Abisko is a tiny village located on the shores of one of Sweden´s largest lakes, Torne Träsk. Nestled
deep within the mountains of a National Park and easily reached by train it is one of the most
accessible places for those wishing to experience the true Swedish Lapland. The train tracks were
built specifically for the transportation of raw iron (an extremely lucrative business) which means
they are beautifully maintained no matter the weather conditions. Overnight trains run from
Stockholm twice a day and it´s only about an hour to the closest airport in Kiruna. In spite of this,
Abisko National Park is abundant with untouched nature that contains several endemic species as
well as moose, reindeer, wolf and wolverine. Due to its´ location in the valley, the village is in a so-
called rain-shadow, leading to many cold nights with clear skies and stunning Northern Lights (Aurora
Borealis) throughout the wintertime.
Where to live
As the village is small there are not many options, but the ones that do exist are definitely up to
standard. For a more budget-friendly backpacker styled hostel, AbiskoNet in the middle of the village
is the perfect match offering both privates and dorms at a reasonable price. For a small fee (€15) you
also have access to snowshoes and skis throughout your stay and at the end of the night a free
Swedish sauna will help you heat up those frozen limbs. This is my hostel of choice.
The STF Hostel is mid-range in price and boasts a gourmet restaurant and a souvenir shop as well as
the Tourist Information Center. It is located about two kilometers outside the village, however it is
also much closer to the start of the National Park and its´ tracks. The trains stop at this station too.
Finally there is also the semi-luxurious Mountain Ski Lodge behind AbiskoNet, more popular from the beginningof March when the ski season truly takes off. They offer private bungalows and have one ofthe only two bars available in “town” (the other is next to the candy outlet.)
There is one thing every single person who comes up here to the cold cold north wants to
see: the supernatural green fires dancing and jumping across the sky, playfully disappearing
every so often only to reappear minutes later behind you. No wonder my ancestors believed
in magic. You can see them from anywhere in the village on most clear nights, however the
lake is the best place when it hasn´t frozen over as the Northern Lights reflect beautifully in
the water. The Helipad behind AbiskoNet and the Ski Lodge is another great place, away
from the disturbing lights of the village.
2. If the lake has frozen over Ice-fishing is definitely something to try out. Layer yourself (like an
onion!) with warm clothing and make your way out on to the ice to drill a hole. Place yourself
on a chair, get your fishing rod ready and prepare to wait. The easiest, and safest, way to this,
is by going on one of the tours held by the tour companies in the village They will provide you
with all the necessary equipment and make sure you don´t break the ice.
Dog - Sledding
The most enchanting way of having a look around the National Park is definitely behind a
group of eager huskies. Can it get more Lapland than this? More adventurous people choose
to have a crash course in dog-sled driving before setting off behind the instructor with their
own sledge and dogs. Others choose to lean back and relax and leave the driving to the
professionals. Make sure to book early as this is definitely the most popular activity around!
Cross Country Ski
Getting the hang of this makes exploring the grounds a lot easier and faster, not to mention the fact that the exertion will keep you warm from top to toe. Just remember not to put on too much clothing, sweat freezes once you stop to pick up your camera! If you are unsure of your skiing skills or do not
feel like doing it uphill, try Snow Shoes. In the deep snow of the winter they´re essential
when going on mountain hiking trips. The short hike up towards Paddus offers breathtaking
views over the lake and mountains and is a (free!) alternative to the lift up to the Aurora sky
Although the opening hours in the wintertime are few and far apart, a visit to the Naturum
next to the Tourist Information center is definitely worth it. The exhibition here will tell you
everything you need to know about the flora and fauna of this biologically diverse area as
well as the Native Sami People and their age-old coexistence with the reindeers. Usually they
also offer screenings of locally made films treating these very subjects.
Visit The Sami Outdoor Museum
While heading for the world-famous hiking trail Kungsleden you would do yourself a favor if
you take a detour past the open air museum of an old Sami village. The structures of the
tents draw to mind those of the Native Americans´, however the people here lived in these
throughout an almost ever-present winter with temperatures down to -40C. It will blow your
mind as you walk between the buildings with your modern-day gear and heat packs to think
that once they were able to live in these very houses with only what nature had to offer.
Remember that the village is located many miles above the Arctic Circle! The temperature can drop
20 degrees within a few hours and the weather can be very difficult to predict. Make sure to always
check with reception before heading out as the weather report might have changed within the last
hour. It is also important to understand that with a bit of wind a -25C might be experienced as a -30C.
Bring many layers of warm clothing and sturdy hiking boots and if you haven´t got enough
equipment; rent it from the hostel/hotel. Heat packs for hands and feet are great for those of you
with bad circulation as these body parts tend to freeze first. Make sure to go inside to heat up
regularly throughout the day and have a general idea of the distances between the places you wish
My final tip is an important one. This is the Arctic. Please prepare to be stuck an extra day or two in
Abisko due to difficult weather conditions. The train company will not let the trains run if the
temperature drops below -35C, the reason behind this being that they can´t guarantee peoples´
survival should the train break down. If you are flying out from Stockholm to another country, add an
extra day or two to spend in the capital. If all works according to plan you get to experience
Sweden´s beautiful capital. If not, you won´t have to get stressed out over missing an expensive flight and can focus on enjoying Lapland. The same goes for those of you flying out from Narvik or Tromsö in Norway.
Please take care of yourselves and have an epic time in the Land of the Midday Moon!