Ume is the capital of the Västerbotten County in northern Sweden, and is located at the mouth of the Ume River, which drains into the Gulf of Bothnia. The largest university in northern Sweden is located here, in a youthful, culturally lively city surrounded by natural beauty.
The gulf to the east is dotted with islands, some of which are summer getaways, such as the Holmön and Norrbyskär archipelagos. The beautiful Nydalasjön lake is close, and there is fresh woodland parks on the banks of the Ume River just outside of Ume. However, prominent Ume attractions such as the outdoor county museum and the guitar museum should not be overlooked. On the riverside, there are fresh new, eye-catching architectural statements like the Bildmuseet, a modern art museum, and the Kulturväven, a cultural center.
Let’s have a look at Best Things to Do in Umeå
1. Guitars – The Museum (Best Things to Do in Umeå 01)
From the exterior, this unassuming old schoolhouse from the early 1900s appears to be a rock, blues, or jazz fan’s dream come true.
More than 500 electric guitars, largely from the 1950s and 1960s, are on display at this museum, which debuted during Ume’s recent reign as Capital of Culture.
Connoisseurs can examine exceedingly rare instruments like as a 1960 Les Paul, a 1958 Gibson Flying V, and a 1950 Fender Broadcaster. Many of the guitars had legendary owners, and the collection was put together by two brothers starting in the 1970s.
2. Västerbottens Museum (Best Things to Do in Umeå 02)
A museum for the Västerbotten County may be found on the outskirts of Ume, exhibiting the history and culture of this section of northern Sweden.
You’ll learn about the Sami people and see their traditional homes (ktan) built of wood and peat moss, among other things.
The outdoor museum has deconstructed and reconstructed 40 antique structures from throughout the area, including a threshing house, farmhouse, and bakery.
In the summer, it transforms into a miniature village with domestic farm animals and people dressed in historical costume who tell you about life and crafts in the past.
Finally, the ski museum explores the lengthy history of this Nordic means of transportation and has a surviving ski that goes back to before the Egyptian pyramids.
3. Umedalen Sculpture Park (Best Things to Do in Umeå 03)
The largest art gallery in Sweden has been renovated from a former mental hospital in the Umedalen district.
The hospital and its wide parkland were chosen by the developer Balticgruppen for an annual (now biannual) outdoor art show when it closed in the 1980s and was sold off.
This firm has bought a sculpture from each exhibition, gathering more than 40 sculptures and permanently putting them in this dramatic setting.
The park has works by Jaume Plensa, Antony Gormley, Anis Kapoor, Louis Bourgeois, and Tony Cragg, among others.
4. Bildmuseet (Best Things to Do in Umeå 04)
It’s difficult to look away from this magnificent museum in front of the UmeRiver.
This is the Bildmuseet’s new home, which opened in 2012 and is located on the riverbank Ume Arts Campus.
Henning Larsen Architects created the structure, which is instantly recognized by its square lines and windows in random placements. It has received international acclaim.
There are six split-level levels with far-reaching vistas of the river for short-term contemporary art shows.
The performances change every few months, so you’ll always have a new experience each time you visit.
Contemporary Chinese art, architectural photography, and industrial design by Charles and Ray Eames are all possibilities.
Kids will be entertained with an art section with art-related games and activities.
5. Umeå Rådhus (Best Things to Do in Umeå 05)
After a fire destroyed much of Ume in 1888, the city’s new landmarks were designed by architect Fredrik Olaus Lindström.
Perhaps the most significant was the Town Hall, which was finished barely two years after the disaster.
This red brick structure is on the same site as a prior 17th-century structure overlooking the river harbour, which served as a significant mode of transportation until the arrival of the railway.
Lindström designed his building in the Neo-Renaissance style, with crow-stepped roof and mullioned windows influenced by the Dutch.
The towers were designed to be asymmetrical and have varied shapes, giving the image a fun feel.
6. Nydalasjön (Best Things to Do in Umeå 06)
On beautiful summer days, the nearest lake to Ume is bustling with activity.
This is when the UmeLagun pools, playgrounds, sunbathing areas, and cafe are all open.
A campground with a vacation town and an adventure golf course is also nearby.
The lake’s waters are extraordinarily pure, and there’s a sandy beach on the north bank if you want to go swimming.
There are still reasons to visit the lake as the seasons change, whether foraging for lingonberries, blueberries, or mushrooms in the fall, or cross-country skiing or ice fishing for perch, pike, or roach when the lake freezes over in the winter.
7. Kulturväven (Best Things to Do in Umeå 07)
The Ume River arching over Strandgatan in the city center, the city’s new, labyrinthine cultural core.
The core is a fascinating jumble of facilities, visitor attractions, and performance spaces that is essentially two buildings that merge together over the street.
