The local historical society keeps this wonderful old homestead open as a museum. Tickets are bought in the souvenir shop and valid for the old homestead building with its kitchen and workshop and for the Sami building with displays on Sami costumes and reindeer herding. For those of you interested in reindeer and Sami culture, there is also a reindeer farm next to the local church but it is only open in summer so I have no review of it.
The hotel is rebuilt every year from ice harvested in March and stored in a store room next to the river (used as ice sculpture gallery in summer). This is why you don't mind paying SEK 120 just to get in and see the place. Artists from all over the world now compete for a chance to design a room every year and this means they are all different. During our visit, one room had a bed like a guitar made of ice and a stage with microphone and music arrangements to give just one example. A guided tour shows you things you can later see yourself at your leisure (just keep your camera batteries warm!) but also tells you of how it is constructed and other interesting bits about it.
As guided tours means guests have to be out, these take place between 10.00 and 18.00 every day. Welcome to the REAL ice planet Hoth! :)
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Amongst the clutter of buildings belonging to the homestead, there is also a cafe / light restaurant. Whilst they know how to charge for the food in it since they get rich Ice Hotel customers, it IS a very snug place and nothing beats sitting by a window inside, looking at the frozen river and snowmobiles outside whilst drinking hot chocolate or having lunch.
Favorite Dish: Salmon soup.
Swedish vodka distillers Absolut (from the opposite end of the country!) sponsor the hotel Ice Bar which opens at 13.00 every day and is the place to be seen in at night. Have a vodka drink "in the rocks" - glasses made of ice. No need to wash up afterwards. In fact, if you take a refill, the glass will melt before you can have a third one :))) For those of you who want to stay off the booze, there is juice and hot drinks too but the hot ones come in your average commuter paper cup...
Inside is an ice screen and a webcam so you can see yourself on the screen and also get an overview of what is happening in the ice bars in Stockholm and Milan :)))
Dress Code: Warm! Ice hotel overalls will do :)))
OK, maybe I should tell you how to get TO Jukkasjärvi as well and not just around it. If you are staying in the Ice Hotel, they can even pick you up at the airport (with dogsledge if you like...) but the rest of us can simply catch a local bus from Kiruna station. There are a couple going TO Jukkasjärvi and more returning to Kiruna in the evening (depending on the shared routes out on the countryside).
All around the Ice Hotel complex you will find these wooden "sledges" to borrow. They are known as a "spark" in Swedish. This simply means "kick" as that is what you do to move forward on the packed snow in the streets.
Everyone in "Jukkas" have their own snowmobiles and you often see whole families on them on their way around the village. Also popular is to race on the ice of the river. Click the picture to see a bunch in the afternoon light...
The Ice Hotel has morning excursions on the Torne River with packs of eager dogs. Never ever have I heard the leading dog talk to other dogs in the way these do with their howls and their looks at the rest of the pack. Fascinating just to watch the dogs and their special transport trailers. I can only imagine what a tour is like. My dad still remembers his dogsledge tour done when he was 19 and in the army!
No, not at the same time. I just have a problem chosing which of the two was my favourite thing. Look at my intro page to Kiruna and the various Jukkasjärvi pictures to see the very special light here on a good day.
Then as it gets dark, you enter the Ice Bar and enjoy a Blueberry Stream, Silver Fox or other vodka drink. Yes, that's only juice in junior's glass but of course she wanted an ice glass.
Fondest memory: The feeling of WINTER as winter should be. Not sleet and rain like Malmö...