Kiruna, Sweden: Jukkasjärvi (Nutti Sámi Siida and the Ice Hotel)

This is going to get too long for a single blog post, so I’ll break it up. This post covers my day in Jukkasjärvi. Check out all of my posts on Kiruna.

Jukkasjärvi is a small town about 20 km from Kiruna, mostly known for Nutti Sámi Siida and the Ice Hotel. This took me a solid afternoon.

You can get there by car or by bus. If you do take the bus, note that it only goes a few times a day – Google Maps had a good overview of the schedule. You pay on the bus with credit card or via their app. Check out the Länstrafiken Norrbotten website for more info.

The bus was a proper long-distance bus with comfy seats. What caught my attention here is that it was 13:00 and the sun was nearly set.

Looking at the information for Kiruna that day, there is actually daylight. Most of the time, though, it felt grey and as if it was constant twilight. I was relieved when the sun actually did set and the darkness was regular old dark.

Sun graph for Kiruna

I initially thought that I’d need to try and get as much done during daylight as possible. That turned out to be an incorrect assumption – you can do almost anything no matter the amount of daylight as people are used to the darkness and find ways to make it work.

Either way, the light was going fast.

Sunset at Jukkasjärvi

I took the bus all the way to the end station, Jukkasjärvi Kyrkan. It’s a turnaround spot with Jukkasjärvi church and Nutti Sámi Siida right next to each other – my plan was to walk back to the Ice Hotel and then catch the bus back from there.

Jukkasjärvi Church was built in 1607-1608 and is one of few existing examples of its type today. . Apparently I missed out by not going inside but I wasn’t sure if it was open. It looked lovely in the snow, but felt tainted by the information about how the Sámi people were forced to Christianity.

Jukkasjärvi Kyrkan

Right next door is Nutti Sámi Siida. A siida is a local Sámi community – so it’s the Nutti Sámi commmunity.

They have put together an open air museum with lots of displays of Sámi culture – there was clothing, handwork, but also typical building structures, information about the reindeer lifecycle, etc. A lot of it was oriented at kids, but it was interesting to get to see. I particularly liked the information about the reindeer.

Reindeer shed their horns each year
Patting the reindeer

I was particularly fascinated by their hooves as they can spread to help them stay on top of the snow:

Reindeer hooves

I’d heard that the food was good at Nutti Sámi Siida – and this menu looks wonderful. Unfortunately I was still full so didn’t eat here. Missed opportunity!

I walked about 1200 meters back down the road towards the Ice Hotel. I was starting to pay attention to the time as I knew that I needed to catch the bus back to Kiruna at a certain time and didn’t want to miss it. The walk was lovely – everything was dark and peaceful and it was nice to be alone for a bit.

The Ice Hotel consists of a number of buildings: most are permanent. There are two different “cold” locations: the Ice Hotel 365 which is available year round and is basically a really big cooler, and the Ice Hotel rooms which are rebuilt each year. The hotel also has regular “warm” rooms, both in a hotel structure and in cabins. You can buy a ticket to view the Ice Hotel 365 from the main reception or in the lobby of the 365 section. I was tired after the long previous day and nearly skipped this – I’m so glad I didn’t!

Snowman with cabins in the background

You can see this year’s ice hotel construction – it won’t open until sometime in December.

Ice Hotel under construction

The entrance to the Ice Hotel 365 building is impressive – and it really does remind me a bit of a cooler.

Entrance to the 365 Ice Hotel

Once you buy your ticket, you’re free to wander the different ice hotel rooms.

Access to rooms

Each room has a theme and was created by different artists. I took so many photos here – they were all so beautiful and different. If I were to choose a room to sleep in, I don’t even know which one I’d choose. I’ve collected my favorites for you below.

Afterwards, you can stop for a drink in the lobby. The detail is exquisite.

Ice Hotel 365 Bar

The same room, but looking back towards the entrance.

Ice Hotel Bar

After that, I headed back to Kiruna, got warm again, and had a lovely dinner at SPiS.

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