Swedish Lapland is the collective name used internationally for Sweden’s northernmost destination of Northern Sweden and what it has to offer. In just a few hundred kilometres between the coast and mountains lie vast forests, wild rivers and unique wildlife.
Swedish Lapland offers an incredible variety of adventures, both of the natural type and experiences in an urban environment. There is great diversity between the modern city of Luleå and the life of the Sami, Scandinavia’s indigenous people, many of whom still live in a traditional way.
The light here is special! In summer the midnight sun and in winter the Northern Lights and the white crisp snow. Nature, the seasons and their contrasts and traditions inspire the designers and artists who live and work here. According to tradition, the food comes from the wild flora and fauna. The local raw food consists of reindeer, fish, wild birds, mushrooms and berries to name but a few. On your trip to Swedish Lapland you won’t want to miss the exquisite and original Kalix lavaret roe (löjrom) served with the local Västerbotten cheese, often with an ice cold drink. Here you are met by authenticity and genuine hospitality, everything to make you feel at home.
THE COASTAL REGION
As the plane comes in for landing at Luleå airport you will see small and large islands in many different forms with colourful vegetation. Some with sandy beaches, others surrounded by stones. Mostly, they uninhabited but people have been living and working in the archipelago for centuries. In the early days there was hunting, fishing and farming and today they are also used for similar recreation.
The coast of Swedish Lapland has 3,306 islands and the archipelago is one of the youngest and shallowest in the world. The land here was covered by a thick ice sheet which began to melt about 10,000 years ago, this pressed the land down and it is now slowly rising again. Meaning, the islands are slowly getting bigger every year. As time goes by, shoals that have been below the water surface rise gradually above the surface, forming new islands.
It’s not just the post-glacial land uplift that makes the coastal area special, the water surrounding the islands is significantly different from other archipelago waters. Low alcaline in the water is due to the high volume of fresh water from the mighty flowing rivers into the archipelago., this makes the water brackish – neither fresh nor salt. There is much to discover for those who are interested in flora and fauna.
The islands are fascinating in all seasons. During the summer season, tour boats visit the bigger islands, which enables exploration for everyone. For those with a boat of their own, there are a number of guest harbours. Once on shore and looking around there are many traces of man’s long tradition of working on the islands. Some remnants can be difficult to find for an untrained eye, whereas other are more distinguishable such as the mystic labyrinths and the many picturesque boat houses.
Fishing has been, and still is, an important occupation for the people in the area. There are still a few professional fishermen left, but most people fish just for the household subsistence. Since this area is quite unexploited there are many uninhabited islands which are still waiting to be explored. The winter is unexpectedly light thanks to the snow, so clean that it reflects the light from the sun, the Northern Lights and the stars. This time of the year it is easy to get out to the islands, either on one of the open ice roads, by hovercraft or by snowmobile.
Some of the biggest islands have small bed and breakfasts, coffee houses and restaurants. Way out where the ice meets the sea you can see the spectacular pack ice which at certain times of the year can form unique landscapes including high walls. Another way of discovering the power of nature is to join a tour with an ice breaker and feel the engine power it takes to break the thick ice.
Autumn and spring are somewhat quieter seasons and the archipelago is not as well-attended as the rest of the year. This makes it even more exotic to visit. Experience the fresh breezes in the autumn or behold the brittleness of the spring ice and listen to the song of the migratory birds as they pass by over- head. Feel the scent of the season when nature goes to rest in the autumn or when the spring says good morning. Every season has its charm and fascination.
Luleå and its 76,000 citizens have a lot to offer. There is some- thing for every age. For those who like shopping, there are small boutiques and larger shopping malls. If culture is more appealing, a visit to Norrbottensteatern (local theatre) or Norr- bottens museum (regional museum) is highly recommended. The youngest can play at Leo’s Lekland (indoor childrens play land). If you would like to try tricks or somersaults –make a visit to Trampoline Center. At Teknikens Hus (technical science centre), you can be fascinated by scientific and technical experiments. A very popular experience is to learn about the history of the region on a guided tour to the Gammelstad Church Town World Heritage Site. When the day’s adventures are coming to an end, why not enjoy a good dinner prepared with local ingredients at one of the restaurants? Finally, if you like music and hanging out, there are plenty of places to enjoy.
THE RIVER VALLEYS
In Swedish Lapland you are never far away from nature, the forests or the rivers –whatever you enjoy most. The forestis as important to us as the water, we cannot live without it. We need the forest in many ways, for firewood, building materials, as a larder (meat, mushrooms, berries) and for recreation. The tradition of using the forest has followed man since time immemorial. Here in Swedish Lapland, we have lot of forest, more or less cultivated. A trip along one of our roads is lined with almost endless forests. If you are lucky, you will see some wild animals such as reindeer or along the road as well. Otherwise you can visit an farm or a reindeer pasture to be guaranteed a close meeting with them.
Do you want to get to know the forest better? Book a room at the Tree Hotel and spend a night in a tree house with a view over forest and river. From the rivers we get water clean enough to drink directly from mother nature – it can’t be more natural than that! In the woodlands, several lakes and swamps, some of which originate from cold sources, are known to have an incredibly clean water. There is much to discover in the forests, which consist of many different habitats of different character. The river valleys and the rivers have been throughout history, the roadways connecting the mountains to the sea. High up along their forested banks one finds lakes and streams and people living in the wilderness. Closer to the coast the forest opens up to farm land on the fertile river banks. The four wild, undeveloped rivers all have their history and their own character, for example: The Torne River – flowing slowly, forming the border with Finland; The Pite River – with the impressive waterfall, Storforsen, the largest in Europe.
Luleå Winter Playground
The bustling small city of Luleå is located right at the mouth of where the wide Luleå river meets the Bothnian sea. In winter the frozen river and sea becomes a giant playground for all kind of winter activities. Winter is actually the favourite time of the year for many northern Swedes, when they take out their skis or a snowmobile, pack, the coffee pot and sausages and head out on tour, stopping at a beautiful place. There they light a fire to boil coffee and grill sausages, and enjoy the silence – that’s quality of life! Another activity that is popular is skiing, both cross country and or downhill, maybe take a trip with snow- shoes.
There are groomed slopes and trails at several places, Kåbdalis, Måttsund and Storklinten to name but a few. In some places there is also Driving-on-Ice, an opportunity to practice your skills to manage slippery conditions that often prevail at this time of year. On frozen lakes you can train to turn, brake and stop in a controlled manner. If you want to experience nature in a more organic way, you can take a trip by dog sled. Enjoy the enthusiasm and happiness of the huskies as they do what they love best – pulling through the cold snow. During the tour you hear nothing but their quick steps and the sled sliding against the snow.
Swedish Lapland is really a place of contrasts. Now that you have experienced the coast with its islands and its cities, passing through forests and across mighty rivers it is time to see the mountains! Here are activities to be experienced both summer and winter, whilst you enjoy the majestic surroundings and its views. You can visit the Ice Hotel, the Iron Ore Mine in Kiruna, go hiking, fishing, rock climbing, crawling through caves and even play golf under the midnight sun. In winter you can go cross country and downhill skiing, travelling by dog sled, ice fishing and go looking for the Northern Lights.
Enjoy fishing? Visit fishing in sweden for more info.