Umeå – The city of birchesJanuary 17, 2016
Umeå is located at the mouth of the Ume River in southern Västerbotten in Sweden. It is only about 400 kilometers south of the Arctic Circle, yet it is brilliantly green and vibrant. While winters here are long and cold, the short summers are quite warm. This is the best time of year to visit Umeå and take in the sights.
Fun Facts about Umeå
- The city was founded back in 1622 by King Gustav II Adolf.
- Like many other Scandinavian cities, Umeå was devastated by fire in June 1888, and nearly 90% of the 3000 residents found themselves homeless.
- Following the fire, residents planted birch trees along the wide streets in order to prevent fires from spreading in the future. Today, the city is often called “The City of Birches”. In fact, Umeå’s hockey team, Björklöven, translates directly into “the birch leaves”.
- Umeå is one of the fastest growing cities in Sweden thanks to the establishment of the city’s university. More than 1000 new residents move to the city each year.
- In 2009, Umeå was named the European Capital of Culture.
Umeå’s Main Claim to Fame
According to those who live there – and the rest of Europe – Umeå is unique because it offers unsurpassed cultural experience. In fact, it is said to be best enjoyed by the “open minded” of the world who want to experience a vacation unlike any other. The city is home to sculpture parks, “The Museum of the Image”, and many other museums with some of the most unique and eerie exhibitions on the planet. There are plenty of winter sports available, and you can even take a trip on a traditional dog sled during the right time of the year.
Accommodations, Restaurants, and Attractions
Hotels in Umeå range from upscale and modern to rustic and affordable. One of the most popular is Hotell Entre Noir with high-quality rooms that contain all of the amenities of home. Flat screen TVs, comfortable beds, amazing bathrooms, and even dinner are all out of this world. If you are on a budget, then consider Best Western Hotel Botnia with its reputation for cleanliness and freshness. The rooms are spacious for the price, and while the frills are cut back a bit to accommodate your budget, you will definitely feel at home.
When you get hungry, make sure you save time to visit Vita Björn. This restaurant on a boat is a dining experience you won’t soon forget, and it provides you with an opportunity to indulge in classic Scandinavian fare while on the deck of a beautiful boat. You can also find more traditional food, including burgers, salads, and even beef tenderloin. If you want a budget meal, Rådhusgrillen is the place to be. You can find the traditional rull-kebab, a Swedish staple, along with local pizza and other familiar foods.
There is plenty to see and do in Umeå, too. If you are active, consider hiking on Tavelsjöleden. It is marked with many different sights along the way, and you will get to experience some of Sweden’s best geology, too. Be sure to take a tour of Parish Church, which was built in the mid-17th century. It is a neo-gothic staple with a huge steeple that overlooks the city center. Finally, make sure to save at least one day to peruse the center itself. It boasts dozens of cafes, department stores, shops, street food vendors, and more.