Karesuando, Lappland, Exploring Sweden

Karesuando, Lappland – Exploring Sweden

Karesuando is a small settlement in the far north of Swedish Lappland. It is with around 280 inhabitants the northernmost locality in Sweden. A locality is defined in the Nordic countries as an urban settlement with at least 200 inhabitants. This is also home to one of the border crossings with Finland. Right across the Muonio River is the sister village Karesuvanto. In Finnish the Swedish village shares its name with its sister across the river while in Samí the name of the village is Gárasavvon or Gáresavvon.


A Short History of Karesuando

The first permanent settler here was Måns Mårtensson Karesuando, who settled the former Samí land in 1670. The settlement was initially a part of the Enontekiö Parish, but as Sweden lost Finland to Russia in 1809 the parish church ended up on the other side of the border. A new church was built in Karesuando and it was inaugurated in 1816.

Karesuando was the home of the pastor Lars Levi Læstadius between the years 1826 and 1846. He has since been known as the father of Laestadianism within the Lutheran Church, a revival movement that has spread both in the region and also further abroad to Finland, Norway, Russia, and the United States.

It wasn’t until 1980 that Karesuando was rejoined with its sister village in Finland. That was when the bridge across the Muonio River was built, linking the two villages by road.


Things to Do and See

The small locality does not in itself offer any spectacular sights. The local church is the northernmost church in Sweden. There is also the historical building Læstadiuspörtet, the last remaining part of the old clergy manors that once housed Læstadius. There is also a local indoor swimming pool.

Generally speaking, Karesuando is a gateway to the rest of the far north. There are multiple options for visitors. You can continue towards Finland or Norway if you don’t want to explore more of the remote areas of Swedish Lapland. In the summer you can enjoy the midnight sun, while you might be lucky to see the northern lights during the winter.


How to Get to Karesuando

  • Flights: Two Swedish airports serve the area. The largest one is Kiruna Airport (KRN), but there is also the smaller Pajala Airport ((PJA). Across the border in Finland, there is also the airport of Enontekiö Airport (ENF).
  • Car: Karesuando lies at the intersection of 3 major regional roads. The E45 connects the area with Gällivare and Kiruna, while Road 99 follows the Swedish side of the border towards Pajala and Haparanda. Across the border in Finland is the E8 going between Tromsø and Tornio, it also continues further south through Finland.

The driving distance from 5 major Swedish cities, according to Google Maps:

  • Stockholm – 1299 kilometers (14 h 40 min)
  • Gothenburg – 1644 kilometers (18 h 40 min)
  • Malmö – 1907 kilometers (20 h 30 min)
  • Linköping – 1494 kilometers (16 h 30 min)
  • Kiruna – 179 kilometers (2 h 20 min)

Explore More of Lappland and Sweden

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