Norrland is one of three lands of Sweden, besides Svealand and Götaland. Norrland encompasses two thirds of the country's surface, but no more than 12 per cent of its population; currently about 1.15 million. The region is characterized by forests, mountains, rivers and elongated lakes, a harsh winter climate, long distances, as well as university towns with young populations.


As the rest of Sweden, Norrland is divided into traditional provinces (landskap), as well as counties (län); the current political entities. As some provinces have very small population, counties are used as the basic regions of Norrland.

Norrland's regions
Gävleborg County (Provinces: Gästrikland and Hälsingland)
The gateway to Norrland, with open plains shifting into deep forests, with some mountains.
Västernorrland County (Provinces: Medelpad and Ångermanland)
The heartland of Sweden's forest industry, where the land rises from the sea by one centimetre each year.
Jämtland County (Provinces: Jämtland and Härjedalen)
Famous for its ski resorts: Åre, Vemdalen, Storlien and Östersund, good for hiking during summer.
Västerbotten County (Provinces: Västerbotten and southern Lappland)
Contains Umeå, Norrland's largest city, as well as tall mountains at the Norwegian border.
Norrbotten County (Provinces: Norrbotten and northern Lappland)
Contains the Torne Valley; the world's northernmost farmland. The county extends into the Arctic, with the Jukkasjärvi Ice Hotel, and the largest wilderness within the European Union.


Other destinations


The Sami people have lived in inland Norrland since time immemorial. The first Swedish settlers arrived in the Middle Ages, but the land remained sparsely populated until the late 19th century, where a new wave of pioneers came for work in forestry, mining, metalworking, railroad, and military service. During the late 20th century, many small towns have been depopulated, with the coastal cities rising as local metropolises.


As elsewhere in Sweden, Swedish is the official language. Old people in rural areas speak very distinct local dialects (bondska), but practically everyone speaks Standard Swedish.

Northern Norrland is the homeland of two official minority languages, both from the Finno-Ugric family. The Sami people populate most of the inland, and in Norrbotten near the Finnish border, meänkieli ("our language"), a dialect of Finnish, is spoken.

Most people, except the oldest, speak English.

Get in

By train

SJ runs several daily trains from Stockholm to Sundsvall, Umeå and Östersund. There are nightly sleeper trains between Göteborg and Narvik, Norway with several stops, including Stockholm, Uppsala and many along Norrland. Sleeper accommodation is available.

By plane

Most major cities in Norrland have a commercial airport, with connection from Stockholm-Arlanda airport.

Get around

Except the coastal areas, settlements in Norrland tend to be tens of kilometres between. While some sceneries are majestic, roads through forested areas can also be monotonous, challenging drivers' ability to stay awake. See Driving in Sweden, E4 through Sweden, and E45 through Europe.

By public transport

Regional rail service is provided by Norrtåg, with lines connecting Trondheim, Sundsvall, Umeå, Lycksele, Luleå and Narvik.


While the mountains and the coast to the Baltic Sea are famously scenic, most of the forests in inland Norrland are rather monotonous.



Outdoor life is the main attraction of Norrland, with activities such as hiking, mountaineering, camping, fishing, and foraging. See Hiking in the Nordic countries and winter in the Nordic countries.

Doing or watching sport, especially winter sport, is a pastime for the locals. Many towns, though some of them rather small, boast at least one team in the national elite; mostly ice hockey, bandy or skiing.


See also: Nordic cuisine

Classical foodstuffs are reindeer meat, game, berries and fish. An almond-shaped potato cultivar called mandelpotatis is considered a delicacy. Bread is usually based on rye; tunnbröd is thin bread which can be either soft or hard.

Västerbottensost is a hard cheese, iconic for Västerbotten.

Probably the world's stinkiest fish dish is surströmming; see Nordic cuisine for details.

While the major cities, especially Umeå, are known for their vegetarian and vegan community, there is little understanding for not eating meat in the countryside, where fishing and hunting are many people's pastime.

Stay safe

Cold weather, as well as snow safety and ice safety are concerns during the long winter. Norrland is infamous for mosquitoes. While they carry no infections, they become a nuisance as soon as snow melts.


Most people in Norrland are patriotic for their own province, and might frown on the "southern" description of Norrland as a homogenous region. They would be happy if you recognize the name of the province you are in. The same goes for the Sami and Meänkeli people, who have national identities on their own.

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