Welcome to the Arctic! Gällivare is located about 100 kilometers north of the polar circle. The town is in one of Sweden’s major ore regions. In fact, major ore extraction takes place in neighboring Malmberget. Gällivare also lies within the cultural region for the Sámi people – Sápmi.
Gällivare – A Short History
Gällivare’s first known mentioning dates back to the 17th century. In other words, it is not so old in Swedish history books. It’s worth remembering, though, that Sweden looked very different back in the day. Originally there was no town, just a mountain. Nowadays there is no mountain, just a big hole in the ground.
In any case. In the 17th century, it was actually the mountain that was mentioned and it was first at the end of the century that a village was established.
The first mining for iron ore took place in 1735. The old church (Ettöreskyrkan) was erected a few years later in order to introduce Christianity to the Sámi population. Further development of the town occurred once the railroad – Malmbanan – was build at the end of the 19th century.
Since the start, most activities occurred around the mine and so it is still today. The mine greatly affects Gällivare. Actually, big parts of neighboring Malmberget are being moved to make room for the mine. Many of the houses and people of Malmberget must relocate to Gällivare, this is similar to the much more famous move of Kiruna.
Things to do and see in Gällivare
There is a lot to do in and around Gällivare, much of which is connected with nature and the mine.
Dundret is the large hill, or mountain if you wish, that is overlooking most of Gällivare. Its is a nature preserve with the highest point reaching 823 meters above sea level. There is a ski resort at one of the sides of Dundret and there are multiple trekking paths in the area. The peak is also accessible by car.
Vassaraälven is a stream running along Gällivare’s western side. It provides great paths for walking if you survive the mosquitos. It is one of the easiest ways to access nature when you’re in the center of town. If you cross the stream from Gällivare you will be in the area of “Andra sidan“. The name is quite suitable, it simply means “the other side”.
Watch a Town Being Moved
It is not many times that you will get the opportunity to see a whole town being moved. Signs of the move is visible both in Gällivare and Malmberget, maybe you will even see a house on the road.
Gällivare Museum is in the center of Gällivare and it offers a glimpse into the history of the town’s Sámi population as well as iron mining. There is also a display about the mosquitos. Listen to Sun Tzu and know your enemy.
What you shouldn’t miss is to go out and enjoy nature. Either by hiking, fishing or the more exclusive activities such as dog sledding or snow scooter rides.
How to get to Gällivare
Flights: Gällivare Lapland Airport (GEV) has a limited domestic service with flights to and from Stockholm Arlanda Airport (ARN). These flights make a stopover at Arvidsjaur Airport (AJR). Another, more trafficked, airport in the area is Kiruna Airport (KRN) which is an hour drive from Gällivare.
Car: two main highways connect near Gällivare. These are E10 from the Gulf of Bothnia to Narvik in Norway and E45, which leads all the way through the center of Sweden.
Train: There are a few trains per day connecting Gällivare with especially Kiruna and Luleå. Longer routes are available to Stockholm, Narvik, and Östersund.
Bus: Mostly regional buses connects Gällivare with towns such as Luleå, Kiruna, Jokkmokk, and Pajala. In order to travel further, you’ll probably need to change buses in either Kiruna or Luleå.
The driving distance from 5 major Swedish cities, according to Google Maps:
Stockholm – 1135 kilometers (12 h 41 min) Gothenburg – 1480 kilometers (16 h 55 min) Malmö – 1743 kilometers (18 h 50 min) Luleå – 243 kilometers (2 h 47 min) Linköping – 1330 kilometers (14 h 46 min)
Find out more about other destinations in Sweden by visiting our page Exploring Sweden