooden church dating back to 1607. A 10-minute walk from Ice Hotel, it features a gorgeous handcrafted organ and triptych featuring the area's indigenous people.
At night, when the temperatures plunge to -13 F, the hearty stay outside for a breathtaking show of the Northern Lights -- green and red ribbons dancing through the sky. A snowmobile tour to the darkest points on frozen lakes is ideal, but make sure you read up on how to capture photographs of the Northern Lights because guides often won't linger long.
|Dog Sled Tour|
A dog sled tour while in Lapland is a must. Traveling up to 20 miles an hour powered by 10-12 huskies is a breathtaking way to see the arctic landscape.