Umeå has claims to fame on several counts: it was the European Capital of Culture in 2014; it has the second-largest art gallery in Sweden; it's home to Europe’s greatest museum collection of vintage guitars; and it is the former residence of Stieg Larsson, author of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Its location, a mere 400km below the Arctic Circle, means it is also popular with Northern Lights seekers.
A youthful college town, Umeå has a long and fascinating history. The town was founded in 1622, and was home to the indigenous Sami people whom visitors can learn about at a couple of excellent museums. Aside from its grand slam of cultural sights, Umeå has a superb choice of restaurants and bars, plenty of green spaces, and great shopping. It makes an excellent stopover on your way further north, as well as a destination in its own right.