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Visiting Kiruna In Winter? 21 EPIC Things To Do In Kiruna In Winter

Will you be heading to Kiruna in Sweden this winter? Then read here what you absolutely should not miss in Kiruna during the winter.

Kiruna is located in the heart of Swedish Lapland. In winter you are here in a fairytale landscape where you expect to bump into Santa Claus every minute.

There are thick packs of snow that crunch blissfully under your feet during a winter morning walk and the trees are all nicely wrapped with a beautiful white blanket.

Sounds fantastic right? However, that’s just the beginning.

What makes a trip to Kiruna during the winter really incredible are the activities you can do there. A dog sled trip, seeing the northern lights, or a ride on a snowmobile, ….. 1 for 1 experiences that you will talk about for a long time to come.

Read here what you absolutely must not miss during a holiday in Kiruna in winter.

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Best Things To Do In Kiruna In Winter

Here’s our selection of the most amazing Kiruna winter activities.

Visiting the ice hotel is a must while being in Kiruna in winter
An ice sculpture in one of the rooms of the ice hotel

Visit The Ice Hotel In Swedish Lapland

Each year from the moment the Jukkasjärvi river freezes over, the owners of the ice hotel start with the construction of a new edition with a lot of grandeur. Every year they try to outdo the previous year’s hotel.

Artists from all over the world are invited to make ice sculptures and all rooms and public areas are lavishly decorated.

The artists give each room a unique interpretation, so no 2 rooms are the same.

Highlights

The beautiful ice sculptures in the rooms.

What You Need To Know

The ice hotel is a real hotel where you can stay overnight, but you can also view all the rooms as a visitor.

Dress warmly because it is obviously quite cold in the hotel. After you have visited all the beautiful rooms, you can warm up with a drink at the ice bar.

What Others Are Saying

Everyone agrees that the ice hotel is a fantastic experience. Only the beautiful ice sculptures make a visit to the ice hotel worthwhile.

They offer both cold as well as warm rooms. The cold rooms are those in the ice hotel itself.

So-called warm rooms are regular hotel rooms in a separate building. Staying in one of those is of course not nearly as unique.

The cold rooms are however not ideal for multi-day stays. If you’re looking for a multi-day stay you may want to book a warm room for the extra days.

Check prices and availability:
Booking.com

Address

Marknadsvägen 63, 981 91 Jukkasjärvi, Sweden

The entrance of the Sami village in Kiruna
The entrance of the Sami village

Visit The Sami Village – Nutti Sámi Siida

The Sami still have a special status in Lapland.

Despite the fact that some now have normal jobs, there are still many who are engaged in traditional activities such as reindeer breeding.

Did you know that this is a protected activity that can only be done by the Sami?

If you want to learn more about the original inhabitants of Lapland, a visit to this Sami village is recommended.

You will learn about their culture, their unique religion, and of course, you will also encounter reindeer.

Highlights

You will learn all kinds of things about the Sami that are sure to surprise you.

What You Need To Know

This Sámi museum is within walking distance of the ice hotel. You can also come here for a traditional lunch of reindeer or fish.

What Others Are Saying

The cafe/restaurant is a cozy place to have lunch and children find it a lot of fun to feed the reindeer.

Address

Marknadsvägen 2, 981 91 Jukkasjärvi, Sweden

Your personal driver is waiting

The ultimate Christmas feeling: go for a ride in a reindeer sleigh

If the snowy landscape makes you dream of a white Christmas, a sleigh ride with a reindeer is the icing on the cake. Here you can really feel like Santa Claus as you whiz through the trees with your sleigh.

The excursion is offered by Sami and during this tour, you will also learn a lot about their way of life. It is highly recommended!

Highlights

The Sami are a fairly closed ethnic minority and this tour is a unique opportunity to spend a day among them.

You go to a real Sami village and as you spend some hours among them you get a good feeling of their day-to-day activities.

