5 Best Things to Do in Lapland, Sweden

Swedish Lapland is rich in natural sights and therefore the perfect destination for nature lovers. The region provides a rural romantic feeling and offers all sorts of experiences. Namely, you can watch the northern lights and the midnight sun in Lapland, depending on the time and place. Lapland is one of those places where there are a ton of cool things that will tempt you.

Snowmobile Safari is very interesting and fun as also the reindeer sleigh ride. In order to maximize the enjoyment, the ultimate accommodation needs to be found. Camping gives you a sea of opportunities - Sweden is Europe's 7th largest camping nation. Rent a camper, bring a tent and find your own spot by the sea or in a nature reserve.

Or stay in one of Sweden's 9000 campsites that can sign up to "Europe's highest standard", within walking distance to restaurants and cultural life. But our main tip is all castles and mansions that ooze with soul and atmosphere. Here you can stay in delicious rooms, enjoy food, wine tasting, spa and beautiful surroundings.

Swedish Lapland is one of the very few, proper wildernesses of Europe. Warm sunsets, cooking and wild nature. Rent a motorhome for a free and spontaneous holiday with family or friends this summer. Stay in a campsite with all facilities or camp out in the open air. The light, the flora, and the fauna, as well as the open expanses of deep forest and lakes can make you feel like you’re in Canada or Alaska, and that impression lasts until you come upon something historical, or a village or town.

Then, it’s abundantly clear again that you’re in Europe, not Canada. You happen upon old Scandinavian churches or quaint, old farm houses, and in a town or village, you can sit down at some elegant little café with lace curtains and have a cappuccino and some high flying pastries as if you were in Vienna or Milan. Contrary to most of the rest of Sweden, you get snow covered mountains - year round.

It’s incredibly scenic, and combines refined civilization with untouched wilderness. Perhaps only southern Argentina comes close in this peculiar combination of European coziness and rugged nature.

best Things to do in Lapland

Here is a full travel guide on the Lapland region.

1. Sami culture in Jokkmokk

Known as Lappland in Swedish, this region covers almost a quarter of the entire country. It borders both Norway and Finland, and it has an obvious relation to Finnish Lapland. The Swedish and Finnish Lapland used to form a region together, up until the Russians annexed the Finnish part.

Nowadays, the people living in Lapland are Swedes and Sami. The total population of Swedish Lapland is around 91,000, but all of historical Lapland has approximately 250,000 inhabitants. Across the borders, they share several cultural traditions, and any part of Lapland can be visited if you are into the Sami culture and/or language.

When you imagine hiking in northern Europe, you tend to imagine striking landscapes but, at least occasionally, difficult conditions. This is more or less the case in Sweden as well, and it should go without saying that if you plan a hike in this country, you will want to do so during the warmer months of the year.

2. See northern lights in Abisko

In the summer and late spring, you can see the midnight sun in Lapland. In the winter - when the skies are clear - you are often able to see northern lights. Both phenomena attract tourists and the northern lights are often considered the main reason to visit Lapland.

We will argue, however, that Lapland has even more to offer. First of all, it’s the perfect place to go hiking. Much of the nature in Lapland is virtually untouched and you will find hills, mountains, valleys, rivers and lakes. There’s no better place to test your guts against nature.

3. Local food in Luleå

The local food is quite special as well. Almost all the foods are locally sourced. Herring, pork, cheese and potatoes are typically used in the local cuisine. The signature dish in Swedish Lapland is Kalix Löjrom. If you go to a party or an event in the region, they will probably serve this. You can order it in some of the local restaurants as well.

Sami culture is dominating in the region, and it is quite different from the traditional Swedish culture. Due to influence from the Laestadian movement, it is also one of the more religious areas in Sweden. Getting close to these cultures is an experience you won’t find elsewhere.

4. Explore Kiruna

While Lapland is rich in nature, it is lacking in big cities. In fact, there are none: The largest town in Lapland is Kiruna with around 23,000 inhabitants in the entire municipality. For that reason, the infrastructure is still lacking compared to other Swedish regions, and it might be more difficult to find flights to Lapland.

The main airports in the region are found in Luleå and Kiruna. SAS and Norwegian have somewhat frequent connections to these cities, but most likely, you will need a layover in Stockholm, Malmö or Oslo first. During some parts of the year, you will find direct routes from London, which could serve as an alternative place to have the layover.

