Kiruna, Sweden is a beautiful stop for visitors to the Arctic Circle. Here’s our guide to the northernmost city in Sweden, including what to do, see and taste while you’re there, how to get there and where to stay. If you’re thinking of heading further North, you can look at Svalbard, the northernmost settlement in the world.
To make things easy for you, everywhere mentioned in this post is ALREADY PINNED in the embedded Google Maps below!
Visiting Kiruna, Sweden
Kiruna, Sweden is one of the largest cities in the Arctic Circle. Kiruna is typically used as a stopover for guests headed to Abisko, Sweden to hunt the northern lights. Most visits to Kiruna are short, but a 5-day visit to Kiruna is highly recommended.
The city is home to about 20,000 people and has two primary industries: iron ore mining and tourism. Kiruna was founded to support one of the world’s largest iron ore mines. Funny enough, the mine is a blessing for the town but also its curse. Due to the mine’s size about half the city is at risk of caving into in the future. The mine is paying all the costs to move the town center and anyone at risk.
Getting to Kiruna, Sweden
The best way to get to Kiruna is either via rail or airplane. Both the rail station and airport are outside of town. The easiest and cheapest way to get into town is to take the bus. The bus operates from both the rail station and the airport; note that the bus only runs when a train or plane has arrived or is departing. It is possible to take the bus from Stockholm to Kiruna, but that would involve at least two different bus lines.
If you would like a taxi into the city, talk to your hotel and they can arrange it for you.
What to do in Kiruna in a day
To make things easy for you, everywhere mentioned in this post is ALREADY PINNED in the embedded Google Maps below, though everything is of course quite close together in the small area.
Tour LKAB Mine
The LKAB mine offers tours down into the mine several times a week. The tours last about two hours and take you to over 500 meters into the mine. There you learn about the mining process and the mine. It is the best way to learn about how and why they are moving the Kiruna City Center.
Snowmobile or dogsled tour
The wilderness of Swedish Lapland surrounds Kiruna. You can take a snowmobile or dogsled tour. Both tours start in Kiruna and can take you out into the wilderness of Lapland. The snow will swirl as you fly thru the landscape of Swedish Lapland.
Surprisingly, dogsledding isn’t native to Lapland. It is a North American and Russian tradition that is imported for tourists. As such I would instead do a snowmobile tour, plus you can drive the snowmobile yourself.
Tour the ICEHOTEL
Touring the ICEHOTEL is probably the number 1 thing to do in Kiruna. During the winter months, there is a hotel made entirely of ice. Construction starts in early November with the hotel opening in mid-December. Recently, the ICEHOTEL opened the ICEHOTEL 365 which is an engineering feat to provide ice rooms year-round. Each room is a work of art. They are designed by artists from around the world. The ICEHOTEL offers a guided and self-guided tours during the day. For an extra special visit, take a snowmobile tour to the ICEHOTEL.
Explore Sami Culture
Head over to the Nutti Sámi Siida – Reindeer Farm. Nutti is run by a local Sami Familly to teach people about the Sami Culture. They have built a mini Sami village for guests to explore how Sami lived in the past as well as explain the importance of the reindeer to the Sami way of life. The best part is getting to enter one of the reindeer paddocks and feed the reindeer or even go for a reindeer sled ride. The onsite café servers’ local dishes such as reindeer and arctic char. They also sell traditional handicraft.
Enjoy the spa at Aurora Spa
The Aurora Spa opens for a few hours every evening at Camp Ripan. The spa offers several traditional spa activities such as two saunas, an indoor heated pool and an outdoor hot tub. The best part is to be brave and go outside and sand in the snow for as long as you can stand it. Then come in and stick your feet back into the warm water. It makes for great fun to watch people try this traditional activity.
Skiing in Kiruna
Kiruna has a small ski resort that is great for someone looking to spend a few hours on the slopes. There are also cross-country skiing trails in the wilderness surround Kiruna.
Winter wildlife safari
Winter brings much of the wildlife down from the mountains into the lowland areas surrounding Kiruna. It is the best time of the year to see moose and reindeer. Although, the reindeer are only semi-wild. They have their regular migrations from the mountains to the lowlands, but all reindeer are owned by the Sami. The moose are sometimes called elk by the Swedes. There are also a surprising number of birds that will spend all winter in the Arctic Circle.
What to taste in Kiruna in a day
I would make it a point to try three dishes when in Kiruna. The first is warm lingonberry juice. Lingonberry juice is similar to cranberries, but better and doesn’t have as much added sugar. All the tours will serve the drink to help you warm up.
The best place to try reindeer is the Sami Café at the reindeer farm. They will grill some reindeer up over an open fire and then serve it with bread and lingonberry jam. Reindeer can also be found in jerky form (yummy) as well.
Several of the local restaurants serve moose (it might be called elk on the menu). It can come grilled or baked with some veggies.
If you are looking for a fantastic beer selection, check out SPiS Hotel’s restaurant. The food there incorporates local flavors with a sophisticated style. They also have the best desserts (try the cloudberry focused dessert!).
Where to stay in Kiruna
SPiS Hotel and Hostel
SPiS Hotel and Hostel is located in the center of Kiruna. The rooms are simple, but they come with amazing photos on a feature wall. Here is a detailed review of SPiS Hotel.
The ICEHOTEL is located outside of Kiruna but how many places can you stay on a big block of ice. Click here to check the best rates and availability for ICEHOTEL.
Other options to stay in Kiruna:
- AirBnb: Kiruna has a surprising amount of AirBnb options for the city size! Save $40 on your first booking with this link.
- Booking: There are plenty of options on Booking; save $20 on your first booking with this link.
Kiruna day tours
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