Of course, the reindeer sleigh ride itself is also a unique experience.

What You Need To Know

There are few tours like this one and it is only offered on select days in small groups.

This makes availability rare. To avoid disappointment it’s best to book well in advance.

What Others Are Saying

Feeding the reindeer and the sleigh ride are loads of fun.

The tour is done with a small group and the Sami are very friendly and welcoming.

They tell endlessly and with great passion about their way of life.

Check prices and availability:
Reindeer herder tour

Seeing the northern lights is a must-do in Kiruna in the winter
The Northern Light spectacle above our lodge, Camp Alta Kiruna

Admire The Northern Lights

This will probably top many travelers’ bucket lists when they go to Lapland. The Northern Lights are indeed something magical.

In the Sami religion, it is still attributed to the gods and now that we have seen it ourselves I believe that without a scientific explanation you do not know what is going on above your head.

The dancing green shadows are an impressive sight. Knowing the scientific explanation we truly enjoyed the spectacle but I can understand how it can be terrifying if you’re unaware of their origin.

Highlights

Seeing the Northern Lights is a truly unique experience.

What You Need To Know

There are many cloudy days during the winter in Lapland but even on clear days, the Northern Lights are not always visible.

This is related to solar activity, the more active the sun has been the easier it is to see the Northern Lights.

You have the best chance of seeing it at a place with little light pollution because then you might already see the green wisps dancing through the air on days with little activity.

The more light pollution there is, the more active the Northern Lights must become to be visible.

If you stay in a lodge in the middle of nature, you can probably see it from the lodge.

If you’re staying in Kiruna, or on the outskirts of town, it’s best to drive a little further from town to increase your chances.

If you don’t have a rental car, you can book a tour.

These tours will take you to a beautiful remote place, very often a lakeshore, from where you should be able to see the magical spectacle.

In addition, a tour also provides a place to warm up and some snacks and drinks.

Do you want beautiful pictures of the Northern Lights but don’t know how? Then you can book a photo tour. You will then receive a camera with all the correct settings. Here you can read our in-depth review.

The only thing you need to bring yourself is an SD card to take your lifetime memories home.

What Others Are Saying

Nobody can guarantee that you will see the Northern Lights, not even the best tour, but all people that have been on a tour are enthusiastic about their experience.

Check prices and availability:

Northern Lights tour

Photography tour (from Abisko)

For a complete post about seeing the Northern Lights in Kiruna, click here. For an overview or more Kiruna Northern Lights tour, click here.

Hiking around an across the frozen lakes is a great thing to do in Kiruna in the winter
In winter you can hike across the frozen lakes

Enjoy Great Winter Hikes

The beautiful landscape of Kiruna invites you to take some nice winter walks.

A must-do hike is the Midnight Sun Trail.

It starts at Camp Ripan and winds around the cross-country trails before making its way up the mountain.

You have beautiful 360-degree views along the way.

Once you start the descent at the other side of the mountain you can watch the local skiers perform their tricks on the jumps of the Luossabacken ski area.

From this side of the mountain, you also have a beautiful view of the city.

Highlights

The awe-inspiring 360-degree views from the top of the mountain.

What You Need To Know

The trail is about 7 kilometers. Be sure to dress warmly, preferably in layers. There is often a cold wind at the top of the mountain.

Snowshoes are a must for this hike.

While the trail is usually groomed for the first kilometers it is not groomed completely.

When you get higher up the mountain you will get knee-deep in the snow without snowshoes.

What Others Are Saying

The midnight sun trail gets its name because this walk leads past fantastic viewpoints to enjoy this natural phenomenon.

Hikers do however agree that the hike is worth doing during all seasons.

People speak of vistas that will stay with you for the rest of your life.

Address

The trail starts right next to Camp Ripan: Campingvägen 5, 981 35 Kiruna, Sweden

Riding a dog sled is a great thing to do in Kiruna in the winter
These beautiful huskies gave us the tour of our lives

Ride Your Own Dog Sled

This was the absolute highlight of our trip.

