Umeå, Västerbotten, Exploring Sweden

Umeå, Västerbotten – Exploring Sweden

With a population of almost 90.000, Umeå is the largest city in Norrland and the 13th largest in Sweden. It is known as the City of Birches. Located along the Ume River, almost at the outlet to the Bothnian Sea, it has for a long time played an important role both economically and militarily.

A Short History of Umeå

This part of Norrland became a part of Sweden in the early 14th century. Back then Umeå was a small parish with a wooden church, a market place and a harbor. It became a port leading into the wilderness of the land further north. Umeå became a city in 1588 when the Swedish king Johan III gave it its city privileges. The city became the seat of the new Västerbotten County in 1938.

The Russian Pillage saw Umeå burned down by Russian troops three times. The first time was in 1714 and then again in 1720. The temporary housing was burned down in 1721. The wars with Russia were a recurrent event in Swedish history and the city was conquered for a short time in 1809.

The same day as Sundsvall was devastated by a fire in 1888, also Umeå was burning. Around 2300 of the city’s 3000 inhabitants became homeless. However, Umeå didn’t make the same decision as Sundsvall to only rebuild in stone. Instead, they widened the streets in the city.

Things to Do and See On Umeå

IF Björklöven at A3 Arena

IF Björklöven is the local ice hockey team that is currently housed in Hockeyallsvenskan, the Swedish second league. The team was last demoted from the Swedish Elite League (Elitserien/SHL) in 2001 and has since been playing in both the second and third divisions.

Björklöven plays its home games at A3 Arena which has a capacity of 5.400 spectators. Björklöven shares A3 Arena with Tegs SK in Hockeyettan Norra, the Swedish third league. It was constructed in 1963 and has previously been known as T3 Center, Umeå Arena, SkyCom Arena, and Umeå ishall.

Lev! – Glass Artwork

Lev! is a 170-meter long glass artwork in a tunnel between the square Järnvägstorget in the city center and the district of Haga. It was created in 2012 by the duo Ingrid Falk och Gustavo Aguerre.


Bölesholmarna is two islets in the middle of the Ume River. The islets are named Gröna Oxen and Grytan, meaning the Green Ox and the Casserole. Here you find a playground as well as a beach.

Walk Along the Ume River

Along the river’s northern shores you find the promenade. It follows a narrow patch of greenery between the river and the city, both the east and west of the center.

Västerbottens Museum

Västerbottens Museum is in the district of Gammlia. The museum is responsible for the cultural history of Västerbotten County. It consists of an open-air museum as well as exhibitions about topics such as skiing, Sàpmi, Umeå, and textiles.

How to get to Umeå

  • Flights: Umeå Airport (UME) is located only 5 kilometers from the city center and connects the area with the Stockholm-Arlanda Airport (ARN) for connections around the globe.
  • Car: Umeå is located along the highway E4 between Örnsköldsvik and Skellefteå. E12 also connects the city with Mo i Rana in Norway.
  • Train: Northbound trains from Stockholm stops in the town.
  • Bus: Several long-distance bus routes along the Swedish northern coast stops in the town.
  • Ferry: Wasa Line has ferries connecting Umeå with Vaasa in Finland.

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

  • Stockholm – 637 kilometers (6 h 25 min)
  • Gothenburg – 990 kilometers (10 h 58 min)
  • Malmö – 1245 kilometers (12 h 39 min)
  • Linköping – 832 kilometers (8 h 31 min)
  • Kiruna – 601 kilometers (6 h 34 min)

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

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Neil Lintern

    Great post…my eldest son lives here with his Swedish girlfriend.

    1. Jesper

      Hello Niel and thank you for your kind words. I hope that your son enjoys Sweden. Umeå is a really nice city, have you been able to visit? 🙂

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