A BIT OF ÅRE HISTORY
The first people settled in Åre approximately 8000 years ago (‘Åre’ is said to be an ancient Sami word and an Old West Norse word for ‘peak’). The Åre valley has a rich history—from 5000-year-old Stone Age rock carvings, the fascinating Sami indigenous culture, to our present-day with World Cup competitions on its slopes. About 1,000 years ago, Vikings settled in Åre and its surrounding valleys. Around 1200 they converted to Christianity; this is when Åre's oldest church was built. The S:t Olavs pilgrimage route goes through Åre, starting from Selånger, just outside Sundsvall, where Olav Haraldsson landed in 1030 after several years in exile. He led his warriors from Selånger through Åre to Christianize Norway and reclaim the royal crown.
During the Middle Ages, the first ‘tourists’ in Åre were pilgrims on their way from Sundsvall, through Åre, to St. Olav’s Cathedral in Trondheim. Much later, another form of tourism developed after King Oscar II ensured the completion of the railway to Åre in 1882: these were the so-called ‘fresh-air guests’. They traveled to Åre to breathe its crystal-clear fresh air and climb Åreskutan. Albin Wettergren opened Åre’s first restaurant in 1882, and the Åre Mountain Station opened in 1891; opening the way for even more tourists. The funicular, built in 1910, made it easier for ‘fresh-air guests’ to hike in the mountains.
Since the 1940s, Åre has developed into one of the Nordic region’s most attractive sports and outdoor-activity centers—no longer a small village living off agriculture and copper mines. All year round, Åre attracts a growing number of visitors eager to enjoy its skiing, cycling, fishing, and hiking, in addition to its enticing array of renowned restaurants and cafés. Åre’s skiing is considered the best in Scandinavia, and in 2008 Åre was named among the top 10 ski resorts in the world after arranging the Alpine World Championships in 2007. The first time it hosted this competition was in 1954, and in 2019 it will arrange the Alpine World Championships for a third time.