Swedish Lapland's Guide to


On a warm and summery Saturday morning in August, you get off the train in Haparanda. You have 36 hours to do something exciting in a place you’ve never visited before. The only thing you’ve done beforehand is booked a hotel. But what to do, now that you’re here?

Afternoon: Lenin was here, then he went home to start a revolution. There’s a plaque in memory of Lenin on the wall of Haparanda’s impossibly grand railway station. Once upon a time this was the meeting point between East and West, between Tsarist Russia and what we now refer to as Western Europe. They say that around the time World War I broke out, at least a quarter of the town population consisted of spies and foreign agents. Together with profiteering goulash barons, they spent their time at the city hotel: Stadshotellet. That’s also where you’re heading.

haparanda stadshotell, ted logart, 1920 x 1080
Once upon a time, Haparanda was the place where east and west met and if the walls of the Stadshotellet could talk, you would hear stories.
haparanda stadshotell, ted logart, 1920 x 1080
Today, the hotel has been carefully renovated, but it was built at a time when Haparanda was the last outpost to the east. A classic building in a beautiful new costume.
haparanda stadshotell, ted logart, 1920 x 1080
The hotel's owner, Susanne Wallin, started working at Haparanda city hotel when she was 16 years old and her love for the building has only grown stronger over the years.

Evening: In the evening you have dinner at KGB Kaféet Gulasch-Baronen at Stadshotellet. It’s warm, and you take a stroll through town. You pass the well-known trading house HM Hermanssons, a store museum that’s open when the flags are out. You also walk past the park and the statue created by Haparanda town in memory of the photographer Maria Amalia ‘Mia’ Green. Apart from her amazing photography she also came to influence society as a feminist and fighter against social injustice. On the copper bust in the park it says “Pioneer. Photographer. Humanist” – there are worse things to be remembered for.

Mia Green was also the initiator of the Invalidity Monument at Haparanda Graveyard, commemorating the patients who died on transports passing through town during the war. You move on from the graveyard and it’s late evening. Haparanda Church has been called the ugliest in Sweden. The building, an example of Brutalist architecture, is called ‘Clean House’ and was designed by Bengt Larsson. It’s not that difficult to work out the architect’s imagery: a dark exterior with a clean, white interior.

About HaparandaTornio

Haparanda and Tornio on either side of the Torne river, one in Sweden and one in Finland and in two different time zones. A historic marketplace where trade is still important, not least with the world’s northernmost IKEA and a shopping center located directly across the border. The locals live with one foot in each country and speak Swedish, Finnish and/or the minority language Meänkieli.

For more information, visit heartoflapland.com

Curious about what it’s like to live in HaparandaTornio?

Check out haparanda.se

Lucas Nilsson, Haparanda Sandskär, 1920 720

Haparanda Sandskär

A perfect day trip when the sun is shining. It is of course worth bringing both a towel and sunscreen. In Norrbotten's youngest national park, there are kilometers of sandy beaches to relax on.

Early morning: The next morning you’re up at the crack of dawn. You tie your trainers and head out into the fresh summer morning. You walk along the so-called Health Trail, past IKEA – the town’s most well-known landmark these days – and then on towards the golf course. This golf course is famous because you play it in two countries, a bit like when you crossed the Finnish border over to Tornio this morning, on foot. To the people here, the border river has never been something that separates. Rather the opposite: it’s something that has always united. Once you’re back at the hotel it’s time for breakfast and some planning. What’s the rest of the day got in store?

Morning: There’s a tour boat from the harbour in Nikkala out to Haparanda Sandskär, which is the youngest national park in Norrbotten. It’s the perfect day trip, and since the sun is shining it’s also worth bringing a towel and some sunscreen. There are kilometre-long sandy beaches to relax on.

1920 1080, håkan, kukkola
ted logart, 1920 x 1080, sik
Net fishing for whitefish in Kukkolaforsen is unique. Here, as in some places in the Amazon, they fish the same way, with a long net. It is difficult to eat fresher whitefish than the one caught with a net in the Torneälven and then served outside at the restaurant 70 meters away.

