The Icehotel is a hotel rebuilt each year with snow and ice in the village of Jukkasjärvi, in northern Sweden, about 17 kilometers from Kiruna. It is the world’s first ice hotel.
After its first opening in 1990, the hotel has been rebuilt each year from December to April. The hotel, including the chairs and beds, is constructed from snow and ice blocks were taken from the nearby Torne River. Artists are invited to create different rooms and decorations made of ice. Besides bedrooms, there is a bar, with glasses made of ice, and an ice chapel that is popular with marrying couples. The structure remains below freezing, around −5 °C.
Sweden’s far north is one of the best places in the world to see the aurora borealis (northern lights). If you’re visiting during the fall and winter, as you wait for the night skies to light up with magical color, there are plenty of outdoor activities to keep you busy, including dogsledding, ice fishing, snowmobiling, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing or trying your hand at ice sculpting.
In summer, the glorious midnight sun illuminates Arctic Sweden, with long days for hiking, fishing, white-water rafting, camping or simply enjoying a meal over a cozy campfire. Many guided activities can be booked directly through Icehotel.
Jukkasjärvi is also a great place to learn about the culture of Scandinavia’s Indigenous people, the reindeer-herding Sámi. Nutti Sámi Siida is a Sámi-owned local tourism business in Jukkasjärvi that offers a variety of cultural and outdoor activities. At the Old Homestead, a cluster of 18th-century wooden buildings that also house a museum, you can dine on casual fares such as pizza and grilled selections in what was once the village schoolhouse.
In Icehotel’s main (heated) restaurant you can choose from a regular menu featuring local ingredients – or pre-book the multi-course “ice menu,” with dishes served on plates made of ice from the Torne River. At the Veranda, a tasting menu inspired by the eight seasons of the Sámi year is a great way to sample the flavors of Swedish Lapland.
According to the Internet