If you’ve just arrived in Luleå and want to get an overview of the region’s history and culture, the best place to visit is Norrbottens Museum, a five-minute walk west of the cathedral.
Although the museum itself is fairly small, the area it covers is vast. The county of Norrbotten takes up a quarter of Sweden’s enormous surface area but is home to just 250,000 people – and around 75,000 of those live in and around Luleå.
Despite its ultra-low population density, Norrbotten is surprisingly multifaceted. Swedes, Finns, Russians and the Sami – this area’s earliest inhabitants – have all helped to shape Norrbotten’s identity, which makes it feel distinctly different from southern parts of the country.
The permanent exhibitions inside Norrbottens Museum try to pull these varied influences together, some more successfully than others. There are also temporary exhibitions that change every year or so, focusing on subjects as diverse as handicrafts and infectious diseases.
If you have time to kill you might want to check out the museum’s small cinema room, which screens films from the local area in English, Swedish and Sami languages (don’t panic, subtitles are provided). If it’s quiet you’ll be able to choose whichever film you fancy from a half-dozen or so different titles – subjects include bear hunting, a local mine, and ‘Luleå in the 1960s’.
Aside from a gift shop selling regional crafts, Norrbottens Museum also has a great, child-friendly gallery that’s themed like a farmstead in the year 1900. There are lots of hands-on things for kids to do, like getting dressed up in old-fashioned clothes and pretending to bake bread in the farmstead’s bakery. There’s even a cow to milk.
With or without kids, the ground-floor café is a cosy place for a cuppa.
The museum is a short walk west of the city centre. Follow Köpmangatan or Storgatan and you’ll see the museum ahead of you (it faces onto a little park).
+46 920 243 502
Last updated: January 2015