If you experience the enthusiasm from these huskie dogs, you can’t help but put a smile on your face.

As soon as the dogs notice that they are going to go for a ride, they start jumping and barking. You can tell that they look forward to the excursion as much as you do.

You can choose to come along as a passenger, but there are also tours where you can drive your own dog sled.

We went as a passenger a few years ago in Banff (Canada) and found it disappointing, therefore this time we opted for a tour where we would be the drivers.

The difference is huge and it makes the experience much more fun. We definitely recommend going as a driver.

Highlights

It gives an incredible thrill to explore the snowy landscape with a dog sled.

What You Need To Know

No real steering skills are required to drive your own dog sled.

In the corners, you have to slightly lean into the corner and the sled is equipped with two brakes that you will have to use if you go too fast or get too close to the person in front of you.

There may be some uphill sections where you need to help the dogs a little although my pack never had any problems going uphill.

Instead, I needed to brake because I always caught up with the person in front of me.

Your tour guide will demonstrate everything before you head off to explore the polar landscape with your dogs.

Many tours will only allow you to go as a passenger, so be sure to book enough in advance not to miss this wonderful experience.

We did this tour in Abisko. Here you can read our complete review of our dog sledding tour in Abisko.

Below we share a well-rated tour from Kiruna and the one we did in Abisko that we can absolutely recommend.

What Others Are Saying

We still speak in superlatives about our experience and in the reviews, you also only read positive reactions.

Everyone agrees that it is a unique experience to explore this beautiful landscape with these adorable dogs.

Check prices and availability:

Dog sled tour Kiruna

Dog sled tour Abisko

If you want something even more special, you could also opt for an overnight dog sledding tour.

You will be driving your own dog sled, enjoy a 3-course meal and spend the night in a winter cabin. If you are lucky, you might even spot the Northern Lights. This sounds like an unforgettable experience and is still on our bucket list.

Check prices and availability:
Overnight Dog Sledding Tour

Skiing in Luossabacken

Go Skiing

Swedish Lapland is largely flat, but that doesn’t stop the Swedes from going skiing.

The few mountains that exist are equipped with ski lifts and ski slopes.

The ski areas are small compared to those in the Alps, but certainly large enough for a day of skiing fun during your trip.

The ski area of Luossabacken is adjacent to Kiruna, you can see the mountain from all over the city.

Here are 4 ski slopes and both chair and drag lifts.

Further up north is Abisko where there is also 1 slope and many opportunities for off-piste skiing.

Another 10 minutes further north is the ski area of Björkliden with 23 slopes and 5 lifts.

However, the Swedes themselves love Riksgränsen the most. Riksgränsen borders Norway in the far north.

You can usually enjoy skiing here until midsummer (24 June).

With 5 lifts and 17 slopes, this is also the largest ski resort in Sweden.

Highlights

The ski areas might be small but the snow conditions are usually superb and better than those in the Alps.

If you live skiing you should reserve a day in your itinerary to hit the slopes.

What You Need To Know

You will be able to rent your equipment at most lodges. The ski pass will be 40€ -45€/day.

The snowmobile is a common mode of transport in Swedish Lapland

Take A Snowmobile For A Spin

Residents of Kiruna and Abisko hop on their snowmobiles to go grocery shopping but most of us don’t often have the opportunity to ride on these cool machines.

Snowmobiling has fans and foes.

While some think it’s the ultimate way to explore nature others find it loud and they say that they can’t find peace in nature with the roaring engines and smell of exhaust fumes.

One thing is certain though, residents of Lapland love their ski-doos and you will see plenty of them during your stay, including special traffic signs that warn you about crossing snowmobiles.

It makes Kiruna the place for that once-in-a-lifetime experience of riding a snowmobile.

Riding a snowmobile takes some getting used to but as long as you stay on groomed trails it’s not all that hard and enjoyable, even for those without any previous experience.

