Sweden is filled with some fascinating villages, towns, and cities, with the famous historical capital ofStockholm being the most well known and popular. If you’d really like to explore the Swedish countryside, you may want to head north to the town of Kiruna, which is in the Lapland province.
And by north, we really mean north, since Kiruna’s the furthest north you can go when it comes to Swedish communities.
(photo credit: Nancy Pelosi)
In fact, the latitude of the town is the same as central Greenland. It’s home to about 20,000 people and the region is located next to the borders of Norway and Finland. It’s 90 miles above the Arctic Circle so make sure you dress warmly.
There’s some fantastic scenery and countryside in the Kiruna area. If you head about 55 miles to the west of the community you’ll come across Kebnekaise, which is Sweden’s highest mountain. It reaches 6,946 feet into the air and is quite a sight. If you’re thinking about climbing it, be aware that it takes about nine hours to reach the top of the south peak.
You also need to make sure you have the proper climbing equipment as well as a bit of experience. Other popular outdoor activities are fishing and hunting as local residents aren’t adverse to using the land to feed themselves.
Another local mountain is Kirunavaara, which is an ore mountain. The hill has produced iron ore for the region ever since it was discovered there back in 1730. However, the ore couldn’t be worked until railroad lines to Narvik and Lulea were built. The ore is now extracted by modern opencast methods. The underground ore workings are the biggest on the globe and the best way to explore them and learn about their history is to take one of the guided tours that are available to visitors.
About 60 miles north of Kiruna is the fabulous Abisko National Park. This is a wonderful nature reserve that’s about 30 square miles in size. It stretches alongside the beautiful shores of Lake Torneträsk. When you reach Abisko your journey doesn’t have to end as you can jump on the Lapland Railroad and take a trip westward to Narvik which sits on the picturesque Norwegian coast.
When heading north out of Kiruna you can visit the Esrange rocket station, which sits about 30 miles out of town. This site was established by the ESRO (European Space Research Organization) back in 1965 and is used for launching research rockets. In addition, the Glaciological Research Station can be found in the Tarfala valley and the Scientific Research Station is located at Abisko.
If you’d like to see the town hall, which was erected in 1963, you will just have to head to the Kiruna train station and head southeast. The town hall features a remarkable art collection as well as a carillon in its tower. You’ll find some magnificent wooden carvings and artwork in the town’s wooden church as well.
Once the winter months hit Kiruna you can be guaranteed of a lot of snow and some pretty cold weather. This is ideal for the town’s annual Snow Festival which is held each January. It’s quite popular and is thought to be the largest snow festival of its kind in all of Europe.
The festival features snow sculpture contests, reindeer and dog-sled racing and the largest igloo in the world. There’s also an art exhibition on display during the popular winter festival. In addition, The Kiruna Ice hotel is located in Jukkasjarvi and is another popular attraction.