This summer I went on a road trip in Swedish Lapland. Swedish Lapland is the most Northern region of Sweden and it covers about 25% of the country. Many people know it as a winter destination but it’s also great in summer!
On this page I’m sharing the route we made and I’ll tell you all about nice sights and activities along the way.
Your first port of call when visiting Swedish Lapland is probably the city Skellefteå. Flights from Stockholm arrive here and in the summer Voight Travel even has a direct flight to and from Rotterdam in the Netherlands.
Skellefteå is a small city with a couple of nice bars, cafes and restaurants. I loved Society Café for a nice lunch. They have several sandwiches served with lettuce and crisps. I went for the red beet hummus with feta. They also have several sweets, so it’s great for a coffee and cake stop; or as the Swedes call it: Fika.
In the summer you can have dinner at Isboden, a pop-up restaurant that is open from June to August. They have a cute indoor area with a white wooden interior and a cozy outdoor area with apple trees. After 5pm you can order grilled items from the barbecue and all day and evening you can order their other dishes of which several are vegetarian or vegan. They also have several flavors of homemade ice-cream (also vegan ones).
You can find Isboden next to the Stiftsgarden hotel.
Burträsk is about 30 to 40 minutes South of Skelleftea. It’s a very small town but it’s famous in the entire country for one thing: cheese. In Burträsk the ‘Vasterbottensost’ is made. This cheese is made in Burträsk since 1872. There’s a visitor’s center that explains the history of the cheese. The story goes that cheesemaker Eleonora got a visit from a lover which meant that the cheesemaking process was prolonged and the cheese was heated up and stirred more times than normal. This ‘failed’ cheese turned out to taste great and that’s how Vasterbottensost was born. I really encourage you to try a piece when you’re in the Vasterbotten region in Sweden!
It’s also nice to visit the Burträsk Deli just around the corner of the Vasterbottensost factory. In this deli they sell several products that are all made locally. Cheese, meat, tea, herbs etcetera.
Speaking of local products, I also paid a visit to Järvtjärns Utegrisar when I was in Swedish Lapland. This pig farm in the village Järvtjärn, just outside Burträsk gives pigs the life they should have. All the pigs have a huge piece of land where they can walk around in, run, play and roll in the mud. It was wonderful to see all the pigs playing around in their natural environment. They even grow their own cereals and grassland for the pigs so they don’t have to buy food for them and they don’t use any antibiotics. You can buy their meat in their farm shop or in the Burträsk Deli.
About 1.5 hours North of Burträsk you’ll find the town Piteå. Visiting Piteå in summer is definitely a whole different experience than visiting it in winter. In winter you can join an icebreaker tour to crush the ice with a boat and in summer the highest water temperatures of Sweden are recorded in the waters around Piteå.
Storgatan is the main shopping street of Piteå, it’s a nice street with several shops and restaurants. But don’t forget the side street Uddmansgatan, as you can find some real gems there.
One of them is Järnspisens Matbod. This food shop from Cecilia & Daniel sells all kinds of delicatessen. Everything in the shop is local. It’s either from their own garden or from companies in the neighborhood. They even organize local food courses where you prepare a starter, main and dessert in a group. And what’s probably their best invention is their Weekend Bag. Every week until Thursday evening you can order it and on Friday you can pick up the bag that has all the products you need for a 2 person dinner.
Also in the Uddmansgatan street you find an outlet of Bastard Burgers. This burger joint is quite new but already has restaurants all over Swedish Lapland. I understand their popularity because I’m also a big fan! They have all kind of delicious burgers. I went for the vegetarian halloumi burger but they also have no less than 7 vegan burgers! And order some sweet potato fries to go with it if you’re hungry, because they’re delicious.
For dinner I recommend Verandan (the Veranda). It’s the restaurant inside the Stadshotell in Piteå. On the menu you’ll find some Nordic classics as well as some surprising new flavors. I went for the linguine pasta with creamy spinach and artichoke sauce flavored with garlic, black pepper, lemon and Parmesan cheese.
Piteå also has 2 microbreweries. One is called ‘This is How’ and the other one is Pite Bryggeri. At Pite Bryggeri you can book a beer tasting to try their different beers and to see how it matches with food. It’s a great way to try some local beers from Swedish Lapland. The brewery is located in the former potato storage of the hospital next door. The hospital is no longer in function and the couple that runs Pite Bryggeri turned the potato storage rooms into a brewery and a tasting room. I was quite impressed by the amount of beers that they produce (10!), especially when you take into account that they both have jobs besides Pite Bryggeri. My favorite was the Belgo Wit, a refreshing beer. Not light in alcohol but light in taste, perfect for summer days or to pare with dinner. At restaurant Verandan they serve some of the beers of Pite Bryggeri.
Just outside Piteå you find Jössgården. At this beautiful countryside place they turned the former stables into a restaurant. It’s very popular with locals for ‘Fika’. Fika is the Swedish culture of drinking coffee with something sweet. They make all the bread, pastries and other food from scratch with as many local and organic products as possible. We had this vegan cake when we were there made from berries and flowers from their own garden.
They also brew coffee in a kettle over a fireplace outside where you can sit down and enjoy the beautiful outdoors. Children can play around and pet the horses and in summer the bread bakehouse is open. In this house a large, old oven is warmed up with wood while you knead the dough for the bread. You shape it into flat circles before it gets baked in the stone-oven. It’s the best bread you ever tasted when you take a bite with some butter straight from the oven!
