Road trip: Into the Arctic

VOMAC2008_209sI 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.

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.

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 after 3 long driving days.

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!

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.

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.

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.

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!

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.

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.

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.

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!

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 Arcticc road trip through Finland.

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.

Passing the town of Nokia on our way from Vaasa to Helsinki.

From Helsinki we then 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!

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!

4 thoughts on “Road trip: Into the Arctic

  1. […] The same car that took me to Istanbul and back also took me in the opposite direction. Crossing the Arctic Cirtcle in my own car was one of those bucket list items that needed to be ticked. When the Swedish Volvo Owners Club organized an Arctic driving event I didn’t hesitate too long. Together with my father I undertook a fantastic 7-day drive from home to home, via the capital of Lapland. See the full story here. […]

  2. I guess that it was great experience to You to drive on snowy and icy roads. To us Finns it is daily routine. Your photos were excellent and enjoyable to look at. I am not Volvo fan, but it must be great car. I have had all my life Opel and recently I changed my Opel to BMW.

    Thank You for this interesting road report. Someday You should visit Finnish Lapland and to find things You never thought they exist.

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