Umeå, called Ume by locals, is a city near the mouth of the Ume River. It is the capital of Västerbotten County in northern Sweden, and with about 110,000 citizens it is the largest city in Norrland. Umeå is known for its university and many birch trees, giving it the nickname "Björkarnas stad", or the "Town of Silver Birches".
Being the regional capital of Västerbotten, Umeå is also the educational and economic capital city of the region, with no Swedish city of similar size further north. With its strategic location along the E4 national highway, most transportation to the northern part of Sweden goes through here. Umeå has the largest hospital in Northern Sweden as well as the largest university. Situated on top of a small hill overseeing the Ume river and downtown Umeå, they are by far the largest employers in the region. Due to the university, Umeå has one of the lowest average ages in the entire country with a lively night life and creative scene. Umeå was awarded the title European Capital of Culture 2014.
Umeå is near the maximum of the Nordic post-glacial rebound, with the land rising at a rate near 1 centimetre per year.
Sami peoples have lived in the Västerbotten area since prehistoric times. The area was also settled by Germanic peoples, including Swedes during the Viking era. Umeå, however, is first mentioned in written sources in the early 14th century. The area remained a small parish until the late 16th century when the locals asked for, and was granted city privileges. The proposed site for the new city was in "Backen", some 5 km west of modern day Umeå. However, building the city proved difficult and it didn't attract many settlers. New attempts to build a city was made in the 17th century by the Swedish king Gustav II Adolphus, this time at the site where Umeå is today. In 1647 Umeå, with its 40 inhabitants, became the seat of Västerbotten county. In the 18th and early 19th century Umeå was destroyed and pillaged by Russian troops several times. In 1888 the city was devastated by a large city fire, and 2,300 out of 3,000 residents lost their homes. During the reconstruction of the city a large number of birch-trees where planted, and hence Umeå is sometimes called the "City of Birches". During the 20th century communications improved with the construction of a train station in 1902 and an airport in 1961. The national highways E4 and E12 were also built by the city. In 1965 Umeå University was founded as the fifth in Sweden and the first in Norrland.
Umeå has boreal climate with short summers and long, cold winters. While not northerly enough to see a genuine midnight sun, Umeå has astounding white nights in June and July.
- 1 Umeå Airport (UME IATA) (lies 4 kilometres east of the city center, on the edge of the city.). Wifi is freely km, albeit with a tight traffic cap. The flight time from Stockholm to Umeå is one hour. Prices with SAS or Malmö Aviation start at 450 kr one way and 279 kr with Norwegian. A ticket to Luleå and Östersund costs from 500 kr one way and the flights take 40 minutes. Air Baltic charges from €39 per flight and City Airline prices start at 399 kr.
- SAS has seven flights on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays, five flights on Thursdays and Fridays, two flights on Saturdays and three flights on Sundays to Stockholm-Arlanda. The flight to Kiruna has been rerouted and goes through Luleå now.
- Malmö Aviation has five flights Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Sunday and six flights Thursday and Friday to Stockholm-Bromma, some of them continuing on to Göteborg. On Saturdays there are two flights.
- Norwegian has four flights Monday to Friday to Stockholm-Arlanda. On Saturdays there is one flight and on Sundays there are three flights.
Transports to and from the airport include a special airport shuttle bus (40 kr) which goes to Vasaplan in the city center. Shuttle tickets can only be bought using credit/debit cards or a smartphone. The ticket includes a two hours transfer time within the city buses. Taxis operate fixed prices to destinations within the city and charge from 120 kr and up.
Railway connections to Umeå improved greatly as Botniabanan, the coastal railway, opened in 2010. SJ offers direct high-speed services from Stockholm, four on weekdays and two to three on weekends. Journey time is just over six hours. Several more services are available that requires a quick change in Sundsvall. There's also the more traditional overnight service, departing Stockholm 22:12, arriving next morning 06:45. Couchettes and regular sleeping carriages are available. Prices starts at 600 kr one-way for a berth. It's possible to travel cheaper if booking a seat. Regional services are provided by Norrtåg connecting Umeå with Luleå, Lyckelse, Sundsvall and Vännäs.
