Here's a list of things that you shouldn't miss out on when you visit Luleå in the winter.
1. The Gammelstad Church Town World Heritage Site
The Gammelstad Church Town is an epic piece of living history, showing what life was like in the Luleå region 400 years ago. The small, red church cottages and the large medieval church at the heart of the old town constitute a unique environment that you simply have to visit. And don’t just take our word for it – in 1996, UNESCO decided to list Gammelstad Church Town as a World Heritage Site, because of its cultural and historical significance. If that is not a good enough argument to persuade you to visit, we don’t know what would be.
2. The Ice Track
A 17 kilometre ice track surrounds central Luleå, it is publicly accessible, free of charge. Here, you can go for a pleasant walk, go ice skating, or if you so wish, walk your dog. The ice track is the longest of its kind and it is internationally renowned for its high quality. In 2017, an ice skating event, part of the Dutch long distance skating cup KPN Grand Prix, one of the world’s largest ice skating cups, was carried out onto the ice track, to the delight of organisers and spectators alike.
3. Dogsledding in a magnificent natural environment
Because of Luleå’s location in Arctic Europe, we have learned to master winter. We have a number of ingenious ways of keeping warm, having fun and transporting ourselves swiftly across ice and snow. A clear favourite when it comes to transportation is dogsledding. Stunningly scenic environments, adrenaline and beautiful animals – what more could you possibly ask for?
4. Hovercraft tours in the wintery archipelago
Luleå’s beautiful archipelago is home to 1,312 islands and visiting it is an absolute must, in winter as well as in summer. During the summer, it is easier to reach the archipelago by boat – when the ice sets on the sea it becomes more difficult, but also more fun. We suggest that you contact Brändön Lodge, offering hovercraft tours across the frozen sea. Take a trip out to the pack ice and watch the awe-inspiring phenomenon that creates large icebergs.
5. Ice breakers
Ice breakers play a natural part in logistics for the cities by the Gulf of Bothnia. In winter, the sea freezes over and other ships are dependent on the icebreakers to be able to keep operating. However, you can also go on an icebreaker tour yourself. Just one hour from central Luleå you will find two different companies offering icebreaker tours and sea bathing, amongst other things. A unique experience, not found in many other places in the world.
6. The northern lights
The northern lights do not show on request. You can’t book them, as you would a hovercraft tour or a concert. However, if you would like to increase your chances of seeing them, it’s a good idea to come to Luleå. Here you will find excellent conditions for seeing this natural spectacle, as our skies are often clear – and that, coupled with cold air and an unobstructed view northwards, will drastically increase your chances of spotting the northern lights. We suggest getting away from the artificial lights of the city to see them as clearly as possible.
7. Sweden’s northernmost cathedral
In the city centre – you should be able to see its spire wherever you turn – lies Luleå Cathedral. It is the northernmost cathedral in Sweden and the entire city has had to adapt to it, centering around its architecture and construction. The spire of the cathedral, towering over the nearby residential buildings, is a classic view emblematic of Luleå. The church is open all year round and you are warmly welcome inside.
8. Ice driving
“My goodness, they really go on and on about that ice” you might be thinking now. Yes, we do, but not without good reason. The frozen sea provides fantastic opportunities during a large part of the year. One being the ice roads that will take you out to the most popular island destinations in the archipelago. The roads, suitable for cars and even large lorries, are ploughed on thick ice and as long as they are kept open, there is no risk whatsoever that the ice will break. Rent a car and take a trip out to Jopikgården on the island of Hindersön. Have a waffle, sit back and relax. That’s what we call quality time.
Skiing can mean many different things. If you are looking for an adrenaline rush, alpine skiing might be the way to go. We have a number of slopes to meet your needs. If you would like to go both uphill and downhill, cross-country skiing is for you. With a pair of cross-country skis you can push yourself to the next level along the illuminated trails at Ormberget Mountain, or go exploring the countryside as the snow hardens in spring. Whatever you choose, there is something for you here in Luleå.
Snowmobiling is one of the favourite local pastimes here in Swedish Lapland. However, it’s not just a thrilling, high-speed experience with an amazingly powerful vehicle, it’s also a fantastically practical mode of transportation across ice and snow. On a snowmobile, you can discover even more of the beautiful natural environment in and around Luleå.