Kiruna, Sweden Ice Hotel, The Northern Lights, and Winter Birding

Stockholm Christmas Winter Birding Tours

If you are interested in Kiruna Sweden Ice Hotel, The Northern Lights, and Stockholm Winter Birding, come and join us at Kaiyote Tours!

Kiruna Sweden Ice Hotel, The Northern Lights, and Stockholm Winter Birding

Stockholm is city of islands, which makes it especially convenient for boats, sightseeing, walking and birding year-round.  The city is full of great history, art, music, museums and restaurants.  There are palaces, cathedrals and many historic buildings to visit. 

Stockholm stretches across fourteen islands where Lake Mälaren flows into the Baltic Sea. The original old town, known as Gamla Stan, is in the heart of the city and is a charming, picturesque historic neighborhood. Just outside the city and along the Baltic Sea coast is the island chain known as the Stockholm archipelago, which includes approximately 24,000 islands and islets. The area has been inhabited since the Stone Age and was founded as a city in 1252.

Kiruna, Sweden:  800 miles north of Stockholm is the small northern village of Kiruna.  Kiruna is located 90 miles north of the arctic circle.  In the winter, this is an excellent area to see the northern lights, reindeers, moose, and winter birds.  About 23,000 people live in the county and it is the northern most town in Sweden.  Kiruna is located in the province of Lapland. 

Printable Bird List 
(This is a checklist of birds that we have seen on this trip)

  • Travel Dates:  December 12 - 19, 2022
  • Group Size:  6 travelers plus guides
  • Trip Length: 8 days
  • Rate: with only a daytime visit to see the Ice Hotel = $3,850 (double occupancy)
  • Rate: with 1-night in an "Ice Room"= $4,650 (double occupancy)
  • Rates include: Domestic transfers, lodging, breakfast, lunch, dinner, scheduled group tours, park entrance fees and basic travel insurance.
  • Not included: International airfare, customs & immigration fees and visas, alcohol, trip cancellation insurance.
  • Adventure level:  Easy, please check the "Welcome" page for definition  

More photos can be found here:  Photo Gallery (opens new page)

Weather on Winter Solstice:  Starting on December 11th the sun is down all day, but there is a beautiful twilight from about 10:00am until 2:00pm.  Average temperatures in December vary from 4 degrees low to 19 degrees high.  Record high for December is 46 degrees and the record low for December is -45 degrees.

Lodging:  On this tour, while we are in Stockholm, the lodging will be aboard permanently moored boats and yachts in the Stockholm waterway. On all the boats, the rooms are small and “cozy”, like most ships, but all the rooms have beds “on the floor”, meaning no bunks and there are waterbirds that you can view from your boat cabin:  Great Cormorants and Black-headed Gulls. 

1)  M/S Rygerfjord:  The Rygerfjord was built in 1950 at Mjellem & Karl’s shipyard in Bergen, Norway. In 1961 the Crossley machine was replaced with a Wichmann and enabled the ship to cruise at 12 knots (about 14 mph).  During the winter of 1970/71 the boat was renovated and the stern boat deck was built. She was revalued at 601 GRT and was classified for 100 passengers as opposed to the previous 365.  After 45 years of passenger service within Scandinavia, the Rygerfjord docked at its present position at Söder Mälarstrand in 1995 and has been slowly converted and upgraded over the years to accommodate over-night lodging.

2)  Kiruna:  3-nights will be at a hotel in the small northern village of Kiruna, Sweden.  You have the option to spend 1-night in an "Ice Room" or spend the entire 3-nights at a hotel in the village. The Ice Hotel is open during the day for tours of the rooms, even if you are not staying at the hotel.  So if you choose not to stay in an Ice Room, you will still be able to see the rooms.  If you choose a night in an "Ice Room", be aware that although the hotel supplies plenty of warm bedding, you will be staying in a room that is cold, and you have a shared bathroom that is a short walk from your room.  

3)  The last 2-nights of the tour will be aboard the Mälardrottningen Yacht:  The history of the Mälardrottningen is very interesting and it is always a special treat to stay on the yacht. Here are a few paragraphs copied from the hotel website: “When you enter the gangway of Mälardrottningen, you might be walking in the same footsteps of former movie stars, politicians and royals. The ship was built in 1924 for C.K.G Billings, a millionaire from New York, and the ship at that time was the world’s largest diesel driven yacht. 

The ship was later bought by the Woolworth-millionaire Frank W. Hutton. His daughter Barbara Hutton, the Woolworth heiress, received it as a gift from her father on her 18th birthday. Barbara lived an extravagant life among royals and movie stars and in the 1940’s she was married to Cary Grant for a short time. She later sold the ship to the Royal British Navy for one-pound sterling.

During the Second World War the ship was anchored for a short while in Panama and later on moved to Norway where it was used as a training ship. During the fifties the ship was used as a passenger ferry between Stockholm and Åbo in Finland. Since 1982, Mälardrottningen has been at its current location and only leaves the dock for maintenance every fifth year”.

Next is Food: Yummy!

1)  Winter Cruise:  There will be an afternoon dinner cruise with a traditional Swedish Smörgåsbord (called Julbord in Swedish) aboard the M/S Waxholm III, which is a classic archipelago ship from the maritime golden age; built in 1903. This is a 3-hour dinner cruise through parts of the Stockholm Archipelago.  This boat has the best Glögg (traditional mulled wined).  

3)  Julbord:  Traditional Swedish Julbord (Christmas Smörgåsbord) will be at the Grand Hotel.  Built in 1874, the Grand Hotel has been a center piece for important events in Sweden and it is truly an opulent, grand old hotel.  Similar to the Mälardrottningen, when you step into the lobby of the Grand Hotel, you are walking in the footsteps of royalty, presidents and movies stars.  From 1901 – 1929 the Nobel Laureate Banquet was held at the Grand Hotel.

