• Sweden's news in English
Lace 'em up: Sweden’s five best hiking trails

Lace 'em up: Sweden’s five best hiking trails

The Local · 9 Jun 2011, 16:08

Published: 09 Jun 2011 16:08 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Sweden has an extensive network of long-distance hiking trails that span the length of the country, traversing rolling pastoral landscapes, thick evergreen forests punctuated by clear lakes, and vast tracts of mountain wilderness in the north.

With the onset of summer, thousands of Swedes will soon be throwing on their rucksacks and migrating along the nation’s much loved trails. The numerous possibilities for hiking and trekking are also luring a growing number of foreign tourists in search of greater solitude.

The Padjelanta trail

At a length of 150 kilometre in the far northwest corner of Sweden, between the villages of Kvikkjokk and Ritsem, this is both one of Sweden’s most beautiful trails and a unique cultural experience.

The name Padjelanta means "highland" in the local Sami language, and the trail passes through several summer settlements of the Sami people and the grazing grounds of their reindeer.

Highlights include tasting the smoked arctic char – a delicacy that abounds in the lakes up here – as well as a visit to the turf church in the Sami village of Staloluokta, complete with wooden altar and reindeer hides instead of pews.

If you come in early July, you might even be lucky enough to witness the age-old tradition of the marking of the reindeer calves under the midnight sun. Count on ten days to complete the trail, or, if you’re pressed for time, take a helicopter to Staloluokta and hike out in 4-5 days to the trailhead. While it may be possible to buy some very basic foodstuffs en route, it’s better to carry your own supplies.


Sweden’s most famous trail, and a knee-jarring 440-km long, much of the Kungsleden ('The Royal Trail') lies above the Arctic Circle. The most popular section lies between the villages of Abisko and Nikkaluokta, with many hikers also opting to summit Sweden’s highest peak, Kebnekaise (2,117 metres) as part of a week-long route.

However, a beautiful, shorter section, is the 81-km stretch between Saltoluokta and Kvikkjokk, which takes 4-5 days. A good option en route is spending two nights in the small settlement of Aktse, where the Swedish Tourist Association operates overnight cabins.

It’s a wonderfully soothing place on the edge of Sarek national park – often cited as Western Europe’s last wilderness. Another must do is a walk up to the prominent cliff-like peak of Skierffe. From the summit, the south face plummets precipitously into a river delta, with the bird’s eye view being one of the most breathtaking anywhere in Scandinavia.

If you’re looking for fewer trekkers, the 166-km stretch heading south from Kvikkjokk is well off the beaten track. Some of the larger huts on the trail stock food provisions, but they tend to be expensive and there is a limited selection as everything has to be helicoptered in.

Höga Kusten trail

Sweden’s only long-distance coastal trail passes through a land that is still rising: getting higher by nearly one centimetre per year – the land here has risen some 300 metres since the ice age. As such, the 'High Coast' in the County of Västernorrland is one of the world’s most prominent examples of land uplift.

Skuleskogen national park is arguably the jewel along the Höga Kusten trail’s 130-km length. Extensively shaped by glaciation, the park is characterised by stony peaks rising out of the Gulf of Bothnia, separated by ravines. The park also boasts a 40-metre high narrow rock canyon.

The trail starts in Hornöberget in the south and stretches to Örnsköldsvik in the north. It’s possible to hike the trail in a week or to complete it in sections. Located close to the E4 highway, it’s also easy to access by car.


While most associate Sweden’s best trekking with the north of the country, the south also has plenty to offer. Collectively known as Skåneleden and located in Sweden’s southernmost county, the trail actually consists of four designated routes that total over 1,000 km in length.

Criss-crossing Skåne from coast to coast as well as from north to south, the trails can be divided into many smaller day trips or week-long treks. Close to the city of Lund, the southern part of the North-South trail passes Skåne’s oldest national park, Dalby Söderskog, which is famed for its deciduous forests and rich birdlife.


The Upplandsleden is situated close to Stockholm and Uppsala and is perfect for day getaways as well as staying overnight in cabins. About 400 kilometres long, the trail passes predominantly through pine-scented forests, but also through sleepy bucolic villages and farms complete with windmills.

Story continues below…

Look out for snakes in the spring and early summer basking on rocks on the forest floor after months of hibernation. (Your author once encountered an adder arched up hissing at him in the forest of Lunsentorpet near Uppsala!) You may well also see deer, elk as well as the black woodpecker – Europe’s largest species.

