Sorsele, Lappland – Exploring Sweden

The location by one of the country’s largest river gives Sorsele a distinct natural feeling. The approximately 1.100 inhabitants have nature next door. The locality also has a strong historical and cultural connection with the Sami people, the natives of the area.

A Short History

Sorsele was a part of the Swedish expansion in the beginning of the 17th century. At that time, the central power in Stockholm wanted greater control of the area known as Lapland. This was to make sure that the area would not be claimed by Denmark-Norway or Russia. By royal decree in 1606 several churches were built in Lapland and Sorsele became a part of Lycksele parish. It was also in Lycksele that the children of the Sami people were sent to school from 1632.

Sorsele was at this time still only a summer settlement for the Sami people and it took until the second half of the 17th century before a chapel was built. The new priest was the first person to start farming the land. The century ended with Stockholm trying to get more people to settle in the area, a process that was rather slow.

The Sami people of the area continued with their nomadic lifestyle and reindeer herding. It took until the second half of the 19th century before more and more of them started to settle. For the ones living on farming the life was harsh. The land gave a sparse harvest during normal years and bad harvests were common.

The forestry industry made its entrance at the end of the 19th century and has stayed since, but the need for employees has decreased due to mechanisation of the work.

Things to Do and See in Sorsele

As with most of northern Sweden, most of the menu in Sorsele consists of activities relating to nature. However, culture and history serve as side dishes.


This is the museum about Inlandsbanan, the railway through central Sweden that connects Kristinehamn in the south to Gällivare in the north. Learn about the history of the railway that has meant so much for the development of the Swedish Lapland since its construction between 1908 and 1937. The museum also acts as the visitor centre for Sorsele.

Explore Vindelälven

Vindelälven or the Vindel River is a tributary to the Ume River. Its name comes from the Vindelfjällens Nature Reserve. As the river flows through the reserve, it has been protected from hydroelectric development and runs freely. That is until it reaches Ume River at the spot where one of Sweden’s largest hydroelectric power stations is located.

In Sorsele the river flows through the center of the town, creating an island in the middle of the river known as Sorseleholmen. The exploration possibilities are endless, either by boat or on foot you will be able to enjoy the nature.

Learn About the Sami Culture

Visiting Sorsele also means visiting Sápmi, the cultural region of the Sami People that stretches over four countries. Sápmi is the more politically correct name of the region that for a long time has been known as Lapland.

Around Sorsele there are several places to experience the Sami culture, best known is probably the village of Ammarnäs located 88 kilometers west of the town.

Vindelfjällen nature reserve

Vindelfjällen nature reserve is located west of Sorsele and it is the largest nature reserve in Sweden. With its 5.600 square kilometers it is also one of the largest reserves in Europe. The reserve was established in 1974 and covers several mountains along the Swedish-Norwegian border, with the highest peak being the Norra Sytertoppen at 1.768 m.

The famous hiking trail Kungsleden goes through the reserve. The main access points can be found at the villages of Ammarnäs and Hemavan.

How to get to Sorsele

Flights: Closest airport is Arvidsjaur Airport (AJR) is located 95 kilometers from the town. It connects the area with the Stockholm-Arlanda Airport (ARN) for connections around the globe.
Car: Sorsele is located along the E45 between Arvidsjaur and Sturuman.
Train: Inlandsbanan is the only train route stopping in Sorsele.
Bus: There are regional buses connecting Sorsele with the surrounding area.

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

Stockholm – 823 kilometers (9 h 40 min)
Gothenburg – 1172 kilometers (14 h 15 min)
Malmö – 1431 kilometers (16 h 8 min)
Linköping – 1018 kilometers (11 h 33 min) 
Kiruna – 447 kilometers (5 h 32 min)

Find out more about other destinations in Sweden by visiting our page Exploring Sweden

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