Skip to content

Snow, reindeers and northern lights

Hi again!

Last week I made all the way up to Kiruna in the far north of Sweden. Going by overnight train, you barely notice that Kiruna is the northernmost town of Sweden and that it takes in fact a 15-hour journey to get there.

Because of its location, the sun does not set for quite some days in summer in Kiruna, while in December the sun never rises for about three weeks. During my visit, I could already feel the short days with sunlight only from around 9am until 3pm. This means, you need to plan your days wisely, when exploring the region!

Kiruna has a small town where you can check out local stores, cafés and restaurants. It is also known to be a good region for skiing, however, during my time there, the snow was not high enough and the streets had a thick layer of ice (My personal tip: bring spikes for your shoes if possible!). You can also find the mountain Luossavaara here, where you can take a walk all year round on the Midnattssolstigen. From the very top, you have a great view over Kiruna.

On the left is Kiruna church, in the middle mountain Luossavaara and on the right, just a pretty red house.

When in Kiruna, Abisko Nationalpark is quite close (and even more up north :D). I can recommend taking a trip there and explore a bit of the Nationalpark. Even though the weather was not suitable for a long and complicated hike, it’s also possible to find some shorter paths that you can always do and where you can also experience the stunning nature.

On my last day, it was time to learn more about the Sámi who are living in parts of northern Scandinavia and parts of the Russian Kola Peninsula. It was very interesting to learn more about their culture. Did you know that approximately 20,000 Sámi people are living in Sweden nowadays? In Jukkasjärvi, a small town close to Kiruna, you can visit a rebuild Sámi camp where you can learn about their culture, try out typical food and on top of everything, meet, pet and feed reindeers!

But the most obvious reason, why so many tourists are coming up north during winter times are probably the northern lights. Those result from disturbances in the magnetosphere caused by solar wind. There are a lot of touristic offers to bring you to the northern lights. My advice for those: if you prefer to make a guided tour and feel more comfortable with company, do it – but be prepared to pay some money for it. However, it is definitely also possible to plan everything on your own – and save some money (this is what I did 😊). As it is never given, that you’ll be able to see them, it is most important to keep one thing in mind: be patient! Here are some of my tips on how to prepare for a great northern light experience:

  1. Download an app that shows the likelihood to see northern lights by date and time
  2. Put on warm cloths with multiple layers as you might be standing in the cold for quite some time
  3. Either walk or drive far out from any lights to a dark place, as this is where you can see them the best
  4. Bring anything with you that keeps you warm (tea, coffee, hot chocolate)
  5. Bring your smartphone or camera with you 
  6. Be patient, enjoy the view into the sky and have a bit of luck!

Happy travels!
// Maria