On these excursions, you ride in a column behind a guide.

Of course, you don’t stay on the normal roads but follow special snowmobile trails that lead you between the beautiful snow-covered trees.

Highlights

For many of us, this may be a unique opportunity to ride a snowmobile, certainly in such a stunning decor like Swedish Lapland.

What You Need To Know

Your guide will start by explaining everything you need to know about the snowmobile.

A driving license is required to ride the snowmobile. If you don’t have one you can still join the tour as a passenger.

What Others Are Saying

Everything about this tour is top-notch, the guide, the snowmobile, as well as the decor.

Check prices and availability:
Snowmobile tour

One of the ice sculptures of the snow festival

Attend The Kiruna Snow Festival

The first edition of the Kirinu Snow Festival took place in 1986. Since then not a year has passed without a festival.

The annual snow festival has been organized in Kiruna since 1986.

It is a festival like no other with well-known activities on the agenda, such as ice skating and dog sledding, but also lesser-known competitions such as the World Snowblower Championship.

The participants have to get through a 20-meter-long pack of snow with their snow blower as quickly as possible.

If you want to experience the festival, you have to be in Kiruna during the last weekend of January.

Even if you can’t be there during that period, you can still enjoy part of what is described as the coziest festival in the snow.

After all, the main event of the festival is the ice sculpture competition with participants from all over the world.

The works of art remain on display until the sun melts them away in the summer.

Highlights

The festival is fun to attend and the ice sculptures are certainly worth making a small detour for.

What You Need To Know

You can see the ice sculptures for free in the Snow Festival Park.

Address

This is located at the intersection of the Hjalmar Lundbohmsvägen and the Gruvvägen, within walking distance of the center of Kiruna.

A face mask is included in the spa entrance

Relax In The Spa

Winters can be cold in Kiruna. Even though there are enjoyable sunny days, sometimes there are also days with cold and gusty winds.

If you have been out for several hours during such a day you will long for a place to warm up again.

Hot chocolate can do the job but it is even better to indulge in the Swedish tradition of relaxing in the sauna. Several hotels in Kiruna have a sauna.

If you want a more extensive sauna experience, you can go to Camp Ripan.

The Aurora Spa at Camp Ripan has 2 saunas and a steam bath.

There’s also a hot outdoor pool where you can gaze at the stars.

With a bit of luck, you might even see the Northern Lights.

Highlights

All sauna visitors at Camp Ripan receive a welcome basket containing products for a face mask, scrub, and foot bath.

What You Need To Know

The Aurora Spa is part of the Camp Ripan hotel but is not included with your hotel stay.

Also non-guests can use the Spa facilities.

It is advised to make advance reservations because the spa is small and only allows a limited number of guests.

We should add that chances of seeing the Northern Lights from the outdoor pool are rather small because the hotel is situated close to the center of Kiruna.

In Swedish culture, the sauna is usually enjoyed naked.

This is not the case at the Aurora Spa but if you’re planning on hitting the sauna somewhere else it is a good idea to inform in advance about the dress policy.

Address

Campingvägen 5, 981 35 Kiruna, Sweden

Visiting the LKAB mine is one of the things you can do in Kiruna
One of the trains in the imposing LKAB mine

Visit The LKAB Mine

LKAB is the largest employer in Kiruna and the wider area. It is a giant iron ore mine that supplies most European countries.

Spending a half-day in dark underground tunnels might be the last thing you want to do once you have seen the spectacular landscape of Swedish Lapland.

That’s understandable, but we guarantee you won’t be disappointed.

During the visit, we went from one surprise to another.

Initially, this was about the huge tunnel network and the size of the tunnels that can be used by buses, trucks, and huge excavators. Then, during the tour, we were amazed at the technological ingenuity of the operation of this mine.

Highlights

You can’t help but be impressed by this mining complex and its modern way of working.

