Kiruna is known as "the world's largest city", covering a large wilderness area, approximately the size of Slovenia, stretching as far as 130 km north of the city. While most inhabitants live in Kiruna itself, the outskirts of the municipality contain many of Sweden's greatest natural wonders, as well as the Jukkasjärvi Ice Hotel.
- 1 Kiruna. Sweden's northernmost city (stad), with 18,000 citizens, built on top of an iron mine
- 2 Abisko and Björkliden. Abisko is the gateway to several national parks, at the Kungsleden trail. Björkliden is a resort village.
- 3 Jukkasjärvi. Famous for the Ice Hotel and the Esrange space port
- 4 Karesuando. Sweden's northernmost settlement of any size, with border crossing to Finland
- 5 Riksgränsen. Sweden's northernmost ski resort
- 6 Kebnekaise and Nikkaluokta. Kebnekaise is Sweden's tallest mountain
The Kiruna Municipality has been the home of the Sami people since time immemorial; while nominally part of Sweden since the 17th century, Swedish people were few, until 1900, when the city of Kiruna was founded on the iron mine.
The mine has become the largest underground mine in the world, and the municipality contains a space centre, the Ice Hotel and several wildlife resorts.
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; the sun shines 24 hours a day from 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 Airport has direct flights from Stockholm-Arlanda airport (SAS and Norwegian) and Umeå (SAS). It is a few kilometers east of Kiruna, and unfortunately the connections are kind of bad during off-season, when the airport bus is only going at weekdays and not very often.
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 (besides hitchhiking), but that can be very expensive. In high season, airport coaches are frequent.
Another option is to walk 1.2 km from the airport (there is only one road) until you reach the E10 highway, and take bus 501 from the stop located near the crossing. It runs many times during weekdays, a few times in the weekends. Hitchhiking is also easier from that spot than from the airport.
The outskirts of the municipality are near other airports. From Karesuando, the nearest airports are those of Enontekiö and Kittilä, Finland. From Riksgränsen, the nearest airport is Harstad airport, Norway.
- See also: Rail and bus travel in Sweden
SJ 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 is 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 relocation of Kiruna, the city has a temporary rail station in the north-western part of the city. Shuttle buses are available to and from the bus station, with times advertised at the bus station, on the train station, and on the municipal website [dead link]. The bus station, however, is located very close to the town centre.
Kiruna is on the E10, which is considered to be one of Sweden's most scenic roads.
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. Due to weather conditions and the frequency of wildlife such as hares, reindeer and moose on the road, the trip can be a bit more interesting than bargained for.
The hazards of driving a car in the north during the winter should not be underestimated. A breakdown in the middle of nowhere can be life-threatening due to the cold. The cellphone coverage can be quite sparse so warm blankets, extra clothes etc. for emergencies should always be stored in the car during winter. Use major roads where it is more easy to get help.
Kiruna and the other settlements are walkable; be sure to dress for the season.
Between these places, public transportation is very limited. In summer, driving is a practical way to get around. In the cold and dark winters, prefer to stay in one place, or to travel with a tourist group.
There are many hiking trails.
- Taxi Kiruna, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com.
- Kiruna buses (Lanstrafiken Norbotten), ☏ .
- Kallax flyg. A helicopter carrier.
Kiruna Municipality has many of Sweden's most spectacular sceneries. Many of them are visible from the E10 and the railway.
The Northern Lights are regularly visible in Kiruna during winter. A small walk into the nearest forest, so as to get rid of the city lights, notably improves the visibility.
- 1 Treriksröset. The tripoint of the borders to Norway and Finland is 10 km from Kilpisjärvi in Finland, reachable by car via Karesuando. Hiking trails lead there from Abisko via Norway, a trek of some 180 km. In winter there is also the Victorialeden snowmobile route via Karesuando to the tripoint.
In Kiruna City
- Main article: Kiruna
- 2 Hjalmar Lundbohmsgården, Ingenjörsgatan 2, ☏ . Hjalmar Lundbohm was the first manager for the mining company LKAB. His home is now a museum for the early days of Kiruna, when the mine and the railway were built. kr 30.
- 3 Kiruna kyrka (Kiruna Church). Daily 11:00–15:45. Kiruna Kyrka is one of Sweden's largest wooden buildings. The shape is inspired by a goahti ("kåta"), a Sami tent. Free.
