Usually, travel bloggers write about the best way to do something. We provide priceless tips and tricks to save you time, money and hassle. This post takes the opposite approach, and documents one of my most abject travel failures.
Even though I hate most everything related to winter, I knew the moment I learned of an “Arctic Circle Pass” that I had to travel to Sweden’s Polar reaches. But I would depart Stockholm for Italy without seeing snow.
I therefore can’t provide you any tips on what to do, thing to see or where to stay in the Swedish arctic — but I can tell you how to avoid fucking up as royally as I did trying to get there.
Arctic Circle Pass
I first saw the ad for the Arctic Circle Pass when I was browsing the website of SJ, the national Swedish rail company, for tickets from Oslo to Karlstad. That’s probably way too expensive for me, I thought as I priced my own high-dollar itinerary, but I’ll send them an inquiry anyway. The price of the Arctic Circle Pass was, conveniently, not listed.
I was shocked at the response I received. Although SJ couldn’t give me a media rate on account of my status as a high-rolling travel blogger, the Arctic Circle Pass was somewhat affordable. And, advance booking was not necessary, or even possible.
Route of the Arctic Circle Pass
Without the ability to book from abroad, I paid little mind to my forthcoming Arctic journey as I traveled through Norway and then, into the fairytale forests of Western Sweden. A few days after arriving in Stockholm, I logged on to the SJ website to investigate the order process for the Arctic Circle Pass further.
I was horrified to learn that the train traveled not from Stockholm up to the Arctic Circle, but from the Swedish city of Kiruna to the Norwegian city of Narvik — it’s called the “Arctic Circle Pass” because it travels along the Arctic Circle, not to or from it.
Travel from Stockholm to Kiruna
No biggie, I thought, and returned to the SJ home page. I’ll just buy a ticket from Stockholm to Kiruna — how much could that set me back?
I was horrified to learn that a one-way ticket from Stockholm to Kiruna, at this late stage, cost over 1,000 SEK, or $150. Being that I had only four days left in Sweden — which, had I only needed to pay 365 kronor, would’ve been a fair time-to-money-ratio — I opted not to travel to the Arctic Circle. Womp womp.
The moral of the story? If you want to travel to Sweden’s Arctic Circle using the Arctic Circle Pass, book a round-trip train ticket between Stockholm and Kiruna as far in advance as possible — only the Arctic Circle Pass itself has a fixed price.