What You Need To Know

Tickets for the visit can be purchased online in advance.

The tours depart from the Kiruna Visitor Center on the Välnortstorget.

There is ample parking space at this square. You do need to use a parking disc. We forgot this and found a fine of €50 when we returned from the tour.

Address

This is the address of the visitor center (which doubles as the Kiruna tourist office). From here the bus leaves for the mine.

Lars Janssonsgatan 17, 981 31 Kiruna, Sweden

Moose spotting in Kiruna
A moose spotted along the road to Nikkaluokta

Go Moose Spotting

Swedish Lapland is a good place to spot moose.

The animals manage to move gracefully through the snowy landscape despite their massive size. Sometimes they venture close to the roads.

The chance of spotting moose along the E10 is small.

This is a relatively busy road and it is not recommended to stop along this road. (except in the designated parking spaces)

Don’t worry, just south of Kiruna a road leaves for Nikkaluokta, a tiny Sami village. This is a quiet road with many opportunities to see these impressive animals.

Do not drive too fast and keep a close eye on both sides of the road. It is amazing how well these large animals can hide once they are among the trees.

Highlights

We’re animal lovers so we can’t get enough of spotting wildlife.

That being said, I think everybody will love seeing these beautiful animals.

What You Need To Know

Would you rather be a full-time spotter instead of a driver or do you not have a car?

In that case, you can also book a wildlife safari.

There are many snowshoe trails near Kiruna

Venture Out On A Snowshoe Hike

You haven’t truly been to Swedish Lapland if you haven’t at least once put on those goofy-looking snowshoes.

Walking with such large shoes may feel a bit strange, but you will find that these shoes really come in handy on the less trodden paths.

It is not necessary to have your own snowshoes, you can rent them on site.

While you can hike the popular trails it is best to book a tour with a guide because they take you to places you would not otherwise go.

The tour below goes to Kurravaara, near the Torne River.

The guide will help you spot tracks of lynx, wolverines, foxes, and other animals. And hopefully, you will see the animals for real.

You can do the tour during the day or also in the evening when you have a chance to see the beautiful northern lights.

What Others Are Saying

From the top of the hill, you have a nice view and the scenery of the walk is absolutely top.

Check prices and availability:
Snowshoe hike

Kiruna is great place for ice fishing
Waiting for the fish to bite

Go Ice-Fishing

The thick layers of ice have never stopped the local inhabitants of Lapland from fishing in the winter.

After all, winter also had its advantages, thanks to the ice, everyone, even those who do not have a boat, can catch fish from the middle of the lake or river.

These are the best locations with the most and the biggest fish.

If you want to experience what ice fishing is all about, then you can grab your chance in Swedish Lapland and book an ice fishing tour.

The guide will take you to a suitable location by snowmobile and provide all the necessary equipment, including some snacks and drinks to enjoy while you wait for the fish to bite.

What You Need To Know

During ice fishing, most of the time you sit still, waiting for the fish to bite. Therefore, be sure to dress warmly.

What Others Are Saying

This is a fun experience that is especially great if you can also see the northern lights.

Check prices and availability:
Ice fishing with Northern Lights

This cross-country skier climbs the Luossavaara, but there are also easier slopes

Glide Through The Snowy Landscape On Cross-Country Skis

You’ve been out already on your snowshoes, why not try something different and put on a pair of cross-country skis?

Lapland is a beautiful landscape to explore and there is a wide choice of cross-country trails, from easy loops to trails that wind endlessly through the trees.

Adventurers can even go on multi-day treks.

By the way, cross-country skiing is one of the favorite pastimes of the local residents.

The lack of mountains means that people reach for cross-country skis more often than for regular skis.

What You Need To Know

You can rent the equipment on site. Know that you can choose from two different types of skis.

The real cross-country skis are very narrow, but there are also versions for beginning cross-country skiers that are still slightly wider (but still narrower than the skis you use for skiing).

