Kiruna is a destination that offers a memorable and unique experience for travelers seeking adventure, natural beauty, and cultural immersion. Whether you’re chasing the Northern Lights or exploring the pristine wilderness of Lapland, Kiruna has something special to offer all year round.

How to get there, where to stay, when you should go to Kiruna

Where is Kiruna?

Kiruna is located in the northern part of Sweden, in the region of Norrbotten. It is situated within the Arctic Circle and is the northernmost town in Sweden.

Kiruna is known for its proximity to the Arctic wilderness, unique natural phenomena like the Northern Lights, and its role as a gateway to Lapland. It is also notable for its mining industry and the famous Icehotel, which attracts tourists from around the world.

Are the northern lights better in Abisko than in Kiruna?

The Aurora Borealis is a natural phenomenon that can be observed in both Abisko and Kiruna. The northern lights look similar in Abisko and Kiruna due to their close proximity and similar latitudes.

Abisko is known for its clear skies and low light pollution, making it an excellent location for viewing the Northern Lights. It also has a unique microclimate that tends to have less cloud cover than other areas in the region, which can increase your chances of seeing the aurora.

Kiruna is another popular location for aurora viewing, and it has a range of accommodation options and activities for visitors. While it can be more crowded than Abisko, it also has a wider range of services and amenities available.

Ultimately, both Abisko and Kiruna offer excellent opportunities for viewing the Northern Lights, and which one is “better” depends on your personal preferences and priorities.

Our Kiruna Northern Lights Tour will take you to Abisko. After we pick you up from your hotel in Kiruna, we will drive to Abisko village, where we will have dinner and get ready for an adventure!

How to get to Kiruna?

The best way to get to Kiruna is to fly or take a train. 

By Flight: Direct flights into Kiruna from Stockholm run multiple times a day on several carriers. From Stockholm to Kiruna is about an hour and a half flight, and from the Kiruna airport you can easily catch a bus to the city centre. 

By Train: The night train from Stockholm to Kiruna is the most popular way to get to Kiruna. Leaving from Stockholm at 6 pm, the train arrives in Kiruna around 9:30 am the next morning. The overnight train offers sleeper cabins and plenty of amenities for the long trip. 

How many days should I spend in Kiruna?

The number of days you should spend in Kiruna depends on your interests and what you want to do while you’re there. If you are primarily interested in seeing the Northern Lights, it’s a good idea to plan for at least three to four nights to increase your chances of catching a clear night with aurora activity. However, keep in mind that the aurora is a natural phenomenon and can’t be guaranteed, so it’s important to be flexible and patient.

We highly recommend that you stay in Kiruna a minimum of 4 nights to make sure that you will see the Aurora Borealis and your trip was worth it. Besides the Aurora, there are many activities you can do in Kiaruna, especially in winter: What to do in Kiruna.

When should I go to Kiruna?

If you want to experience the Northern Lights, you should visit Kiruna in the season from September to March. If you want to experience the snow activities that start in late October and see the Northern Lights, the period from the beginning of November to the end of March is perfect.

However, it is really impressive to experience the wonderful colors of nature with the northern lights in September and October (with less or no snow!).

The polar night period from the beginning of December to the middle of January offers you a completely different experience. During this period, the sun never rises above Kiruna, and the area becomes dark.

During the summer months, Kiruna experiences a natural phenomenon known as the Midnight Sun, where the sun doesn’t set for several weeks, creating a unique and surreal landscape.

Kiruna city Transformation

The transformation of Kiruna is a significant and unique urban development project driven by the impact of mining activities on the town. Kiruna is situated above one of the world’s largest iron ore deposits, and mining has been a core part of the local economy for over a century. However, the extraction of iron ore led to ground subsidence, threatening the sustainability and future of the town.

To address this issue, a substantial part of Kiruna has been moved to a new location, about three kilometers east of the old town center. Several historic and culturally significant buildings have been physically moved to the new town center, preserving the town’s heritage. This includes the Kiruna Church, which was meticulously relocated and reconstructed.

The relocation and transformation project has been executed in phases to minimize disruption to the community. Residents and businesses have been gradually moving to the new town center.

Where to stay in Kiruna?

Old Town Center

If you are looking for a chalet-style rooms, you can stay in Camp Ripan, breakfast and SPA are amazing. Other good options are Arctic Eden or Hotel Bishops Arms.

If you are looking for a budget accommodations your options are Spis, STF Kiruna or Samegarden.

New Town Center

Scandic Hotel is the newest hotel in Kiruna, located in the New Town Center.

Where to eat in Kiruna?

Try local dishes such as reindeer meat, Arctic char, and cloudberries during your holiday in Kiruna. The cuisine is influenced by the Sámi culture and the unique ingredients available in the region.

Camp Ripan Restaurant, Ice Hotel Restaurant or Scandic are great options for a fancy dinner. Ice Hotel is not located in Kiruna, it is located in Jukkasjarvi, 15 km away from Kiruna center.

If you are on a budget trip, feeling snaky or want to have fika here are a few suggestions:

In the new city center

  • Spill: great breakfast, brunch and dinner. The newest place in town
  • Aurora restaurang kiruna: located in Aurora Kultur & Kongress.

In the old city center

  • Stejk Street Food: Reindeer & moose meat mix, arctic cheese, steaks and condiments. A perfect mix for your palate. Enjoy a culinary meal in our cozy warm lavvu with an open fireplace.
  • Hjalmar Lundbohmsgården – a museum about the mine and cozy café where everything is baked from scratch in their bakery.

In Jukkasjarvi:

  • The Old Homestead: Savor local produce or pizza in a cultural and historical environment on the banks of Torne River.
  • Café Sápmi: In Café Sápmi the dishes are based on traditional recipes but often has a modern twist. Here you will find traditional food, always locally produced and according to the season.


In Kiruna, you can find pizzerias, kebab, and sushi places too. If you truly want to experience the local cuisine, we recommend trying out some of the suggestions above.

Sámi culture

The Sámi culture holds a significant place in Kiruna and the surrounding region. The Sámi people are the indigenous inhabitants of the Arctic region, including Kiruna. Their culture has deep roots in this area and encompasses a unique way of life, traditions, and languages.

Reindeer herding is a central aspect of Sámi culture and livelihood. Many Sámi families in Kiruna continue to engage in traditional reindeer herding practices, preserving a lifestyle that has been passed down through generations.

There are Sámi villages around Kiruna where you can learn about Sámi traditions and engage with the local community. Jukkasjärvi, for example, is a Sámi village located near Kiruna and is known for its Sámi culture and crafts.

When visiting Kiruna, taking the time to learn about and appreciate Sámi culture is a meaningful way to connect with the region’s rich heritage and gain a deeper understanding of the Arctic’s indigenous people. It’s essential to approach Sámi culture with respect and an open mind, honoring the traditions and practices of this resilient and unique community.

We would like to close our post by reminding you that respecting the local environment and wildlife is crucial to protect the fragile arctic during your adventures in Kiruna.

Thank you for reading our guide! We hope you enjoy your trip. We look forward to seeing you on a Lights of Vikings Tour soon!

Picture of Cristina Masferrer
Cristina Masferrer

Co-founder of Lights of Vikings

A complete guide to the northern lights

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