The city library, theatre, art house cinema, and market are all located here, as well as a waterfront café and an art gallery.
There’s also a museum dedicated to women’s history, which explores gender relations throughout Swedish history.
8. Umeå City Church (Best Things to Do in Umeå 08)
The greatest chapel of worship in Ume was built in just two years, from 1894 to 1895, and is covered in grenery.
The Russian Army razed one of the church’s antecedents in 1770, while the other was burned down in a fire in 1888. This Neo-Gothic structure was planned by Fredrik Olaus Lindström and erected in accordance with Helgo Zettervall’s standards, who rebuilt and repaired churches and cathedrals throughout Sweden around the turn of the century.
The colorful rose window on the western front and the 19th-century organ made by the prestigious kerman & Lund business are two of the nicest things to see.
9. Arboretum Norr (Best Things to Do in Umeå 09)
The settlement of Baggböle is located a short distance up the Ure River from the city.
This was the site of a massive water-powered sawmill that took down extensive swaths of woods in the nineteenth century.
In Swedish, the word “Baggböleri” has become a synonym for irresponsible deforestation.
As an arboretum was planted along the river’s left bank in the 1970s, this became a place to enjoy flora.
It presently has 1,600 trees and bushes from 280 different species from all over the world.
All of these plants are being studied to see how they react to the northern environment.
10. Umevatoriet (Best Things to Do in Umeå 10)
A kid-friendly science museum established in 2006 in a former army barracks and is open during school hours.
A space display, a mathematics area with a variety of brain teasers, puzzles, and games, as well as a planetarium with three nighttime performances, one of which is in English, are all available.
The observatory, which has a 35-cm optical telescope with a ccd camera for guided stargazing on clear evenings, is the attraction’s highlight.
11. Olofsfors Ironworks (Best Things to Do in Umeå 11)
This industrial attraction is located in the town of Normaling, about a half-hour drive down the coast.
There is an intact ironworks there that dates back to 1762. The unique aspect of this business is how much of its original machinery is still in place, including a water-powered trip hammer and its blower, an 18th-century blast furnace, and a forge where the iron was refined into various products.
Outside the factory, there are worker’s apartments, a coachman’s house, a beautiful manor house that has been converted into a restaurant, and a schoolhouse that houses the museum’s cafe and store.
12. Älgens Hus (Best Things to Do in Umeå 12)
Älgens Hus is another worthwhile excursion is located west of Ume, just outside of Bjurholm.
This is where Europe’s first ever moose-themed attraction is located.
Christer Johansson, a former ski champion, runs a farm, museum, and cafe at lgens Hus.
The museum features ancient moose rock sculptures, as well as large antler collections and exhibits that explain the life of a moose through the seasons.
The moose on the farm are friendly, and you’ll be able to approach & touch them.
These critters are also milked, and the milk is utilized in a handful of the cafe’s delicacies, as well as making cheese that you can buy.
13. Norrbyskär (Best Things to Do in Umeå 13)
Something really fascinating happened in the 1890s on this little islands near Ume.
Frans Kempe, a lumber entrepreneur, built a utopian working village around Europe’s largest steam-powered sawmill on previously deserted islands.
Norrbyskär’s workers were kept as comfortable as possible in order to weaken union strength.
The large residences constructed for the staff are still standing and are used as summer vacation homes.
There’s a museum about the island’s history, tourist train rides, and kid-friendly activities, and Norrbyskär’s natural beauty is evident.
14. Holmön (Best Things to Do in Umeå 14)
In the summer, you may visit this archipelago, which is only accessible by ferry from Norrfjärden.
The crossing takes 45 minutes, and a hydrocopter service is available in the winter when the river freezes over.
Holmön has just around 70 permanent residents, but in the summer it is a treat for its unspoiled environment, charming residences, and all the activities available outside.
You may rent a bike and ride wherever you like, finding hidden beaches, cruising through fragrant woods, and stumbling over small lakes and ponds.
You may even sail a historic sloop, similar to the ones that used to keep these isolated settlements connected to the mainland.
Visit the archipelago’s lighthouse, which dates from 1896, and the boat museum to see antique watercraft.
15. Music Festivals (Best Things to Do in Umeå 15)
The indie culture in Sweden has always been active, and you can witness what’s fresh at Ume Open in the spring.
In 2018, the event will be celebrating its 20th anniversary. After attracting foreign performers for the first 10 years or so, the festival has shifted its focus to domestic acts such as Peter Bjorn & John, Little Jinder, and Säkert!, who all performed in 2017. The Ume Jazz Festival, which takes place in October, is approaching its 40th year and features roughly 30 events at various locations across the city.
It is frequently referred to as Sweden’s finest jazz festival, with notable jazz figures attending each year.
DIDA, a guitarist and vocalist from New York, was one of the festival’s headliners in 2016.