Luleå is mostly known as the University town in Swedish Lapland. It’s a bit of a bigger city so it’s nice to stroll around. They have some nice waterfront restaurants as well as several restaurants and cafees on the main shopping street. We sat down for some coffee and cake at Le Croissant in Luleå.
The Teknikens Hus (science museum) at the University grounds of Luleå is a great place for kids. It’s a really hands-on exhibition where they can try out all kinds of things. From exploring how a timber mill works to launching a rocket.
Gammelstad is a church town. There are several of these church-towns in Sweden. It dates back to the days where it was obliged to go to church and the families that needed to travel far could stay in the houses near the church. Gammelstad is a really nice one to visit as all the houses in the town are red with white window frames. There’s a tourist information, a small exhibition and a café where you can get drinks, sandwiches and something sweet.
Sörbyn is really a place like you’d imagine when thinking of Swedish Lapland. It has beautiful lakes that are surrounded by forest. It’s the closest we’ve been to the Arctic Circle.
At one of the lakes of Sörbyn, Vitträsket, there’s a short and easy walking trail. You can find it on the South-East side of the lake and there are plaques explaining more about the flora and fauna of the area.
At Sörbyn Lodge, the hotel of the area, you can book all kinds of activities like mountain biking and husky hikes. We went on a 3 hour hike that included a lunch on top of the hill with self-picked berries with vanilla cream for dessert.
Every Friday evening in Summer Sörbyn Lodge hosts summer buffets. The chefs are busy preparing the food the whole day and in the evening many locals come to have dinner and to have a great start of the weekend all together.
Storforsen is one of the most beautiful things I’ve seen in my life. They are Europe’s largest unregulated rapids. With a total height of 82 meters an incredible amount of water tumbles down. There’s a really great walking path that takes you right next to the rapids and in the beautiful area surrounding it. There’s a café at the start of the path serving coffee, sodas and sweets. There are fire pits where you can grill your own food.
At the bottom of the rapids is the Storforsen hotel with beautiful views over the water.
On the way from Storforsen to Arjeplog we saw many reindeers. Many of them walk on the road, as that’s easiest for them. But you can also see them in the forrest at the side of the road.
Arjeplog is a town in yet another beautiful region in Swedish Lapland. It’s mostly known for its many lakes. Arjeplog has more than 8.000 lakes, that’s over 4 times the population!
In winter, when the lakes are frozen, Arjeplog is used by many car brands to test their newest cars in winter conditions. But in summer there are also great activities to do in Arjeplog.
We did the Edible Country activity from Arjeplog A-event. Pernilla and her husband took us berry picking for our own dessert first, after that we went fishing for my boyfriend’s lunch and we picked nettle for my vegetarian lunch. When the weather is nice they have an outdoor table on a small island where you can enjoy your lunch. We had a bit of drizzle so we went inside one of their cabins on the island. Here it was warm and comfortable with a fire pit in the middle and benches with pillows around it. We made our own bread and helped preparing the other ingredients (of which the majority was picked or caught by us). For us it felt really special to create our own lunch like that, but in Swedish Lapland it’s not uncommon to be so self-sustainable. A lot better than mass production and consumption if you ask me!
Experience Arjeplog also hosts all kinds of activities. You can go for snow mobile tours and husky rides in the winter but in the summer they also organize all kinds of activities. We went for a mountain biking tour with Experience Arjeplog. They took us to a great bike trail around a lake. This wooden trail was very easy to cycle, so it’s suitable for everyone. Like a bit of a challenge? Just tell your guide! Ours took us to the top of quite a steep hill. It was quite the climb with our mountain bikes but the view was very rewarding!
Experience Arjeplog also organizes hikes. We went on a 3 hour hike, all the way to the top of a beautiful hill. You could enjoy the wonderful view over several of the lakes of the area. On top there was a little hut where we had coffee, tea and cookies.
A short drive from Arjeplog will take you to the Båtsuoj Sami center. The Sami people inhabit Swedish Lapland as well as the northern part of Norway and Finland. They’re mostly known for their reindeer herding. All the reindeer in Swedish Lapland belong to the Sami people. With marks in their ears they show to which family they belong. At the Båtsuoj Sami center you can learn more about the Sami culture and how they used to live. Our guide, Lotta, prepared a great traditional lunch for us on the beautiful grounds of the Båtsuoj Sami center. We also saw several of the reindeer belonging to Lotta. It was great to see them so up close!
Gotten hungry after all these activities in Arjeplog? You can grab some quick pub food at Leon’s Steakhouse. Don’t worry if you eat vegetarian, despite the name they have several vegetarian options. I went for their vegetarian burger with halloumi cheese.
On your way back to Skellefteå from Arjeplog you can visit the Svansele Wilderness Exhibition. This museum shows you all about the flora and fauna of Swedish Lapland. It’s great for kids! They also make a traditional lunch on a fire pit at the Svansele Wilderness Exhibition, a great way to experience a real Nordic lunch.
Please note that the Svansele Wilderness Exhibition isn’t located on number 11 as is suggested on internet, but a bit further down the road.
I think Swedish Lapland is a great destination for couples or families that like the outdoors. I came back absolutely relaxed and it felt really healthy to spend a lot of time in the fresh air and to eat so many organic and local foods.
Want to prolong your time in Sweden? Visit Stockholm as well!