Abisko, Best Place to See the Northern Lights?:
Abisko is a small village of less than 100 people located more than 250km north of the Arctic Circle in Lapland. With there being so few people living there and being so far away from large population centers, you are guaranteed dark nights where you see the lights right outside your front door. You can see it’s location on the map below:
Abisko, being so far north makes it a great location to see the lights as they typically occur above the arctic circle and areas further north. It’s only during big events that the northern lights are seen further south, so if you want the best chances to see them, head north.
One of the main reasons though, that Abisko is such a great location for the northern lights is because of the weather. Abisko is located in a microclimate that sees very few days of precipitation. There are many evenings when the rest of Scandinavia is seeing clouds and yet in Abisko the skies are clear or are at least patches in the clouds so you can see the lights.
If you are on a budget, Abisko is also a great choice. There are at least 2 hostels in the town where you can get a dorm room for around $30 to $40 USD a night, and you can reach Abisko by an overnight train from Stockholm if you want to save a few dollars over the flight to Kiruna and subsequent transfer from there to Abisko. As for food, if you are into self-catering, there is a small supermarket in the town near Abisko Ostra train station where you can stock up on food.
How to get to Abisko
Flight: SAS and Norwegian fly semi regularly from Stockholm to Kiruna (1.5 hr flight). After the flight, the easiest way to get to Abisko is take a transfer by Lights over Lapland which will drop you off direct from the airport to selected hotels in the Abisko/Bjorkliden area.
Train: If you don’t want to take a flight, you can take a train from Stockholm Central station to either Abisko Ostra or Abisko Turistation Stations. They run an overnight train with sleepers as well if you prefer that. If you decide to go with the sleeper train though, it can sometimes match the same price as a flight and takes around 17 hours. You can book train tickets through SJ (Sweden Railways).
Where to Stay in Abisko
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While Abisko doesn’t have a ton of choices when it comes to accommodation, there is a lot of variety, so there are options from dormitories to nice bedrooms. Below I’ll list some of the ones I know the best.
Abisko.net (hostel + rooms) – One of the most popular choices, this hostel offers 6 bed dormitories, 2 bed rooms (private), and 4 bed rooms (private). They have their own dogs for dogsledding and also lots of other options for activities.
Located just up from Abisko Ostra station, the location is great as there are many trails just behind the hostel to go to see the northern lights and it’s not a far walk either to the supermarket or the lake. They have warm winter clothes to rent and also have cross country skis and snowshoes to rent as well.
STF Abisko Mountain Station (hostel + rooms + cabins) – Probably the option with the most amount of rooms, Abisko Mountain Station is the local STF (Swedish Tourist Association) and offers discounts for members. Here you have lots of dorm rooms available, but can also book private rooms or even nice private cabins located on their grounds.
Just steps from Abisko National Park and the Abisko Turistation train station, it’s location is perfect for exploring and activities. They run many tours from the lodge and also from here you can get to the Aurora Sky Station very easily as well.
Abisko Guesthouse (hostel + private rooms) – A relatively newer guesthouse in Abisko, this is another great choice near the Abisko Ostra station. While a bit more expensive than Abisko.net, the building and facilities are newer. It is located close to the supermarket in town and is a quick walk down to the lake if you want to see the Northern Lights down there.
They have many activities you can book from the guesthouse and also run a food truck outside which provides comfort foods like hamburgers.
Abisko Mountain Lodge (private rooms) – The nicest location on this list, it’s also the most expensive. With only private rooms and cabins, it is beautifully decorated and warm. They have a nice restaurant on site which serves local dishes and foods. They also run tours from the lodge and offer a wide range of activities.
Located just behind the Abisko.net hostel, there is easy access to the trails behind the lodge and the lake.
Things to Do in Abisko
There are many things to do in Abisko and during the winter time the most popular thing to do is to see the Northern Lights. Second on that list is probably dogsledding. Aside from those, you can do ice climbing, ice fishing, snow shoeing, skiing, and more.
If you want to get outside of Abisko, you can take the train to Narvik and see a bit of Norway (which the train ride itself is worth it), or go see the Ice Hotel in Jukkasjarvi.
Tips for Abisko, Sweden
- Book early. In the winter months, Abisko gets booked out early. Especially in February.
- When in Abisko, check out the webcams from Lights over Lapland to see if the Northern Lights are visible. This is a good way to stay warm inside and just go outside when you see the lights show up on the webcam. However, I still recommend it’s best to go outside and double check every once in a while as well.
- Pack warm clothes. Seriously though, during the winter months, the temperature can drop to -20C or more. You don’t want to have to go inside during a great aurora show just because you are feeling cold or your toes are numb.
- Take advantage of the Saunas. Most of the accommodations above offer Saunas. What better way to warm up after a cold night out seeing the lights, than going into the sauna to warm up.
Check below for some more shots from Abisko.