Are you en route to Swedish Lapland, wondering what souvenirs to shop for? We’ve listed some helpful tips for you.

Here I am, again. Aimlessly browsing various items in a souvenir shop, hoping something will catch my interest. A present for mum, something fun for the kids, a postcard for my aunt. No unusual scenario when you’re out travelling. In my case it often ends with me coming home bringing sweets from the tax-free shop for the kids, and my aunt has to settle for holiday photos on my Instagram stream.

Afterwards I always think I should have planned it better, been a bit smarter when shopping, arriving home with things that tell a story about the place I’ve just visited.

Sounds familiar? I hope so, because this is my guide to what to take home with you from Swedish Lapland and why.

Smoked reindeer sausages from Utsi Ren.

Sustainable snacks

A fun and educational way to experience a new place is to eat local food, I think. In Swedish Lapland we’re very proud of our pure, local products such as berries, game, fish and vendace roe. Since we have a long tradition of curing, smoking and drying our products it’s easy to get hold of pre-packaged goodies with long shelf life. Goodies that can cope with being thrown around a bit by the baggage handlers. Once you’re home, you can surprise your friends with a cool beer served with thin slices of reindeer meat as accompaniment. I promise that it will be much appreciated and a small piece goes a long way.

One of my absolute favourites is a smoked and dried reindeer sausage that you can buy from Utsi Ren at the Jokkmokk Winter Market, but there are equivalent products available in most stores selling fish and game meat. In fact, you can even buy it at Coop Forum Supermarket in Kiruna. Just make sure you’re buying a sausage made from 100% reindeer or elk, not deer from New Zealand or the like.

Coffee cheese.

Cheese and coffee

If you really want to surprise culinary curious friends, buy a piece of coffee cheese. Coffee boiled over an open fire with cheese in is the epitome of Swedish Lapland for many. It’s a baked cheese that tastes a bit like mozzarella, sharing its ability to pick up other flavours. It’s cut in small dice, then placed in a cup of steaming hot coffee where it stays until it starts to go soft. Then you fish the pieces up with a teaspoon, enjoying the highly satisfactory squeaky texture and lightly salty coffee flavour.

It’s also ideal as a dessert. Bake it lightly and serve with cloudberry jam and cream, or vanilla ice-cream. This round curd cake can be found in the freezer in most well-stocked food shops, but also at local markets, in delicatessens and fish and game shops.

Berry syrup by Jokkmokksbär. Photo: Maria Sirviö

From the forest pantry

Since Swedish Lapland is part of the Arctic there are few vegetable patches here. Historically speaking, we’ve always picked our daily dose of vitamin C in the forest. This means it’s easy to find products based on local berries, such as jams, syrups, cordials, sweets – even beauty products. Not just berries, also spruce, pine and birch. The largest range is available at the Jokkmokk Winter Market, but there are also other local markets, delicatessen, confectioners and souvenir shops with a selection of local berry products.

When I have visitors from afar I always make them my now-famous blueberry pancakes with spruce-shoot syrup. Try them, too!

Bracelets by Sara Björne.

Jewellery and accessories

There are several interesting artisans in Swedish Lapland, many of Sámi origin. Some work according to traditional Sámi handicraft techniques, making cups, knives, scarves and so on. Others make modern interpretations of jewellery and handbags. For the real thing, I suggest a visit to Sámi Duodji, the shop of the Sámi Handicraft Foundation in Jokkmokk. I like wearing bracelets made by Sara Björne, necklaces made by Erica Huuva, and love shopping for interior decoration items at StoorStålka.

Jewellry by Erica Huuva.

Knitted things

Blankets, mittens, hats and warm socks. These are items you can find everywhere, useful when you least expect it; when your last pair of socks is wet, when the thermometer shows plenty of degrees below zero, or when you find some authentic Lovikka-mittens with your name on them. If you are really set on knitted things you should get top-notch stuff from Heart of Lovikka, a company that’s taken a century-old tradition of knitted goods to another level. Make sure it’s 100% wool, then it’ll keep you warm for years to come.

Shoes from Kero. Photo courtesy of Kero.

Skins and leather

Buying a reindeer skin can be tempting and I say: go for it! You can drape it on an armchair, or use it as an outdoor yoga mat. But a small word of caution: they shed hair and may have a tendency to smell of – well – reindeer. A couple of well-made leather shoes are fashion-wise a very wise investment. They will always be unique and the more you use them, the more worn in they are, the cooler they become. Kero make really amazing shoes and if you contact them in advance you can have a pair tailored to your foot and calf size.

Of course you’re going to find a lot of other nice stuff to catch your eye: local craftspeople and artists, photographers and food artisans are found throughout Swedish Lapland. Local markets and perhaps one or two shopping centres as well.

The ideas above are my very personal ones, or actually, they are guarantees for a successful shopping trip.

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