What to take/advice

A tent gives greater flexibility and solitude for those seeking more of a wilderness experience. Otherwise all the trails above have either rustic shelters or serviced overnight cabins available, though distances may be long between them.

The above trails can be walked in either direction. Stout waterproof shoes are essential. Many Swedes prefer wooden-soled Wellingtons for the more northerly trails or boots made by companies like Lundhags. Otherwise normal hiking boots will suffice.

The trekking season lasts from June to September, with the season being a couple of months longer in the south of the country. In June, there will still be a lot of snow on the Padjelanta trail and Kungsleden, but trekkers will be few and far between.

Mosquitoes reign in much of the north until mid-August with early summer being the worst. Late August until mid-September is a beautiful time with the autumn colours and crisp nights; the little critters tend also to be less of a nuisance.


The Local (news@thelocal.se)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

14:03 June 15, 2011 by Species125
Attention hikers: Most areas in Sweden do NOT have access to emergency care. In more rural areas especially, there is NO air transport for emergency care. Likewise, in urban as well as rural areas it is common for pleas for emergency care to be ignored, and individuals in need of assistance frequently die painful deaths. In addition to a lack of adequate transport, ever-growing budget cuts mean that in addition to a shortage of doctors, fewer emergency rooms even exist now as well.

And for foreign travelers, be advised that doctors in Sweden often don't speak English, or they refuse to speak any few words even of English, as a rise in anti-immigrant sentiments means that many doctors refuse to treat individuals who don't speak native Swedish. Additionally, foreign travelers should not expect an embassy to intervene in order to save their life. The U.S. embassy, for example, leaves its citizens to die and has stated that it's not its job to provide assistance to Americans who are left to die while abroad in Sweden.

Dear Mr. Barzun, please tell President Obama how the U.S. embassy in Sweden is happy to leave its citizens to die in Sweden. Perhaps dying a painful death on Swedish soil is one of the best ways that non-Swedes can feel more Swedish. Why stop with köttbollar, Pippi, and små grodarna when you can experience the full life-death cycle? And please tell President Obama how much money governments can save when sick people are simply left to die. Instead of parroting your mastery of the word, lagom, why not recall the names of those who have been murdered by Swedish health "care." There is no lagom for the mothers, daughters, sisters, brothers, sons, fathers, families, friends who are left to die and who cry as they watch their loved ones suffer endless agony and/or die.

Oh yes, but for the hikers… additionally beware of elk/moose, bears, wolves, badgers, wild boars, snakes, ticks carrying borrelia (Lyme disease) and TBE (tick-borne-encephalitis), and berries and mushrooms carrying the eggs of a deadly-to-humans tapeworm. So, lace 'em up! Just don't forget vaccinations, a first-aid kit, antibiotics, a contract with a local pilot to fly you to some hospital, a native Swedish speaker, your last-will-and-testament, etc…
19:12 June 15, 2011 by Zevdokat
Species125 - your negativity amazes me. While your little masterpiece was indeed entertaining, i'm pretty confident that it won't quite make the cut for Lonely Planet travel warnings section. Do you have any examples of US hikers dying in Sweden due to the failure of Swedish authorities to rescue them? I personally know 2 foreigners have been promptly rescued by helicopter from remote parts of the Stockholm archipelago due to medical emergencies. As an english speaking tax payer in Sweden, i have always had no troubles using the Swedish health care system in english. You will find that doctors in Sweden have a higher than average level of english. Try living in any other non english speaking country in Europe and you might learn that it is a luxury to get away with speaking english here at all.
22:54 June 15, 2011 by mkvgtired
"i'm pretty confident that it won't quite make the cut for Lonely Planet travel warnings section." LOL
Today's headlines
Sweden to keep record-low interest rate in 2017
Sweden's landmark negative interest rate will continue towards 2018. Photo: Anders Wiklund/TT

The Swedish central bank said that it will take longer than expected to reach its inflation target.

Presented by Stockholm University
9 unexpected study programmes at Stockholm University
Photo: Niklas Björling

Did you know Stockholm University offers 75 master's programmes taught in English? And some of them are programmes you won't find anywhere else...

Creepy clown messes with the wrong dog walker in Sweden
Not the clown in the story. Photo: Pontus Lundahl/TT

A dog helped its owner fight off a creepy clown chasing the pair in southern Sweden.