With your skis, you can go wherever you feel like. Still, I would recommend asking the rental shop for some suggestions.

There are both groomed and non-groomed trails.

In our experience, the groomed trails are slightly easier for absolute beginners.

Let me end by warning you that cross-country skiing is not as simple as it seems.

Despite our skiing experience we fell regularly and were left with some bruises from our trip.

Don’t let this stop you however, we still found it a fun experience and something you have to try at least once!

The artificial ice wall at Camp Ripan

Go Ice Climbing And Conquer An Icefall

If cross-country skiing and snowshoe hiking all sound too much day-to-day, then we have the ultimate adrenaline-pumping activity for you.

You head straight up the mountain armed with an ice pick and ice clamps.

No experience is required and it is good to know that the guide will explain the required technique beforehand.

He or she will also secure you so that you can safely tackle the ice wall.

What You Need To Know

There is an artificial ice wall at Camp Ripan where you can go ice climbing.

For the real thing, you need to head to Abisko where the ice climbing is done on a real frozen waterfall in the middle of an impressive gorge.

A short time-out to warm up

Indulge In The Swedish Tradition Of Fika

If you’ve just gone ice climbing for the first time, you’ve deserved a moment of rest. Then it’s time for Fika.

As the English are always up for a break during high tea, the Swedes know the Fika tradition.

A moment for a nice chat with something sweet and a kaffi (Swedish for coffee). Where the English swear by tea, the Swedes usually prefer coffee.

What You Need To Know

In the center of Kiruna, you will find Fika by Spis with an extensive selection of cakes and pastries. If you do not have a sweet tooth you can skip the pastries and have a sandwich instead.

Address

MESCHPLAN 1, 981 31 Kiruna, Sweden

Sledding near Camp Ripan

Go Sledding

Sledding is an ideal pastime between 2 tours or activities.

Near Camp Ripan you will find a very suitable slope.

If you stay with them you can also use the sleds from their shop for free.

The shop manager can also explain how to get to the slope. It’s about a 5-minute walk from the reception.

What You Need To Know

You will get a solid speed if you start at the very top of the slope.

Make sure you have good waterproof gloves and dress warmly, we got quite a bit of snow in our clothes.

The church is a must-see when in Kiruna
Kiruna’s church

Wander Through Kiruna’s City Center

Kiruna is a unique city, not least because the city is currently being moved.

The move is in full swing and today you can already see the new modern town hall in what will later become the new center.

Also, 1 of the protected old buildings has already been moved and for several others, relocations are being planned.

The reason for the move is the expansion of the LKAB mine.

This company reserves a sloppy 1.3 billion euros to be able to expand to the area where the town is currently situated.

During a walk through Kiruna, you will pass several charming houses waiting to be moved.

Be sure to make a small detour to include the Kiruna church.

This imposing wooden building is one of the largest in Sweden.

The architectural style is a tribute to the Sami and is a mix of the traditional Norwegian stave churches with the Sami huts.

Highlights

The church is impressive from the outside but also very beautiful from the inside.

What You Need To Know

Kiruna has grown thanks to the discovery of iron ore in the surrounding mountains.

If you want to know more about the rich and sometimes turbulent history of this city, you can book a tour with a guide.

The church currently stands in the old town and is expected to be moved in 2025 or 2026.

The entrance is free.

The Jokkmokk’s winter market (photo credits: Michael Renström)

Visit The Jokkmokks Winter Market

Kiruna celebrates the winter with a snow festival and Jokkmokk does this with the winter market.

The market takes place annually at the beginning of February.

At the time of writing, the 418th edition is already underway.

You will find hundreds of stands on the market and every year there are also numerous performances.

What You Need To Know

Jokkmokk is almost a 3-hour drive from Kiruna but if you are here during the festival period it is worth considering going to soak up the atmosphere.

The market annually attracts some 40,000 visitors.

Admission to the market is free, admission may be charged for some performances.

