Lapland is the area in the Northern part of the Nordic countries (Finnish Lapland, Norwegian Lapland and Swedish Lapland). It is a gorgeous area north of the Arctic Circle and provides stunning winters, nature, hikes, and of course Northern Lights and Midnight Sun viewings. I visited Swedish Lapland in February 2017 and it lived up to the picturesque photos I had researched prior to. Keep reading to find all the best things to do in this Swedish Lapland Travel Guide!
My trip to Swedish Lapland spanned over three nights, four days. We stayed in Abisko National Park (arguably one of the best places to spot the Auroras) and one night in Kiruna, an adorable little town (and the biggest town) in Swedish Lapland.
Disclosure: This Swedish Lapland Travel Guide may contain affiliate links. I may receive commissions for purchases made through links in this post. As always, all opinions are my own and I would never post about something I have not personally used/verified.
SWEDISH LAPLAND PACKING TIPS:
- The snow and cold is insane here! We went in end of February and it was freezing, but so gorgeous. Make sure you are prepared for alllll freezing weather.
- Serious Snow Boots: My biggest packing for Lapland is that you must must must have strong and big snow boots. There really is no way around it; there are multiple feet of snow in all locations! I highly suggest these Sorel Women’s Joan of Arctic Boots. I have them and wore them everyday and they were AMAZING. My feet were never cold and they got through the deepest of snow piles. They also keep me warm and dry during NYC winters.
- Hand/Toe Warmers: Another must for below freezing temps. I had these in my gloves and boots every single day no matter what and carried extras with me! I recommend these hand & toe warmer combos you can buy here.
- For all of my travel/packing essentials I bring on any trip compiled together, head to my influencer page on Amazon here for a complete list or my descriptive carry-on packing guide here!
HOW TO GET TO SWEDISH LAPLAND
- FLY: There is only one airport near Lapland Sweden, Kiruna. There are 3 nonstop flights there from Stockholm daily on SAS and Norwegian Air. It is about an hour and a half flight from Stockholm. There are also direct flights to Kiruna from a few European cities (specifically London) so if you live in Europe or are coming from there first it is pretty easy to get to!
- TRAIN: You can also get from Stockholm to Abisko National Park or Kiruna via long overnight trains. The train is 8 hours from Stockholm, all overnight. The Swedish railway isn’t as high-tech and advanced as in other countries, so I would fly if possible, but if you love the overnight train route then this is your go-to.
We arrived at Kiruna airport at around noon and went straight to Abisko National Park. We booked a private transfer through Visit Abisko and it worked out great. You can also take a train or bus there (depending on the season) but the timings didn’t work out in our favor. The train also leaves from outside Kiruna City Center, not the airport, so we would have had to transfer a few times (and cabs are ridiculously expensive in Sweden) so the private transfer was the best bet. It was a massive bus with USB ports, nice guides, and even a stop to see reindeer on the way!
SWEDISH LAPLAND TRAVEL GUIDE:
1. ABISKO NATIONAL PARK IN SWEDISH LAPLAND
Abisko National Park has been named one of the top places to view the Northern Lights and Midnight Sun due to the Aurora Sky Station it has built on top of a mountain, where 90% of the nights per year are completely clear! It is a stunning place with so many different activities to do to cater to all types of people.
WHERE TO STAY IN ABISKO
There are only three main hotels to stay at in Abisko. We stayed at STF Turist Station and I highly recommend (click on the link to book!). These places book up fast since there are only 3 hotels so I would book this ASAP after planning your trip. We liked STF Turist Station because it had a great restaurant, was the main base for many excursions, and had multiple on-your-own marked hikes to do right from the base. There are also many different types of room options (hostel dorm situation, private twins, private doubles, etc) that it caters to families, solos, and friends alike. The other hotels are Abisko Mountain Lodge and Abisko Guesthouse and are just a little further down the same road.
WHAT TO DO IN ABISKO
- There are at least 50 different excursions to do during the day and night in Abisko. Dogsledding, snowmobiling, Sami culture tour (the indigenous culture in this region), a day tour to Norway, skiing, snowshoeing and more. They also have all these activities paired with Aurora searching at nighttime. The possibilities are endless and vary across seasons.
- There are also tons of photography tours in Abisko National Park so if you are a photography pro or beginner, I highly suggest taking one of these excursions too! You can find the photography tours in Abisko National Park on the Visit Abisko site here.
- We chose to do dogsledding as our main daytime excursion and I LOVED it. It was a magical experience and a top highlight of my trip. The dogs were beautiful and friendly and our sled navigator couldn’t have been nicer. You even stop in the middle of the mountains and go inside a teepee where they build a fire and give you coffee and cinnamon buns. I booked this through the Visit Abisko site here. It is pricey but SO worth it. The views are beyond gorgeous and unlike anywhere I have ever been. It is also exponentially colder while riding around so plan accordingly!
