VIDEO: Ice Swimming above the Arctic Circle

VIDEO: Ice Swimming above the Arctic Circle

Ice Swimming above the Arctic Circle
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VIDEO: Ice Swimming above the Arctic Circle


It’s not every day that you get to jump into a mostly frozen lake between Northern Finland and Russia, but when you do, you better be ready to jump in. And so goes the story of how Marina and I ended up doing just that. While on a trip to Finland a few weeks ago, we found ourselves well above the arctic circle, in the Lapland region in a small town named Salla. Neither of us had ever been anywhere so magical, we felt like we were in a snow globe the entire time.

While we enjoyed some of the most amazing snow activities during our time in Salla, easily the most extreme experience was ice swimming. We knew a couple days ahead of time that we would be partaking but sincerely did not know exactly what we were in for. As we drove through the heavy snowfall and deep into the Finnish woods, we came upon a small wooden building with a single lamp outside, perched on the side of a massive lake. What we were in for was one of the most invigorating evenings we’d had in awhile.

The Finns have a passion for their saunas, as each house is built firstly around the sauna, and in the winter months they pair this traditional activity with its extreme opposite, ice swimming. Quickly jumping from the icy cold waters to the pipping hot (167F) sauna, we were shocked by how alive, invigorated and healthy the whole experience made us feel.

While many Finns do this up to twice a week during the winter months, and many children are raised doing variations (ie. rolling in snow if there is no lake), we might not be up for going ice swimming weekly, but much to our surprise we both would be very open to ice swimming again and there could be no better place than Salla, Finland.



.H . jeffjohnsheadshotJeff Johns is the co-founder and editor of Latitude 34 Travel Blog. Through 65 countries on 6 continents he has accumulated a seemingly endless stream of odd information, interesting stories and helpful tips and tricks to better travel. Jeff’s goal is to visit all 204 countries on Earth before he is too senile to remember them all. A graduate of the Visual Journalism program at the Brooks Institute, his true passions lay in honest visual storytelling, documentary filmmaking, Thai food and a good laugh. Together with his girlfriend Marina, they run Latitude 34 Travel Blog as a source of helpful information for those who love to travel or those who simply dream of it. If you have a comment or suggestion, send them an email at and they’ll respond super fast!


    • It really does….almost! Haha. One of the most fun things we have done yet, would go back in a heartbeat, Finland is absolutely amazing.

  1. What a great post! I love your video. We were in Saariselka in Finnish Lapland in December and had an offer to do some ice swimming and I totally chickened out!! I was so scared I might have a heart attack or something! I have to say it does look freezing but also really fun and I am a bit jealous that you had the balls to go for it!! (although the fact they have instructions for cpr makes me still think I wouldn’t do it if I had the opportunity again!). Brilliant film though and I loved watching it, if not actually doing it!
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    • I had the heart attack thought in the back of my head the entire time! As I said many time in the video, isn’t this how people die? Wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought (wait, yes it was), but it did leave us feeling fantastic and very alive, so I’d do it again in a heartbeat….maybe.

  2. I love your video, it must have been a really awesome experience! I did once something similar in the mountains in Hungary in winter, it was a really refreshing experience for my body with a lot of “oh my god, I can’t take this” involved:)
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    • Haha, anything for our readers! You only live once I guess and what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger? I’ll usually always try something once and this was just too insane to pass up!

  3. Woah! I would have been terrified!
    Man I can’t even bear going out during winter, how could you swim in the arctic !?
    I admire your guts !

    Don’t just try the cold one in Hungary, they have the best thermal baths of Europe if not of the World !

    • Haha, we were pretty nervous too! We are looking forward to planning a trip back to Budapest to try out the baths, we’ve heard so much about them!

    • Haha, I might not say brave, maybe stupid? I tried to be as awesome as the Finnish people but think I need a little more practice!

    • Haha, we were really not sure what to expect, but we ended up having a lot of fun! Good life lesson I suppose.

    • It was so much fun Tam. We are launching our first of many “Finland Friday” posts today, got a whole lot more of Finland inspiration to help you plan a future trip!

    • Jealous! Where exactly are you moving too, and will it have a freezing cold lake we can come and jump in?!?

  4. My wife and I were about 30km from Salla in March, at my cousins house which is not near a lake, so its Sauna, Hot tub then roll in the snow. The thing to remember is than even in summer the deeper lakes are only just above freezing, so you can have a similar experience in summer, just beware of the mosquitoes !!!

    • Ohh man! We SO badly want to go back to Lapland in the Summer months, and I would jump in a semi frozen lake again in a heartbeat! So jealous you have family up there haha.

    • Haha, thanks Michael! While I didn’t look the brave as I thought I would it was a ton of fun! I’ll do better next time, I’ve got to give it a second go!

    • Exactly Mike! We tried to do a photo shoot of our own, but just too darn cold! Still, we’d both happily do it again!

  5. […] Of course seeing pictures of a dream destination is nothing compared to actually being there and we were constantly faced with more and more beautiful landscapes and terrains. We rode reindeer, hiked with snowshoes, camped in the deep, dark woods and even tried our hand at ice swimming. […]

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