Bus routes are well developed in Umeå. It is the cheapest way to get around in Northern Sweden and a comfortable one as well. Don't be surprised if there is service onboard of the long distance routes or even free Wifi internet. Usually there are discounts for students and sometimes even a business class section (surcharge) with wider seats and simple meal included in the ticket price.
Linje 100 has 6 buses a day on the Sundsvall - Örnsköldsvik - Umeå - Skellefteå - Luleå - Haparanda route departing Sundsvall at 10:00, 12:00, 14:00, 16:00, 18:00 and 20:00. The Sundsvall - Umeå or Umeå - Luleå segments cost 295 kr each.
Ybuss is a long distance bus company with 3 buses a day on the Stockholm - Umeå route departing Stockholm at 08:20, 12:40 and 20:40. The travel time is around 9 hours and the bus stops for a meal break half way. The tickets range is 330 - 415 kr depending on if you have student discount.
Linje 31 has 3 nonstop buses a day to Tärnaby with one bus continuing to Mo i Rana in Norway. This 5½-hour ride stops in Lycksele and Storuman along the way. One way ticket is 242 kr. Tärnaby is Västerbottens biggest ski resort and lies on the border with Norway.
Wasa Line runs ferries between from Vaasa, Finland across the Gulf of Bothnia. The crossing takes 4½ hours (mind the time zone change). Depending on season and day of week the departure may be in the morning, day or evening. There are daily departures in each direction. The one way ticket price is €36/27/15 off season, 390/300/150 in season (children 6–17). Cabin €30–60. A normal car costs €55/57, a bike €7. A return cruise can be had for €25 (€73 for four+car) off season; check campaigns.
The port 4 Umeå hamn is in he small town of Holmsund at the mouth of the Ume river, about 15 km south of the city along the Blå vägen. The shipping company provides an transfer bus from 5 Umeå hamn to the city centre, which can be booked when buying tickets in advance (€8/4, children 7–19) or bought on the bus if there is space. The bus from Umeå starts 1½ hours before the ship departure and passes the centre 8 min later.
- See also: Driving in Sweden
649km (403 miles) north on E4 from Stockholm. Note that driving in Norrland can be dangerous, especially in winter. Collisions with moose are a common cause of road accidents. During the latest years the road administration of Sweden (Vägverket) have invested much in upgrading road safety, which includes wild-life barriers/fences along major roads. This is by no means a guarantee, but it reduces the risk of moose-collisions. Other upgrades include 3-lane roads, where one direction is provided with two lanes to allow for safe passing of other vehicles while the other direction only has one. This changes from one direction to another along the road, so within a reasonable distance, the direction you travel in will have 2 lanes. It is recommended to have experience of driving in snow and poor visibility when driving in the winter, as even major roads get snow covered during days with lots of snow falling, just as strong winds in some parts cause snow to drift onto the road surface. All in all, though, the roads are kept free from snow or with a minimal surface layer of snow and ice, but note that roads away from the coast usually are snow covered during the entire winter, not being salted but rather just plowed for vehicle traffic.
Umeå has a lot of students and bikes are common. The city offers a wide variety of bike-friendly roads and bike-only bridges. It is often both easier and faster to get around by bike rather than by car or bus. Bikes can be rented at Cykel & Mopedhandlaren (Kungsgatan 101, +46(0)90-140170) or Umeå Camping If you plan on staying longer, buying a used bike is a good investment - with a bit of effort you can find a good used bike for as low as 400 kr.
