Jukkasjärvi – meeting place by the water
Jukkasjärvi is a village 17 kilometers outside Kiruna. The name comes from a Sámi word that roughly translates to “meeting place by the water”. Here the Torne river is very wide and looks rather like a smaller lake, hence the Finnish word “järvi” which means lake.
With origins from the 17th century, Jukkasjärvi is one of the oldest villages in Norrbotten. The location at Torne river, near the lake Sautusjärvi, was a strategic starting point for fishing as well as trade. Parts of the older farm settlement can still be found in the oldest part of the village. Here is also the old homestead where the oldest building is a timber cottage from 1736. For a long time, the priest- and bell families were the only residents of the village, but in the 18th century some new settlements were established. Today the village has about 800 inhabitants, but there are also more than 1,000 dogs in the village!
See and do in Jukkasjärvi
The church dates from 1726 with its original parts from 1607. The church is a timber, red-colored building, with a stand-alone bell tower. The church is built in a special timber construction, that is the only preserved in the country. The altar piece, painted by Bror Hjorth, is an eye-catching part of the church hall.
Jukkasjärvi’s very own small mountain hill where you get a nice view over Jukkasjärvi village and Torneälven. Bring a lunch bag that you can enjoy on top. Follow the electric light track from the football field and you will arrive in about 30-45 minutes. The path is often trampled in winter as you follow a snowmobile trail, but Mother Nature can be fickle so this it’s not a guarantee. Snowshoes are of course an option.
The world’s first and largest hotel built of snow and ice was first built in 1989 and has since been reborn every winter in mid-December until mid-April when it melts and returns to its origins in the Torne River. The permanent construction ICEHOTEL 365 gives you an ice experience all year round with both ice bar and art suites. A Shop and a restaurant are also available here.
Activities on your own
With skis or snowshoes you can go out on the frozen river, or through the snowclad forest where there are also illuminated ski trails of 5 km and 10 km. In summer you can glide on the water with a canoe or stand up paddle. Fly through the forest on a cross-country bike or take a calmer ride by e-bike through the village. Equipment for rent as well as tips and maps are available at Icehotel.
Sámi Siida – Márkanbáiki
In the exhibition area, you will learn about the Sámi culture, traditions, the nomadic way of life and the history of the reindeer herding Sámi. You get close with the reindeer grazing in the enclosure and you can let them eat directly from your hand. In the large café hut you can enjoy a traditional Sámi lunch, where both suovas and gurpi are two favorites. The shop has Sámi arts and crafts to admire or buy.
The old homestead
Enjoy a cup of brewed coffee and homemade bread or cinnamon bun baked in the stone oven in the bakery in the traditional way. Inspired by the craftsmanship made by local craftsmen where materials are obtained from nature. A thousand-year-old craft that has been passed on for generations. On a guided tour of the museums, you will learn about the Sámi and Tornedalian culture. A story that takes you back to the ice age.
Esrange Visitor Center
Bonus tip if you are travelling by car. Esrange Space Station is located about 25km from Jukkasjärvi. Here the state-owned company SSC (Swedish Space Corporation) launch sounding rockets and stratospheric balloons for research. Esrange also has one of the world’s largest ground stations for satellite communications. The unmanned Visitor Center, at the gates of Esrange Space Center, is where you can get an insight into the ongoings behind the Esrange gates. You will also find information about other space activities in the region.
If you are in Jukkasjärvi and want to join a guided activity, we can recommend one of the companies below. Many Kiruna-based companies also offer activities with pick-up in Jukkasjärvi.