4)  All other lunches and dinners will be at a variety of local cafes and restaurants.   It is a tradition to have one dinner at Michelangelo’s Italian Restaurant and another one of our favorite spots for dinner is Sjatte Tunnan, the medieval cellar.  

Museums:  While we are in Stockholm, there will be time to visit a museum and there are a lot of museums in Stockholm.  In Stockholm, there is about 6-hours of light and so there is a lot of time for birding and when the sun goes down, time for a museum or concert.  We highly recommend the Vasa Museum, the National Museum, Asian Art Museum, the Medieval Museum and a visit to the Royal Palace, just to name a few. Just let us know what your interests are and we will find the right activities for you. 

Basic itinerary

Day 1:  Arrival in Södermalm, Stockholm
Flights from the States usually arrive in the late afternoon at the Stockholm Arlanda International Airport (ARN).  You should schedule your flight for arrival at the airport on December 12th.   You will be greeted at the airport and transferred to the M/S Rygerfjord Ship Hotel which is moored along the banks of Södermalm Island in Stockholm. We will stay on the Rygerfjord for two nights. Stockholm has numerous Christmas markets to visit and plenty of traditional Glögg to drink and Pepparkakors to eat. Glögg is similar to mulled wine and but is stewed with cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, dried Seville orange, and clove.   Pepparkakor is traditional Swedish gingerbread cookies, made using special cookie cutter shapes, like hearts and stars, very thin and made with cardamom, cinnamon, cloves and ginger.  Dinner will be on one of the lodging boats.

Day 2:  Södermalm, Stockholm
Morning birding along the waterfront and local parks with great close up views up Common Blackbird, Blue Tits, Great Tits, Common Redpoll, Fieldfare and Tufted Ducks.  Winter Solstice: In the afternoon, a 3-hour afternoon dinner cruise on-board the M/S Waxholm III, a 120-foot historic archipelago ship built in 1903.  This Julbord cruise is a fantastic dinner and great fun.  Birds we have seen from the boat:  Black headed Gulls, Great Cormorant, Goosander (Common Merganser), Common Goldeneye.  Museums:  we highly recommend the Vasa Museum, the National Museum, Asian Art Museum, the Medieval Museum and a visit to the Royal Palace, just to name a few. Just let us know what your interests are and we will find the right activities for you. Depending on the local schedule there will be some evening events such as concerts.  If you have special interests such as opera or theater, please let us know in advance so we can get tickets for you.   Both the Royal Swedish Opera House and the Dramatic Theatre House are extremely beautiful and opulent!  

Day 3:  Fly to Kiruna, Sweden
It is a 1.5 hour flight from Stockholm to the village of Kiruna where we will be staying at a local hotel with full amenities.  

Day 4:  Kiruna, Sweden
Activities for the day will include a visit to the Ice Hotel, birding, and wildlife viewing. If you choose to stay at the Ice Hotel, you will be changing hotels in the late afternoon.  There will be outside and indoor activities with local guides depending on individual desires, capabilities, and the weather.  

Day 5:  Kiruna, Sweden
There will be outside and indoor activities with local guides depending on individual desires, capabilities, and the weather.  If you stay at the Ice Hotel, you will be moving back to the original hotel in Kiruna.   

Day 6:  Riddarholmen, Stockholm
From Kiruna, it is a 1.5 hour flight back to Stockholm where we will be staying on the Mälardrottningen Yacht located on Riddarholmen Island for 2- nights. Located only about a half a mile away from Södermalm, the Mälardrottningen is moored close to Gamla Stan, which is the historic center of Stockholm.  Stockholm is a great city for walking and birding and we will see a lot of birds to add to our list.  In the heart of the city are large flocks of Mute Swans, Mew Gulls, Eurasian Coots, Black-headed Gulls, Common Goldeneyes, Tufted Ducks, Jackdaws, Eurasian Tree Sparrows and even a few Canada Geese. On a rare occasion we have seen Barnacle Geese.   On this day there will be a visit to the Vasa Museum. The Vasa is a Swedish warship built between 1626 and 1628. The ship sank after sailing for only a few minutes into its maiden voyage in August 1628. After most the valuable bronze cannons were salvaged in the 17th century the ship was largely forgotten until it was located in the late 1950s in a busy shipping lane just outside the Stockholm harbor. In 1961 the ship was brought to the surface and with much of it still intact, it was restored and now is open for viewing at the Vasa Museum.  It truly is amazing because the ship is very large, 226 feet long and 90% of the boat is still original.  The Vasa Museum is located on an island called the Djurgården, which was a game park created for the Royals in 1579.  This area is great for birding and walking where you can find:  Hooded Crow, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Eurasian Jays, Great Cormorant, Grey Heron, Eurasian Treecreeper, Green Finch, Eurasian Siskin, Blue Tits, Great Tits and Eurasian Magpie.

Day 7:  Riddarholmen, Stockholm
We will be taking a day trip to a small island community called Waxholm.  There is a daily ferry boat that leaves Stockholm in the morning and travels over one hour through the archipelago to get to the island of Waxholm.  Along the way there are beautiful sites and birds to see and we will return to Stockholm in the early evening.   

Day 8:  Fly day
Flights usually leave in the morning and you will be transferred to the airport for your flight home

Please note:  The lodging described in this itinerary is always our first choice based on availability.  Details of this trip are a little vague as it is VERY flexible. Destinations throughout the trip are based on the desires, ability and goals of the group.