KirunaAt 250 kilometres north of the polar circle, the summer sun shines for almost two months without going down, while the polar nights offer the most intense Northern Lights that can be seen. In Kiruna, you can go slalom skiing until midsummer or spend the night in a magnificent hotel built from ice. The phrase "kingdom of contrasts" is overused, but Kiruna truly embodies it.
The CityKiruna is no spring chicken. If you are looking for life in the archipelagos, painted, wooden horses from Dalarna or hot nightclubs, you have driven about 1000 kilometres too far. Here, in Swedish Lappland, things are no longer in moderation—they are magnificent and dramatic. Kiruna is the city of one hundred days with no night and the midnight sun attracts tourists from all over the world. But during the winters, when the temperature sometimes gets down below –35 degrees, ice, snow, darkness and cold reign supreme. Visitors venture out on dog sledding tours among spruce trees weighed down by snow while the northern lights blaze in the heavens. Wild nature is open 24 hours a day, year round, thanks to the unique Swedish legal right to common land. Kiruna is surrounded by an untouched mountain world, including Sweden’s highest mountain, Kebnekaise, and more than 6,000 lakes and seven large, unspoiled rivers. Added to which there are seven national parks—everything from high alpine terrain with glaciers and windswept tundra to swampy ground and forests of mountain birch extending for miles after miles. Lappland is an amusement park for lovers of the outdoors. And it is enormous, larger than Denmark and Holland put together. Even for an average Swede—used to long journeys—the distances and barrenness of Lappland is something spoken about with respect and enchantment mingled with terror. Kiruna—excellent as a base for trips in Lappland and Norrbotten—is 100-years-old, built beside the largest underground iron ore mine in the world. The lode of ore is four kilometres long and the mine is one thousand metres deep. Some twenty kilometres northeast of Kiruna, in Jukkasjärvi, is the world-famous ice hotel and farther to the northwest is Riksgränsen, one of the country’s leading skiing resorts. A tip: If you are visiting Kiruna in the winter, ask for advice on how you should dress. It is possible to enjoy yourself in severe cold too. If you are visiting Kiruna in the summer—don’t forget the mosquito-repellent!
Slope LifeThe area of Luossavaarabacken in Kiruna has three prepared ski runs, but if you are willing to travel a small distance, you can look forward to really wild and beautiful skiing. A unique collaboration between Björkliden, Riksgränsen, Narvik and Abisko has now made skiing possible in four good skiing areas with one lift pass (ask in the tourist office).
Do & See
You can do slalom skiing here until midsummer, or spend the night in a magnificent hotel built out of ice.
Souvas and renkok (reindeer stew) are two culinary experiences you could give them, at least, a try while in Kiruna. Souvas is smoked reindeer meat which is fried and served on, for example, pizza, in wraps or on thin, flat, unleavened bread. You can also enjoy venison, grouse, char, and cloudberries.
There are several cafés to choose from in Kiruna. Why not enjoy a cup of tea in a reindeer leather sofa?
Bars & Nightlife
At one time Kiruna had the highest density of pubs in Sweden, however, in the last five years it has gone downhill. If you are looking for a good party you would do better going for after-ski at somewhere like Riksgränsen. The live scene in Kiruna has a preference for blues, country, and Irish music.
A trip to Lappland offers unbeatable opportunities to buy both food delicacies and forest products from Norrland, and genuine Sami products. One of the best places for the former is Thornéus Renprodukter (Fru Wälivaaragatan 10). For high quality products manufactured by Sami people, Wennberg Sameslöjd (Begmästareg. 2) is recommended. It has shops in both Kiruna and Stockholm. Outdoor equipment is to be found at, among other places, Vildmarkshörnan (Bergsmästareg. 2), which also sells what you need for hunting and fishing. The usual, large clothing multiples such as JC, Kappahl and Lindex are to be found in the shopping malls, Gallerian and Galaxen.