Five of Sweden’s craziest adventures, from ice bathing to rafting

Take a cold dip in the arctic bath

Frozen in winter or afloat in summer, the arctic bath on the Lule River in Harads leaves you speechless. Maybe because you dared to dive into the icy water like any tough Swede would. Or maybe because you’re stunned by the hotel’s architecture, designed to look like a beaver jam in a nod to the river’s timber hauling past. Whether you’re trying imaginative riffs on local game, fish, herbs and berries at the restaurant, getting a pine oil massage in the spa, or enjoying the benefits of cold water swimming to stimulate dopamine, there is always a lot to do. Of all the seasons, winter has the magic side: stay in a floating cabin with a private terrace while the Northern Lights cross the night sky.

Go paddle camping on the west coast of Sweden

Eight thousand granite and gneiss islands, islets and reefs dot Sweden’s west coast. Squeezed between the sea and the sky, it’s a place of ravishing natural beauty, best explored with a paddle in hand. The Bohuslän region is a kayaking dream, with its delicate openwork of rocky coves, bays and fishing villages lined with red-painted wooden shacks – each more wildly idyllic than the next.

Nameless islands. Islands not charted. Islands where you are alone with your tent, the seabirds and the stars. Dawn rises in a pool of fire over the living-silver waters. Swimming in secluded coves. The sound of a seal coming out of the water next to your kayak. These are moments you will remember. From May to September, Nature Travels can put you on the right track with a self-guided kayaking and wild camping tour, starting in the sheltered fjords of Uddevalla and ending in Orust or Tjörn.

Get off the radar on Sweden’s Kungsleden

Nowhere shines a light on the priceless vastness of Sweden’s wilderness quite like the Kungsleden (King’s Trail). Stretching from Abisko in the Arctic north to Hemavan in the south, this 270-mile, 28-stage route may be well-charted, but it’s still incredibly remote. Often you’ll find yourself alone with the elements and an awe-inspiring backdrop of swollen rivers, glacier-carved valleys, mirror lakes and berry-filled forests.

Here, nature is raw and untouched: bathe in streams, camp under the stars, take a leisurely stroll through Sami reindeer herding lands and take a brief detour to climb Kebnekaise, the highest peak in Sweden, 2,000 meters. Rock after rock, step after step, life on the track returns to a more intuitive moment. Most hikers come in the summer, but September is the magical month, with birch forests browned to perfection, the northern lights shimmering in the night sky, and bears swooping down the slopes in search of crowberries.

About Thomas Thorton

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