4 exciting ways to explore the Arctic Route

Choose the slow and sustainable way to travel across Northern Europe, with the Arctic Route. Here are four exciting journeys to take…

3 mins

What is the Arctic Route? 

Connecting the three Nordic countries of Norway, Sweden and Finland, the Arctic Route is a series of public transport routes that offer you safe passage between some of Europe’s remotest destinations. Operating at the height of Arctic winter between 1 December and the end of March, the Arctic Route’s daily, scheduled departures makes travelling across the rooftop of Europe seem effortlessly simple. You could be having breakfast in the Arctic outpost of Tromsø and then cruising the fjords of Narvik by lunchtime, or enjoying a mid-afternoon visit with Santa Claus in Rovaniemi before spying the northern lights after arriving in Lulea come the evening. The Arctic Route doesn’t just get you to and from some of Lapland’s highlights, it offers connections with the region's communities, experience providers and the opportunity to maximise your time in the destinations themselves – hiking in Lyngen or whale watching in Skjervøy, anyone? Lapland has never been so accessible.

1. Tromsø to Alta

If ever you needed evidence of the advantages of driving through Lapland rather than flying, then allow the route between Tromsø and Alta to overwhelmingly convince you. The cities which bookend the route, the ‘Capital of the Arctic’ and Alta (reputedly one of the best places in Norway to spy the northern lights), are landmarks worth visiting themselves but it’s the stretch of asphalt in between that really shines. Hugging a handsome streak of northern Norway’s coastline, barely a minute of the seven-hour journey will pass by where you’re not glued to the window, being watched over by snow-dusted mountains and glacial fjords. Don’t feel like you have to do the whole stretch in one go, as you’ll pass through Nordic villages like Nordkjosbotn and Rotsund so you can hop off and spy sperm whales and orca in the fjords, hike craggy peaks or experience a dose of local Sámi culture.

2. Rovaniemi to Lulea

Though this route twins Finland’s Lapland capital with Sweden’s, that’s where the similarities end. If you start in Rovaniemi, you’ll begin your four-hour journey among thick boreal forest and inside the Arctic Circle. By the end of it you’ll be south of the Arctic and have swapped the jade-hued forests for sea views of the deep blue Bothnian Bay as you skirt its coastline towards Lulea. Both towns have reasons to linger longer – Rovaniemi is the ’official’ residence of Santa Claus, so the chance to meet Father Christmas in his own backyard is sure to bring the inner child out of anyone. At the other end, Lulea has a wealth of Sámi heritage and the UNESCO-listed church town of Gammelstad on its outskirts. Along the way, pause in Kemi for reputedly the world’s largest snow castle (built fresh each year) and have lunch in the seaside village of Kalix, renowned for its golden caviar.

3. Tromsø to Narvik, Abisko and Kiruna

For a route that flexes Lapland’s diversity, this is it. Right from the off you’ll be surrounded by snow-sprinkled mountains and icy fjords in Norway’s northern outpost of Tromsø. Weave inland by bus to waterfront Narvik (a journey of around four hours), your launchpad for whale-watching boat tours and guided wildlife safaris in search of reindeer, moose and wolves. Narvik is the final bus stop on this route but it’s not where your journey ends, with the town one of the stops on the Arctic Circle train. Trade road for rail as you roll towards Kiruna, a town founded by the world’s largest iron ore mine that these days is better heralded for the eye-popping ICEHOTEL on its outskirts, an icy bolthole that each year is rebuilt as a fresh frozen masterpiece. On your way alight at Abisko National Park, whose dark skies are said to harbour one of the finest northern lights displays in the country.

4. Kittilä to the Lofoten Islands

Both the Arctic Route’s newest addition and one of its longest (at around eight and a half hours), the stretch between Kittilä and the Lofoten Islands begins and ends in two of Lapland’s most contrasting landscapes. Kittilä lies deep in Finnish Lapland, where blankets of snow and boreal forest unfold as far as the eye can see, with nearby Levi renowned for its ski trails and husky-led safaris. Once you’ve explored this Finnish outpost, your Arctic Route bus journey will take you across the white wilderness of Swedish Lapland before curving northwards to the remote Lofoten Islands in Norway. This is a far cry from the traditional snow-carpeted Lapland, with Lofoten’s craggy mountain peaks looking more like the rugged spine of an ancient sea monster. Mix that with its deep fjords, seabird colonies and a fishing culture that has been embedded here for generations and there’s no wonder artists have been lured to the mystical qualities of this archipelago for so long.

Go with the experts

Lapland is so off-grid, you really need an expert hand to help you uncover its icy wonders. There are few better tour operators to do so, then, than Sunvil Holidays. With nearly 15 years’ experience across the Nordic countries, the Sunvil team know this snowy wilderness nearly as well as the Arctic Route’s coach drivers. In fact, with their strong connections to local partners on the ground, they probably know the drivers, too. Like the Arctic Route, Sunvil Holidays realises flexibility is key on any holiday, which is why they’ll tailor your Lapland getaway exactly the way you want it.

Tel: 020 8758 4722 | Email: discovery@sunvil.co.uk | Live chat: https://direct.lc.chat/12504846/2


Learn more

Tel: 020 8758 4722 | Email: discovery@sunvil.co.uk | Live chat: https://direct.lc.chat/12504846/2


Learn more

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