Norrbotten is a province in the northernmost part of Sweden. It borders Vasterbotten, Swedish Lapland, and Finland. Provinces in Sweden are historical, geographical, and cultural regions. They serve no administrative purposes anymore, so it is entirely a legacy marking. In Norrbotten’s case, the county is older than the province - however it is not a historical province. There are very few people in Norrbotten; it is mostly within the Arctic Circle and home to both Sami and Finn Laplanders.
To get to Norrbotten, fly to Lulea or Kiruna with SAS or Norwegian Air. There are connecting flights to many international destinations, and there are also charter flights with tour companies. You can also take the overnight train from Stockholm, if you prefer. There are buses within the region, but you may find it easier to have your own transportation.
Budget hostel accommodation in Norrbotten can be found in the towns of Lulea and Kiruna. Look for the word “vandrarhem,” as that translates directly to “hostel.” Outside of the main city, hostels are rare. Consider a guesthouse (“gasthus”) or bed and breakfast instead.
Once you have your accommodation sorted, you can explore this vast, sparse region. In the Middle Ages, Norrbotten was home to Sami and Finns who relied on fishing, hunting, and reindeer herding. Toward the end of the Middle Ages, Swedish kings tried to colonise the area but failed; for a long time it was under Finnish control until the 16th century, when Sweden took back taxation and trade within the province. The church at Gammelstad, near Lulea, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site; it was once a sign of Swedish control and power.
Outdoor enthusiasts should consider a dogsledding adventure, snowshoeing, or skiing, in the winter, and hiking in the summer. There are trails ranging from day trips to overnight hikes. Choose one that suits you! One of the biggest reasons to travel to Norrbotten is for the Aurora Borealis, or the Northern Lights. There are tours and overnight trips that focus on the ethereal lights. Keep in mind that in the winter, Norrbotten is essentially dark 24 hours a day. On the flip side, in the summer Norrbotten is light for 24 hours and you will find much to enjoy even at the late hours.
Whatever you choose to do in Norrbotten, you will enjoy the great outdoors and the impeccable Swedish hospitality.
Hi, I'm Jakob Lombardi,
the Hostelz.com local expert for Norrbotten hostels. Welcome.