The Stejk food truck

Stop At Stejk Street Food For A Juicy Reindeer Meal

If you’re looking for a quick and tasty bite with the very best local meat, this is the place to be.

This simple food stall is selling a selection of reindeer and moose sandwiches. You can also opt for salads and burgers.

You can enjoy your food in the cozy tipi where you can warm up by the fireplace.

What You Need To Know

You can find this food truck at a gas station just outside the center of Kiruna.

There is a small parking lot with space for 3 or 4 cars.

What Others Are Saying

The owners of this food truck are very friendly, helpful, and funny. The food is very tasty and it is nice to have your meal in the Sami tent. A meal you will remember.

Address

Konduktörsgatan 22, 981 34 Kiruna, Sweden

Abisko is a great day trip from Kiruna
The Abisko canyon

Explore Abisko

Abisko is about 100 kilometers further north of Kiruna.

It is an hour’s drive along the E10.

The road is relatively busy as it is the only connection between the 2 cities. Yet this is a scenic route with many photo opportunities.

There is also much to experience in Abisko itself.

Here is an overview of the best things to do in Abisko.

Narvik
Narvik

Make a day trip to Narvik

Do you want to check off 2 countries in one go? That’s possible! Kiruna is located in the far Northern part of Sweden close to the border of Norway.

If you’ve checked everything you wanted to do in Kiruna off the list you can consider a day trip to Narvik, a quaint village in a scenic Norwegian fjord.

A trip to Narvik will first take you through the beautiful Abisko National Park. As you get closer to the border you will see how the landscape starts changing. High mountains obstruct the distant views we were getting used to in Abisko.

Just before we arrive in Narvik we see the spectacular Hálogaland bridge.

Highlights

The landscape at Narvik is completely different from Kiruna. The town’s quaint center is worth exploring. You can see it from above by taking the cable car to the top of Mt. Narvikfjellet.

At the war museum, you can learn more about what happened at Narvik during World War II.

What You Need To Know

It’s a 2.5 hour drive from Kiruna to Narvik. There’s also a train between Kiruna and Narvik but the train schedule is not ideal for a day trip.

If you don’t have a car you can book a private tour with a guide.

Check prices and availability:
Private day-tour to Narvik

FAQs about Kiruna

Here are some frequently asked questions about Kiruna.

Is It Worth Going To Kiruna In Winter?

Absolutely! The beautiful winter landscape in combination with the unique activities will undoubtedly make for a trip that you will not soon forget.

We definitely want to go back again.

How Far North Is Kiruna?

Kiruna is located about 200 kilometers north of the Arctic Circle.

As a result, you experience the so-called polar nights during December, the phenomenon where it remains dark all day long.

During the summer, the reverse occurs.

There is a period when the sun does not dip below the horizon even at night. Locally this is known as the midnight sun.

The church of Jukkasjarvi

How To Get To Kiruna

Fly

There are no direct flights to Kiruna.

You can fly to Kiruna with a stopover in Stockholm or you can opt to just book a flight to Stockholm and continue from there by train or car.

The flight is the most chosen option, together with the train. There are several flights a day between Stockholm and Kiruna and they are usually on time.

Search here for flights to Stockholm or read our post with tips on how to use the flight aggregator sites to find the very best fares.

By Night Train

There is also a night train between the two cities.

The train ride normally takes about 15 hours. The trains are unfortunately not as reliable as the flights. We heard multiple stories of people being delayed several hours.

By Car

Finally, you can of course also go by car, although we would advise against that. If you drive non-stop the journey will also take about 15 hours, in line with the train journey.

Even though the roads are usually well maintained and cleared of snow, you have to keep in mind that the days up north are short in winter.

This means you will do a lot of driving in the dark, making the trek quite tiring.

Where To Stay In Kiruna


Where To Stay In Kiruna To See The Northern Lights


Being able to see the Northern Lights from your accommodation has many benefits, not least being able to quickly hop inside to warm up or go to the toilet.

