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Hiking at the Uppland Trail
Having a break on a bench by a lake along the Uppland Trail, Upplandsleden.
Photo credit: Gustav Dalesjö

The best hiking in middle and northern Sweden

With its vast stretches of untouched nature and idyllic countryside, Sweden is a dream destination for hiking. Here’s a guide to some of the best trails in the middle and northern parts of the country – including Kebnekaise.

Hiking across Sweden’s varied landscapes is a peaceful yet adventurous way to absorb the country’s expansive nature and rich culture. Each region has its own set of unique trails, some of which take days to complete, though most are divided into sections to allow you to choose specific stretches according to your interests and hiking experience. The season for hiking in these parts of Sweden typically runs from June to September, unless you opt for the wonderful activity of snowshoe hiking.

In preparation for your hike

Swedish weather is changeable and temperatures fluctuate, even during summer – and particularly at high altitudes. If you plan to set off on a more rugged, mountainous trek, make sure to wear sturdy hiking boots and weatherproof outerwear as well as clothing that allows for layering. Mosquito repellent never goes amiss.

Most of the well-established trails are studded with accommodation of various kinds (cabins, campsites and hotels). Thanks to Sweden’s right to roam (‘Allemansrätten’), you’re allowed to stay the night in a tent, provided your chosen spot is not too near houses or in protected land such as certain nature reserves.

Fifteen notable trails:

Uppsala and Roslagen – hotspots for hiking in middle Sweden

The Linnaeus Trails (Linnéstigarna)

Follow in the footsteps of renowned 18th century botanist and scientist Carl Linnaeus by taking a relaxing hike – suitable for most as the landscape is fairly flat throughout – along the Linneaus Trails. Snaking through Uppsala and its surroundings, including the medieval Gamla Uppsala district, these eight individual trails are inspired by the botanist’s own educational excursions and divided into two themes – “Traditional Herbationes Upsalienses” and the more interactive and child-friendly “Treasure Hunt”. Both will guide you to spots of historical significance, relating to Linnaeus’ life and work. Completing all four of the Traditional Herbationes Upsalienses trails will involve a day’s hiking and you’ll find numerous places to eat along the way. Uppsala is easily accessible by train (operated by SJ) from Stockholm and many other cities across Sweden.

The Uppland Trail (Upplandsleden)

The Uppland Trail covers some 500 kilometres – stretching from lake Mälaren in the south to Dalälven archipelago in the north – encompassing both natural and cultural highlights. Section 11, for instance, starts at the 18th century manor house Gimo Herrgård – now serving as a high-end hotel – and winds its way through idyllic forest and the Aspbo nature reserve before hitting the well-preserved industrial ironwork community Österbybruk. In this fascinating spot you’ll find a range of eateries and accommodation options, including a campsite and the hotel Wärdshuset Gammel Tammen. This section’s difficulty level is rated medium due to its forest path inclusion so make sure to wear comfortable hiking boots. You’ll get to and from the trail’s starting and finishing points by bus, from Uppsala or Stockholm.

Salstaleden

Running between two railway stations, Vattholma and Skyttorp, Salstaleden is a 7 km hiking trail taking you along easy-to-walk roads – both gravel and tarmac – as well as Vattholmaåsen's beautiful terrain that combines oak-tree studded forest and farmland. About half way through, you’ll reach the site that has given the trail its name – the baroque gem Salsta slott (Salsta Castle). The second half of the route offers a snippet of education via signs informing you about history, geology and other aspects of nature in the area. Trains run from Uppsala to both Vattholma and Skyttorp.

Marialeden (the Maria trail)

Marialeden (the Maria trail) pilgrim route boasts picturesque open fields and an appealing sense of history. The trail starts by the gothic cathedral in central Uppsala and follows the river out into open country, bringing you to the 12th century church in Old Uppsala as well as three atmospheric burial mounds dating back to the 6th century. The trail is an easy walk for most – studded with eateries and accommodation – as it mainly runs through flat landscape all the way to the end-point at Tegelsmora.

Vikingaleden (the Viking trail, part of St Olav Waterway)

The historic Vikingaleden (the Viking trail) is a twelve-section hike covering 1200 km in total, from Åbo in Finland to Norway’s Trondheim. A newly introduced stretch runs through Uppland – from the fishing village of Grisslehamn to Gimo. This 63 km section takes you through scenic nature as well as several spots of historical interest. Accommodation available along the way ranges from basic to high-end – including hotel and spa Hotell Havsbaden in Grisslehamn. Driving to Grisslehamn from Uppsala takes an hour and fifteen minutes; you’ll reach Gimo from Uppsala in 45 minutes.

Roslagsleden trail

The Roslagsleden trail is a perfect introduction to the region’s unique identity in terms of culture and nature. You’ll hike between Danderyd, north of Stockholm, and the fishing village of Grisslehamn, passing rural areas, pristine coastlines and lake-studded forests as well as historically significant sites such as rune stone strewn settlements and ironwork communities. The difficulty level is average as it covers stretches of forest and you’ll find an array of accommodation options and eateries, including the charming restaurant Wira. Located near Stockholm, you’ll reach Roslagsleden’s starting point in Danderyd by public transport or car.

