Luleå: the sunny centre of the north

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In the very north of Sweden lies the country’s sunshine centre: the cosy harbour town of Luleå. In summer, it attracts visitors with many hours of sunshine, which can be enjoyed wonderfully in the archipelago, while in winter the surroundings are transformed into a true snow paradise, including the Northern Lights. Find out everything you need to know about Sweden’s northernmost university town here!

Why should you travel to Luleå?

Luleå: Holidays
On holiday in Luleå you can get to know the nature of Lapland.

A sunshine paradise in summer and a snow wonderland in winter: Luleå is characterised by its seasons. Outdoor enthusiasts in particular get their money’s worth here, as the unique nature of Lapland invites you to go hiking, skiing or exploring in other ways. But the largest city in Swedish Lapland is also ideal for a city trip, with a diverse cultural offering, excellent restaurant culture and an urban, modern lifestyle, it also has a lot to offer in addition to the fascinating natural surroundings.

Where is Luleå?

Luleå is the capital of Sweden’s largest and northernmost province, Norrbottens län. It is located at the mouth of the river Lule älv in the Gulf of Bothnia, making it a coastal and harbour town with a number of offshore islands. Due to its northern location – Luleå is 110 kilometres south of the Arctic Circle – the distances to other Swedish cities are quite long. The capital city of Stockholm is around 900 kilometres away. The next largest city is Umeå, which is around 270 kilometres away. Sweden’s northernmost city, Kiruna, is around 340 kilometres away.

Finland, on the other hand, is not too far away. The border towns of Haparanda and Tornio are only around 130 kilometres away. The Finnish city of Oulu is also not too far away at 260 kilometres. So if you are planning a road trip through the northernmost areas of Scandinavia or around the northern Baltic Sea, you should definitely not skip Luleå on your journey!

Weather in Luleå

Sun in summer, snow in winter: that’s about how you can summarise the weather in Luleå. However, despite the many hours of sunshine, it is not excessively warm in summer, but pleasantly mild temperatures are reached. The best time to visit is therefore in the summer months from June to September, with July being the warmest, when the average temperature is around 18° Celsius. If you want to experience the Nordic winter on a winter holiday, you should travel between October and March, as snow falls and lies during this period. The coldest and iciest months are January and February, when the average temperature is -6° Celsius.

Activities and sights in Luleå

Gammelstad Kyrkstad and Hägnan open-air museum

Gammelstad Kyrkstad is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is located just outside the city centre. Until the 17th century, the old church town was the centre of Luleå before the town was moved closer to the coast. The imposing stone church, around which around 400 huts and houses were built, was erected in 1492 and the huts were used as accommodation for churchgoers. There is an exhibition in the visitor centre that presents the exciting history of the church town. Guided tours are also offered all year round.

About 300 metres north-east of Gammelstad Kyrkstad is the Hägnan open-air museum. In the idyllic grounds, you can experience how people in the region used to live and work on a leisurely tour and walk. Most of the houses in the museum date back to the 19th and 20th centuries, and there is an open-air stage in the centre. There is a café where you can relax at the end of your visit. The open-air museum is open from June to August. Admission is free and there are guided tours and many other events on offer. Outside of the summer, the museum is open for certain days and events.

Luleå: Gammelstad Kyrkstad
Luleå: Gammelstad Kyrkstad

Luleå harbour

The city’s old harbour crane is located in the harbour basin near the city centre and is a landmark of Luleå. There is plenty of space to relax around the mighty, dark blue crane, including picnic benches and play areas. The crane is not only a popular photo motif, but also a monument to the city’s industry – and a good starting point for a visit to the city centre or a trip to the archipelago from the harbour. Other popular photo motifs and unofficial landmarks of Luleå are the three icebreakers Frej, Atle and Ymer, which are moored outside in the industrial harbour in summer.

Outdoor activities

Luleå: Outdoor activities
There is plenty to discover for outdoor fans in Luleå.

Luleå is of course particularly attractive for outdoor and nature fans. Whether on the water or on land, there is a lot to experience and discover here, because the special nature of Luleå with its forests and water accesses has a lot to offer. In summer you can go hiking or cycling, but swimming and canoeing/kayaking are also popular. You can also go island hopping in the Luleå archipelago on excursion boats. The town, which is characterised by water, is also a paradise for anglers.

When the northern lights dance across the sky in winter, a snowy paradise invites you to explore below. Skiing (both alpine and cross-country) and snowboarding are particularly popular, but tours by dog sled or snowmobile are also on offer. Snowshoeing is also a great way to get to know the region’s nature better. In winter, the water in front of Luleå’s city centre is transformed into an ice rink that is kept free of snow. Here you can go on pack ice tours or ice skating.

Flygmuseet F21

In the Flygmuseet F21 you can learn a lot about the history of the Norbottenwing and the Swedish AirForce. There are various exhibitions with many exhibits. The museum also has a flight simulator that gives visitors a 20-minute simulation of what it feels like to fly for an extra charge. The museum is located close to the airport and is only open at weekends during the summer season.

Cape Wild

CapeWild is a wildlife park located about 10 kilometres from Luleå. Tame elk and reindeer can be viewed, met and even fed in this family-run park. Since it opened in 2017, you can take a tour and learn lots of new and informative facts about the country’s largest inhabitants. You can also get to know the local cuisine over lunch.

Luleå: Cape Wild
Reindeer and moose can also be found in Luleå.

Accommodation in Luleå

Hotels in Luleå

Luleå has the right hotel for everyone, whether it’s a comfortable star hotel or a cosy B&B. There are also plenty of motels and hostels. There are several hotels in the city centre, but you can also find quieter accommodation a little further out.

Camping in Luleå

Camping in Sweden is a great alternative to a hotel holiday, especially in summer. Especially for families, other larger groups or (road trip) travellers passing through, accommodation on a campsite is often inexpensive and practical, as you are relatively independent and can experience nature up close. Many campsites are also located directly on the water or offer information on hiking tours and other activities. There is also often a wide range of services on offer, such as snacks or a bread roll service. If you can do without comfort – or are stopping off in Luleå on a road trip – you can make use of the Swedish Everyman’s Right and choose wild camping in your own motorhome or campervan as an alternative.

Travelling to Luleå

By flight to Luleå

Luleå Airport is the largest airport in northern Sweden and is located around 10 kilometres from the city centre. It is only about an hour’s flight from Stockholm to Luleå, and the connection is offered several times a day by SAS. From the UK, you therefore often have a stopover in Stockholm if you want to travel comfortably by plane, or alternatively in Gothenburg. You can also fly to Arvidsjaur Airport, with some airlines offering charter flights during the winter months. Arvidsjaur is around 150 kilometres from Luleå, so a rental car is a good option for the rest of the journey.

Train journeys to Luleå

You can also travel to Luleå by train. With a journey time of around 12 hours, you can gain many impressions of the different Swedish landscapes from the train window and don’t have to drive yourself. There are several direct connections to Luleå from Stockholm, including night trains. Alternatively, you can travel by train to Umeå and continue your journey from there by train or bus.

Travelling to Luleå by car/motorhome and ferry

It is also a good idea to drive to Luleå in your own car or motorhome, especially on a road trip through Scandinavia. You can get to Sweden quickly and easily from Central Europe, either by taking a diversion via Denmark or by ferry. Luleå is located on the European Route 4, which also runs through Stockholm, so it is easy to reach from the rest of Sweden.

Travelling to Luleå
Despite its northern location, Luleå is easy to reach.
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