Kiruna is the major town in the north western part of Swedish Lapland and has been the tourist hub of the region for many years.
Kiruna, 300 kilometres above the Arctic Circle is well within the aurora belt so benefits from strong showing of the Northern Lights throughout the season. It is an interesting town in that hidden from view beneath the surface is the world’s largest iron ore mine that has been turning out the finest iron pellets for over a century. The famous old railroad linking the mine to the port of Narvik in Norway (around 140 kilometres away) is the most obvious reason for the scale of the mine.
However the reason why Kiruna is so well known as a tourist destination is that it is the access point to two of Swedish Lapland’s tourist icons, the Original ICEHOTEL which celebrates its 30th season in 2019/20 and around 90 kilometres away lies Abisko, regarded as the best location in the region, and one of the top places in the world, for consistent sightings of the Aurora Borealis.
The original ICEHOTEL, based in the hamlet of Jukkasjarvi is around a 15 minute drive from the airport. For 30 years this has been home to the ICEHOTEL which has expanded from a temporary structure to also now include ICEHOTEL 365, the all year round ICEHOTEL.
The Hotel is made from Ice harvested in the Torne River which flows adjacent to the hotel. The ICE is stored in huge warehouses until it is required for the following year’s edition of the hotel.
Northern Lights viewing at the ICEHOTEL is good and can create evocative images when photographed over the hotel outline. Anyone lucky enough to come and experience the original ICEHOTEL from December to March do so knowing that come the end April the hotel will be gone and will only exist in photographs and memories until the next reincarnation the following season.
There are various aurora hunting opportunities at the ICEHOTEL including an excellent snowmobile safari with outdoor dinner, overnight snowmobile tours staying in a wilderness cabin plus aurora photography evenings.
You can base a whole Northern Lights holiday at the ICEHOTEL using a combination of cold and warm accommodation but it is increasingly popular to combine a stay here with a trip to other parts of the region.
Take a look at our most popular Aurora Break staying at the Ice Hotel
Máttaráhkká Northern Lights Lodge
Some places create a real home away from home vibe and Máttaráhkká Northern Lights Lodge is one such place. An old Sami handicraft centre located around 5 kilometres outside Kiruna on the road to Abisko has been converted into a cosy 7 bedroom lodge.
From its elevated position looking out over a huge expanse toward the Abisko Alps this is a wonderful base for aurora hunters seeking a more laid back low key base from which to explore this wonderful part of Lapland.
Run by our long-time partner Andreas Mikko, or simply Mikko, it provides an authentic environment with some nice touches. The Northern Lights seen from the private outdoor hot tub of the Deluxe room looking towards the Abisko Alps is certainly up there in terms of being one of the best locations for enjoying a Northern Lights spectacle.
Take a look at our most popular Northern Lights Trip staying here.
There is also a rooftop aurora hot tub for all of the guests, and Mikko runs night-time Northern Lights snowmobile tours, Aurora BBQs and they have cameras at the lodge which can be used for Northern Lights photography at the lodge.
Arctic Gourmet Cabins
This hidden gem is run by Johan and Malin and consists of 2 suite-style cabins with Sweden’s smallest restaurant where Johan serves up excellent nightly meals cooked in front of you in the restaurant.
Located around 30 kilometres from Kiruna on the road to Nikkaloukta a mountainous area which accesses the famous King’s trail, you will be based in the Torne River Valley.
The two cabins are well apportioned but are not en-suite. There is a service area 5 metres from the cabins which has toilet, shower and sauna as well as an outdoor Northern Lights hot tub.
From here aurora hunting is generally done from the cabins although it is possible to join a Northern Lights night time hack on Icelandic ponies through the adjacent forest and riverine areas.
For inspiration for a Northern Lights Holiday staying here
Camp Ripan is based on the outskirts of Kiruna and comprises of wooden single and twin bedroom cabins with a central restaurant that is renowned for the food it serves. The cabins are traditional and well-appointed and are in particular popular amongst families who can take an Aurora holiday in a 2-bed cabin cost-effectively.
The other feature of Camp Ripan is the Aurora Spa which is totally unique in the region. It houses both indoor & outdoor heated pools, saunas and relaxation areas where you can enjoy pampering yourself with the different ‘ scrubs and rubs’ that the lodge produces itself.
Being outdoors witnessing a Northern Lights display from the warming waters of the outdoor pool is special. Camp Ripan provides the base for many day time and Northern Lights themed activities including night-time husky adventures.
This family half term Northern Lights adventure staying at Camp Ripan may be exactly what you are looking for.
Hotel Arctic Eden
Kiruna has a number of hotels where you could base yourself for a Northern Lights break but leading the pack would be the Hotel Arctic Eden.
This hotel was converted from an old school around 10 years ago by Janne Gronberg a local entrepreneur. He and his wife Kirsi have used their building and design skills combined with Janne’s Sami heritage to create a very comfortable 30 bed hotel.
The 4 suites at the lodge are some of the best we have seen in a hotel in Swedish Lapland. Being in town there is a reasonable amount of light pollution which can affect the quality of Northern Lights sightings but there are viewing points a short walk away and it is possible to organise Northern Lights tours in the neighbouring wilderness areas.
See our FULL range of Northern Lights trips to Sweden