Afternoon: Back in town you drop your kit off at the hotel. Sit down, have something refreshing. The choices for the afternoon and evening are many. An obvious choice would be the IKEA-area and all the outlets, perhaps a walk to Tornio and a proper Finnish karaoke evening. Or you could take a taxi to the Kukkolaforsen rapids and the sauna museum. Yes, that’s right, there are no fewer than 13 different saunas there and one or several of them will be fired up this evening for sure. This is also where you find the Swedish Sauna Academy.

Evening: However, after a day in the sunshine you’re more interested in just taking it easy, so you go to Kukkola to enjoy a tasty dinner. Netting whitefish in Kukkola is something unique; it’s a fishing technique used here and in some parts of the Amazon. How could you possibly eat fresher whitefish than what’s caught in the hand nets here in the Torne River, and then served on the terrace of the restaurant next door? 70 metres, give or take, with a short detour to the smoke hut, between where it’s caught and where it’s plated. Actually, speaking of Academies: it was in fact the salmon fishing in the Torne River that once upon a time lay the foundation for the financial status of the Swedish Academy. Nowadays the salmon fishing here is world famous and the Torne River might be the best salmon river in the world.

1920 720, ted, fishing, Haparanda

The Torne river

It was the salmon fishing in the Torneriver that once upon a time laid the foundation for the Swedish Academy's financial status. Today, the salmon fishing here is world famous and the Torne river is perhaps the world's best salmon river.

Packing up: In the morning you enjoy your breakfast in peace and quiet. Then you take a walk to stretch your legs. You head towards Cape East, Sweden’s easternmost spa and hotel. The sauna, with a sauna bench that can seat 150 persons and inspired by a Mayan temple, is just part of this very natural procedure. You enjoy a lunch at the hotel before you board the train again, heading south. You’re thinking perhaps you should return in winter. Do it all again, but under the northern lights rather than the midnight sun. Instead of golf and walks, perhaps dog sledding and ice breakers.

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  • Mentions


The promised land

Tornedalen, the borderland between Sweden and Finland, is in many ways unique. The Torne River has never really been a border. Instead, it has tied the two countries together; never dividing, only uniting, to the benefit of sweethearts, smugglers, spies and sauna-bathing travellers. This summer take a road-trip through the promised land of the sauna.

Travelling well

From saunas and ice baths, through forest therapy and locally grown menus, to award-winning SPA-hotels and blueberry-scented hand creams. You can take an exciting health journey through Swedish Lapland, keeping your feet firmly rooted on Arctic soil.

In sauna veritas

Sauna, or bastu in Swedish, is something as natural to people in the north as the midnight sun and the northern lights. It used to be something of a prerequisite for life in the Arctic, and now it is a rich part of the culture itself. Sauna is the essence of life up here.

The gold of the Bothnian Bay

Kalix Löjrom, Kalix vendace roe, became Sweden's first food product to receive a protected designation of origin ten years ago. We tag along on a vendace roe safari to learn how this delicacy becomes one of the best dining experiences Swedish restaurants have to offer. We also get the opportunity to make our own roe. But first: a visit to the pub.

When to see the northern lights in Swedish Lapland

Shimmery and magical. The dance of the northern lights is a spectacular sight that we frequently enjoy in Swedish Lapland. Viewing the Aurora Borealis is both a jaw-dropping and mystical experience. But when is the best time to see the northern lights in Swedish Lapland?

The Arctic light

You might think that in the Arctic, we have darkness or daylight. In the winter, the sun never rises above the horizon, and in the summer, the sun never sets. But in fact, we have light all year round. Just different kinds of light. Some darker, some brighter, and some very colourful.

Photograph the northern lights

So you've gone to Swedish Lapland, Sweden's Arctic destination, to experience the magical northern lights. Here are seven tips on how to get some good pictures of the beautiful light phenomenon to take back home.

Shooting autumn colours

Many think autumn is the most beautiful time of year in Swedish Lapland. It's as if Earth itself grants a generous firework display of colour before the winter sleep settles over the Arctic landscape. And it's easy to capture the show with a camera on standby. These are five simple tips for capturing autumn in a photo.


