Sami winter

Venue: Uppsala, Kiruna and Jukkasjärvi, Sweden

Lens: Sigma 35 mm f/1.4 & Samsung S10 camera & Huawei P20 camera

Music: Sami Joik (

Very recently I had the amazing opportunity to travel to the northern parts of Sweden and remind myself what real winter is supposed to look like, in contrast to recent years of mild weather in mainland Europe. So, here comes a photo journey through the land of the Sami people. Most of the photos hardly need any explanation, but I’ll of course add my usual witty comments, don’t worry!

Our adventure began in Uppsala, a university town next to Stockholm in the south of Sweden. No signs of snow and positive temperatures in January here are extremely rare, but things are changing… One unmistakable sign of winter in the far north is however still evident: it’s 10am and the sun is just above the horizon creating beautiful winter shadows in the woods.
Only a few hours later the sun is very slowly going down and the sky is “burning” for an hour.
After a long train journey of around 1200 km to the north, 15 hours later we’re at Kiruna, the biggest town in Swedish Lapland and a major iron mining centre. The town itself is not particularly pretty or interesting, except maybe for this nice administrative building and the church you’ll see in a different post. At least here winter looks real with plenty of snow and temperature of around -7 degrees Celsius. From Kiruna we headed to the small village of Jukkasjärvi for the real winter experience.
The evening turned out to be perfect for the northern lights – clear skies and the not so formidable temperature of around -15 degrees.
Unfortunately the magnetic activity was rather low and the aurora was only visible for a very brief period, during which my frozen hands were unable to properly fix the manual focus of my camera. So, I only got several of these blurry long-exposure shots. Still managed though, so I’m happy!
The real beauty of the winter behind the arctic circle is not the aurora, but the day. For 2-3 hours the sun sort of climbs on top of the horizon, producing the feeling of a very long sunset. And creating the best possible light for photos! So we made pretty good use of it wondering around the frozen lake and the fishing villas around it.
The view from the wooden cabin we stayed at.
Another typical sight in Jukkasjärvi, just like in the photo on top of this post.
The coolest thing to do in the frozen land is of course to hop on a huskey-fueled sled and explore the wilderness! Unfortunately the clear skies were covered in clouds and snow in a matter of minutes and it started getting darker…
…so we stopped for a break around the fire to warm up before heading back to the village.
The dogs were really friendly and happy to run and carry us around the frozen tundra. They only seemed anxious during the times we stopped, maybe they also get cold when not running.
Next morning the clouds were gone, and temperatures fell to around -20 degrees! Good thing we were prepared with many layers of clothes and were able to happily walk around.
Apart from the sights around the village and the lake, we visited the famous Ice Hotel, which I’ll soon show you in another post, I promise!
Midday in the land of the Sami people! It was finally starting to get really cold, below -25 degrees…
We managed to also visit the Sami museum and learn more about the history of the indigenous people living in this harsh climate, heavily oppressed by the Scandinavian governments until the very recent past and maybe even the present.
The traditional occupation of the Sami is reindeer herding and we got to feed several of these calm and friendly animals.
It was time to go back south to the fake winter, with one last shot from the bus taking us back from Jukkasjärvi to Kiruna.
And one last shot from Kiruna. This is one of the two or three fast food restaurants and diners open after 4pm. I never visited Canada, but I can somehow imagine such a sight being typical there. Or am I wrong?


17 thoughts on “Sami winter

  1. Beautiful – so missing snow during wintertime down in Skåne. And you caught the Aurora as well – so many times we’ve been up north, but never seen it! Thank you for a lovely gallery of Sami land!


  2. How beautiful. I only got to see the northern lights once in the early 70’s but I never forgot how beautiful they were. We were flying over the north pole on SAS and it was a sight so gorgeous and that I’d like to see again, someday.


  3. What a beautiful set of photos and a wonderful story to go along with it. Thanks for sharing I really appreciate your photography skills. Can’t wait to see more work from you in the future. Also thanks for being my first blog comment!


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