Winter in Kiruna – things to see and do in a winter wonderland in Swedish Lapland

Winter in Kiruna – things to see and do in a winter wonderland in Swedish Lapland

Planning a trip to Kiruna during winter? Don’t know what there is to see and do in and around the city? Look no further, this post is all about Kiruna. If you would’ve asked me what there is to see and do in Kiruna when I was younger. I probably would’ve said nothing. At that time, I just didn’t realize what a special place Kiruna really is. But hey, you’re allowed to change your mind!

Today, Kiruna is a fun winter destination with lots of experiences both for the young and old. How do I know? Well, judging by all the thousands of tourists that nowaways pilgrimage to Kiruna during the winter, there simply has to be something drawing them in.

Facts about Kiruna

  • Kiruna is, on the surface, Sweden’s largest municipality (20,000 square kilometers).
  • In total, there’s around 23,000 people living in Kiruna and its surroundings
    About 18,000 people live in Kiruna city and the rest are distributed in the around 50-ish villages.
  • Kiruna church has been named Sweden’s most beautiful public building in 2001.
  • The city has more daylight than Stockholm during seven of the year’s months.
  • Kiruna has midnight sun for 50 summer days.
  • Polar night in Kiruna usually lasts from December 12 until January 4 – a total of 20 days.
    During this period, the sun does not reach the horizon at all.
  • Giron means Kiruna in Northern Sami.

And then there was that list of everything to see and do in Kiruna and the surrounding area. Here it comes! All experiences and excursions are within day excursion distance from Kiruna.

Winter in Kiruna - The view from Loussabacken in Kiruna.
The view from Loussabacken in Kiruna.

Experience the Northern Lights in Abisko

In Abisko you will find Aurora Sky Station (located up on the mountain Nuolja) which has been named “the best place in the world to experience the northern lights” by Lonely Planet. I can only agree – it’s a great place to view the northern lights as long as the weather is good. Abisko’s geographical location means that it is often cloudless there, which in turn provides better conditions for experiencing the dancing northern light.

Other places worth visiting in Kiruna

  • Kiruna church
  • Aurora SPA at Camp Ripan
  • Go for a walk up on Loussabacken (great view over Kiruna so don’t forget your camera!)
  • Hjalmar Lundbohmsgården – one of the oldest buildings in Kiruna
Winter in Kiruna // Kiruna church
Kiruna church.

Places worth visiting outside of Kiruna

  • Abisko National Park
  • Kebnekaise
  • Esrange Visitor Center – Sweden’s only space rocket base
  • Jukkasjärvi church
  • Moose Safari – Drive along the road to Nikkaloukta and see if you can spot the King of the forest
  • If you have access to a car I really recommend the road between Kiruna and Abisko – it’s gorgeous and worth driving even if you’re only going over the day.
  • The road between Kiruna and Nikkaloukta – also gorgeous!
Winter in Kiruna // Moose Safari
I loved going on a moose safari along the road to Nikkaloukta.
Winter in Kiruna // Kebnekaise mountains
While driving you have a great view over the Kebnekaise mountains.
Winter in Kiruna // Jukkasjärvi church
Jukkasjärvi church.
Winter in Kiruna // Abisko canyon
Abisko Canyon during winter.

Restaurants and cafés in Kiruna

My personal favourites to eat in Kiruna is definitely the “souvaskebab” from Empes Gatukök (the one behind Hotel Scandic – Mommagatan 4), hamburger at Annis grill and the lunchbuffet at ICEHOTEL’s restaurant in Jukkasjärvi. The pizza at Lombolo Pizzeria & Grill äis also great and highly recommended.

Café Safari has delicious sandwiches (my favourite is the one with ham and cheese). Pizzeria Sicilia is located right in the city centre and I always go for a Hawaii pizza there. I also liked the Sundaybrunch at SPIS Mat & Dryck – also in the city centre. SPIS also has a small café at Kiruna Airport and when I worked there I always had a sandwich for lunch.

Stejk Street Food was also quite good although a bit expensive. But that’s always the case with souvas and reindeer/moose meat. I haven’t been dining at Landströms but have heard only good things even if they also are a little bit pricey. Last but not least, I’ve had a great lunch at Camp Ripan although it was a few years ago.

And of course, there’s a lot more places to eat in Kiruna but these are my favourites and the ones I’ve heard good things about. And if you haven’t tried souvas yet, definitely do it before you leave the north!

Sundaybrunch at SPIS Mat & Dryck in Kiruna
Traditional sami cuisine at Café Sápmi in Jukkasjärvi.
Café Safari in Kiruna.
Kiruna - Swedish Lapland
Kiruna – Swedish Lapland

Kiruna in Swedish Lapland

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  1. I enjoyed your article about Kiruna. A couple of years ago I took the train from Stockholm to Abisko in the winter. The train broke down but I still enjoyed the trip. I’ve made the trek to Sweden’s Arctic Circle three times to see the aurora but have not been lucky. Sometimes I wonder if the Northern Lights are like the Bigfoot myth 😉 Still, I can’t wait to return. Thanks for your article.

    1. Thank you Kevin! I’m happy you liked it. Taking the train between Stockholm and Abisko can be a fun experience, but maybe not as much fun when the train breaks down. It does happen quite a bit actually. I hope you’ll be able to return to the Arctic Circle soon again and that you’ll be able to see the aurora dance. The fourth time’s a charm? Hopefully!!

      Sorry for my slow reply – I just found your comment in my spamfolder 🙁

  2. Wow this is the ultimate blog!
    Thanks for sharing so much info and recommendations for Kiruna!

    We visited. However, I didn’t get to do everything I would’ve liked so i’ll be sure to keep some of these ideas in mind when I head back one day!

    1. Hi Bea! Thank you so much for your nice comments! I read yout blog post and looks like you’ve had a great time even though you didn’t get a chance to do everything. There never is enough time, is there?! I hope you’ll be able to come back one day.

  3. Can we experience ice hotel and skiing in mid- Nov? Also how is the weather in mid November for northen lights?

    1. Yes, and no. You can experience ICEHOTEL 365 which is open all year. But the full ICEHOTEL experience usually opens in the beginning of December. You can read more about it here:

      As for skiing, do you mean cross country skiing? If so, yes, you should be able to do that. As for downhill skiing, I’m not sure if the slopes are open as early as mid-November.

      It’s hard to speak about the weather as it varies. But as for seeing the northern lights, it’s definitely possible. Personally I have seen some amazing lights as early as late August and beginning of September. And last year in November, there were some nights with amazing displays of the lights.