If you follow along on my Instagram account you may have seen that I returned to Umeå last weekend.
Umeå, the very place I spent 5 months doing my Erasmus exchange semester in 2014 and that stole my heart completely back then.
I remember my time there so vividly and it was definitely the main reason for returning to Sweden to do my degree here. However, I didn’t visit Umeå since my tearful goodbye 2.5 years ago. So returning was full of nostalgia. And I admit it, I actually felt a little anxious. Would I still like it, after all this time? How would it feel to walk through these well known streets without my friends? What if everything changed? What if it just doesn’t live up to my memories?
I really shouldn’t have worried, though. The moment we started the descent towards the airport and I caught the first glimpses of the frozen sea, the dark forests, the river and finally the city, I was giddy and excited like a small child. As soon as we landed and I stepped out in the cold I knew: I’m back home, my love!
I spent the entire following two days stuck in a nostalgia bubble, constantly comparing my memories with the present. Surprisingly, not a single thing disappointed me. I just loved every minute.
Let’s be honest, Umeå is not a world metropole, but it is a modern, quirky city already pretty high up north in Sweden. No, it doesn’t win against Stockholms elegant beauty or Uppsala’s historic charms and it is not yet in the untouched nature of Lapland. But it has character, one that is hard to put into words. The nature around and even in the city give you a first impression of the vastness of Northern Sweden. Umeå is spread out with many neighbourhoods close to forests and larger green areas. The city centre clearly demonstrates why it is called the “City of Birches”. Every street is lined with birches which were planted after a large fire destroyed the city in the late 19th century. Hence, there is hardly anything left that dates back to earlier than this. In the last years even more modern architecture was added, especially on the riverside. The old classic wooden houses and the modern buildings close to the wide river create a beautiful contrast. While in many cities I would not like that, it is totally fitting here and just underlines Umeå’s character.
Not far from the city, the Ume River flows to the sea and during the summer it is a wide stream. Now in February, however, it is completely frozen and covered in snow. Add some sun and blue sky… The perfect winterwonderland.
Thankfully, we made the most of the picture perfect Saturday and explored all the places I loved and had to see again. Finally, we ended the sightseeing-nostalgia-tour at my absolute happy place: Nydala sjön.
Honestly, being back there at the lake made me so happy, I nearly got sad. This place holds so many memories. Memories of freezing nights hunting the Northern Lights (and never seeing them), afternoon fikas with my best friends and endless summer bbqs. It all flooded back and then to make it all even cheesier the sun painted everything in pastel hues. Oh, how can you not love that place?
The following day, Umeå showed the other side of winter in the north where the sparkling yet cold days are replaced by solid grey. Thankfully, there are still things you can do if the weather isn’t entirely, on your side. So we went to check out the Bildmuseet (free entry!) and then after another walk along the river it was time for fika, anyway.
Now let’s come to the question I was asked a lot of times in the last months: “Is it worth to go to Umeå?”
Yes, personally I really think it is worth to stop by if you are in the area or if you plan to head up even farther north, just as we did. You can easily spend a day or two exploring a city entirely different to Stockholm or Gothenburg.
On the other side, I am not sure if it is worth to go all the way to Umeå, just to see the city and nothing else. However, there are many great places you could visit and connect it with Umeå, for instance Höga Kusten or as I said earlier, a trip up north to Lapland.
Finally, I really realized in these two days how much I love this special place. I think I left a part of me up there forever. And I am sure I need to come back again!!!!
I simply still love you Umeå!