Kiruna

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Kiruna, Sami language Giron, in Norrbotten County, is the northernmost and one of the most unusual towns in Sweden and with its 18,000 inhabitants, the largest town in Swedish Lapland.

Understand[edit]

View over Kiruna

Kiruna houses the largest underground mine (iron ore) in the world and is also known for the space research, the Sámi culture, the long winters, the modern town planning, the beautiful church and town hall, the Ice Hotel and the easy access to the wilderness and adventure of northern Lapland, including Sweden's highest mountain, Kebnekaise.

At N67°49'48'' latitude, Kiruna is located about 145 km north of the Arctic Circle, making it possible to experience the midnight sun and polar night there. This means that the sun shine 24 hours a day between roughly the last week of May until the middle of July. From the first week of December until the second week of January, the sun never rises above Kiruna's horizon.

Kiruna used to be called "the world's largest city"; the Kiruna municipality, Kiruna kommun, includes several small villages and settlements scattered around a rather large wilderness area, approximately the size of Slovenia. Among the most visited are Jukkasjärvi, Abisko, Karesuando and Vittangi.

It is a mining town, with much of the mine reaching under the current city center. To prevent a future scenario for the town collapsing down in the earth, new houses are built on the outskirts with safer ground - the town is "moving".

Get in[edit]

By plane[edit]

SAS [1] has direct flights to Kiruna (also via Umeå) from Stockholm Arlanda. Especially students and youths (under the age of 26) can find cheap tickets with SAS. Barents AirLink (Nordkalottflyg) [2] has flights from Luleå.

The small airport is located a few kilometers outside the city centre, and unfortunately the connections are kind of bad during off-season where the airport bus is only going at weekdays and not very often [3]. In the evening or on weekends a taxi (should be pre-ordered, otherwise very long waiting time) or pre ordered coach is pretty much the only way to get anywhere (or hitchhiking), but that can be very expensive. During high season there is usually no problems since an airport bus is available then.

By train[edit]

SJ [4] operates two daily night trains, from Gothenburg and Stockholm continuing north along the eastern parts of Sweden passing cities like Uppsala, Gävle and Boden where sometimes a change of trains are required to get to Kiruna (otherwise you'll end up in Luleå). The travel time from Stockholm is about 17 hours. Some trains continue to Narvik.

Two types of sleeping cars are available, liggvagn with six seats/beds in each compartment and the slightly more expensive sovvagn with 2-3 (softer) beds. Cheapskates might try out sittvagn, but 17 hours in a seat is not a pleasant experience. An onboard restaurant serves dinner and breakfast, it also doubles as a bar during the evening. However prices are high. Bringing your own food is allowed, but consuming alcohol is not (although the enforcement is quite lax).

Due to the destruction of the town centre by spreading of mining areas, the train station in Kiruna moved in September 2013 and is no longer located in the city centre, but several kilometres away. Shuttle buses are available to and from the bus station, with times advertised at the bus station, on the train station, and on the muncipal website. The bus station, however, is located very close to the town centre.

By bus[edit]

Long distance buses serve towns and cities in Norrbotten County, such as Luleå, Gällivare, Jokkmokk, Haparanda, etc. [5]

By car[edit]

See also: Driving in Sweden

It is by all means possible to rent a car and drive to Kiruna, but keep in mind that it is very far away from all other major cities, the roads are quite narrow and a little bit too often not in a good shape. Speed limits are low and speeding tickets high. Not totally without a reason, due to weather conditions and the frequency of wildlife such as hares, reindeer and moose on the road, can make the trip a little bit more interesting than bargained for.

The hazards of driving a car in the north during the winter when a car breakdown in the middle of nowhere actually can be life-threatening due to the cold should not be underestimated. The cellphone coverage can be quite sparse so warm blankets, extra clothes etc. should always be stored in the car during winter for emergencies. The road distances from Kiruna are: Gällivare (closest city) 115 km, Luleå 344 km, Umeå 600 km, Stockholm 1240 km.

Get around[edit]

See[edit]

Kiruna kyrka (Kiruna Church).
At the Esrange rocket-facility
Icehotel (Jukkasjärvi)

The Northern Lights are occasionally visible in Kiruna.

In Kiruna City[edit]

  • Hjalmar LundbohmsgårdenIngenjörsgatan 2 +46 980-701 10. Hjalmar Lundbohm was the first manager for the mining company LKAB that is the reason why the city of Kiruna was built in the first place. This museum located in his old office and home is dedicated to the early days of Kiruna and the startup of LKAB and the building of the rail road Kiruna-Narvik. 30 SEK.
  • Kiruna kyrka (Kiruna Church). Open daily 11:00–15:45. Kiruna Kyrka is a is one of Sweden's largest wooden buildings and is famous for its special tent like structure. It was built 1907-1912 by architect Gustaf Wickman and was voted Sweden's best looking church and the foremost Swedish pre-1950 construction. Free entry..
  • Kiruna stadshus (The City Hall). Open daily. Stadshuset is another landmark of Kiruna, it houses the local government and often hosts various exhibitions. It also has a small but quite well renowned art collection of famous Swedish old artists. Free entry.

