Kiruna is no spring chicken. If you are looking for life in the archipelagos, painted, wooden horses from Dalarna or hot nightclubs, you have driven about 1000 kilometres too far. Here, in Swedish Lappland, things are no longer in moderation—they are magnificent and dramatic. Kiruna is the city of one hundred days with no night and the midnight sun attracts tourists from all over the world. But during the winters, when the temperature sometimes gets down below –35 degrees, ice, snow, darkness and cold reign supreme. Visitors venture out on dog sledding tours among spruce trees weighed down by snow while the northern lights blaze in the heavens.
Wild nature is open 24 hours a day, year round, thanks to the unique Swedish legal right to common land. Kiruna is surrounded by an untouched mountain world, including Sweden’s highest mountain, Kebnekaise, and more than 6,000 lakes and seven large, unspoiled rivers. Added to which there are seven national parks—everything from high alpine terrain with glaciers and windswept tundra to swampy ground and forests of mountain birch extending for miles after miles. Lappland is an amusement park for lovers of the outdoors. And it is enormous, larger than Denmark and Holland put together. Even for an average Swede—used to long journeys—the distances and barrenness of Lappland is something spoken about with respect and enchantment mingled with terror.
Kiruna—excellent as a base for trips in Lappland and Norrbotten—is 100-years-old, built beside the largest underground iron ore mine in the world. The lode of ore is four kilometres long and the mine is one thousand metres deep. Some twenty kilometres northeast of Kiruna, in Jukkasjärvi, is the world-famous ice hotel and farther to the northwest is Riksgränsen, one of the country’s leading skiing resorts. A tip: If you are visiting Kiruna in the winter, ask for advice on how you should dress. It is possible to enjoy yourself in severe cold too. If you are visiting Kiruna in the summer—don’t forget the mosquito-repellent!