"The Wood Hotel in Skelleftea, Sweden. "
Jonas Westling

Exciting new offerings have pushed this quaint Swedish city into must-see territory. Though it lies just 125 miles south of the Arctic Circle, Skelleftea emanates un-deniable warmth. A parade of timbered buildings line the main promenade, punctuated by the newly opened Wood Hotel—one of the largest structures in the world built entirely of its eponymous material. At the restaurant Bryggargatan, Michelin-caliber Nordic cuisine is plated without pretension. Sometimes the warmth is literal: downtown now boasts heated sidewalks during the frigid Scandinavian winter.

A steadfast commitment to sustainability encompasses it all, from bio-gas-powered mass transit to the electric-battery factory—among Europe’s largest—operating just outside town. Later this year, the city will introduce electric snowmobiles so tourists can explore the powdery expanse of Lapland emission-free. It’s a magnet for modern urbanites, those who want to live in tune with nature rather than in opposition to it. In recent years, creative types have emigrated from larger cities, peppering Skelleftea storefronts with art galleries and street food, warming the crisp Lapland air with an unexpectedly cosmopolitan vibe for a town of less than 74,000 year-round residents.

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