Umeå is a small university city in the Norrland region in northern Sweden. The city acts as the main commercial, educational and cultural hub for the Västerbotten county and is known as the “Town of the Silver Birches”. Aside from its famous university, Umeå is known for being a hotbed of the Swedish music scene. Hardcore punk, progressive metal and post-metal bands all hail from here.
Interestingly, the city has been jointly-awarded the accolade of European Capital of Culture for 2014 along with Riga, the Latvian capital. Umeå brings thousands of visitors due to its thriving nightlife, aided by its music scene and youthful population. It also has plenty of alternative attractions showcasing the locals’ creativity and is within easy reach of some major beauty spots.
As the city is pretty green, a hatchback would be ideal for driving, even in winter so long as you fit the appropriate tyres to cope with any black ice or snow.
Umedalen Skulpturpark, located on the western edge of the city, is one of Sweden’s finest examples of an open-air sculpture park. It has a good mix of permanent and temporary sculptures, many of which are created by local artists.
In the centre of the city, you’re likely to come across a huge number of live music events. One of the most notable is House of Metal, a two-day festival taking place every summer. It hosts up to 25 bands across three different stages, many of them local.
Around mid-September, the city holds the Umeå International Film Festival. The festival attracts the great and good of Swedish cinema while screening a few art-house productions. Attendance is usually on the cheap side.
A trip to Ume�� Rådhus, one of the city’s most notable landmarks, is worthwhile. Aside from being the most scenic part of the city centre, some of the main shopping streets are nearby, not to mention some of the restaurants and bars.
A common problem in the countryside surrounding Umeå is moose wandering onto the roads. Be sure to look out for them.
Some of the roads away from the coast are likely to have at least a minimal covering of snow or ice in winter, although they are cleared almost every day.
Cycling is very popular among residents of Umeå. Be sure to look out for them when driving through the city centre and near the university.
Ume√• Airport is 3.5 miles south southeast of the city centre. One of the busiest airports outside of Stockholm, it primarily serves destinations to other cities in Sweden. However, some airports in southern Europe are also catered for.
The airport is located alongside the Bl√• V√§gen, which will take you westwards then northwards into the city centre.