Sweden: Northern Lights Photography Trip

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Choosing Sweden over Iceland

Sweden. I’ve always wanted to travel there in the back of my mind, stemming from a love of professional ice hockey in my early teenage years, with several of my favorite NHL players hailing from Sweden.

Snowy trees in arctic sweden.
Snowy trees in arctic Sweden

I even had several pen pals for a few years from Sweden (does anyone even know what a pen pal is anymore?), writing frequently and sending each other samples of candies and treats from our home countries. But I never actually had it in the forefront of my mind to plan a trip there.

Pic of outdoor food place in Stockholm.
Dining outdoors in Stockholm

Flash forward to October 2017, when I walked away from my successful career in an attempt to “find myself”, and looking for a trip to photograph the Northern Lights. I hear they’re as beautiful as the Southern Lights in New Zealand.

Pic of mountains in Lapporten.
Lapporten – Gateway to the Lapland

Nowadays, when you mention the Northern Lights, most people imagine traveling to Iceland. In fact, when I told people about my trip, they asked, “why aren’t you going to Iceland?”

Iceland has become quite popular with almost everyone from America in the last few years, with tons of Instagram feeds showing off its beauty, and very cheap airfares on several low-cost carriers.

Aurora display on Mt Noulja in Abisko.
Aurora display on Mt Noulja in Abisko

EVERYONE goes to Iceland, and that is exactly why I chose Sweden. It wasn’t just for the kanelbullar. I don’t want to have the same photographs as everyone else, and feel like I am surrounded by tourists everywhere I go. I also read that northern Sweden is one of the best places in the world to see the northern lights.

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Lightpainting in arctic Sweden.
Lightpainting in arctic Sweden

With the terrain surrounding the arctic town of Abisko creating a “blue hole” of clear skies and good weather above, it is a perfect viewing spot for the aurora borealis. Coupled with my fascination with Sweden, this made it a given for me to arrange for my arctic adventure vacation.

Loving Abisko

Dogsledding in Abisko.
Dogsledding in Abisko

I hate the cold, but when I arrived in the arctic north of Sweden, I fell in love. The landscape was covered in a pure white, powdery snow, even the roadways!

No black, dirty snow like you see on the East Coast of the U.S. after the roads have been salted and begin to melt.

As my trip was in early December, the towns of Kiruna and Abisko were decorated for Christmas, with advent stars hanging in nearly every window, making it feel like I had arrived in Santa’s North Pole!

It was absolutely freezing, but the beautiful landscape and Northern Lights shows in the evenings made it very easy to forget how cold it was.

Entrance to Ice hotel 28 in Kiruna, Sweden.
Ice hotel 28 in Kiruna, Sweden

I even got to take day trips to the Ice Hotel and Norway, which were equally magical winter wonderlands.

My room at the ice hotel.
My room at the ice hotel – cold, yet warm

Stockholm and history

After four days in the Swedish Lapland, I took a two-hour flight to Stockholm, where I took in the sights for a few more days before returning home. Stockholm did not disappoint as well.

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A ship in Vasa Museum in Stockholm.
Vasa Museum in Stockholm

Museums highlighting Viking and ABBA music history, restaurants where locals dine outside despite the cold, a royal family, and rich history make it a great travel and photography destination.

I enjoyed my time strolling through the Old Town, eating Swedish meatballs, and just absorbing the Scandinavian city.

Warming up by a fire in a hut while waiting for northern lights in Abisko, Sweden.
Warming up while waiting for northern lights in Abisko, Sweden

I now classify my trip to Sweden as one of my favorite vacations and destinations of my life, probably coming in a close second to Africa.

I feel like the Arctic Circle is still quite exotic, and many people still haven’t discovered the beauty of this part of the country.

A month later, and I still am dreaming of snowy landscapes and the polar night, and of course, the spectacular dance of the Northern Lights. I can’t wait to go back.

About Michelle Kenyon

Pic of face ofMichelle Kenyon of Michelle Kenyon Photography.
Michelle Kenyon of Michelle Kenyon Photography

Michelle Kenyon lives in San Francisco, California, USA, and has spent 20+ years working in healthcare in the specialty of radiation oncology.

She spent the majority of her career as a healthcare executive in both community and academic medical centers.  She lives with her husband and two cats, and enjoys travel, spinning classes, and wine, and is currently focusing on turning her passion for photography into a career.

You can view Michelle’s photography and follow her travel adventures at www.michellekenyon.com or on Instagram at MichelleKenyonPhoto 

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Pinterest image of Northern Lights trip in Sweden.
Pinterest image of Northern Lights trip in Sweden.

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