It is not uncommon, not to have heard about Kiruna, for most people – so let us introduce you a bit. The Lapland province of Sweden is home to the Northernmost town in Sweden – Kiruna. Characterized by pastel wooden houses, Kiruna has a population of 22,000 people which also includes the indigenous Sami people. With super clear skies, if you’re in Kiruna, you basically have the best seats in the house to catch a glimpse of the enchanting Aurora lights, but don’t quote us on this, considering how elusive they are. Speaking of the weather, one must gear up for the frosty air in Kiruna – it can get pretty brutal if you’re not accustomed to it.
Getting to Kiruna takes about 90 minutes by plane from Stockholm but once you’re there, your Arctic experience is on! Exploring the vast snow-covered expanse on a snowmobile or dogs, or cruising on a canoe in Europe’s largest free-flowing river are some of the things you could do in Kiruna. In this article you will read about some of the best outdoor activities to do in Kiruna and how to get access to them!
Overnight Aurora Snowmobile Adventure
The first activity on our list of Top 5 Things to do in Kiruna, begins with a thrilling snowmobiling experience! A 20-minute drive, East of Kiruna on the E10 Highway, is where your hunt for the Northern Lights begins! If you live within a 20 km radius of the meeting spot (Kauppinen 187, 981 92 Kiruna), transport to and from the spot will be taken care of.
Snowmobiles, from a local and historic perspective, were used to get from point A to point B in Arctic regions like Kiruna. Since you’re less likely to be local and more likely to be a tourist in this part of Sweden, you can ride snowmobiles, under the night sky in search of the elusive Aurora Lights. Selecting the right date and time to catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights as you cruise in the Arctic at 40 kmph, is the first step in the right direction.
Even if you don’t cross paths with the dancing green lights in the sky, your journey will take you through scenic forests, frozen swamps, and down the ice-covered Torne River, where you will shortly pass the world-famous Ice Hotel. Feel the cold escape your bones as you submerge yourself in a cozy sauna bath in a wilderness cabin – along with an optional paid dinner.
Spend the night in the Arctic wilderness and be welcomed by an enticing plate of breakfast the next day, before you leave for home at 10 am. You could go Snowmobiling in Kiruna for the price of 375 euros!
Morning Dog Sledding
Just like the snowmobiling trip from before, a 20-minute drive, East of Kiruna on the E10 Highway, is where you begin your dog sledding adventure! If you live within a 20 km radius of the meeting spot (Kauppinen 187, 981 92 Kiruna), transport to and from the spot will be taken care of.
If you think snowmobiling was an unusual mode of transport wait until you try dog sledding. The mechanism of a dog sled is fairly basic with two rows of dogs, pulling a conventional sled, which may be slower than a snowmobile but has a lot more charm and a sense of rawness to it. Additionally, these dogs have a lot of energy to burn, making this activity a way to release that burden of excessive energy!
You almost feel like you’re transported to a white winter wonderland when you go dog sledding in Kiruna. As the 12 powerful Alaskan Huskies, effortlessly, pull you through the thick snow, you will get a chance to see wild capercaillie, Siberian jay, and ptarmigan birds. You quickly start to feel like you’re part of a Disney scene as you also get a chance to catch a glimpse of wild reindeer and moose! A quaint cabin in the woods offers comfort in the form of traditional Fika, with coffee, tea, and cookies as part of your excursion itinerary.
You will cover a distance of 13-15 km over a period of 2.5 hours, costing you about 130 euros and giving you memories that will last a lifetime. You can also enjoy a little cuddle session with your four-legged friends before the activity begins – which is part of the perks!