If you prefer to use public transport, the local bus system (run by Västerbottens Lokaltrafik) has Vasaplan as its hub in central Umeå and costs 23 kr per ride for adults, 17 kr for youth below 26 and 12 kr for children below 18 (including one hour of free transfer). Buses tend to be very infrequent in summertime and as a general rule it is advisable to check the timetable before getting to the bus stop during all seasons - waiting for 10 or 20 minutes in a bus stop at -20 °C is a potential health risk. Night buses are available on Fridays and Saturdays. Tickets on the busses can no longer be paid with cash. All tickets have to be paid using credit/debit cards or using mobile phone.
- 1 Arboretum Norr, Baggböle (about 10 km upstream the Ume river from the city center. The best way to get there is by bike, following the Ume river). Umeå universitet, Sveriges Lantbruksuniversitet and Umeå kommun has laid out an arboretum with trees from places all over the world found on the same latitude. The scenery can be stunningly beautiful, especially in the fall.
- 2 Bildmuseet, Östra Strandgatan 30 B, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. An art museum which is part of the arts campus of Umeå University, in a spectacular modernist larch building.
- 3 Gammlia, Gammlia, ☏ . Tu–F 10:00–16:00, Sa 12:00–16:00, Su 12:00–17:00. Open-air cultural showcase, centered around the Västerbottens Museum. Exhibits focus on the region's history, with art exhibits and musical performances as well. Free.
- 4 Guitars – The Museum, Vasagatan 18-20, ☏ . M-Sa 12:00-18:00. Guided tours at 12:00, 15:00 & 17:00. With some 500 guitars it is one of the largest in its kind world-wide. The facility also houses a rock club, a restaurant, a music store and a record store.
- 5 Nydalasjön. Is a beautiful lake with public paths and barbeque spots all around it. Popular for bathing in the summer. The Nydala camping site is at the northern end of the lake and also has a pool that is open during the summer months.
- 6 Umedalen Skulptur, Umedalen, ☏ . Open park (24 hours daily). Public park financed by Balticgruppen displaying sculptures. Both permanent and annual exhibitions. Free.
- 7 Umeå Rådhus, Rådhustorget 1. Lies in the middle of Umeå. Behind it (on the north side) lies Rådhustorget (City Hall Square), the heart of Umeå's central shopping district. Rådhusesplanaden leads you from the square to Järnvägstorget (The Rail Square), next to which lies the train station as well as the long-haul bus station. Off to the side of Rådhusesplanaden you will also pass Umeå Stadsbibliotek (Umeå City Library) and Vasaplan (the hub of local bus traffic). In front of the City Hall is Rådhusparken and down by the waterfront is Trädgård i Norr (Garden in the North), which is a small flower park.
- 8 Umeå Universitet, ☏ . Founded in 1965, it is Sweden's fifth oldest university. Foreign students are welcome to apply here.
- 9 Vänortsparken. A small park in central Umeå, next to Umeå Stadskyrka. The park contains art related to each of Umeå's sister cities around the world.
- 1 Megazone, Östra Rådhusgatan 8B, ☏ . Adventure centre on Rådhustorget in central Umeå. Here anyone can get his dose of action in the 600 m² area for Laserdome, Phazerzone and 26 Fort Boyard style cells with various problem solving tasks. This wonderful place also holds an arcade game centre and a large pool and snooker hall. On top of this, there is a reasonably priced grill restaurant.
- 2 Norrlandsoperan, NorrlandsOperan, ☏ . The city has an opera house, and a famous opera company. Besides opera, the building hosts a large number of other events.
- 3 SF cinema, Östra Rådhusgatan 2 D, ☏ . The main cinema in the city centre mostly showing Hollywood blockbusters and Swedish film.
Being the city in Sweden with the youngest average age population, Umeå has a long tradition in sporting events. Although the local teams success in the Swedish leagues has faded, for the sport-bitten there is a variety of spectator friendly events to watch.
- Björklöven is the local ice hockey team playing in Division 1 (Third Division). The season ranges typically September - March. Tickets cost 60-100 kr depending on visibility.
