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 bay’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, Kemi’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 -5°C chill of the Lumi Linna’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 (“Next Stop: Lapland”)