Hiking in Kebnekaise Valley
A little piece of trivia for you: The Kebnekaise Valley near Kiruna is home to Sweden’s highest mountain – Mount Kebnekaise and some of the best hiking trails in the country. Amongst one of the most relaxing things to do in Kiruna, hiking in the Kebnekaise Valley begins in the small village of Nikkaluokta, which is often described as the gateway to the mountains, giving you a gorgeous sneak peek into what lies ahead! Getting there means going for an hour drive West of Kiruna, a distance that can be covered in a minibus, usually arranged by your instructors. The tranquil village of Nikkaluokta is inhabited by the Swedish Samis (indigenous Finno-Ugric people), so don’t be alarmed to see reindeer in these parts.
The next checkpoint, on your hike trail, is Lake Ladjojaure which will take you through a lush forest and around 1.5 hours to reach from Nikkaluokta. Once you reach the beautiful lake, you will be given an ample amount of time to capture the turquoise blue lake with Mount Kebnekaise in the background, on your camera. After exhausting your phone’s battery by taking spectacular pictures of the scenery, settle down on the soft grass for a lovely picnic by the lake! You’ll be treated to a delicious lunch as you admire the mountains and lake in front of you.
And now for some practical information: the trek begins from Kiruna at 9 in the morning and by the time you return from the hike, around 6 hours would have passed. The all-inclusive experience costs around 127 euros and will see you cover around 12 km!
Wilderness Quad Biking Tour
Moving on from dogs and snowmobiles, the third form of transport is the fourth activity on our list of Top 5 things to do in Kiruna: the super exciting quad bike! The wilderness quad biking tour in Kiruna starts at around 10 in the morning, with the Kiruna Guided Tour office being the meeting point.
For those of you who don’t know, a quad bike is basically a motorbike with 4 large wheels and is used for rough terrains and off-roading. Just like dog sleds and snowmobiles, we are going to ignore its practical use for a more exciting and recreational use: cruising in the wilderness. You’ll basically cut through a forest, with trees, instead of cars in your adjoining lanes! The sunlight penetrates through the green canopies formed by the tall trees, rejuvenating you for the day that lies ahead.
You don’t need to be an expert when it comes to riding the quad bike but you definitely need a valid driver’s license to do so. However, if you’re with someone who has a driver’s license, you could tag along at the back of the vehicle and assume the role of a navigator, of sorts.
The guided wilderness quad biking tour in Kiruna costs around 40 euros and lasts around 15 km, a distance you will cover in 3 hours. You’re probably thinking that the distance and time don’t really add up, however, the estimated three hours include, arriving at the starting point from the meeting point, briefing session about riding a quad bike, lunch break, and going back to the initial meeting point.
Canoe Day Tour
From snow to soil and now to water, the next activity on our list of Top 5 things to do in Kiruna, explores a new element! A canoe day tour in Kiruna, begins at the Kiruna Guided tour office, as the meeting point and is followed by a car journey, organized by your instructors, to the Torne River, which has several names such as Swedish Torneälven, or Torneälv, Finnish Torniojoki, and is the northernmost river of Sweden.
A piece of brief history before going any further about the activity: Considering the fact that the word ‘canoe’ comes from the Carib kenu (dugout), from the Spanish canoa, the name makes a lot of sense. That’s because canoes are usually open deck boats, with a dugout for the passenger and one-bladed paddle.
The Torne River goes almost completely across the border of Sweden and Finland and is also Europe’s largest free-flowing river. Along your relaxed day canoeing excursion, you will drift past Swedish mountains and forests, giving you access to some of the most remote areas on this planet! If you’re looking for a bit of an energy booster, rest assured, for there will be a coffee break to re-vitalize your mind and body.
Depending on weather conditions, the excursion will last anywhere between 8-10 km and will cost you around 127 euros.
If you enjoyed reading about the Top 5 Things To Do In Kiruna, we think you will thoroughly enjoy our article about the Top 5 Things To Do In Abisko. Even though the two are neighboring towns, they have unique outdoor activities to offer. Outdoor activities in Abisko include landscape photography tours, ice fishing and even chasing the northern lights!
The activities mentioned above are explained in further detail on our website if you’d like to check out all our outdoor activities in Kiruna.