- Umeå IK is among the top women football teams i Europe. Regularly playing in the Champions league, this is your best opportunity to watch good women's football team in Sweden. Tickets cost around 100 kr for most games.
- IBK Dalen floorball team plays steadily in Superligan, the highest league. Home games are played in Gammliahallen and prices 40-65 kr.
- IKSU Sport centre is the largest sport and leisure centre in Scandinavia. There is a large gym, beachvolleyball, squash, swimming pool, martial arts centre, spa and a lot more. Located at the campus area close to the university, this is an incredibly popular workout spot for locals.
- House of Metal, Vasaplan, ☏ . House of Metal is a two day indoor festival concentrating on rock and metal in different forms, held in late February or early March. It has three main stages and two cover band stages, with approximately 25 bands from Sweden and all over the world performing. 360 kr one-day pass, 625 kr two-day pass.
- Umeå Open, Umeå Folkets Hus, ☏ . Annual popular music festival during three days in mid April attracting thousands of visitors. This is the biggest music event in Umeå. Most of the artists and bands are of Swedish origin. The next one will be held 12-14 April 2018.
- Brännbollsyran, Campus Area. Last weekend every May, Umeå changes it shape into a celebration of the upcoming summer break. Brännbollsyran is an unofficial world cup in the Swedish game of brännboll spread out all over the city. Anyone can join and over 1000 teams of 8-11 competitors so do. The final games are held on the university campus on Sunday. This Thursday-Sunday event has grown into a festival with virtually every part of the city helding some kind of event. Nordic Rock arranges an annual Friday-Saturday hard rock music event at Hamnmagasinet in downtown during Brännbollsyran.
- Umeå Jazz Festival. Annual jazz festival, usually held in October.
- Umeå Europeiska Filmfestival (Umeå European Film Festival). November.
With 27,000 students, Umeå is Sweden’s fifth largest university city.
- 2 Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU). Forestry, Agriculture, Landscape planning and Garden science, plus the School of Environmental Studies.
- 3 Umeå University (UmU), ☏ . Faculties include Humanities, Medical, Teacher Education, Science and technology, Social Sciences, Fine Arts, Restaurant and Culinary Arts, Institute of Design, Business and Economics, Environment, Physical Education and Sports and Technology.
Work is quite hard to find in the city, even for locals. The biggest employers are the University, the Hospital and Volvo (which has a factory in the outskirts). Knowledge of Swedish as well as a work permit (not needed for Nordic or EU citizens) are essential in order to get a job at either.
Students (especially foreign/exchange students) will find it even harder to get a job, but have a chance at the pubs, student papers and at the Student Union. Additionally, a French or Spanish native speaker might just get a temporary job as a teaching assistant.
Most shops are downtown (along Kungsgatan and Storgatan), in a fairly small area. Each neighborhood will have a small shopping center, with one or two supermarkets (ICA or Konsum/coop) and a few kiosks and fast food outlets. Two large shopping centers and hypermarkets are at the outskirts - one, Strömpilen (with a shopping gallery, an electronics hypermarket and an ICA hypermarket), at the end of Sofiehem and the other one (with a Willy's supermarket, and a Coop supermarket) in Ersboda.
- 1 Burmans Musik, Kungsgatan 56, ☏ . Sweden's oldest record store still in business.
- 2 Hemslöjden, Renmarkstorget 5C. A handicraft store selling merchanize made by local craftsmen.
- 3 Pryl 1900, Kungsgatan 92, ☏ . A second hand store focusing on fin de siècle-objects. They also have retro merchandise from the 1950s 60s and 70s.
- 4 Tiger of Sweden, Kungsgatan 65B, ☏ . A Swedish fashion warehouse.
- 5 Tráhppie, Helena Elisabeths väg 4, ☏ . Sells Sami handicrafts.
- 1 Fantastisk Grill, Umeå University. Cheap kebab and hamburger meals for the students at the university. Best fast food in town. about 45 kr.
