Sweden may be the third-largest country in the EU, but with boundless open spaces, hauntingly beautiful forests and free camping almost everywhere, it’s easy to see why hiking is such a popular pastime here.
Listed below are some of the best hiking trails in Sweden, so strap on your boots, fill your water bottle and get ready to walk among some of the country’s most stunning landscapes:
Hike the Kings Trail – ABISKO-NIKKALUOKTA
This is one of Sweden’s most popular and well-trodden trails. It runs for more than 400 km between Abisko and Hemavan in Swedish Lapland, in the country’s north. Tackle the Kings Trail in the summer and you’ll witness the incredible phenomenon of the Midnight Sun. In the winter you’ll have ample opportunities to see the magical Northern Lights.
This trail is stunning all year round and passes through mountains, bubbling streams and no less than three national parks: Abisko, Stora Sjofallet and Pieljekaise. Cabins can be found for overnight stays or used as brief shelters from the elements. Composed of three segments, you can break the trail down.
A national park in Swedish Lapland, Abisko enjoys a unique climate ideal for watching the Northern Lights. Thanks to the Aurora Sky Station and its mountaintop observation center, you can take a chair lift to see the magical skies close up between November and April.
Climb Kebnekaise (2,106 m)
As the tallest mountain in Sweden, Kebnekaise is a fantastic place for a hike. You’ll begin your journey at the Kebnekaise Fjällstation/mountain station, 19 km from the nearest town, Nikkaluokta. There’s no road though, so consider this when planning your hike.
There is an easier hike up the mountain known as The Vastra (west route) while the Ostra (east route) makes for a tougher climb. That said, if you’re game for a spot of scrambling and glacier crossing, it’s the route for you! Note that you’ll need a guide for this route and plenty of time, especially if you plan to tackle both hikes.
East of the Kebnekaise massif, the Tarfala Valley takes your breath away, as the turquoise waters of the lake rest against the mountain of Tarfalatjåkkaand – some of the most dramatic peaks in all of Sweden. The Tarfalastugan is also here – the Swedish Tourist Association’s highest mountain cabin.
Hike the Fulufjallet National Park
Situated in the northwest of Sweden and surrounding the mountain of Fulufjallet, Fulufjallet National Park is described by park authorities as a “virtually untouched nature area”, and is home to one of Sweden’s highest and most stunning waterfalls, the Njupeskar. As a natural habitat for elk, bears, wolves, lynx, pine martens and the world’s largest falcon, the Gyr Falcon, wildlife is plentiful here. The trail system is also very well developed. With 140 km of marked hiking trails, there are several loops you can take, too, such as the culture 12 km Poststigen route and the 22.5 km Tangsjoleden Trail. Visit in the winter if you can. Just remember to dress appropriately and wear snowshoes or cross-country skis.
Walk along the Sormlandsleden Trail
Running for 1,000 km and with a main trail of 627 km that winds through the county of Sormland, this trail has a truly diverse landscape that offers many great breathtaking views. With a whopping 92 segments, the trail is very accessible and includes day hikes from Stockholm and a stunning Wilderness Trail from Laggesta, where you’ll pass old mining settlements, pine forests, bogs, moors and several lakes to go wild swimming in.
Try out the Skaneleden Trail, Skane
A 1,300 km route through southern Sweden, the Skaneleden Trail is split into six sub trails and passes rugged, rocky coastlines, fantastic forests and glorious lakes. The first section is a coast-to-coast trail that leaves from Solvesborg and arrives at Angelholm, combining the scenery of coastal cliffs with wooded lakes. The second section of the trail passes through the region’s center and takes the hiker through environments similar to savannahs and country estates. The third goes through craggy ravines and national parks and can be a fantastic multi-hike at 162 km.
The remaining three trails give equally diverse terrains and are broken down into smaller sub-sections for easier trails that can be completed within a day.
South Sweden’s most popular trail – the Emigrant Trail
Taking you through the village from which many Swedes left to find their fortune in the US between 1850 and 1910, this 130 km long trail is Sweden’s Smaland region is an extremely popular one. Famine due to the unforgiving terrain drove almost a third of Sweden’s population to depart the village en masse to find better lives for themselves in America. This trail has enjoyed continuing popularity thanks in part to its historic interest.
The Moberg novels make great reading for anyone wanting to understand more about the region and the famine and help bring the villages to life as you hike the trail.
Western Sweden’s Pilgrim Path
Passing through Sweden and Norway, the St. Olavsleden Pilgrim Trail is the most northernmost in the world and goes for around 100 km from Ostersund to Are. Following in the footsteps of Norway’s King Olav Haraldsson, the pilgrim path traces the route he took from Sweden to Norway a thousand years ago. The hiking trail is almost 600 km long. Extending from the Baltic Sea in the east to the Atlantic Ocean in the west, the trail takes hikers through dense forestland, over mountains and around lakes. You’ll be privy to some of the most stunning, inspirational scenery that the country (if not the world) has to offer.
To get the most out of this historical experience, guided tours are highly recommended, but you can still explore it on your own should you prefer to, aided by interactive maps.
Do take note that the weather can be extremely variable here, so pack for the potentially harsh conditions, and don’t get caught unprepared.
Sweden is a hiker’s paradise, and with trails suitable for varying levels of expertise, it’s open and welcoming to anyone wanting to enjoy the historical, cultural and natural beauty of this amazing country. As with any hike, be sure to take all the equipment with you that you might need, tell others where you’re going if hiking alone (and indeed, even when you’re not), and keep a watchful eye out for changing weather conditions. Whether you’re a fair-weather hiker or an all-weather, all-terrain hiker, Sweden will give you an unparalleled hiking experience.