I have long been a Volvo fan. My first car was a Volvo (343) and I have had several Volvo’s over the past decades. Volvo is proudly Swedish. So when I got an invite from the Swedish Volvo Owners Club to join one of their events in the Arctic I only hesitated shortly. I asked my father to join me and together we registered for a 4 day Arctic driving experience. To add some more Scandinavian fun, we decided to drive up to Northern Sweden via Denmark and Sweden, but return via Finland, after crossing the frozen Gulf of Bothnia by ferry. We would visit the cities of Vaasa and Helsinki and return by another ferry over the Baltic Sea. An epic European road trip in the Arctic winter! So here it goes:
About two thirds of the route is overland, another third over sea.
The trip as you see in the map above includes four ferry rides. The first two are short: From Puttgarden in Germany to Rodbyhavn in Denmark and from Helsingor in Denmark to Helsingborg in Sweden.
Although the trip was in February, we reach Stockholm practically without snow. We drive through the harbour area and visit the Vasa Museum. Then we take the Swedish East Coast Road towards Umea, where we arrive 3 long driving days after we left home.
The Vasa Museum is a must-see in Stockholm!
People in Sweden are used to driving under very cold conditions and main roads are kept accessible all year round. It is a very long, but easy drive up North.
Arrived in Umea we meet the other Volvo owners and visit the Volvo truck cab factory.
On a smaller road we pass the border of Lapland, a large indigenous region covering Northern Norway, Sweden, Finland and parts of Russia.
Our destination is Arvidsjaur, where many major car brands have their winter tests. On one of the snow covered dirt roads we cross the Arctic Circle!
At this spot you will find the ‘Gateway to the Arctic’, an artwork depicting the great North. We have a great winter barbecue here.
Our northernmost point of the trip is Jokkmokk, the official capital of Lapland and home of the famous Jokkmokk Sami Winter Market.
This market dates back several hundreds of years and is known for its Arctic fur and Reindeer and Moose meat products.
Then it is time to hit the ice! The Club got access to one of the car factory test tracks on a frozen lake! Most of us drove a classic Volvo, some of which were used for some great wintersports on the lake!
We drive a few fast laps on the snow covered lake track. Even here we fail to get the car to do a full 360, but we do learn how to handle our car under these conditions.
It is really cool to be in the company of soo many classic cars in such a remarkable landscape! Wonderful to experience that this is only 3 days away from home.
The Arctic landscape in winter is truly magical! This is as light as it gets at the Arctic Circle in February at noon.
A magical place to drive around in your own car. Winter tires are a must, although most locals drive on spikes. I was positively surprised by the track stability of my ‘normal’ winter tires under these conditions.
After the Volvo adventure we took the ferry from Umea to Vaasa and continued our Arctic road trip through Finland.
Passing the town of Nokia on our way from Vaasa to Helsinki.
From Helsinki we took a 26-hour ferry ride to Germany, after which it was ‘only’ 700 kilometers home. We had driven almost 4,000 mostly white kilometers in 7 days. A great father-son adventure!