When the sun never sets, and the kids are on summer holiday. When holidays are waiting around the corner and meadows explode with wood cranesbill. That's when long lines of cars queue up to get out of the cities. It's time to go find tranquillity with friends and family in summer houses and holidays homes, away from the hustle and bustle. It's time to celebrate the most important holiday of the summer. It's midsummer.

The midnight sun

The midnight sun. The feeling of never having to face tomorrow, just keep having fun and enjoy the never-ending day, is absolutely wonderful. But. Those who depend on their beauty sleep will face certain challenges.

Archipelago days

What happens when a father and son decide to spend a couple of days in the Gulf of Bothnia archipelago? Well, first, you have to promise that there will be mobile phone coverage and then keep your fingers crossed that you’re right. Then you can safely assume there’ll be no trace of the kid during the entire trip.

The not-so-big five

Scouting out the 'Big Five' on the African savannah is the big dream of many. They include leopard, lion, elephant, rhino and African buffalo and is a group of large, majestic and fairly dangerous animals. Here in the Arctic part of Sweden, we don't have animals the size of an elephant or with the speed of a leopard, but we have a fair few animals that are pretty cool in their own way. Below we have listed five animals that are both unique and fascinating, definitely worth putting on a list of must-see animals.

The labyrinths
on the islands

When you visit the islands of Swedish Lapland, you might stumble upon stones laid out in a formation. Maybe it's actually an old labyrinth that you’ve found? The phenomena are tens of thousands years old, and the pattern can be found in different places across Europe.

The midnight light

If it's your first time visiting Swedish Lapland during the summer, you'll notice that it never gets dark. You have entered the world of the midnight sun, and if you're not used to it, it's an extraordinary experience. But beware, it might affect your sleep quality.

The forest is yours

Is it really true that anyone can walk around the forests and beaches of Swedish Lapland? Pick berries and pitch a tent anywhere? Yup, that's exactly what it's like in the democratic forest.

Outdoor fika

That Swedes have their fika (coffee and a snack), and that they drink lots of coffee, are well-known facts. But what's the thing about having it outdoors? What's the deal with coffee boiled over an open fire?

A stay in history

Once upon a time, Haparanda was where the East met West, a hangout for spies, robbers and war profiteers. If the walls of Stadshotellet – the city hotel – could speak, we would be more than excited to listen to what went on in what once was the middle of the world.

A road trip for the hungry

A road trip is simply a way of discovering things you've never seen before. If you give yourself the chance, you might also come across flavours you've never experienced before.

The taste of
Swedish Lapland

When you visit Swedish Lapland, you will notice that our food culture is closely intertwined with our lifestyle. There is a strong tradition that testifies to how we have lived from what nature has generously provided us with for many millennia. Join us on a guided tour of our natural resources, taking the shortest possible route to the plate.

The way we eat

When in Swedish Lapland, exploring the nature of the Arctic, chasing the northern lights or just soaking up the sun 24/7, make sure you don’t miss out on the food. Some of the food we eat might sound a bit strange, but we highly recommend you try and get a taste of Swedish Lapland.

Panoramic view over Rapadalen from summit of Skierfe, Sarek National Park, Lapland, Sweden.

The national parks

National parks are areas featuring a certain type of landscape, protected to preserve their natural condition. It's about creating opportunities to experience nature. Swedish Lapland has the most, the oldest and the largest national parks in Sweden.

Between two worlds

Two villages with the same name on either side of the mighty Torne River. Kukkolaforsen is something very special and in many ways, it proves that the Torne Valley is a world of its own, filled with tastes and experiences.


Snow is something more than frozen water to the Sámi people. It's a way of expressing the foundation of their existence – the migration of the reindeer. To a skier, snow is also more than snow. It's the way you experience life.

The eight seasons

In Swedish Lapland, nature plays an intrinsic role in our life and work, and the people here are highly sensitive to the small details of the changing seasons. Therefore, it seems only natural that the Sámi people describe eight seasons instead of four.


It is December and the landscape is covered in a white blanket; trees are heavy with snow and the roads are white. The dense mid-winter darkness creates a blue light during a few hours, and windows are lit up by advent stars and candlesticks. Christmas is here.