Setting out to explore Swedish Lapland’s vast landscape of forests, lakes and rivers can be a daunting prospect – especially if you’re trying to do things on a budget. But the area can be relatively cheap to get around thanks to the excellent network of trains and buses.
And there’s more good news: almost every town and village has a hostel or cheap hotel with beds available by the night. Prices tend to be a little higher than they are in big cities like Stockholm and Gothenburg, where there’s a lot more competition, but you should still be able to get a space in a dorm for around 300 SEK per night, or a private room for around 700 SEK. Here are some of the best cheap sleeps across the region.
The tiny Arctic outpost of Abisko is one of the best places in Sweden for watching the northern lights, and the mountain station called Abisko Turiststation, which has its very own stop along the train line, is the ideal place to base yourself. This is a surprisingly big activity centre and hostel rolled into one, with a great organic restaurant and bar, plus a flashy (and very expensive) ‘sky station’ for aurora spotting. The cheapest dorm rooms are basic, but with the sheer number of activities on offer in the national park – from hiking to bird-watching and skiing – it’s unlikely you’ll want to spend much time indoors.
Gällivare Bed and Breakfast
Most tourists whizz straight past Gällivare but it’s one of the few large settlements in the central part of northern Sweden, and can be a good base if you fancy trying your hand at snowmobiling, dog sledding or fishing. There is a very cheap hostel near the station, but Gällivare Bed and Breakfast isn’t a lot more expensive, and is a much more comfortable and homely choice. Apart from a very chatty owner, the B&B offers clean, cosy rooms, a shared kitchen and a balcony that you can use for stargazing or admiring the northern lights. Each new day starts with hot coffee and a traditional Swedish breakfast in the guest lounge.
If you’re looking to experience genuine small-town Lapland and want to be close to some excellent beaches, Piteå is worth a visit. The town’s only hostel, which occupies the community centre, is a good cheap place to lay your head for the night. It’s surrounded by parkland and there’s a mix of single, twin and quadruple rooms, plus a huge 10-bed dorm.
Winterday Hostel can feel a little cramped and chaotic but is worth a mention in this list as it offers some of Abisko’s cheapest sleeps – perfect if you’re hoping to see the northern lights on a budget and don’t fancy shelling out for the relatively expensive rooms at Abisko Turiststation. It’s a simple place with a sauna, kitchen and BBQ hut, where you can warm up on cold nights and share stories from your trip. The owners, who run another hostel nearby, can hook you up with dog-sledding tours.
Recently spruced up, this is one of northern Sweden’s prettiest hostels. With tall trees all around, the red wooden house has bright, clean dorms and private rooms, as well as a snug TV room with DVDs for those snowy evenings in. There’s a basic sauna at basement level, plus a kitchen for rustling up meals. Given that the culinary scene in Jokkmokk is somewhat limited, this is a big plus.
Rum För Resande
With a name that translates to ‘Room for Travellers’, this little motel-style place is the best budget option in Skellefteå. It’s right near the historic church town in a quiet part of the city; it’ll take you around 15 minutes to walk to the centre from here. Rooms are fresh, cheery and bright, with showers and toilets out along the corridor. There’s a comfy lounge area to kick back in and a decent breakfast is included in the price.
Need more tips? Check out our main Lapland guide.