- 2 [dead link] Ricardos Kebab, Bättringsvägen 1. 50-60 kr for a kebab.
- 3 Rådhusgrillen, Rådhustorget. "Rull"-kebab and -pizza, a local specialty. about 35 kr.
- 4 Droskan, Storgatan 60, Öst på stan, ☏ . Lunch restaurant with "husmanskost" (Swedish food). 7 kr.
- 5 Gandhi, Rådhusesplanaden 17 B, ☏ . Indian restaurant. 100-150 kr.
- 6 Great Eastern, Magasinsgatan 17, ☏ . Chinese restaurant. 90-150 kr.
- 7 MAX, Kungsgatan 63, Rådhustorget, ☏ . Popular Swedish hamburger chain. about 50-70 kr.
- 8 Sea Street Sushi Bar, Renmarkstorget 6, ☏ . Japanese sushi bar. 50-140 kr.
- 9 Älvans Pizzeria, Älvans väg 246,Tomtebo, ☏ . A small pizzeria with the best kebabpizza around. 40-70 kr.
- 10 Bistro Le Garage, Umedalsallén 15 (From the center of town, a nice hour-long walk along the river and through the Backens kyrka churchyard, or via bus 1 to Umeå Löftets gränd), ☏ . vary, check website. Modern nordic cuisine, great staff. 22 kr and up for a la carte dinner, 110 kr and up for lunch.
- 11 Invito, Renmarkstorget 6, ☏ . Upscale Italian restaurant. 165 kr and up for main course.
- 12 Köksbaren, Rådhusesplanaden 17, ☏ . Gastrobar with great food 180 kr and up.
- 13 Rex Bar & Grill, Rådhustorget 1, ☏ . Upscale restaurant. 200 kr and up.
Nightlife is relatively good. Clubs and pubs are either on campus or in a cluster downtown. The campus clubs are either student-only (admittance based on student-card) or offer entry fees discounts, whereas downtown clubs and pubs usually have a higher age limit for admittance. All pubs and nightclubs close at 02:00 on weekends and usually at 01:00 on weekdays. Admittance ranges between 25 and 100 kr for a regular night (100 kr and up for concerts, etc.)
Additionally, a number of events, such as Klubb Pingvin occur on a regular basis, with a traditional venue being the Plaza, Universum (on campus) or Norrlands Operan (the Opera House).
- 1 Allstars, Kungsgatan 50 A, ☏ . Another sportsbar in addition to O'Learys. This place turns to a club on weekend and offers a typical pub menu with burgers and barbecued chicken wings. 100 kr.
- 2 Connect E-sportbar, Rådhusesplanaden 17C, ✉ email@example.com. A different kind of sports bar.
- 3 O'Learys Umeå Event Center, Skolgatan 64D, ☏ . The local franchise of a nation-wide sports bar dedicated to the NHL team Boston Bruins. A perfect spot if you want to enjoy a well done burger and watch your favourite football team on one of the more than 30 widescreen TVs. Minimum age limit is 19 to 21 years. 100 kr entry fee, 50 kr for students.
- 4 Pipes of Scotland, Västra Norrlandsgatan 17, ☏ . A laid back scottish style pub with a wide assortment of draught and bottled stouts, porters and ales. A great place for a afterwork beer and some buffet style food. Popular on weekends by people who aren't into clubbing. Free entrance.
- 5 Rex Bar & Grill Umeå, Rådhustorget 1, ☏ . An upscale nightclub and restaurant in the City Hall building. Usually open only on Fridays, Saturdays. 3 bars, 2 dance floors, minimum age 21 on Fridays and 27 on Saturdays. A popular summer hang out due to its outdoor serving area. 100 kr entry fee.
- 6 TC, Skolgatan 59 (Vasaplan), ☏ . This two story bar and restaurant is close to the public library in central Umeå. It has a large outdoor sitting area during summer but the indoor part gets easily crowded, especially during weekends. TC represents a modern white decor bar and nightclub and is popular among house music fans. 80 kr entry fee.
