Kungsleden, a 7 days trek above the Arctic circle

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Kungsleden, “the royal trail”, it’s a 450km trail running into the swedish mountains of Lappland, above the Arctic circle. Thousands of hikers come every year in summer to complete a portion  (or all!) of one of the most beautiful treks on the planet and enjoy full wilderness – not even phone connection! The first part of the trail, between Abisko to Nikkaluokta is a rewarding 5-7 days trek.

Highlights – why go trekking above the Arctic circle

  • Witness the midnight sun (if you go before 18 of July).: infinite daylight to trek long and to follow the course of the sun
  • Experience wilderness: spot reindeers!
  • Choose your lodging options: Enjoy the swedish allemansrätten – the right to public access, which allows you to camp where you want. This is a huge plus! Contrary to treks in many other places, trekkers with their camping equipment: can here progress at their own pace and camp in remote spots for a  feeling of total freedom… or appreciate the comfort offered by the mountains cabins.
  • Combine the trek with summiting the highest mountain in Sweden, Kebnekaise

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Itinerary suggestions – Kungsleden trek day by day

The portion between Abisko to Nikkaluokta is the most popular due to its accessibility and the alpine views it offers. The hiking season usually runs from June to September. Be aware that the weather changes quickly in the region and can affect your hiking plans. Late snow fall in season will result in a more muddy path and more difficult river crossings. Stay careful and allow extra time.

Below itinerary is based on trekking with a tent, where you can take full opportunity of your freedom and review your plans as you go, depending the weather conditions.

About the distances below: distances with an asterisk* are the ones we measured while hiking with our own tracker, the other ones are the official distances provided by STF.

 

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Day 1: Abisko – Abiskojaure, 15-17*km, 5h
The trek starts right from the Abisko Tourist train station.
Recommended campsite: If the weather is not too bad, push an extra couple of kilometres to get out of the National Park, Just after its exit -notified by a sign- there are several decent places to camp.
 
Day 2: Abiskojaure – Alesjaure, 20-24*km, 7h
A loooong day where your progression can be really slowed down in case of heavy rain.
Recommended campsite: (N 68°07.7464 / E 018°24.6416). Pass the cabins, cross the bridge and continue for a kilometre or so. At dawn you can observe running packs of reindeers from there.
 
Day 3: Alesjaure – over Tjäkta pass, 24*km, 6h30
The most grandiose part of the trek! If the weather  is good and you feel in good shape, continue after the Tjäkta cabin to the Tjäkta pass. At the top of the pass, there is a little hut where you can get warm if the conditions are bad.
Recommended campsite: (N 68°00.2667 / E 018°14.7653) Just after going down from the Tjäkta pass (3h after the cabins).
 
Day 4: south of Tjäkta pass – Singi, 25*km, 6h
A day from one end of the valley to the other.
Recommended campsite: (N 67°50.8863 / E 018°19.8800) just after the Singi cabins, you will find a spot with a river and even a lovely waterfall, fairly protected from the wind and with an awesome view.
 
Day 5: Singi – Kebnekaise, 14-19*km, 5h
It’s upon this point that you leave Kungsleden and turn East in the direction of Nikkaluokta. You will notice that this part is busier due to the proximity of the tourist station of Kebnekaise.
Recommended campsite: by the mountain station.
 
Day 6: Kebnekaise – Nikkaluokta, 19-23*km, 6H
The last part of the trek, flat and quite boring to be honest…
Recommended campsite -if you want to split the distance: (N 67°50.7683 / E 018°53.0046)Just at the boat station. It will cost you 80sek per tent but the spot just by the lake is lovely – you can even try your luck at fishing.
 

Have More time?

  • Day 3 and 4 are the most beautiful. If the weather is good, you may want to take 3 days to cover the distance to enjoy even more the mountains and not to get too tired.
  • Fancy an extra challenge? On this trail, you can add an extra day to submit the highest peak of Sweden: Kebnekaise, at 2100m. The trail leaves from Kebnekaise fjällstation and the return journey will take you between 10-13 tiring hours.
  • A popular longer version is to continue after Singi to Saltoluokta. It’s 70-80km so an additional 4 days. The portion Saltoluokta – Kvikkjokk is another 70-80 km. For 3 weeks of trekking and more: continue South till the end of Kungsleden: Hemavan!

