The arctic landscape of Lapland transforms at this time of year – like Narnia when Aslan comes – into a sun-lit evergreen gem. Because of its position near the North Pole, the sun shines for most of the day and the usual cold landscapes are aglow with summer warmth. This isn’t the stereotypical Arctic tundra of Christmas cards and popular imagination, but a sweetly savage half-wilderness with the brawn and beauty of a Viking warrior.
Forward-thinking Sweden celebrates half a decade of same sex marriage this year – and its cities are exceptionally welcoming of LGBT+ tourists. And although Swedish Lapland is more than a little off the beaten track, the Swedes’ legendary tolerance reaches out even here, making it the perfect getaway from urban queer living. Luleå even has a pride. With a map and a Range Rover – or at least a credit card and a good tour guide – you can take to the natural realm. This is a real chance to escape the clubs and grime, and trade it all in for some awe-inspiring downtime.
If relaxation and breathtaking views aren’t your thing, and you prefer to keep on the move, there are plenty of outdoors activities available too. You can choose from hiking, camping, canoeing, rafting, fishing, golfing, safari, skiing and even sea kayaking. Alternatively, you can pitch up a tent with friends or try one of the region’s fine guesthouses for a more pampered experience or a romantic getaway.
Jopikgården on the Lulea Archipelago is a breathtaking base to explore and get stuck in. For an outlandish place to stay, the Treehotel is a wet dream for glossy travel magazines and Instagrammers. Surrounded by forest vistas like something out of Frozen (after the ice has melted) in the village of Harads, the hotel is a cluster of luxury pods that dangle like jewelled fruit from the trees. The Dragonfly, their crowning glory, is the world’s largest treehouse, which serves up locally produced format food.
For something more traditional (at least, in the sense that it’s on the ground), you could take a group of buddies to Guest House Tornedalen. This eco-friendly guesthouse is set among nature but features all the necessary mod cons – but the guesthouse is only available for group bookings. Bording House Hulkoff presents a number of cabins and has a sauna; or you could try the exciting Icepalace, where you can sleep on ice at -5 degrees beneath reindeer furs.
Food is a real adventure in Lapland. You can scoff on arctic char, reindeer, elk, bleak roe caviar and cloudberries, mixed in with some of the international tidbits picked up from the days of the roving seafarers through to the present. You can even pick your own fresh produce on one of the region’s herb and taste-testing tours.