Why the north of Sweden should be in your bucket list for winter
Oh the winter, the snow, the ice and the winter food. <3 All these things sound amazing right?
Well that’s exactly what I thought when my boyfriend proposed the „north of Sweden road-trip“. Somehow I was very excited of driving up north, you know I expected to see Santa’s reindeers coming back from all the Christmas celebrations (hahaha), the snow and of course the hot chocolate and banana with chocolate by the fire. Guess what? It was way better than that!
Our trip had 5 stops to make the driving easier, Gothenburg the second biggest city in Sweden, Stockholm the capital of Sweden and our home from march on, Hudiksvall a small town where the „North“ starts, Luleå the second biggest city in the „North“ and Umeå, the biggest city in the „North“ also known as the capital of the north.
I call it the „North“ because it is really different from the rest of Sweden and it is the way people refer to it in Sweden, also because it takes the same amount of time to travel to Luleå by plane from Copenhagen as to Switzerland.
The moment we left Hudiksvall all the nature started to change, the roads where completely covered with snow and sometimes ice and the signs of moose changed to red poles as in the ski slopes. It became dark around 3 pm and somehow the whole life and atmosphere seemed different.
We arrived to Luleå at midnight. The only thing glowing was the snow as if someone had put glow in the dark paint on the forrest, it was very impressive. The snowflakes looked like little diamonds glowing in the dark. I was really impressed by this effect created by the temperature and the snow.
The next day we got our first layers on, double socks and warm clothes to go to the Storforsen waterfall.
The Storforsen Waterfall it is actually part of the Piteälven the biggest river coming from the Swedish mountains, and that comes out to the sea in the 3rd biggest city of the North: Piteå. The Waterfall is very impressive, although the low temperatures created big chunks of ice, it still has a lot of force and water. Apparently in Spring it carries double the amount of water than now. Truly a nature spectacle!!
All natural reserve is cover with trails, so you will not find it hard to get to the waterfall or around it, it is recommended to bring good snow shoes.
After being in the reserve we went to supermarket to get some food for the dinner. It was already dark when we arrived there, so the need to go home was big. As a surprise our friends bought reindeer meat for us to taste. Reindeer is a famous meat in the area, it has great properties for the cold weather and it is a good source of proteins. The northern tribes, The Sámi people, have been eating it since centuries, they are also responsible for their breeding and development of the species. The taste was delicious and very well needed to stand the freezing temperatures outside.
The Sámi people are the native people from the arctic circle. Until today they still carry the ways and traditions of their ancestors. They are the only ones allowed to have reindeers in the region, and their tribes live in Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia.
On Sunday we went to Ice-skate on the frozen river. (you can’t rent skates directly there, but in the sports shop in the city center). It was a wonderful experience, the thought of being on a river and the color of the snow with the sun makes it very impressive. There is a cleared Ice road that leads to different parts of the river, we skated down to an Island in the middle of it and grilled some bread and enjoyed the view. As the sun set down you can see the different colors of it on the ice, a true breathtaking scenery.
Luleå and its surroundings are famous among the car industry to test the cars for winter. So if you are lucky, you may get to see the latest models doing test runs among the highway or in frozen lakes and rivers, like this one, around the area.
(I recommend you to bring skiing clothes, or a warm outer layer. Since it is still a river, the air flow is stronger and the sensation of freezing is higher.)
We then started the drive back south, we stopped in Umeå the biggest city in the north. it is also one of the most important harbors in Sweden. Here all the commercial connections with Russia and Finland are made.
Umeå is also famous for its university and culture life, they want to be the most digital city in Scandinavia. Will they make it?
I hope you get inspired to visit this beautiful region of Sweden in winter, it is an experience you will never forget.