Jukkasjärvi[edit]

Main article: Jukkasjärvi
  • Jukkasjärvi kyrka (Jukkasjärvi Church). Open daily. One of Sweden's oldest intact wooden buildings, it's oldest part dates back from 1607. The church and famous for its altar painting and exquisite handcrafted organ. Free entry.
  • ICEHOTEL (Ishotellet). During winters this is the world famous and original Icehotel. During the days 10-18 it functions as a museum and everyone can visit this very special place, and see the ice and snow sculptures first hand. After 18 it is only open for the guests that actually will spend a night in one of the many snow rooms. During Summers there is an ice exhibition in a large freeze house. However this exhibition is not open every year. In summer 2008 will be no exhibition.

Do[edit]

There are many things to do around the Kiruna area if you like outdoor activities and wilderness adventures. Many companies offer the same or very similar packages, here a list of popular and common activities can be found, sorted by season. There is also some other activities available. You should be aware of that pollution of the wilderness (and the city) is not liked, it's even illegal in Sweden to do so. So be sure to not leave trash behind you in the fells etc. It also keeps the environment in its best condition.

This section is under construction, as all the other.

All year[edit]

  • The nearby space-facility Esrange offers guided tours.
  • Take a tour to the mine - Infomine
  • Cinema
  • Dancing
  • Bowling
  • Gym
  • Swimming
  • Wilderness Safaris
  • Eat

Winter[edit]

  • Nordic light tours
  • Snow mobile excursions
  • Dog sled tour
  • Cross country skiing
  • Downhill Skiing
  • Ice-fishing

Summer[edit]

  • Hiking
  • River rafting
  • Kayaking
  • Fishing
  • Orienteering
  • Golf
  • Hunting
  • Gold digging
  • Waterpark

Special Events[edit]

There are certain dates when special things happen in Kiruna:


  • Arctic Light Film Festival (commonly: Filmfestivalen)
  • the winter market
  • the Kiruna festival (Kirunafestivalen)
  • the summer market in Jukkasjärvi
  • the autumn market

Eat[edit]

Don't miss any of the local specialities consisting of various forms of reindeer meat that can be found in almost any diner; there is everything from simple reindeer kebab, and sandwiches with reindeer meat to luxurious reindeer dishes at the fanciest restaurants. Also salmon, moose, other fish and animals "from the wild" can be seen as specialities.

Sleep[edit]

Kiruna offers many opportunities for a good nights sleep despite it's small size.

Budget[edit]

  • Camp Alta. Self catering cottages, Sauna, Hot tub, Activities

Mid-range[edit]

Splurge[edit]

  • ICEHOTEL (Ishotellet), Marknadsvägen 63 (In Jukkasjärvi, take bus #501 or drive on E10, then road 875),  +46 980-66 800, e-mail: . Ever wanted to sleep in a hotel made of ice? Icehotel in Jukkasjärvi, 32km east from Kiruna, was first with the concept and is world famous. Ordinary rooms are also avalible year round. Prices for ice rooms starts at 2150 SEK/night. 'Warm' rooms are cheaper, from 1450 SEK/night.

Buy[edit]

  • ICA Supermarket - at the corner of "Föreningsgatan" and "Seger Svanbergsgatan", open mon-fri till 7pm, sat-sun till 2pm
  • Coop supermarket - at the corner of "Hjalmar Lundbohmsvägen" and "Trädgårdsgatan", open mon-sun till 10pm
  • Several gas stations with long opening hours

Nightlife[edit]

Ok lets face it, the night-life in Kiruna is hardly award-winning in any way. This is a rather small city and does not offer great variety. The crowds going out are most often the same people from time to time, and the chances are quite high that most locals going out already know each other, if not as friends then at least by name and/or rumour. This is both a blessing and a curse, depending on circumstances. People tend to drink quite heavily and some are reluctant to talk to strangers, but some would love to, don't give up! However this does not mean that going out in Kiruna is not fun. Sure after a few times it starts to feel a bit repetitive (which might not always be bad) but going out a night or two can often be quite fun, just don't expect too much, take it as it is, ignore things that bother you and enjoy the night!

The most popular place is currently the nightclub at hotel Ferrum mostly at room 208, which usually has an age restriction of 23. Babylon (formerly known as Arran) is for the younger crowd and thus often a little bit noisier. From time to time they have 30++ nights also. The two central bars O'learys and Caffreys can offer less crowd and a good enough environment for a beer or two after a long day. Friday and Saturday are the main days for going out, but Wednesdays ("little Saturday") can sometimes get lively as well.

Go next[edit]

In the mountainous areas to the west of Kiruna are several national parks e.g. Abisko. The railway to the port town of Narvik in Norway offers excellent views year-round.

  • Space – Virgin Galactic has plans to build a Spaceport here, offering sub-orbital flights.
Routes through Kiruna
NarvikAbisko  W Tabliczka E10.svg E  GällivareLuleå


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