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Kiruna, Abisko, Sweden

GPS: 68.31908335262, 18.685405733407

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Abisko National Park is part of one of Sweden’s northernmost regions, around 200 kilometres north of the Arctic Circle. It is located a short distance from the Norwegian border and extends into Norrland, a large polar area with excellent conditions for observing the natural spectacle of the Northern Lights. This park represents one of the most beautiful and easily accessible wilderness areas in Swedish Lapland.

The Abisko valley and the Lappish mountains of the Scandes (Scandinavian Mountains) in the park have been inhabited for centuries by the nomadic Sámi people. Their way of life is based on hunting and fishing, and more recently they have turned to traditional reindeer herding amidst vast expanses of forest and mountains. Established in 1909, Abisko National Park is one of Sweden’s earliest protected areas, covering an area of 77 km². It enjoys a wilderness environment dominated by the Abiskojåkka River (canyon and rapids), the southern shore of Lake Torneträsk (one of Scandinavia’s largest alpine lakes) and the beautiful scenery of the Lapporten Valley (easily recognizable by its characteristic U-shape). Its forest cover, mountain ranges and rocky gorges are home to Nordic animals such as reindeer, Arctic fox and lynx. Every year, the natural resources of Abisko National Park attract many researchers and botanists conducting studies on climate change (a scientific station is reserved for them near the park).

Despite its isolated location in the middle of Swedish Lapland, Abisko National Park is one of the driest places in the country. In winter, its clear skies and clear nights offer optimal conditions for observing the Northern Lights in the absence of light pollution. The Sámi, one of the last indigenous peoples in Europe, have long associated these dancing lights with bad omens. They believe that they reflect the souls of the dead in the sky and avoid going outside when these light shows appear. During the summer, the Aurora Sky Station allows visitors to enjoy the unique spectacle of the midnight sun. The various floral arrangements on Mount Njullá (or Nuolja) and the number of birds in the park, which can be seen in the high season, will delight hikers looking for a change of scenery.

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  • The diversity of landscapes: mountains, snow-capped peaks, shale and dolomite cliffs, forests, tundra, valleys, lakes, canyons, fjords and waterfalls
  • The mountain valley of Lapporten (or Tjuonavagge); Lake Torneträsk; the canyon formed by the river Abiskojåkka (20 metres deep); the rapids of the river Abiskojåkka (or Abiskojokk)
  • Northern wildlife (bear, glutton, elk, reindeer, lynx, beaver, Arctic hare, fox, eagle…); the beautiful bird population (Golden Eagle, White-tailed Eagle, Rough-legged Hawk, Gyrfalcon, Arctic warbler, Acanthis, Fitis Warbler, Bluethroat, Golden Plover, Eurasian dotterel, Waders, Red-throated Loon…)
  • Alpine flora (wild flowers, alpine plants, subalpine moors, birch forests, orchids, rare plants…)
  • The aurora borealis and midnight sun that can be watched at the Aurora Sky Station on Mount Njullá (easily accessible by chairlift); exhibitions on these natural phenomena in Lapland
  • The profusion of hiking trails adapted to all physical levels
  • Magnificent views from the top of the Njullá (or Nuolja), Slåttatjåkka and Kårsanjonnje mountains
  • Dog sledding, snowshoeing, snowmobile tours, cross-country skiing, skating on Lake Torneträsk and ice climbing in winter; fishing, hunting, canoeing and hiking in summer
  • The STF Abisko Turiststation, a mountain resort with magnificent views of Lake Torneträsk and Mount Njullá
  • Abisko National Park is world-famous for Kungsleden (King’s Trail), which connects the town of Hemavan with the Abisko railway station (Östra). Stretching over 420 kilometres, this itinerary offers a unique natural setting in the heart of Lapland’s mountains and wilderness. The trail is well-marked and equipped with huts every 15-20 kilometres or so. It takes about three weeks of walking to complete the trail.
  • The Rallarvägen hiking trail, which can be explored by mountain bike, runs along the Malmbanan railway through which the iron ore has been extracted in the region since the beginning of the 20th century. This line is one of the most northerly railways in the world.
  • Remains of old huts established by the Sámi can be seen in the nearby environment of Abisko National Park. The majority of the Sámi people in the area live in the town of Rensjön, to the east of the protected nature area. In total, there are almost 300 words in Sami dialects to describe different types of snow.
  • The indigenous Sámi people are settled in the far north within the countries of Sweden, Norway, Finland as well as in the north-west of Russia (Kola Peninsula). Only 10% of the approximately 100,000 Sámi still live from fishing or reindeer husbandry on the Arctic Circle. Their traditional activities are increasingly affected by the effects of global warming and many of them are now only exercising this activity as a simple supplement to their income after having converted to tourism or handicrafts.
  • According to a constitutional principle called allemansrätten, Sweden gives a right of access to nature for all. This means that everyone has the freedom to pitch a tent, pick plants, swim in a lake (…) as long as they take care of nature and respect private owners.
  • Abisko National Park can be reached by train, bus or car from the nearby towns of Kiruna (Sweden) or Narvik (Norway). Upon arrival, start by visiting the Naturum Laponia Visitor Centre in Gällivare for a detailed map of the Norrbotten County area.
  • The best time to observe the Northern Lights is in autumn and winter, from September to March. The midnight sun occurs from late May to mid-July. If you book in advance, the Aurora Sky Station will offer you the best conditions and the appropriate equipment to watch these extraordinary natural phenomena.
  • The park’s birdlife is best viewable at the mouth of the Abiskojåkka River towards Lake Torneträsk.
  • Remember to equip yourself with anti-mosquito protection during the summer period (solutions sold locally are the most effective).
  • The most popular section of Kungsleden connects the town of Abisko with the village of Nikkaluokta further south. This part of the King’s Trail is 120 kilometres long to reach the foot of the Kebnekaise massif (the highest point in the country at 2,111 metres above sea level).

Where to eat

  • Aurora Pub & Restaurant
    (reindeer burger)
  • The Old Homestead
    (rustic and warm)
  • SPiS Mat & Dryck
    (wide range of fresh products)

Where to go out

  • LapplandMedia & Photo...
    (capture of the Northern Lights)
  • Bjorkliden Ski Resort
    (sports ski resort)
  • Stora Sjöfallet National Park
    (glaciers of the Akka massif)

Where to sleep

  • Abisko Fjallturer Hostel
    (friendly place)
  • Abisko Guesthouse
    (ideally located)
  • Icehotel
    (amazing experience)

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