,Capital of Västerbotten County, Umeå is a youthful college town with short summers and long, cold winters. Lovingly called Ume by the locals, it is a significant educational and economic city of the country. Titled the European Capital of Culture in 2014, the region attracts Northern Lights seekers due to it being conveniently located just 400km below the Arctic Circle.
The origin of this town traces back to 1622 and was home to the indigenous Sami people. Umeå’s long and enticing history is wonderfully depicted in the multiple museums all over the city. A parish city till the late 16th century, development started due to the efforts of the Swedish king Gustav II Adolphus. The city was completely destroyed by a huge fire in 1888 and was completely rebuilt in the upcoming years.
With an intellectual air, Umeå is decidedly a young city with vibrant feelings. Home to approximately 32,000 students, there is a marked bounce in everyday simple life.
A cultural capital of northern Sweden, with a wonderful blend of nature at a stone’s throw, the city has a very specific entrepreneurial, innovative spirit. Umeå rose to prominence as the former residence of Stieg Larsson, author of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and hosting the country’s greatest museum collection of vintage guitars. Don’t forget to visit Väven, an eclectic architectural delight, home to multiple museums, an eminent library, a cinema and several restaurants and cafés. It’s abstract, birch-inspired aesthetic inspires creativity in you and events from concerts to vintage fashion markets are organized all year round here. Considered a booming cultural centre, Väven is a must visit.
A nature lover’s paradise, the city provides mountains and deep forest on its doorstep to all its visitors. Located a mere 15 km from the sea, there are numerous natural adventures to embark on. You can enjoy a trek of 42 km by hiking the Tavelsjöleden trail all the while discovering caves and other beautiful natural highlights. Have delightful strolls at Grössjön Nature Reserve with your friends and family and you can watch birds from the observation tower.
Try to time your trip according to the Sami Week, which takes annually in March. This vibrant celebration of Sweden’s indigenous population guarantees a lovely and informative time, with events including a Sami summit as well as a range of activities centring on art, music, culture and language.
Image by RachelH_ from flickr
Don’t forget to visit Väven, an eclectic architectural delight, home to multiple museums, an eminent library, a cinema and several restaurants and cafés. It’s abstract, birch-inspired aesthetic inspires creativity in you and events from concerts to vintage fashion markets are organized all year round here. Considered a booming cultural centre, Väven is a must visit.
Tracing the fascinating history of Umea from prehistoric times to today, Västerbottens Museum is a popular tourist attraction. There are numerous engrossing exhibitions including a magnificent ski-through-the ages collection starring the world’s oldest ski. Frequent workshops and activities for children are organized all year-round which are an all-time favourite.
Guitars – The Museum
Umea is the proud host of the country’s greatest museum collection of vintage guitars. From the iconic 1959 Les Paul Standard identical to the guitar Keith Richards played the 'It's All Over Now' riff on, to a 1958 Gibson Flying V, made famous by ZZ Top, this museum has it. This is music-lover’s paradise.
Image by Samuel Mann from flickr
A huge and breathtaking collection of works of eminent Swedish and international artists, Umedalsparken is situated 5km west of the centre. The permanent collection includes 44 sculptures purchased by Balticgruppen, the owner of the compound. Built in 1930, the park offers guided tours which must be pre-booked.
A wonderful place for the whole family to spend time in, Älgens Hus is a moose park, located near Bjurholm, 70km west of Umeå. Have a delightful time meeting the King of the Forest face to face. Visit the museum in the grounds which explores a year in the life of a moose. A dairy in the park produces ultra-rare moose cheese which is the most expensive cheese you’ll ever taste.
This beautiful open-air historic village is a part of the Gammlia museum complex. Consisting of a church, a windmill, a smokehouse, traditional Sami dwellings and a 17th-century gatehouse, Friluftsmuséet attracts tourists from all over the country. Kids have a lovely time here playing games from the olden days and taking a spin in a horse-drawn carriage.
A small, quaint locality in Västernorrland County, Örnsköldsvik is a popular tourist destination. A holiday here promises numerous natural wonders both by the sea and in the forests of the county of Angermanland. You can go swimming in the sea or the indoor pool Paradiset. Have amazing adventures at Area1 in the city centre. Play laser tag games with your friends and family.
Image by freddie boy from flickr
A coastal city booming with culture and education, Vaasa is considered to be the sunniest city of Finland. The 17th century town has a significant Swedish population since it was named after the noble Wasa family, Swedish royalty. Popular as a family destination, Vaasa provides plenty of outdoor recreation with a thriving arts scene, exemplified by its excellent museums.
Image by Bernt Rostad from flickr
A one-of-a-kind summer paradise with endless possibilities for adventures, Mustasaari captures your heart. The Mustasaari island is situated just a stone’s throw distance from the buzz of the city. Don’t forget to visit the island, beloved among the children for its playground, a shallow beach and a café, known for its cinnamon buns. The island is open for everybody and is owned by the Helsinki Parish Union.
Image by Mr Thinktank from flickr
The southern entry into Swedish Lapland, Skellefteå is an industrial and mining city. The Skellefte River passes through the city and the contrast is greatly seen with half of the city nearing dense forests and the other half embedded in a modern city. Seamlessly transition between swimming in the chilling water and dining in fine restaurants.
Image by ullisoo from flickr
A mix of the charming, modern, and tried and true, Lycksele provides a huge array of activities and events and is a famous family holiday destination. Make sure you visit the Playland, its zoo, its water Park as well as its 9-hole golf course and spend a whole day having the time of your life with your family. A holiday here has something to offer all year round.
Image by V31S70 from flickr
Pietarsaari is a small and quaint municipality in Ostrobothnia, Finland. Try to coordinate your visit here during a chamber music festival called Rusk which is held every year here in November. From historically important sights like the Jakobstad City Hall, Jakobstad and the Arctic museum Nanoq, Pietarsaari provides a wonderful and enriching experience.
Located in Central Ostrobothnia, on the coast of the Gulf of Bothnia, Kokkola is a city of culture that offers a lot to see and experience. From the expansive collection of minerals and stuffed animals at the Natural History Collection Kieppi to Tankar Island, a gorgeous rocky island with its own lighthouse, an antique old church and a unique seal-hunting museum, this town is full of adventures for one to indulge in.
Image by patrickmandersson from flickr
A gorgeous region full of vibrant urban living and beautiful countryside, Kramfors welcomes nature lovers, bon vivants and adventurers. Originally called Gudmundra, it got its current name after Latvian Christoffer Kramm who was responsible for building the town’s first local sawmill. Spend fun-filled days fishing in one of the designated fishing areas all year round, or bring out your inner adventurer with activities like climbing, hiking and beaver safari.
Image by AleGranholm from flickr
Situated in the Southern Ostrobothnia region, Kauhava is a traditional knife making town. Full of life and history, it is home to the PowerPark Theme Park which attracts tourists from all over the country. Yet, the heart of the town lies in all things related to knives. Discover the history of the region’s most famous knife fighters and bladed weapons at the local knife museum.