After all, seeing the Northern Lights often means waiting patiently and watching the sky for several hours before going to sleep.

If you want to have a chance to see the northern lights from your accommodation, it is best to opt for a lodge a little outside Kiruna.

Kiruna may not be a big city, but the light pollution from the city means that you have significantly less chance of seeing the Northern Lights.

A place we warmly recommend is Camp Alta Kiruna. This lodge is located about 14 kilometers south of Kiruna in a beautiful wooded area on the edge of a lake.

You will find charming bungalows with shared facilities as well as single cottages with kitchens and bathrooms.

We saw the Northern Lights here on our second night.

Check prices and availability:
Booking.com

Our car after a cold night

How To Get Around In Kiruna

We almost always opt for a rental car because it gives you the absolute freedom to do what you want whenever you want.

We also rented a car in Kiruna and recommend that you do the same.

With a rental car you can go out on your own to spot the Northern Lights and you can also organize your own private wildlife safaris.

However, it is not strictly necessary.

Most tours provide a pick-up from your hotel and if you don’t have a rental car you can look for the Northern Lights and wildlife with an organized tour.

For small trips in and around Kiruna, you can use the bus or a taxi. Know that taxis are not cheap.

We heard from a couple that they had paid about €100 to take a taxi from the center of Kiruna to the ice hotel.

Check prices and availability:

Discover Cars Kiruna

Rental Cars Kiruna

Driving In Kiruna In Winter

All main roads in and around Kiruna are kept clear of snow. Several times a day you see the snowblower pass.

Winter tires are mandatory.

All rental cars will be equipped with winter tires and you will also get a winter set including a brush, ice scraper, and something you might not expect, a charging cable (I’m not sure if this comes with all cars but we got one).

The charging cable is to heat your car when it is parked.

It’s really only required when the temperatures drop deeply below freezing point but you’re off course free to use it on other days as well. It ensures that your car is pleasantly warm when you return.

You must be cautious when driving because even with winter tires the roads remain very slippery.

We slipped once ourselves, although without consequences, but it was still a bit of a shock.

You also have to watch out for crossing wildlife.

One day a moose jumped in front of us on the road to disappear a little further into the bushes.

It was a spectacular sight but imagine getting into a collision with such an imposing animal.

Here is a full post about driving in Sweden in winter.

Ready to hike the midnight sun trail
Make sure to pack enough warm clothes and dress in layers

What Winter Clothes To Pack

In winter it can be really cold in Lapland. It may snow and there may be a cold gusty wind.

You don’t have to go to Swedish Lapland for good weather, but luckily bad weather is no problem with the right clothing.

What should definitely not be missing in your suitcase is:

General Tips For Your Kiruna Trip

To conclude, here are some general tips.

The Northern Lights

Grab every chance you have to see the Northern Lights. Of the 10 days, we were in Kiruna and Abisko, at least 7 were with dense clouds.

So take advantage of it if it is not cloudy, you may not get such an opportunity again.

Book Hotels And Tours As Far In Advance As Possible

We were surprised by how quickly some hotels and tours sold out.

If there is something that you absolutely want to do, it is best to reserve it as soon as your plans are finalized. This is also true for hotel bookings.

We also recommend booking through Manawa and Viator.

Both tour operators have flexible booking options, you can cancel most tours for free if something still comes up.

We had booked a number of tours directly ourselves and had to change them due to an adjustment in our planning and this was very difficult.

So save yourself that stress and book as much as possible flexibly.

This also goes up for hotels. On Booking.com most hotels can be booked flexibly.

Always remember to check the booking conditions when you make a reservation.

The cancellation policy is often more strict when booking direct.

Conclusion

We enjoyed our winter trip to Swedish Lapland a full 200% and we hope that with our info we can also offer you an unforgettable trip.

As you can see there is more than enough to do in Kiruna for a well-filled week of endless snow fun.

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