Umeå — the largest city in the region, the 12th-largest city in all of Sweden and the hometown of author Stieg Larsson — is Norrland’s cultural center. There are plenty of shopping and museum opportunities, and enough restaurants and bars to keep you full and tipsy. But the real draw is the city’s true purpose as the gateway to northern Sweden, where unparalleled outdoor adventures abound.
Where to Eat & Drink
Beer, Cheese and Lard-Cured Beef
A farm-to-table menu offering beef cured in lard. Enough said? Peter Stenmark and Jacob Markström’s restaurant also showcases a minimalist Scandinavian interior, and it is, hands down, the best place to eat in Umeå.
For traditional Scandinavian fare with a touch of French influence, Rex is the real deal. Try the reindeer or Kalix roe (if you like eating like a local).
Gotthard’s Krog is the restaurant inside of hotel Stora Hotellet. Staffers sling craft cocktails alongside fresh dishes made with ingredients harvested from their nearby farm.
This delicatessen, from brothers Per and Lars Åkerlund, is a cheese and charcuterie haven. Stop in for a sandwich or a tasting of Svedjan Ost, a traditional Swedish-style farmhouse cheese.
Located on Umeå’s Kungsgatan, the equivalent of Main Street, Costas Rosteri roasts varieties of coffee from estates around the world. It’s the top spot to get your caffeine fix.
Located underneath the restaurant Rex Brasserie, this bar was rated Sweden’s best beer bar (by the White Guide), and for good reason. With 12 taps pouring beer from all over the globe, you’ll be sure to find something to enjoy.
This speakeasy run by Emil Åreng, one of Sweden’s top bartenders, is located in the DUÅ gourmet shop. Once night falls, the space is transformed into a high-end cocktail bar serving Umeå’s best elixirs.
This up-and-coming brewery is widely respected in the Swedish beer scene and has started to gain recognition abroad. The space is small, but the beers are world class.
What to Do
Vintage Guitars and Floorball
For a dose of Scandinavian culture, head to this free museum. Rotating exhibitions showcase photography, architecture and design.
Guitars — The Museum
This museum offers one of the largest private collections of electric guitars in the world (more than 500). Included in the collection are a 1958 Gibson Flying V, a 1960 Les Paul and a 1950 Fender Broadcaster.
For a local sporting experience, attend a professional floorball match. In short, floorball is hockey without the skates, and IBK Dalen competes in Sweden’s top floorball league.
Where to Stay
This nautically themed hotel is the finest in Umeå (it gracefully eschews kitsch). The building was constructed in 1895 and has undergone extensive remodeling, while remaining true to the original architecture.
The sister hotel to the Stora Hotellet, U&Me is a millennial’s hotel. There is no front-desk receptionist or concierge — only a check-in kiosk and modern, comfortable rooms.
Read More in Our Magazine
A version of this story appears in Issue Three of the Gear Patrol Magazine, 320 pages of stories, reports, interviews and original photography from five distinct locations around the world. Subscribe Now: $39