A million Swedes are digitally excluded: report
How should Sweden bridge the digital divide? Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT

Tech-savvy Swedes? Perhaps not. A new study suggests that at least a million of its residents feel the pain of the digital divide.

Malmö's 19th Swedish title sets Champions hopes alight
Malmö fans celebrating after the match. Photo: Björn Lindgren/TT

Malmö FF have their eyes set on the Champions League after winning the Swedish league for the 19th time.

What's on in Sweden
Five great autumn events in Sweden this week
Jazz in northern Sweden. Photo: Umeå Jazz Festival

Food, music, movies and more food. What better way of helping yourself forget that the days are getting shorter and colder?

Here's how slow Sweden's high-speed trains are getting
A Swedish SJX2000 high speed train. Photo: Tomas Oneborg/SvD/TT

The high-speed rail journey between the three biggest Swedish cities is about to get longer.

The Local List
12 Swedish words with just awesome literal translations
A filthy-minded lobster, i.e. a snuskhummer. Photo: Gorm Kallestad/NTB scanpix/TT

One of our favourite things about the Swedish language is its wonderful compound words, which range from being utterly bizarre to making perfect sense.

US election
Donald Trump won't get new Ericsson head's vote
Trump pictured at a campaign rally in Florida. Photo: Evan Vucci/AP

The new Swedish-American boss of telecoms giant Ericsson has revealed he will not vote for the Republican nominee in the forthcoming US presidential election.

Swedes named fourth most gender equal in the world
A file photo of men and women pushing prams in Stockholm. Photo: Claudio Bresciani/TT

Sweden has closed 81 percent of its overall gender gap according to the World Economic Forum.

Sponsored Article
Stockholm: creating solutions to global challenges
People-watching: October 26th
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Sweden cuts 2016 refugee forecast
Is Game of Thrones coming to Sweden?
Blog updates

6 October

10 useful hjälpverb (The Swedish Teacher) »

"Hej! I think the so-called “hjalpverb” (auxiliary verbs in English) are a good way to get…" READ »


8 July

Editor’s blog, July 8th (The Local Sweden) »

"Hej readers, It has, as always, been a bizarre, serious and hilarious week in Sweden. You…" READ »

Sponsored Article
This is Malmö: Football capital of Sweden
Property of the week: Kungsholmen, Stockholm
Sponsored Article
Where is the Swedish music industry heading?
Will Swedes soon be looking for fairtrade porn?
The Local Voices
'I simply don’t believe in nationality'
Why we're convinced Game of Thrones is based on Sweden
Sponsored Article
Why you should 'grab a chair' on Stockholm's tech scene
People-watching: October 21st-23rd
Sponsored Article
Swedish for programmers: 'It changed my life'
Fury at plans that 'threaten the IB's survival' in Sweden
Analysis & Opinion
Are we just going to let half the country die?
Sponsored Article
Top 7 tips to help you learn Swedish
Angry elk chases Swede up a lamp post
Sponsored Article
‘Extremism can't be defeated on the battlefield alone’
The Local Voices
'Alienation in Sweden feels better: I find myself a stranger among scores of aliens'
People-watching: October 20th
Sponsored Article
Stockholm: creating solutions to global challenges
The Local Voices
A layover at Qatar airport brought this Swedish-Kenyan couple together - now they're heading for marriage
Sponsored Article
Why you should 'grab a chair' on Stockholm's tech scene
Swede punches clown that scared his grandmother
Sponsored Article
Where is the Swedish music industry heading?
Fans throw flares and enter pitch in Swedish football riot
Sponsored Article
One expat's strategy for making friends in Stockholm
Could Swedish blood test solve 'Making a Murderer'?
Sponsored Article
Nordic fashion in focus at Stockholm University
Swedish school to build gender neutral changing room
People-watching: October 14th-16th
Man in Sweden assaulted by clowns with broken bottle
Nobel Prize 2016: Literature
Watch the man who discovered Bob Dylan react to his Nobel Prize win
Record numbers emigrating from Sweden
People-watching: October 12th
The Local Voices
'Swedish startups should embrace newcomers' talents - there's nothing to fear'
How far right are the Sweden Democrats?
The Local Voices
Syria's White Helmets: The Nobel Peace Prize would have meant a lot, but pulling a child from rubble is the greatest reward
jobs available