Snowmobiling, horse riding and infinity pools in Swedish Lapland

swedish lapland
Why go to Swedish Lapland? Gracie Helps

Picture this: trotting through the vast alpine landscape of Sweden on horseback; the crisp air awakening your senses as you travel (in style) past snow-covered trees. It’s a unique way to explore – and one that I’m fully on board with.

Until arriving in Skellefteå, Northern Sweden was somewhat an enigma to me. I knew there would be snow – a lot of it – and the opportunity to witness the northern lights. But the adrenaline that accompanied my Nordic adventure made me wonder why I, or anyone I know, hadn’t visited the area before. If you’ve got a hunger for something a bit different, take this as your sign to venture to the land of the Vikings.

Where should I stay?

the wood hotel by elite
The Wood Hotel by Elite The Wood Hotel by elite

Base yourself at The Wood Hotel by Elite in Skellefteå during your travels. As one of the tallest timber buildings in the world, it’s up there with the most unique places I’ve ever stayed. You’ll walk in the grand entrance and realise that it’s much more than just a hotel; with six theatres, three restaurants (Italian, Sámi/Västerbotten-inspired and Asian-Scandivaian fusion) and an art exhibition hall – it’s a cultural hub.

The bright and spacious bedrooms ooze the beautiful simplicity of Scandinavian interiors. If you’re in the mood to treat yourself, you can unwind in the rooftop Vana spa, join one of their free Sunday yoga classes or even treat yourself to a massage – you’re on holiday, after all.

the infinity pool of the wood hotel in swedish lapland
The Wood Hotel’s infinity poolEcotopia

But surprisingly, the most intriguing part about The Wood Hotel isn’t the infinity pool (a perfect northern lights viewing spot, I say), it’s the eco-conscious architecture. Constructed from locally sourced wood, the building is proudly climate neutral and will become climate positive later in its lifecycle. And while it’s a whopping 20 floors tall, the cultural hub only makes up a small part of Northern Sweden’s investment in what they call ‘the green transition’ – a mission to protect the planet.

It’s adventure time…

horse riding in swedish lapland
Horse riding, but make it Lapland Ecotopia

After a restful sleep, get ready for an action-packed day. Drive to the village of Svansele and you’ll stumble upon the Horses of Taiga riding centre. In a place part occupied by the indigenous Sámi people, Floraine and Rianne offer guided treks on beautiful Icelandic horses all the way through winter, when the countryside is covered in a blanket of snow, and into the glorious, long summer days – where the sun never goes down.

If you’re not the most confident rider (like me), you can opt for just a couple of hours on the saddle. Alternatively, they offer moonlight rides (£60 per person) and two-day long courses (£280 per person), where you rest your head overnight at a wilderness camp next to a beautiful lake. The benefit of this option is that when you return to Svansele, you can finish off the day in true Swedish style by resting your hardworking muscles in the sauna.

Ever wanted to ride a snowmobile?

snowmobiling in swedish lapland
Getting to grips with snowmobilingMikko Nikkinen / Storymakers

Then it’s time to travel five minutes down the road to Svansele Wilderness Centre and hop yourself on to a snowmobile. Suited head-to-toe in cold weather kit, unlock your inner child as you accelerate with speed across a frozen lake. For a local, this is a very average method of transport, but for me – it felt like freedom. But as I revved the engine, exhaust fumes filling the air, I felt a bit guilty about how the vehicle disturbs the peace here.

And that’s where Vidde Mobility races in. The Swedish start-up partnered with famous Italian design house Pininfarina to transform the vehicle forever. Together, they’ve created a snowmobile that feels cleaner, quieter and kinder to the planet. While a conventional snowmobile emits 550g of carbon dioxide per km, their model comes in at just 100g. So if you’re looking to adventure around Swedish Lapland but don’t want to scare off the wildlife, go green.

What about the food?

Finish your day back at The Wood Hotel for scrumptious food at The Mandel restaurant. You’ve probably worked up an appetite by now – so word of advice: don’t hold back. We indulged in a four-course meal, where every new dish was met with excitement and remarks of how ‘it looks too beautiful to eat’. From melt-in-your mouth risotto to their signature almond cake, it topped off an unforgettable day in the Swedish countryside.

What else is there to do?

When you’re not cosying up in the sauna or perched on a snowmobile, soak up the serene landscape on a gorgeous hike (you may even spot some local wildlife, if you’re lucky). For the adventurous lot wanting to explore more areas in the Västerbotten region, make the two-hour drive down to Umeå where you’ll find world-class cocktail mixologist Emil Åreng at Facit bar. With a buzzy feel to the bar and restaurant, it offers a lovely contrast to the countryside near Skellefteå.

How to get to Skellefteå

Rooms at The Wood Hotel by Elite from £140pn BOOK NOW. Return flights from London to Stockholm from £72.20 return with Norwegian. Stockholm to Skellefteå return flights from £96 with SAS.

Craving more snowy adventures?

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