Welcome to Umea!
Umea, Sweden, is a fascinating destination waiting to be explored. The educational and economic capital city of Vasterbotten region, it’s home to the largest hospital and university in Northern Sweden. Due to the university, more than 40 percent of the population is university students, which makes for a very exciting culture, creative scene, and nightlife. Whether you prefer peace and quiet or speed and action, you ́ll find a variety of things to do here.
Approaching the city may be frightening at first, especially with the young and hip population, but this guide will show you that there is something for everyone in Umea. We give you some insider tips to help you make the most out of your visit.
Worldwide Local Tip: The best and most convenient way of getting around Umea is by bike as the city offers a wide variety of bike-friendly roads and bike-only bridges. You can easily rent a bike or if you plan on staying longer, buying a used bike might be a good investment.
When you get to Umea, it’s not hard to understand why the city was the European Capital of Culture in 2014. The locals are proud to teach and share their culture with visitors. You can experience and learn about Sami (Umea’s locals) art, music, culture, and language during Sami week, a yearly celebration of Sami culture held every winter. Or in summer, during the thrilling festivals and events like Brännbollsyran and Umea Live which attract both locals and visitors.
If you like visiting museums, Umea has plenty to offer. Västerbottens museum is the main museum where you can learn all about Umea’s history and culture. Music lovers will find heaven in Guitars museum; with its world-class collection of electric guitars, electric basses and other rock n roll accessories from the 1950s onwards. Bildmuseet is the center for contemporary art and other forms of visual expression. The architecture of this remarkable museum is very captivating as it features square lines and windows in random positions. Make sure to also visit the Women’s History Museum, unique in its kind.
Worldwide Local Tip: The Women’s History Museum is located at the Kulturväven cultural center, which also houses the city’s library, theatre, art house cinema, and market. Making this the perfect place to take a break from exploring and watching the locals go about their days. The center also has a fantastic view of the Ume River.
Nydalasjön, the closest lake to Umea, is full of activity all year round. Including terrain trails, adventure playground, fishing, barbecue areas, Lake Baths, Ski trails when the lake freezes over in winter and a water park. There’s also a campsite nearby with a holiday village that has an amazing adventure golf course, making this a great place to visit regardless of the Umea weather.
Arboretum Norr is the perfect place to hang out, especially if you happen to have kids. With over 1,600 trees and shrubs from around 280 species, which are sourced from all over the world, you can be sure the place is invigorating. Bring a picnic basket and some wine and enjoy as you feel the cool, soothing breeze.
Worldwide Local Tip: If you’re interested in the botanical information of the trees in the arboretum, be sure to bring a phone app for translations. There is a lot of written information provided, but it’s all in Swedish.
Pet a… Moose?
A trip to Umea would be incomplete without visiting the Algens Hus Park. This moose park, only 70km west of Umea, is your chance to meet the animals and even have them eat from your hands! In Swedish, these giant creatures are known as elk. There’s a museum video presentation on the life of a moose and even a small dairy where a scarce moose cheese is produced; at 6000kr ($620 us dollars) per kilogram, this is going to be the most expensive cheese you’ll ever taste.
Umea After Dark
As expected, Umea has a very vibrant nightlife. Clubs and pubs are located either on campus or next to each other downtown. However, you can spend the nights spotting the northern lights, which are a sight to behold. In Umea, the best place to see the aurora (northern lights) is at Nydala Lake as it’s far enough from the city lights, and it’s easy to get to.
Worldwide Local Tip: The sky has to be clear in order for the northern lights, or auroras to be visible. So if you want to see more than just clouds, make sure it’s clear in Umea, Sweden weather forecasts can be unpredictable.
Enjoy Your Stay!
Umea is one of the most fascinating cities in Europe. Exploring this city as a worldwide local will prove that Umea is more than a hippy student city with so many gems waiting to be explored.