Home to some of the last great swathes of wilderness in Europe, Sweden really is a hiker’s dream. You can camp and make fires along the way without worry and depending on the time of year you can forage for all sorts of edible forest treats. The Swedes love the outdoors and make the most of it after being cooped up all winter, so get out and join them on one of the many long distance trails. Here’s five of the best..
Kungsleden: best for wilderness
Voted one of the best hiking trails in the world and living up to its title. this 440km long route lies mostly above the Arctic Circle. A popular week long section passes between Abisko and Nikkaluckta allowing walkers to take in Abisko national park, the Sky Station here being one of the best places for viewing the Northern Lights due to a lake with its own microclimate. It also passes Sweden’s highest peak, Kebrekaise (2117m.)
Another popular section offers walking on the edge of Sarek national park, near Aktse, often cited as Europe’s last great wilderness. Near here intrepid hikers can take in one of the most stunning views in Scandinavia on the summits of the cliff-like peak of Skierffe, the south face of which plummets precipitously into a river delta.
Various forms of accommodation are run all along the route, varying in services and luxury from simple camping huts to cabins stocked with food and comfy beds.
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Padjelanta: best for Sami culture
This 150km trail through Laponia in the far north west of Sweden combines stunning scenery with a unique experience of Sami culture.
In Sami ‘Padjelanta’ means highland and enroute you will pass through the summer grazing grounds for reindeer and several local settlements. Delicacies such as smoked Arctic Char and reindeer can be sampled as well as taking in a visit to a turf church in Staloluokta. If you find yourself here in July you might also witness the traditional marking of the reindeer calves, taking place under the midnight sun.
Cabins are run along the route for around 350kr a night per person and usually they stock plentiful provisions.
Hogakusten trail: best for coastal scenery
Meaning ‘high coast trail’ this is Sweden’s only long distance coastal path. You will pass world heritage sights, ancient woodland and countless amazing views from coastal mountains and rocky bays. The land here is still rising by about 1cm a year and offers some of the world’s most dramatic examples of land uplift.
Arguably the most beautiful section is Skuleskogen national park, where you will encounter jagged peaks rising from the Gulf of Bothnia, ravines and a narrow, 40m high canyon.
At 128km long, the route has been divided into 13 sections, each with some form of accommodation within reach. A few stages even have free of charge shelters and unlocked cabins. Being near the E4 highway it is also easily accessible by car.
Skaneleden: best for variety of sights in the south
This 1000km long trail is so long it’s divided into five separate routes, each one has its own merits but all amble through the gentle yet beautiful Skane countryside. You will get a taste of everything from coastal cliffs to geological formations to ancient burial mounds, fishing villages and of course plenty of woodland and lakes. Need we say more?
There are excellent maps and route descriptions available on the website and public transport and accommodation are plentiful. Of course, this being Sweden, you can also camp anywhere you like for free.
Sormlandsleden: best for swimming in lakes
The other 1000km long trail in the South, this one is also easily accessible from Stockholm. Passing through nature reserves, endless ancient forests and plenty of spots for a dip.
Nothing is better in the summer than walking through forests dappled with sunshine and finding so many tempting spots to stop off, have a quick swim from a rocky outcrop and cook some sausages over the fire. There are so many fire pits (sometimes with wood provided) and wind shelters along the way you might find it hard to make it to your destination.
Again the website has excellent descriptions of all the stages and along the trail there are clear markings and maps. There are also plenty of mini camping huts to use for free, although they are first come first serve so don’t turn up at 11 at night and expect there to be space.
The closest park to central Stockholm starts near Björkhagen, right near the the metro and will take you into the forest of Nackareservatet. Other sections pass through the outer reaches in the west of the county accessible from Sodertalje.