During my sister’s visit to Northern Sweden, I took her up to the tiny village of Abisko, 85 inhabitants. She spent her first two days in Sweden in Umeå with me (and family friend Martin who visited as well), before we took the SJ train up north. I originally began researching Abisko for us to visit as it is supposedly one of the best places in Northern Sweden to view the aurora borealis, but we weren’t so lucky as the sky was cloudy every night. Though, on an interesting note, due to the location of the town, both in latitude and surrounding geography, even though there were technically daylight hours during our visit, February 2nd was the first officially day Abisko could see direct sunlight this spring. Unfortunately, it only lasted for a brief half an hour before it dipped back down behind the mountains.
We stayed STF Mountain station Abisko, which was fairly lucky as we booked last minute and it was apparently a busy time of year. While I have no complaints regarding the hostel, in fact, we had a fabulous time – hung out with some lovely Germans and Italians, the hostel was clean and spacious, has a great little store, excellent activity calendar, and a nice restaurant – but after dog sledding, we got a peak at Abisko Mountain Lodge (similar name, different hostel) lobby, and were very impressed with the atmosphere. Definitely made a mental note to check out availability and prices next time around.
Some Abisko highlights and memorable quotes, that I will not elaborate on but will post to preserve in writing inside jokes between my sister and I:
- Discussing super hero strengths and weaknesses
- Planning practical jokes to play on Magnus the receptionist (“So, can you look at my rash…”)
- German proverbs: losing = lucky in love; not finishing your food = bad weather
- “We are going to the moon, and I’m the captain”
- When in doubt, a solo traveler is eaves dropping
- “Androids” (this one is also for Martin)
Notes & Recommendations
Food & Drink
Bringing your own alcohol is an absolute must. While you can by beer and wine from the bar or front desk at STF Abisko, the prices are cheap and there is no Systembolaget in town. In addition, the store within the hostel contains most basics needed to prepare your own food for all meals, including organic options, but should you have something specific in mind, plan in advance. The store in town, which triples as a bar, grocery store, and restaurant, has a worse selection.
The restaurant at our STF had great lunches for the typical reasonable Swedish lunch price and we took advantage most days. While their dinner menu sounded tempted, the price was too high to justify. Apparently, as we were told by other guests, the breakfast spread was great, but we never woke up in time.
Getting There & Away
We lucked out and bought the student discounted last minute SJ train tickets, which are usually around half the cost. Risky but great when they work out. The second stop in Abisko drops you off a couple minutes walk from the STF, very convenient.
If you hope to go dog sledding, PLAN IN ADVANCE. We were lucky to pick up a reservation canceled by another pair, but I’d highly recommend booking two weeks in advance.
Other than dog sledding, we went snowshoeing, which was lots of fun. I would have also liked to have gone cross country skiing, but we ran out of time. Additional potential activities include snowmobiling, ice climbing, aurora photo taking lessons, among others.
We also bought tickets to the Aurora Sky Station for a night visit in hopes to see the aurora. The long chair lift up was an adventure in and of itself. The Sky Station has limited capacity, and can sell out if the forecast is high, but seeing as the Norther Lights are so unpredictable, I think it’s always a gamble.