Northern Sweden is widely considered one of the last remaining wilderness' on earth, and the further north you travel the more isolated the towns become.
This is a region where nature dominates and reindeer and elk thrive – vast open spaces, dense coniferous forests, swiftly flowing rivers and lakes, and the mountain peaks of Kebenekaise. It is the land of the Lapps or Sámi, Scandinavia’s oldest indigenous people.
The Bothnian Coast, stretching to the border with Finland in the north is dominated by historic towns and villages. The town of Lulea is one such town and through history has been the centre for development and commerce in the region.
Surrounding Luleå an archipelago of 800 islands waits to be discovered. Renowned for its picturesque fishing communities, forest covered islets and wealth of birds, wildlife and flora the archipelago is a delight for any nature lover and, it waters play host to a wealth of excursions all year round – boat, canoe, hovercraft and snowmobile tours.
The 15th century church village of Gammelstad, declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is located on the outskirts of Luleå. At the heart of the village is a beautiful stone church, the largest medieval church in Northern Sweden, surrounded by 424 traditional wooden cottages. Centuries old traditions are very much alive here, and residents of Luleå still travel to the village to celebrate church festivals and markets.
During the winter months, the wilderness environs and archipelago of Luleå transform into a snow-covered landscape and the Bay of Bothnia freezes. For many this is the most exciting time to visit, offering the chance to participate in a range of winter activities, drive on the miles of ice roads and witness the towering pack ice.
At 200km north of the Arctic Circle, sits the town of Kiruna. Although the town itself retains an industrial feel, the surrounding countryside is spectacular. Within a short drive, visitors are able to explore the Abisko National Park - home to a large Sámi population and the site of Sweden’s highest peak, Kebnekaise (2104m). Created in 1909, the same year in which Sweden’s first laws on nature conservation were established, the National Park aims to preserve the area in its original condition for visitors to enjoy.
As the northernmost town in Sweden, Kiruna is also the place to experience the natural phenomenon of the Midnight Sun from the end of May to mid July, while winter visitors may find the location ideal for viewing the Aurora Borealis as well as for experiencing snowmobile, dog-sled and reindeer tours.
The ICEHOTEL is located 17km from Kiruna in Jukkasjärvi and a visit to this world-famous site should not be missed. First opened in 1990, the Jukkasjärvi ICEHOTEL was the first hotel entirely constructed of ice, and continues to be erected each year. It is a artistic installation that cannot fail but to impress and mesmerise visitors and guests. For 2016/17 the ICEHOTEL will launch a new concept. Whereas the hotel has in previous years melted out of existence as the winter has turned to spring, the ICEHOTEL will now offer the chance to experience sleeping at sub-zero temperatures year-round! There is no other place in the world where you can experience the Midnight Sun and winter on the same holiday.
A year round destination, Kiruna and the surrounding landscape is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts.