Dundret means "the thunder" in Swedish and is a Swedish version of what in Sami language is called Tuoddar and means "low fell" but some people say that the Samis too called it thunder mountain. In any case, it has always been a bit special to Sami people as its two peaks stand on their own in the forest here at Gällivare. The peak is less than 900 metres high but as it is the major one here, it looks and feels higher. See my separate activity tips for all the things you can do here in winter. In summer, you can mountain bike, walk or just get up here to see the midnight sun which tourists do in droves and which is supposedly fantastic. But the reason for adding it as a general tip is because the views from up here are marvellous. You can see all the way back down to Gällivare and Malmberget and in winter you get snow capped peaks in the distance beyond (see travelogue). Dundret has its own hotel complex with a restaurant too but this has some erratic opening hours.
Along the Vassara River and the railway lies the "Lapp quarters" which is where the nomadic Sami's (known as Lapps for a good while in Swedish history until this was considered incredibly rude) settled when they needed to stay in the Gällivare area for a while. The Swedish ruling classes did not want the Samis to stick to their ancient nature religions but wanted to Christen them and this is why this area now house the famous Ettöreskyrkan, or Lapp church, Gällivare's oldest building still standing. The first name means "One Öre Church" and the church got that name as all citizens had to pay one öre for four years to finance the church in 1747. Its proper name is Gällivare Old Church but it is only little though, and once Gällivare grew another church had to be built (see below). This is a great area to walk along in general and see the parish house, a Sami nomad school, a Sami storage building and some other things as well as great Dundret views.
The mine in Gällivare-Malmberget is less known to foreigners than the one in Kiruna, and not quite as big, but still impressive. It is what has shaped modern times here and when the mine is doing well, you can feel it in the atmosphere all over town. You can visit it all year round, although in winter, it is closed for public shows so you will have to book a private guided tour which will cost you SEK 2000 a visit, rather than the 200 or so during summer. Apart from the mining tour, there is a mining museum in central Malmberget.
Looking like a small castle along the Vassara River, Fjällnäs is a popular place to walk to for a picnic. It was built in 1889 by mining director Bergman to be used as a summerhouse. A few years later it was hit by fire and therefore has two turrets rather than the original one today, after renovation. Click on the first picture to see the house properly and see the second picture for the setting.
One of the parks belonging to the UNESCO World Heritage area known as Laponia. I have only gone through the park along Road 45 to Jokkmokk so I have no pictures, but I can tell you that it is a spectacular sight in winter when tiny pine trees make their way up through the snow in the Arctic morning light whilst reindeer graze on winter feed. In summer, people walk in Muddus, as this used to be the old Jokkmokk to Gällivare route before a proper road was built, and therefore, the planked walking routes through the park has been kept for hikers. The park itself is not known for the highland scenerery of the other Laponia parks further west, but instead for ancient virgin forests with ravines and wide mires and swamps full of reindeer and elk as well as the famous cloudberries and the Muddusjokk waterfall. Parts of the park is closed for hikers in early summer as it is a protected bird area.
In the old Central school in the town centre you will find the small but interesting local museum on two floors. There is a section on Sami culture and hunting as well as focus on the settlers who came to try to make a living up here, often staying a whole family in a tiny cottage and working the mires to get hay for their cattle. Then a bit on the mining of course and even a little section on mosquitos :))) There is not that much in English but you can still make out a lot and entrance is free. A good way to spend an hour or so. In summer, the old pump house outside also opens as a Fire Department museum.
When mining took off in Malmberget, the new miners had to live somewhere so a shanty town type of arrangement was built up there and you can see a copy of it today. Summertime, there are all sorts of activities and reenactments but I quite liked visiting in winter when it was really spooky in the snow.
Down by the Vassara River is the Gällivare Heritage park, showing you some of the oldest houses in town which have been gathered here. You will find an old school, the oldest shop and a Sami camp as well as a homestead and the barracks that the English constructors up here lived in. Finally, Sweden's northernmost windmill has been moved here from a village in the region. There is a cafe in summer and great views of the river from a lovely bridge. Summertime is also when children can meet famous blue haired book character Plupp, always telling kids about life in the highlands with reindeer and other local animals. The park is next to Gällivare camping so you are already here if you camp.
Some 45 kilometres south of Gällivare on the main Jokkmokk road is the hydropower village of Porjus. Its main sight is the Hydropower exhibition by the great dam in the Lule River. Hydropower is a debated way to get Swedish electricity and many are opposed to it wrecking the scenic landscape and Sami paths to the coast for their reindeer. Whatever you think of it, Porjus has the exhibition to show you what it IS and how it works. If you want to visit off season, you have to call Vattenfall in advance to book a visit but in summer it has regular hours. You can also visit nearby Harsprånget where the waterfall was dried up in the service of...you guessed it...hydropower. A whole village was built here to service the dam families but in the end it turned to nothing and the village was abandoned.
Porjus also has a lovely hotel and inn as well as a B&B run by an English photographer who upped sticks to settle here instead and take good photos of the Arctic light in all seasons.
When the Ettöreskyrkan became too small as mining boomed in town, this lovely church was built in the town centre in 1879-81.
In the summertime the midnight sun is really something you don't want to miss. You can see it 2/6 - 12/7.
Just to be able to see the sun at 12.00pm is amazing.
On cold, clear nights (wintertime) you can see this green and sometimes red light sweep across the sky.