Northern Sweden road trip - 2 Week itinerary
Exploring northern Sweden by car is a great way to see unique places, go on beautiful hikes, and discover the untouched nature of Swedish Lapland. Catch the train to go as far north as Luleå, and then rent a car to explore the vast National Parks with beautiful mountains, lakes and waterfalls.
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Abisko National Park
Abisko is the 2nd most northern national park in Sweden, covering an area of 77 square kilometers.
It’s also one of the most famous national parks in northern Sweden, especially for seeing the Northern Lights. There is almost no light pollution from cities so it’s the perfect spot to watch the aurora borealis between September and March.
This part of northern Sweden also has some great hiking trails, especially in Abisko – and Stora Sjöfallet national park. Depending on your experience, there are different trails you can explore, from beginner to advanced.
Abisko National Park has lots of trails starting right at the visitor center. One of those trails leads to Abisko Canyon which is one of the many reasons why the area became a National Park.
Day 1 - Kungsleden, the king’s path
Kungsleden, “The king’s path”, is THE most famous trail in all of Sweden. 420 km long it stretches from Abisko to Hemavan.
In Abisko National Park you can hike 20 km of Kungsleden, from the visitor center to the border of the National Park. After around 14 km you reach Abiskojaurestugan, “The Abisko Lake cabin”, where you can stay the night.
Day 2 - Kårsavagge hike
Make your way back to Abisko on the 19 km Kårsavagge trail, taking you over mountains with an amazing view over most of the National Park. Standing on top of Kårsavagge you can even see Kebnekaise, Sweden’s tallest mountain, on a clear day.
See the Aurora Borealis in Northern Sweden
Abisko national park is one of the world’s best locations to see the Aurora Borealis, the Northern Lights. There is almost no light pollution and because of its location between higher mountains, Abisko’s night skies are clear more often.
The best time to see the Northern Lights is between September and March, because the sky is darker longer.
Stora Sjöfallet National Park
Stora Sjöfallet, or Stuor Muorkke in the regional Sámi language, covers an area of 1278 square kilometers. It’s an important part of the Laponia World Heritage Area has gotten its name from a massive waterfall (Stora Sjöfallet in Swedish). The waterfall has since been dried out for a hydropower project.
We spent 3 days in Stora Sjöfallet national park, car camping at Stora Sjöfallet Mountain Lodge. It costs 150 SEK (around 15 €) per person per night for a tent spot, which gives you access to all amenities (kitchen, shower, sauna, washing and drying).
Day 1 - Waterfall hikes
Start the day by visiting the waterfall that gave Stora Sjöfallet national park its name. When the national park was designated in 1909, the waterfall was an impressive attraction. Due to hydropower projects like the damming of the Suorvvá Reservoir and the construction of Vieteas and Ritsem power plants, the landscape has completely changed, including Stora Sjöfallet waterfall.
Visit Rajvotjakka next, a powerful waterfall gushing down from Rajvotjakka mountain. Not the easiest place to get to because of the thick foliage, it’s still worth the hike.
Fun fact: did you know that many of the waterfalls, rivers or lakes in northern Sweden don’t even have names because there are so many of them?
The last waterfall of the day is Loamejåhkå, close to Vakkotavare. Again, not the easiest one to get to but totally worth it.
Day 2 Hiking part of the Padjelanta trail to Ahkka mountain
The mountain massif of Àhkká, featuring 13 summits and 10 glaciers, is the national park’s highest point with 2015 meters.
From Ritsem, take a 10 minute helicopter flight (35 € per person) to the other side of Àhkájávrre, Àhká lake, and start the hike at Àhkkastugan, “The Àhkka cabin”. Close by is the adorable little Cafe Eno, run by an old Sámi lady who loves to chat with hikers over coffee and homemade cake.
If you continue on the hiking trail starting at Àhkkástugan, it’ll lead to Sweden’s largest national park, Padjelanta. We only made it to the bottom of Àhkka mountain and then turned around, taking the 1.5 hour boat ride back to Ritsem with a quick stop in Vaisaluokta (30 € per person).
Day 3 Hike Soldalen, the sun valley, and visit the Naturum Laponia
Soldalen “The sun valley”, is a trail towards the peak of Nieras mountain, 1490 meters above sea level. The 3.5 km hike takes you through arctic birch forest to the top of the mountain, with an incredible view over the national park.
Soldalen’s hiking trail is an ancient migration trail for reindeer herds.
On the way back, stop at the Naturum Laponia, a museum and gallery about the area’s history, Sámi culture and the landscape of Stora Sjöfallet national park.
The entry to the Naturum is free.
1 Day in Kiruna
The city of Kiruna in northern Sweden is world famous for its Ice Hotel, but there are more interesting places and things to discover during late summer.
Start the day by taking a stroll through the tiny but charming old part of Kiruna, and discover the many hidden decorative carvings of reindeers referring to the indigenous Sámi people.
Enjoy traditional Swedish fika at Cafe Safari, an adorable place full of mismatched vintage furniture. They offer a large selection of cakes, coffees, sandwiches and salads, almost all of which can be made vegan if you ask.
In the afternoon visit Kiruna church, the oldest wooden building in all of Sweden. As part of the “Moving the city of Kiruna” project the church is scheduled to be moved to a different place in 2025/26. Yes, you read that right, the old city center of Kiruna was moved to a new location due to the mining activity, which made the ground unstable.
End the day with dinner at Stejk, a street food truck known for its giant subs. Enjoy the vegan one in the traditional tipi tent, warmed up by a fire in the center, and covered in hundreds of fairy lights that imitate the night sky.
Trollsjön, the clearest lake in Sweden
One of the things not to miss when in northern Sweden is Trollsjön, Sweden’s clearest lake. Tucked into the mountains close to the Norwegian border, it’s the perfect 5.5 km half-day hike.
Along the way you can see amazing wildlife like eagles flying above the mountain tops.
Once you reach the lake, dip your hands into the water and have a sip. The water comes straight from the glacier, which makes it so clear, and is drinkable, too.
Nikkaluokta, a Sámi gateway to the mountains
Often referred to as the gateway to the mountains, Nikkaluokta is a popular starting point to hike Kebnekaise, the tallest mountain in Sweden.
It’s a Sámi village located on the shores of Paittasjärvi, a milky turquoise lake fed by the surrounding glaciers.
Aurora Lake Lapland, a hidden gem in Swedish Lapland
In the small village of Tjautas, around 30 km from Gällivare, the family owned business Aurora Lake Lapland is a hidden gem in northern Sweden. Run by Magnus Winbjörk and his wife Elina, Aurora Lake Lapland provides the perfect traditional Swedish Lapland experience.
In the summer and fall you can kayak to one of the many islands in Tjautasjaure lake and enjoy a Swedish fika. Or watch the sun set over the lake and mountains while having a traditional Swedish sauna.
End the day by making dinner over the open fire place, using local ingredients and waiting for the Aurora Borealis to appear.
In the winter, the whole area gets covered in snow, turning it into a winter wonderland. Then it’s time to go dog sledding, snow shoe hiking through the forest, and stay up late to watch the northern lights dance across the night sky.
Hi, I’m Nadine
Part-time traveler with full-time wanderlust.
I explore the world one weekend and one vacation at a time and share my experiences, travel and photography tips, and food recs on this blog.
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