Many visitors, especially those from Stockholm, come for the winter skiing. Not us. We prefer the sunny alpine slopes of Switzerland or Austria -- we don't like skiing in the dark. Often national ski teams from abroad come here for training, as the town itself lies only a 10-minute drive from the ski slopes and trails. Snow is virtually guaranteed here earlier than anywhere else in Sweden -- from late October to late April. In fact, the ski season is Sweden's longest -- 200 days of the year.
The Dundret Hotel owns all the lifts and controls access to the slopes and other ski-related infrastructures in town. Lift tickets cost 300SEK ($60/£30) per day, or 700SEK ($140/£70) for 3 days. (Note: These prices are inexpensive when compared to those of the alpine resorts farther south.)
If you follow Route 45 8km (5 miles) south of Gällivare, you'll arrive at Dundret, or Thunder Mountain. We've found that this is the optimal spot to witness the spectacle of the midnight sun, best viewed from June 2 to July 12 from a table at the cafe on the summit, which is open daily in summer from 9pm to 1am. The panoramic view takes in the iron-ore mountain of Malmberget to the north and the peak of another mountain, Kebnekaise, to the northwest. You also can see the national parks of Sarek and Padjelanta to the west. Even the valley of the Lule River, with the mountains of Norway in the backdrop, can be viewed on a clear night.
Many visitors come here to take mine tours, which can be booked at the tourist office. Visitors can take two different tours, both offered only from June to August. One goes to an underground iron-ore mine daily at 9:30am and 1pm, and costs 250SEK ($50/£25); the other visits a copper mine Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 2pm, and also costs 250SEK ($50/£25). The latter tour always takes in Kåkstan, which is the shanty town in Malmberget, dating from 1888 when jobs were plentiful and wages high -- but housing was scarce.
The iron mine tour of Gruvtur takes 3 hours and also visits the Gruvmuseet (mining museum), which displays artifacts from 250 years of mining. You also can visit various production sites and go underground to the ore face. The copper mine tour lasts 3 1/2 hours, beginning at the shanty town and going on to an open-cast mine at Aitik. This is the largest copper mine still operating in Europe, and it's also Sweden's largest gold mine, producing 2 tons of gold annually. To our dismay, we discovered that no free samples are given away.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.