Enjoy the archipelago, winter and spring
The archipelago is not just a place for visiting in the summer. Once the ice covers the sounds, fresh winter opportunities open up for new excursions and fantastic experiences. Bear in mind that new ice, spring ice, snow-covered ice and sea ice may be weak. Make sure the ice will bear your weight before you set off, and check the ice forecast. SMHI has updated information on its website. Also, be sure to stay well away from the ice-free fairways into the major seaports along the coast. And don’t forget your ice prods.
Long-distance ice-skating is a glorious way to enjoy the winter archipelago, but not entirely risk free. In the early winter, before the snow arrives, there are sometimes fantastic ices for skating. The Swedish Outdoor Association arranges organised, safe long-distance ice-skating under the guidance of trained leaders.
The vast white expanses invite you on long ski trips, and when there’s a crust on the snow the possible places to go are almost unlimited. The best skiing is usually in February to April. Even when the ice has broken up, you can ski in the archipelago on what is known locally as ’landkallen’. There are several places in the archipelago where ski tracks are prepared both privately and municipally.
The interest in winter swimming has exploded in recent years, and in Skellefteå holds regular winter swimming competitions. In several places, holes are sawn in the ice by associations and private individuals, where the prospective hero can take a dip.
Barbecues and saunas
Of course you can have a barbecue in the winter, and some of the saunas are also open during the winter.
Aurora Borealis – the magical, legendary northern lights. They form when solar particles in space collide with the outer atmosphere in conjunction with the way the solar winds move across the firmament. The Bothnian Bay’s archipelago offers excellent opportunities to see the northern light’s as early as August. The archipelago’s open spaces provide great photo opportunities for people seeking to immortalise the experience.
In winter, ice fishing is a popular pastime. Take an auger along and drill a hole in the sea ice. When fishing in shallow water one exciting thing is looking down through the hole to actually see fish circling your bait, will they take it or not. But be kind to the fish you catch, the one you don’t want to keep, remove the hook carefully and release the fish into the hole as quickly as possible. Immediately kill the fish you want to keep.
Pack ice experiences
As spring approaches, pack ice begins to raft up far out in the archipelago. Wind and weather push together great piles of massive ice blocks. Getting up close to pack ice is an exciting experience and you can sense just how powerful the forces at work are. One can imagine being in the wild Arctic, surrounded by huge icebergs and cold, blue water. Where you can experience this depends on the wind and weather from year to year.
In kite surfing, you are propelled forward while standing on a board using the wind to act on a kite. The sport has been described as a combination of sailing and wakeboarding. It is usually done on water, but it works just as well on snow and ice. All you need is wind, open spaces and the right kit. Many people kite surf on the waters around Luleå, but you can kite surf in many other places too.
Cycle out to an island
Interest in cycling on ice is on the increase and the pastime is growing in popularity. Whether or not you have your own fatbike or rent one, unique experiences await. It’s safest to stick to ploughed ice tracks and ice roads, but when the crusted snow supports your weight, you can explore new places.
Ice tracks are a popular attraction for residents and visitors alike. The ice tracks ploughed in Luleå and Piteå offer several different ways of getting around, just a stone’s throw from the city’s heartbeat. Feel the slipstream on your face when you’re skating, glide easily along on your kick sled or simply enjoy a promenade or bike ride across the frozen water. There are also ’kick sled lots’ where you are welcome to borrow a kick sled for your trip.
Winter adventures do not get much more real, and nature doesn’t get much closer than dog sledding. From your seat on the sled, you watch the huskies push forward through the snow, into the seemingly endless wilderness and the clear, starlit evening in the archipelago.
The most common form of winter transport between the islands is still the snowmobile. There are marked snowmobile tracks across the sea organised by snowmobile clubs, cottage associations etc. Note that it is not permitted to ride snowmobiles on the islands in the Bothnian Bay’s archipelago other than on the shortest route to and from a cottage or on marked trails. There is information about snowmobile trails in the municipalities on the Piteå and Skellefteå municipal websites.
Motoring on ice roads
In the winter, when the ice along the coast outside Luleå is sufficiently thick, a little over 30 kilometres of ice roads are ploughed out to Hindersön, Storbrändön, Sandön and Junkön. Driving a car on an ice road and passing an ice-bound navigation buoy is a special experience. Ice roads are ploughed when ice and weather conditions permit.