10 Days to Get to the Arctic Circle
I’ve already written about my budget weekend in Stockholm last year, so I won’t bore you with those details again. However, that trip did whet my appetite to return and explore Sweden as a whole much more.
While travel is currently banned from the UK during the lockdown, I’ve decided to plan an adventure across Sweden once travel restrictions are lifted.
Anyone who has read any of my previous articles might know that I am not a fan of “follow the flag” tourism and bingo-style sightseeing. This isn’t travelling — you don’t meet the locals this way or try the local food or see the hidden gems. Crossing off destinations to say you “saw them” isn’t fun or exciting — not knowing where you’re sleeping that night or where you’ll get your next meal from… now that’s what I call travelling!
With that in mind, I’ve planned a trip that incorporates all of the above in a relatively short and sharp trip:
The Goal: Get to the Arctic Circle and back in ten days.
- Flights — you can get decent roundtrip flights to Stockholm/Gothenburg for between £50-£100.
- Accommodation — I hope that the virus situation will be better next time I go to Sweden. Thus, I plan to stay in hostels and campsites with a price range of between £20-£40. I’ll work on an average of £40/night and say £400 for the entire trip. If I get under this, happy days!
- Living Costs: I’m happy to live off peanut butter and banana sandwiches for the duration of the trip, which will keep costs low. It’s important to remember that prices (even in supermarkets) are relatively high. I also would like to have a couple of MAX Burgers (~£10)! For this, I will budget £20/day or £200 for the trip.
- Transportation: intra-city travel will be included in my living costs, but I plan to hitchhike between cities and towns where I can — keeping this cost very low (hopefully!)
Day 1: Acclimatise and make some miles.
If I arrive in Stockholm in the morning or early afternoon, I plan almost instantly to make some miles towards the Arctic Circle. After catching a bus from the airport to the city centre (~£10), I will almost instantly hop onto a FlixBus to Uppsala (~£5), a university town about an hour north of Stockholm.
I’ve heard good things about Uppsala, including the many green spaces and the Cathedral in the city centre.
Based on a quick search on booking.com, it seems as if there are some cheap hostels and single rooms in the city for between £20–£40, right in my price range too!
Days 2–4: Let the fun begin.
My second day will be the day I begin hitchhiking my way north. There’s not much to plan, but if you didn’t already know — Sweden is big, especially south to north and vice versa. So despite the initial step to get to Uppsala, I won’t have dented Sweden.
As is good practice in hitchhiking, I will make an early start and get out on the road — with the aim of making it to Sundsvall. The problem I have is that if I get a lift to someplace further, I’ll likely take it!
My targets for days 3 and 4 will be:
Although I have these targets, hitchhiking is a game of luck, and you can often wait for hours and days for cars that will pick you up. Despite the short time frame I’m allowing myself, I’m willing to take public transport if I don’t get picked up.
Day 5–6: Relaxing in Swedish nature
I would like to spend a few days sitting by a lake in a rented caravan, reading and exploring. I’ve seen these on AirBnB and booking.com for £40/night, and they look incredible.
I want to experience the land of the midnight sun. I want to swim in an ice-cold lake! I want to see reindeer. I want to have a natural experience!
Day 7–9: Back to Stockholm
By this time I’ll need to get a move on back to Stockholm. On the way up, I will have taken the coastal road (E4); however, I’d like to go through the centre of the country a bit more on the way back. There are less big towns and cities along the E45 down the centre of the country, but taking this into account, my targets hitchhiking will be to get to:
- Sundsvall (I’ll have to come back across the country at some point!)
Stockholm is one of my favourite cities in the world, so it would be great to spend a day there before leaving, simply re-exploring.
As I mentioned earlier, hitchhiking is very uncertain. As a result of my previous lessons hitchhiking, I won’t be pre-booking accommodation. Although I have my daily targets, there’s also a possibility I could hitch a ride on the very first day up to Galivarre or Skaulo. Meaning I have more time to spend up there and more time to get back down to Stockholm.
That’s the beauty of hitchhiking. But there’s also a possibility I could get stuck in Stockholm/Uppsala on the very first day and struggle to make any progress. That too is the beauty of hitchhiking.
Anyone else tried something similar in Sweden before? Has anyone been to the above places and can recommend some things to do? My plan is mostly open!