- 4 Kiruna stadshus (The City Hall). Open daily. The city hall often hosts various exhibitions, and a small but quite well renowned art collection of famous Swedish artists. Free entry.
- Main article: Jukkasjärvi
- Jukkasjärvi kyrka (Jukkasjärvi Church). Open daily. One of Sweden's oldest intact wooden buildings, its oldest part dates back from 1607. The church and famous for its altar painting and exquisite handcrafted organ. Free.
- Icehotel (Ishotellet). During winters this is the world famous and original Icehotel. During the days 10:00–18:00 it functions as a museum and everyone can visit this very special place, and see the ice and snow sculptures first hand. After 18:00 it is only open for the guests that will spend a night in one of the many snow rooms. During most summers there is an ice exhibition in a large freeze house.
- 1 Esrange Space Center (20 km east from the village centre, signposted from E10), ☏ . Offers guided tours
- Esrange Space Center, 20 km from the village centre, 45 km from Kiruna
- 5 Pajtas-vaara/Tynnyrilaki - One of the more remote points on the world heritage listed Struve Geodetic Arc. From Karesuando, travel south along highway 99 following the border for about 30 km. At the southeastern end of lake Paittasjärvi (there's a hamlet by the same name at its western shore) a narrow unmarked unpaved road goes to the north along the eastern shore of the lake – it might be possible to drive along it. After about 3-4 km turn there's a junction where you should turn right, some 1.5 km later there's a smaller path to the right leading to Pajtasvaara hill (445 m ASL), also known as Tynnyrilaki. Tynnyrilaki means "barrel top" in Finnish and the name comes from the fact that Struve's team raised a rod at the measuring points with a barrel at the end, and this setup was visible from the next measuring points.
Kiruna Municipality is great for outdoor life, including hiking and winter sport. 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. Pollution of the wilderness (and the city) is not liked: it's illegal in Sweden to litter. Be sure to not leave trash behind you in the fells, etc. It also keeps the environment in its best condition.
Indoor activities such as bowling and pool swimming are available in Kiruna.
- The nearby space-facility Esrange offers guided tours.
- Take a tour to the mine - Infomine
- Wilderness Safaris
- Northern Lights tours. Alternatively to the paid tours, a short walk into the forest away from the city is enough to observe auroras without light pollution.
- Snow mobile excursions
- Dog sled tour
- Cross country skiing
- Downhill skiing at Luossabacken, the city's old abandoned mine. The slope is 30 minutes walking from the center, and local buses drop you 5 minutes away from it. Skiing is mostly free except for one of the lifts, and the ski equipment rental costs 200 kr per day.
- Abisko on the Malmbanan railway is in Abisko National Park, and is the trailhead to the Kungsleden trail and a stop on the Nordkalottleden trail
- Kebnekaise is the highest mountain in Sweden, 72 km west of Kiruna centre. It can be reached from Kebnekaise fjällstation, close to Nikkaluotka, some 65 km from Kiruna, and to the Kungsleden trail
- River rafting
- Gold digging
There are certain dates when special things happen in Kiruna:
- [dead link] Kiruna Snow Festival (Snöfestivalen): 22–26 January 2020 Kiruna. (date needs updating)
- Arctic Light Film Festival (commonly: Filmfestivalen)
- the winter market
- the Kiruna festival (Kirunafestivalen)
- the summer market in Jukkasjärvi
- the autumn market
- FjällRäven Classic: A 110-km hiking tour in the first and second week of August
Eat and drink
- See also: Nordic cuisine
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.
Due to long distances and lack of competition, fresh groceries tend to be more costly than in southern Sweden.
There are many opportunities for wilderness camping, by the right to access; it is however very challenging at winter. There are cabins along the hiking trails, with at least emergency rooms open off season.
- 1 Camp Alta, Jullebovägen 2 (along E10, 15 kilometres east of Kiruna), ☏ . Self-catering cottages, sauna, hot tub, activities
Most retailers are in Kiruna. The villages and resorts have some basic shopping.
Gällivare is the neighbouring municipality.
|Routes through Kiruna Municipality|
|Narvik ← Abisko ←||W E||→ Gällivare → Luleå|