While some countries may never even experience a flake of snow during a winter, Sweden is enveloped in it. With the snow comes the ice, and with the ice comes the opportunities.
But this week's top ten includes more than just outdoor activities. There's much more to Sweden than just the chill.
And for all you Game of Thrones fans, remember: Winter is coming.
1. The Northern Lights
The Northern Lights (or “aurora borealis”) have been described as “the world's greatest light show” and best of all – they're free once you've headed far enough north. It occurs thanks to charged particles from the sun meeting the earth's atmosphere. You can catch them from the beginning of September to the end of March, but bring a blanket… sometimes it can be hours before the show. And don't forget your camera.
Photo: Rikard Lagerberg/imagebank.sweden.se
2. Stockholm on ice
Most of Sweden offers great ice skating in winter, and even the capital city's main waterways freeze over during, affording tourists and Swedes alike the chance to see Stockholm from the ice, as seen below in an image near Kungsholmen. The Local does not advise too much ice walking, and suggests readers should never venture further than the most distant Swede.
Ice skaitng with a view. Photo: Helena Wahlman/imagebank.sweden.se
3. Winter sports
Sweden is one of the best countries for winter sports, whether organized or casual. From ice-hockey to bandy, from ice-hole fishing to skiing (cross-country or slalom), to the humble ice-skating session at your local lake. Sweden has it all. But it's usually a more sensible option to stay above the water surface… unless you're daring enough to hop in…
Skiing in the wild. Photo: Fredrik Schlyter/imagebank.sweden.se
4. A spot of ice-hole swimming
Not for the faint of heart, swimming in a Swedish winter is a true Viking test. Tip: Be sure there is a fully functioning sauna nearby, and maybe a have good glug of glögg (keep reading). Sweden has tens of thousands of lakes, so finding a place to do it is no problem, but make sure you bring a friend to be safe.
Photo: Helena Wahlman/imagebank.sweden.se
5. Sweden's Ice Hotel
What better way to while away the winter hours than with a stay at Jukkasjärvi's ice hotel in far northern Sweden. Each year, they rebuild the hotel from scratch and this year will be the 27th. The hotel is situated on the shores of the Torne river from where the ice is taken, and eventually melts as the mercury rises… so don't leave it too late for a visit.
Photo: Hans-Olof Utsi/imagebank.sweden.se/www.icehotel.se
6. Dog sledding
Why not swap travelling by car with travelling by dog? Head to northern Sweden in winter and have yourself pulled along the snow by a pack of huskies. Environmentally cleaner but not necessarily quieter, it's the best way to gaze up at the stars as you move across the snow.
Photo: Anna Öhlund/imagebank.sweden.se
Glögg, better known in English speaking circles as mulled wine, is a Swedish winter must. A must – not a must (pronounced moost), which is a Swedish colrth a taste. Anyway, glögg is best enjoyed with a generous mix of spices, raisins, and almonds. The drink is a particular hit at Christmas time. Skål!
Photo: Helena Wahlman/imagebank.sweden.se
8. Swedish reindeer
Sweden is one of the few countries in the world where you can see reindeer, particularly the white reindeer. Catch a glimpse of these graceful animals in the snow, just don't be disappointed if they aren't pulling a sleigh through the sky.
Photo: Lola Akinmade Åkerström/imagebank.sweden.se
9. Skiing in central Stockholm
Which other city offers outdoor skiing in the centre of the capital. Well, Stockholm does. Head to the Hammarbybacken in Hammarby Sjöstad for a view like no other while you're skiing. If you're super organized and don't live too far away, you could even take in a few runs during an extended lunch break. Why not?
Photo: Sara Ingman/imagebank.sweden.se
What has no wheels and is able to travel over a 100 kilometres an hour? A snowmobile. Zip across frozen lakes at lightning speed and leave behind a trail of powdery snow in your wake.
Photo: Henrik Trygg/imagebank.sweden.se