There are also so many hiking trails around the gorgeous surroundings that you can do on your own and are gorgeous. One walk I suggest, in the winter, is the short walk (30 minutes from STF Turist Station) down to the lake. This is Lake Tornetrask, one of the largest lakes in Sweden. In the winter, it is totally frozen and you can walk, sit, jump all over it (see main picture at top of article!). It is so awesome and the views are amazing.
NORTHERN LIGHTS/MIDNIGHT SUN:
If you are coming to Abisko, you’re searching for the Auroras or Midnight Sun, depending on the season, and you’re definitely coming for the famous Abisko Sky Station. Situated high above sea level on the top of the biggest mountain lies this tiny 1-room building with the best viewing spot for the Auroras or Midnight Sun. You take a 25 minute ski lift up to the top of the Abisko Sky Station late at night (in the pitch black) and stay up there for hours searching the sky. As I said above, 90% of the nights are clear here so your odds are good. The Abisko Sky Station is not cheap however, so make sure you budget for it and it’s not guaranteed to see them. Of course, the two nights we were in Abisko were the least clear nights so we didn’t get so lucky, we only saw them very faintly on our way up. DO not forget to bring layers and layers and layers. The ski lift was beyond freezing, snowing and windy. You can book the Aurora Sky Station here.
There are also plenty of excursions at night time instead of the Abisko Sky Station that include searching for the auroras/midnight sun and if you have more nights here I suggest checking them out on Visit Abisko here. These include snowmobiling, photo tours, hikes and more.
WHERE TO EAT IN ABISKO
There are limited restaurants here and you’re generally not leaving your property to eat. The one restaurant in STF Turist Station is actually amazing, but it is expensive. I suggest doing the big lunch; its only around $12 and all you can eat. If you do this you can choose the one-course meal at dinner instead of the three-course $45 meal. The food is delicious though so if you can splurge, do it! Make sure to try reindeer, Sweden’s speciality!
2. KIRUNA IN SWEDISH LAPLAND
Kiruna is the main and most populated town in Swedish Lapland and where you fly into as noted above. We took a train directly from Abisko National Park to Kiruna, which took about 1 hour and was extremely easy! Kiruna is a small mining town that has a really cool history and are currently undergoing transformation, the whole town is moving a few kilometers over because of the mining. I would definitely talk to your hotel or guides about this, it is fascinating. You can learn more in depth about Kiruna here.
WHAT TO DO IN KIRUNA
- ICE HOTEL: If you are anywhere near Kiruna you must go to the Ice Hotel. It is the first and only Ice hotel in the world and it is beyond mind blowing. EVERYTHING is made out of ice right down to every detail. You can take a quick 30 minute bus here from Kiruna bus station. It is Bus #501 and is ~$10 roundtrip. Once there, you can take an organized tour of the Ice Hotel where you will learn about the history & see some of the main features- I highly suggest this. Afterwards you can walk around the hotel yourself and look at all the different art installations in each room since they are all different to one another! The Ice Hotel is a major tourist trap but it is a must see. And if you can splurge, stay IN the Ice Hotel for a night (book here!)! Make sure to spend sometime in the Ice Bar here as well (more details below!)
Like Abisko, there are various excursions leaving from Kiruna to chase the Northern Lights/Midnight Sun. Here are a few links to tour companies – they’re all amazing! Arctic Peak, Kiruna Lapland, & Kiruna Guides.
WHERE TO STAY IN KIRUNA
There are limited hotels and hostels in Kiruna since it is so remote and small. We stayed at SpIS Hotel and I couldn’t recommend it more! It is a 5 minute walk from the main bus stop and is centrally located. The best part is the restaurant in the hotel is the top restaurant in the entire time and was delicious. There is also a bar here and a great breakfast. We stayed in the hostel side to save money and it was about $60/night per person. We still had a private room for two of us and just shared a bathroom down the hall so it was perfect. You can book SpIS Hotel here.
Alternatively, stay at the Ice Hotel for a night or two! You can stay in the ice rooms or the warm rooms. These are very expensive but an unbelievable experience nonetheless and I definitely would do it if you can splurge. You can book the Ice Hotel here.
WHERE TO EAT IN KIRUNA
- SpIS Mat & Dryk: best restaurant in town, in SpIS Hotel. Not cheap.
- Cafe Safari: good cafe for lunch.
- Arctic Thai: really delicious & affordable restaurant.
- Restaurant Pizzeria Palladium: really good casual pizza place.
WHERE TO PARTY IN KIRUNA
- The Bishop Pub: good beer pub
- Icebar at Icehotel: If you visit the Ice Hotel you have to stop for a drink at the Ice bar here! It is the original ice bar of all ice bars and is amazing!
Like this Swedish Lapland travel guide? Pin it for later or share with friends!
Did I miss something in my Swedish Lapland travel guide that you loved? Let me know in the comments for my next visit! Looking for a Stockholm guide? Head here! See the rest of my full country Sweden travel guide here!