My tip:

Plan an extra day. It will come handy in case of bad conditions, if you decide to climb Kebnekaise or just if you want to take your time because you love it so much. This is also what makes it vacation time!

Lodging on Kungsleden

As said before, I believe doing Kungsleden camping is a fantastic experience -it’s also free if you stop only in the wild!

For a bit more comfort, you can rely on the mountains cabins. Usually separated from 15-20km, they offer facilities for campers (toilets, a kitchen room, and sometimes a sauna) for 100SEK per person.
Don’t want to carry a tent? It will cost you 350-400SEK per night and they never decline a hiker. If it’s full you will end up sleeping on a mattress in the corridor or the shop, but you will have a roof above your head!

My tip:

After a few days under the tent in the wild, you will appreciated the comfort of the Kebnekaise mountain station and a great meal at their restaurant on day 5. The rooms are a bit pricey (from 800sek per person for a private) but for only 100SEK you can enjoy the facilities of the hotel: showers, kitchen, dry room – perfect for soaked wet boots!- and even a great sauna with view over the mountains!

Transportation – How to get there

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A 6 beds compartment on the Arctic Express train, cozy!

By train:
Swedes can be friendly! This is what I discovered in the train. Yes, it will take you more than 14h to reach Abisko or Kiruna from Stockholm so you have better to socialise a bit with your neighbours! Considering you can sleep on board the train ends up being a great option. It’s also a great way to start relaxing and getting into a slower pace.

Count around 700-1.000SEK for a bed in a compartment for one way. Going somewhere else than Lappland? Consider checking inter rail tickets option. you won’t be as flexible on dates but it can end up being way cheaper.

Check train options here.

By plane:
Kiruna is the main airport for Lappland it takes around 1h30 if you fly from Stockholm. From Kiruna you can take the bus to Abisko.

 
Local connections:
Nikkaluokta – Kiruna is covered by bus lines (1h20min, 150SEK per person). Check the timetable here.

What to pack for Kungsleden trek:

Clothes:

“There is no bad weather, only bad clothes” Swedish proverb

Follow the Swedish proverb and pack for 4 seasons, you never know in the mountains! A good rain jacket, a scarf/buff, gloves and some suncream will already get you a long way!

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Lappland equipment for summer trekking:

  • eye mask: with the longs days of the midnight sun, this little accessory will ensure you get a bit more sleep.
  • Mosquitoes can be ferocious in the region, especially bellow tree level (around 800m of altitude). Pack some jungle oil for the trekking time and some mosquitoes spirals for evening time.
  • sandals to cross rivers / waterproof boots: Trust me, don’t plan on using flip-flop (I lost one on day 2 on a fast river crossing.
  • walking poles? limited utility as the path is mainly flat

Map: the path is well marked but a map will make your trek more enjoyable. You can buy it in most of the outdoors shops in Stockholm or in the cabins on the way.

Food: if you don’t want to pack too much food, you can always buy some basic items like pasta, cereal bars, sauce or nuts at the cabins. It will be more expensive than if you buy it in a shop but a light backpack is priceless!

Water: Available everywhere, carry a bottle of 1L per person and refilling it regularly is enough.

For more information about Kungsleden as well as to book accommodation, you can visit STF website.

See my complete trekking equipment.

 

One thought on “Kungsleden, a 7 days trek above the Arctic circle

  1. REGIS says:

    HELLO
    Very nice trek but personally, I would have prefered a better weather to make that trek ahah.
    Walking about 5 or 6 hours a day is very courageous if we consider the very bad weather conditions and so on you can meet
    Moreover, the way you detail your trek (your tipps, recommended campsites, about food and water, what to pack to m..) will probably be very helpful for those who maybe think about a trek in Lappland!

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