Abisko travel guide
Around 95km northwest of Kiruna and close to the border with Norway, the tiny outpost of Abisko feels a very long way from anywhere. And really, that’s the appeal. This is prime hiking country, with big skies, shimmering lakes and acres of protected wilderness providing a welcome change from Kiruna’s industrial gloom.
Abisko is at the northern end of the epic walking trail called Kungsleden (the King’s Trail), which snakes through wild terrain for some 450km en route to Hemavan, another tiny Swedish village. Basic mountain huts dot the path every 10–20km, making it possible to tackle the route (or just a small part of it, if you prefer) in relative comfort – you’ll get a bed and a stove, but there’s no electricity or running water.
However good the walking is in these parts, it’s overshadowed by the fact that Abisko is the best place in Sweden for watching the northern lights. The high latitude helps, but it’s the mountains around here that seem to drag clouds away at night, increasing the chances of spotting the aurora.
There’s no guarantee that you’ll see the lights if you visit Abisko, of course, but the odds are relatively good outside of high summer and the displays can be phenomenal – that picture above shows what we mean.
The accommodation scene around here is surprisingly lively, spurred on by the ever-increasing numbers of international tourists who arrive expecting a good after-dark show. The main settlement, Abisko Östra, has the biggest choice of places to stay, plus a small supermarket and a bar. Meanwhile Abisko Turiststation, which lies 2km to the northwest, is home to Abisko’s best hostel. This big building also serves as the starting point for a wide range of summer and winter activities.
Want to join a tour while you’re here? See this guide for some ideas.