So it is possible to fly to Lapland, but we actually recommend another solution: Fly to Stockholm, rent a car and explore the whole northern part of the country on your own. It’s worth it - simply because of the freedom it gives. It’s a long trip, but you get to see much of Sweden’s nature, while combining it all with a few days in the capital.

Swedish Lapland (locally written as Lappland) is not a city, but a whole region. It does not have any cities of the same size as Tromsø in Norway, but you can plan your stay in either Kiruna or Lycksele, towns that have decent accommodation options and with the opportunity to easily travel out into nature and back again.

It is the northernmost region in Sweden and it borders Norway. It is so large that it covers almost a quarter of Sweden’s full territory. Norrland, is one of the last wildernesses of Europe, and there’s barely anyone there. You’ll barely ever see signs of human life, and people are ecstatic when they meet someone who may bring news and speaks coherently.

Glass pearls are highly valued by the natives. You’ve just seen a long and amazing summer merge into a fireworks of yellow and orange foliage, enjoyed that for a few weeks, and then, bang! The autumn winds begin to blow, the leaves are off all of a sudden, and you come outside one morning to a frozen windscreen on your car and the street lights are on.

Once the snow stays on the ground, which happens in mid November, things take on a whole new magic. That snow is powder snow, dry, and clean. It blows around like flour, and reflects all the colourful light sources. Winter as soon as the snow is in place is beautiful, and compensates for the absence of daylight. You no longer think of it as the dark season, but you see yourself as living on a snow planet.

And then, you get the northern lights, as well. In Lapland, you can also experience the northern lights. Those things are just unbelievable. Like a phosphorescent curtain blowing in the wind, in the sky. You can see the northern lights during the autumn, the winter and the early spring.

An additional benefit of visiting Swedish Lapland is that you can see several of Sweden’s best national parks. There are seven in total, and the nature is really spectacular in this region. It’s actually surprisingly colourful, and not as dark as one tends to imagine. It’s more like a never ending sunrise, or sunset.

True, there is no sun light. But you still get the twilight spectrum, and it can have amazing colours. Another thing is that you get snow - lots, and more than half of the year, every year. So, whatever light there is, the clean snow magnifies it like a projector screen. With all the artificial lighting going on, living that far north is actually crazy colourful and downright psychedelic - at least in Sweden.

5. Stay in Jukkasjärvi

Most Lapland visitors choose to stay in Kiruna or Luleå since they are some of the largest towns in the region and since it is where most people fly in and out. It’s relatively easy to find hotels in these towns as they are used to travelers. A normal hotel in either of these towns is perfect for getting near the local culture and doing the days, you can do longer trips out into nature.

It should be mentioned, though, that Lapland offers some pretty unique places to stay. Check out the Icehotel located a bit outside of Kiruna. It’s a hotel and an art exhibition at once - and it’s made out of ice and snow! This hotel is literally built of ice and snow every year in December and melts away in March/April. Everything is build from ice: the bed, sofas, lounge and bar, swimming pool and even the drinking glasses.

Really, it is nothing but a tourist trap. The hotel, including the chairs and beds, is constructed from snow and ice blocks taken from the nearby Torne River. Artists are invited to create different rooms and decorations made by ice. Besides bedrooms, there is a bar, with glasses made of ice and an ice chapel that is popular with marrying couples. The structure remains below freezing, around −5 °C (23 °F). Spending the night in this place gives you memories for ever.

The Sápmi Nature Camp, located in Laponia which is a World Heritage Site, is another interesting place to stay. At least if you like staying in a traditional way - at this camp, you will sleep in a traditional tent.

Finally, you can also rent one of the local lodges in the region during your stay.

Summer is a special and magical time in Sweden, and it is when the people celebrate summer and the beautiful nature around them. On Midsummer (June 20 - 26), families and friends hold hands together and dance around a maypole covered in pretty flowers, celebrating the summer solstice. You’ll hear them singing and laughing.

If you go to Sweden during Midsummer holiday, you’ll enjoy dancing around the maypole with children, wearing a crown of flowers around your head, the music, delicious meals, the midnight sun, and the beautiful green nature.

Swedish Lapland is a gorgeous region and often considered one of the highlights of Sweden. But we sincerely advise visiting other parts of the country as well. If you have time enough, and you possess a driver’s license, it absolutely makes sense to do a road trip around Sweden so you can see even more of nature and experience the city culture as well.

As mentioned earlier, Stockholm is the perfect starting point. From here, it will be easy enough to reach Lapland or wherever else you want to go within Scandinavia!
Kalyan Panja