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Hiking at Linnaeus Trails, Uppsala

Hiking in the forest at the Linnaeus Trails, Linnéstigarna, in Uppsala.

Photo: Gustav Dalesjö

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Hiking at Linnaeus Trails, Uppsala

Photo: Gustav Dalesjö

Hiking at the Uppland Trail

Photo: Gustav Dalesjö

Hiking at the Uppland Trail

Photo: Gustav Dalesjö

Hiking Roslagsleden trail

Photo: Bosse Lind

Hiking Roslagsleden trail

Photo: Bosse Lind

Hiking in northern Sweden with Sundsvall and Västernorrland as your base


Pilgrim Path St. Olavsleden

The pilgrim trail St. Olavsleden – commemorating Norway’s king Olav Haraldsson – is the northernmost pilgrim trail in the world, and runs between the Selånger pilgrim center, just outside Sundsvall, to the Nidaros Cathedral in Trondheim, Norway. The trail takes you through untouched nature, spanning forest, coastline and mountains, so hiking gear is a must. You’ll come across Sami settlements as well as quaint villages, such as Mordviken and Revsund. You’ll even pass by Östersund and get a slice of city life along this 580 km route, which is easily accessible by train if you don’t want to walk the entire distance (Sundsvall and Östersund are both main stops).

The High Coast Trail (Höga Kustenleden)

The 130 km long High Coast Trail (Höga Kusten-leden), part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site, winds its way through the idyllic Nordingrå area, just under an hour and a half’s drive from Sundsvall. The High Coast terrain is characterised by 10,000 years of land uplift – a constantly rising remnant from the last Ice Age. The route, which can be challenging at times, gives you a varied experience with plenty of cultural highlights, eateries and accommodation.

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Hiking St. Olavsleden

The 580 km long pilgrim trail St Olavsleden runs from Selånger in Sweden to Trondheim in Norway.

Photo: Nils Jakobsson, Bildbyrån

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Hiking St. Olavsleden

Photo: Nils Jakobsson, Bildbyrån

Hiking St. Olavsleden

Photo: Nils Jakobsson, Bildbyrån

Hiking the High Coast Trail

Photo: Peder Sundström

Skuleskogen National Park

Photo: Michael Engman

Swedish Lapland


Solanderleden (the Solander trail)

Named after Carl Linnaeus’ protégée Daniel Solander, Solanderleden (the Solander trail), is a 220 km trail of average difficulty level taking you along the magnificent east coast of Sweden from Kallax in Luleå to Jävre in Piteå.

Midnight Sun hikes and snowshoe walks in Swedish Lapland

Take advantage of Swedish Lapland’s Midnight Sun and go hiking at night. There are countless trails to choose from in this natural wonderland, one being the King’s Trail running through the Abisko National Park. Enjoy panoramic views across Abisko Canyon and the Torneträsk lake. Key spots offering food and accommodation include Abisko Turiststation and the Abisko Mountain Lodge.

Hiking in northern Sweden can take various forms. During winter, swap your hiking boots for a pair of snowshoes and explore the trails – a peaceful way to experience nature and its inhabitants.

Abisko’s Aurora Sky Station is one of the best places in the world to experience the Northern Lights and taking the night train from Stockholm is a good way to travel to this unique destination.

Northern Lights pack walk

Organised by Husky Home, this is dog walking with a difference. Setting off with a pack of huskies, you’ll wear a head torch to guide you onto a frozen river or lake in Laukkuluspa, some 35 km west of Kiruna (accessible by train), in search of the Northern Lights. Naturally, the appearance of this extraordinary lightshow can’t be guaranteed, but you’ll be assured of an amazing experience whatever the weather. Camp Ripan offers a similar experience.

Fjällräven Classic

Fjällräven Classic is an annual hiking event organised by Swedish outdoor equipment specialist Fjällräven. The 110 km trail starts in Nikkaluokta (about 45 km west of Kiruna) and finishes in Abisko. The route takes in majestic lakes and challenging mountainous terrain – including Sweden’s highest mountain, Kebnekaise. Camping is allowed except in the Abisko National Park, and cabins along the way can be booked in advance through STF (the Swedish Tourist Federation/Svenska Turistföreningen).

Kebnekaise

Climbing Kebnekaise – towering at 2,106 metres – is on many peoples’ bucket list. The 18 km trail, offering spectacular views and unspoilt nature, is safest to hike during high summer when signposts are snow-free. Bear in mind the weather is changeable and the ground may be snow-covered at higher altitudes. STF offers mountain cabins along the route, and you’ll find accommodation and eateries courtesy of STF Kebnekaise Mountain Station.

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Hiking in Arjeplog

Hiking in the mountains in Arjeplog, Swedish Lapland

Photo: Ted Logart/Swedish Lapland

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Hiking in Arjeplog

Photo: Ted Logart/Swedish Lapland

Aurora Sky Station

Photo: Ted Logart/Swedish Lapland

Northern Lights at Niehk Mountain Villa

Photo: Swedish Lapland

Hiking in Swedish Lapland

Photo: Lucas Nilsson

Hiking in Kebnekaise, Swedish Lapland

Photo: Mats Hagwall/Unsplash