- Countryside Frost-tipped rusticity
- Country life Ramble and reinbeer
Wild, wintry and prone to natural wonders, Norrbotten County’s remote vistas are a siren call for wilderness-seekers and nature lovers. The county covers more than a quarter of Sweden’s total land area, but is home to less than 250,000 residents.
Norrbotten County – in Swedish Lapland – sits in uppermost Norrland, edging into the frosty climes of the Arctic Circle. Its lakes are sparkling and swimmable (including Sweden’s deepest, Lake Hornavan), its mountains promise camera-baiting pinnacle views (including the country’s tallest, 2,107m-high Kebnekaise), and in the east, its rugged coastline spills out into pretty archipelagos. You’re more likely to see grazing reindeer, moose – or perhaps the odd bear – than a fellow human being, while trekking, biking, riding or snowshoe-walking through its seasonally chameleonic landscape, but a smattering of Sámi (native Lapp) villages preserve a traditional way of life, and you’ll infrequently unearth encampments and petite municipalities. In winter, visitors can see the natural fireworks of the Northern Lights, and go dog-sledding or ski in the snow; come summer, the midnight sun makes brings ‘white nights’, and creates a magical mood for late-night horse rides.
Do go/Don’t go
The cold is fierce in winter, and arctic night-time allows only a few hours of daylight, but snowy tundra and iced-over rivers have more potential for play, and the Northern Lights are more likely to be sighted. Summers are far from scorching, but milder temperatures make exploring the outdoors more comfortable.
Planes Luleå Airport (www.swedavia.com/lulea) is an hour’s drive from Norrbotten County; frequent flights arrive here from Cyprus, Greece, Spain and the Canary Islands, Turkey, Norway and other major Swedish cities arrive. Guests flying in from other countries can hop on the 90-minute flight to Luleå from Stockholm Arlanda Airport, or head to the tiny domestic airport in Kiruna.
Trains The SJ night train (www.sj.se) takes 12 hours to reach Boden Station, or 16 hours to Kiruna, from Stockholm – with breathtaking views of Swedish Lapland along the way. There are also direct trains from major cities Malmö or Gothenberg.
Automobiles There are long distances between villages and municipalities, so hiring a car is recommended. In winter, roads are icier and prone to closures. There’s an Avis car-hire booth at Luleå Airport.