On campus pubs:
- 7 E-Puben, Universum, ☏ . This renovated student pub is on the campus. Driven by the Business and Economics students, this pub gets crowded on Fridays and Saturdays. You will need a valid ISIC or national student card to gain entrance here. 30 kr entry fee.
- 8 Kårhuset Origo, Gösta Skoglunds väg 25, ☏ . A student pub/club close to IKSU sport centre. Open Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Shows big sport events on two projector screens. Club on Fridays and Saturdays with the occasional concert with local bands every month or so. 30 kr entry fee.
- 9 Kårhuset Villan, Klintvägen 55, ☏ . Another student pub, belonging to the Medicine Students' Union, next to the hospital. 30 kr entry fee.
- 1 First Camp Umeå, Nydalasjön 2, 90654, ☏ . Cottages and camping. Close to university, 15 minutes by bike to city centre. Wireless internet connection available. Popular among students and workers all year around, families during the summer. Outdoor pool area closeby.
- 2 Umeå Vandrarhem, Västra Esplanaden 10, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Youth hostel in the downtown area. Dorm bunks, singles and doubles available. Discount with IYHF or STF card. Linen towels and breakfast excluded. From 220 kr, Bed linen: 50 kr.
- 3 Ny Hostel (YMCA hostel), Järnvägsallén 20, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Hostel popular among school groups. Dorm bunks, singles and doubles with/without shower available. Extra charge for linen, breakfast and internet usage. From 180 kr, Bed linen: 75 kr.
- 4 Hotell Gamla Fängelset (Old Prison Hotel), Storgatan 62, ☏ . An old prison converted to a hostel. 10 minute walk to city center, 20 minute walk to campus. 380 kr single.
- 5 Best Western Hotel Botnia, Norra Obbolavägen 125, ☏ . Near the airport 3 km from the city center, but provides free car transportation to and from locations within the city; also bicycles. Built as the "Flyghotellet" or "Aviation Hotel", its decor is entirely aircraft-related. 490 kr and up.
- 6 Hotell Pilen, Pilgatan 5, ☏ . Hotell Pilen is a stone's throw from the Umeå River, in the central, but quiet part of town known as "Öst på Stan". The hotel is one of the oldest in Umeå, dating back to early 20th century. 650 kr and up.
All parts of Umeå are very safe, there is no reason to be worried walking around at night. Beware of cold weather during the winter.
- Lycksele - Some 126 km northwest of Umeå lies the scenically beautiful town of Lycksele. If you are heading to Mo i Rana or the skiresort of Tärnaby/Hemavan you might consider a lunch break here. There is a forestry museum (50 kr) and a zoo (95-135 kr).
- Norrbyskär - Norrbyskär is an island group with a fascinating history, in the archipelago of Västerbotten 40 km south of Umeå. This is a popular hang out place for families and kids, especially in the summer months. There is a museum (40 kr), a hotel, a kiosk, a church and a YMCA camp. A ferry with many trips each day during the summer will take you to the island from Norrbyn.
- Vindel - The town of Vindeln 55 km northwest of Umeå is a perfect day excursion spot. Rafting trips in the Vindel river is a very rewarding experience during nice summer days. A half day rafting trip with tea/coffee and a nice sandwich will set you back some 450 kr and there are longer excursion up to 2 days as well. It is also possible to rent a hot tub and just chill out with a beer. If you happen to be in Umeå during winter, the nearest skiing resort, Buberget is also in Vindeln. It has got one ski-lift and 5 slopes to ride down. Well worth a day excursion if you want to get out of the city. 120 kr for a day. There are regular ski-buses departing from Umeå to Buberget in winter.
|Routes through Umeå|
|Haparanda ← Skellefteå ←||N S||→ Örnsköldsvik → Sundsvall|