The middle of winter is the perfect time for a chilly dip in the Bay of Bothnia.
The Place Bay of Bothnia.
The Route From Kemi, Finland, aboard the former Arctic icebreaker Sampo.
Why Now? From mid-December through April, the Sampo offers four-hour excursions (US$356 per person) into the bayâ€™s ice pack, giving passengers the chance to don watertight survival suits for a dip in the freezing waters.
What Else? Back on dry land, Kemiâ€™s biggest wintertime attraction is the Lumi Linna snow castle, assembled each January from about 21,000 cubic meters of snow. And in nearby Rovaniemi, the Arktikum is a memorable museum of all things Arctic, with a special emphasis on the local Sami culture.
Where to Stay The pickings are slim in this part of Finland, so unless you care to brave the -5Â°C chill of the Lumi Linnaâ€™s ice hotel, plan to bunk down in Rovaniemi in one of the newly renovated cabins at the Santa Claus Holiday Village (doubles from US$174).
This article originally appeared in the December 2013/January 2014 print issue of DestinAsian magazine (â€śNext Stop: Laplandâ€ť)