Whether regarded as the beginning or end of the country, this town provides insight into a specialized territorial culture. Enjoy a truly unique experience.
Travel to the far northern end of Sweden to visit Karesuando, a self-sufficient town that’s far from isolated. The population is just a few hundred but everyone has a role in the community where the land and water are pivotal to daily lives. This area, and practically all of Lapland including Russia, is home for the Saami, some of whom continue traditional reindeer pastoralism.
For an overall history of the Saami and the area, visit Vita Huset, or White House. It once housed the district police but is now used as a folk museum. A representation of a Settlers Homestead depicts what life was like in the town, which is 155 miles (250 kilometers) north of the Arctic Circle.
From 1826 to 1849 the town had an important resident, Lars Levi Laestadius, a botanist and preacher who strongly influenced residents. Find reminders of him around town. An altar sculpture in the church honors him. The Laestadius Botanical Garden contains plant species he studied. Laestadius’ log cabin (Laestadius Pörte), where he lived, is now a cultural heritage building open to visitors.
A short walk east from the cabin brings you to the wooden Karesuando Church (Karesuando Kyrka), which is very picturesque and open to visitors. The Coca-Cola Company apparently thought the same and filmed one of its popular Christmas commercials at this location. The church was built in 1905 after its predecessor developed a crack that almost split the church in two. Take photos outside Karesuando Kyrka to remember your visit to the northernmost church in Sweden.
Bring your camera also to Kaarevaara, a hill about 20 minutes’ drive outside Karesuando. From the top of the hill you can see across Norway, Sweden and Finland.
It’s also a good spot to watch the midnight sun staying above the horizon from late May to the middle of July.
Karesuando is about about 820 miles (1,320 kilometers) north of Stockholm. The quickest way to get here is to fly to Kiruna then get a bus to Karesuando.