For most of the year, snow covers the ground in Luleå. From November to April, it is almost always winter. That’s good news for us who live here by the coast of the Gulf of Bothnia, a short distance south of the Arctic Circle. Because if there’s something we really like in Luleå, it’s winter sports.
Luleå is the hub for sports in northern Sweden and one of the most successful sports cities in the Nordics. Ice hockey is a big part of our culture and Luleå Hockey, both the men’s and women’s teams, are incredibly popular among the citizens of Luleå and large parts of Swedish Lapland. A derby against local rivals Skellefteå AIK, Luleå’s mortal enemies on the ice, is an absolute must if you’re a sports fan. The ice hockey arena lies a couple of hundred metres from the city centre and close to most hotels in the city.
If you would like to indulge in winter sports, there is a wealth of options. The snow and ice that covers Luleå and the archipelago throughout most of the year makes a perfect playground for all who like winter sports. The Gulf of Bothnia freezes over because of the brackish water that is neither salty nor fresh.
The river water that runs out into the gulf is responsible for this phenomenon and it makes the archipelago of the Gulf of Bothnia unique. In winter, it turns into a giant playground for winter activities and Luleå is the natural place to start your adventures.
Much of it of course revolves around Luleå’s ice track, the amazing ice skating track that is Luleå’s number one winter destination. Here, you can see Dutch elite skaters trying to set world records, side by side with mums bringing their prams onto the ice for a refreshing walk. The ice track is for everyone and what mode of transportation you choose is up to you. At Luleå’s South Harbour you can borrow a kick sled, if ice skating is not your cup of tea.
Another mode of transportation entrenched in our culture is skiing. Skis are selected to match needs and type of terrain – but the two most common types are alpine skis and cross-country skis.
Conditions for cross-country skiing are optimal in Luleå. A stone’s throw from the city, you will find our cross-country paradise Ormberget where there are more than 30 kilometres of ski trails, suitable for leisure skiers and professionals alike. Cross-country skis are also recommended if you would like to experience the archipelago in early spring, when the snow crust has set on the ice and the sun shines down on the small cottages out in the archipelago. The experience of having a coffee there, sheltered from the wind and with sunshine on your face – is hard to beat.
Several companies also offer rental of snow shoes and fatbikes, bicycles with extremely wide tyres – and they are happy to guide you through Luleå’s vast island landscapes.
If adrenaline is your thing, then we would suggest a day trip to the Måttsundsbacken slope, about 20 km south of Luleå. It’s the slope of choice amongst the locals when they want to feel the rush of going downhill and the wind against their face.
In Luleå, there are also several companies offering dogsled tours. If you book some time in advance, you can even get a dogsled transfer from Luleå Airport to your accommodation.
Booking a dogsled tour is one of the most popular activities in all of Swedish Lapland and Luleå is no exception. It is a perfect way to experience the outdoors and to get your adrenaline pumping.
As you can see, we really make the most of our winters. Here, we long for the snow, as we need it for all the exhilarating activities that are part of our Northern lifestyle.