Hiking in Sweden – an adventure from north to south
Levels of difficulty
Sweden offers hiking trails that are suitable for hikers of all skill levels. As many of Sweden’s hiking trails are hundreds of kilometres long, they are broken up into sections, so if you find a trail too strenuous – or maybe not strenuous enough – you will easily be able to exit and hike one more suited to your skill level. This way you can hike at least a portion of any of Sweden’s many hiking trails. It’s important to have the right gear when hiking in Sweden: a good pair of hiking boots, as well as appropriate clothing is always needed.
Which trail is right for you?
The nearly 400 hiking trails in Sweden are generally well-marked and offer hundreds of well-maintained hostels, mountain stations and huts. They’re maintained by STF (Swedish Tourist Association/Svenska Turistföreningen) and are a great resource for hikers and others keen on exploring the wide-open spaces of Sweden. And Sweden‘s Right of Public Access (Allemansrätten) means you can hike anywhere you want as long as you don't disturb those living in the area and leave your surroundings the way you found them.
Weather in Sweden is unpredictable, even in the summer, so make sure you bring suitable clothing, such as rain gear and sturdy, waterproof hiking boots. The weather changes quickly, particularly in the north, and hiking Sweden in the warmer months can get quite chilly, so wear thin layers that you can easily add or shed as needed.
Lapland & the North
If you're looking for a multi-day hike that can be undertaken by hikers of most skill levels, the King’s Trail (Kungsleden) is the classic Swedish hiking trail. Stretching nearly 400 km, from Abisko National park to Hemavan, the entire trail takes about a month. But as there are numerous entry-and-exit points, you can tailor your hike. In addition to the breathtaking mountain vistas, bubbling brooks, and foaming rivers of Swedish Lapland, you can also explore the UNESCO World Heritage site Laponia and its four national parks.
Kebnekaise is another of those great Swedish hiking trails, although at 2,106 m, this is Sweden’s highest mountain, so it has a certain cache for hikers looking to put a notch in their belt. While that climb might sound daunting, the 18 km round trip is manageable for most. The best time to tackle this Swedish hiking trail is during July and August, when the marked trail is generally snow-free.
From a safety perspective this is terrain that changes daily, so to ensure safety check with the guides at STF Kebnekaise Fjällstation (Mountain Station) before heading out. They know their area and can give you the best advice to ensure your hike is safe and pleasurable. Check with STF (the Swedish Tourist Federation/Svenska Turistföreningen) for details, as Kebnekaise can be a challenging hike during most parts of the year.
STF maintains mountain cabins along the route, all of which are free, although you’re not able to book or reserve them. At the foot of Kebnekaise, you'll find STF Kebnekaise Mountain Station, a full-service facility including restaurant and accommodation.
The weather changes fast and because Kebnekaise is above the Arctic Circle it’s not necessarily going to be warm, even in the summer. This is also mosquito country during the warmer months, so be sure to bring mosquito spray.
North east Sweden - The High Coast
Sweden’s High Coast Trail (Höga kusten) is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that takes you through a landscape that is still rising – it’s going up by nearly one centimetre each year and has risen roughly 300 metres since the Ice Age. Starting in the south at Hornöberget, you’ll hike 130 km through the entire World Heritage Site, ending in Örnsköldsvik. You'll pass through rich forests, up to the top of mountains, and along sandy beaches, cliffs and meadows. While the entire trail takes about a week to hike you can also choose any of the 13 marked hiking sections. There are cabins and shelters along the trail – they are free to use but cannot be booked in advance.
Central Sweden - Dalarna
Further south, in the Swedish province of Dalarna, the 90 km Vasalopp Trail (Vasaloppsleden) is perfect for hikers in the warmer months. Winding its way through the Vasaloppet Arena from Sälen to Mora, much of the trail follows the path of the world-famous Vasaloppet cross country ski race.
In Dalarna you’ll also find Siljansleden, a 340 km trail that loops around the Siljan and Orsasjön lakes, taking you along old mountain grazing trails. This one is a bit more challenging than the Vasalopp Trail, but like most other hiking trails in Sweden there are plenty of places to jump on or off, so you can choose whether to have a day hike or a longer challenge. Overnight accommodation is found at regular intervals.
West Sweden - Bohuslän and Dalsland
The shoreline along Sweden’s west coast is dramatically beautiful and perfectly suited to hikers who want to hike along the sea. The Bohuslän coast in particular offers not only incredible views to the islands of the Bohuslän archipelago (which you could easily detour to during your hike) but also a gently rolling rural landscape. The hike along the coast takes 2-3 days and while the coastal portion is quite rocky, it should suit most skill levels.
The Pilgrim Path in Dalsland (Pilgrimsleden) takes you through stunning nature and boasts a variety of more than 100 km of trails. The southern section is well-suited for those looking for a less strenuous hike in Sweden, while to the north you’ll find bigger challenges.
South Sweden - Skåne & Småland
Hiking in the south of Sweden has an entirely different feel from the north and central parts of the country. This is where you’ll find coastal trails, the deep forests of Småland, and the open fields that dot the lower half of the country. In the southwest the Hallandsleden trail stretches over 1,000 km of the Skåne region, linking with the Skåneleden trail to the south and the Bohusleden trail to the north – and will take you through the scenery of Söderåsen National Park.
Småland is also where you’ll find theme trails like the Emigrant Trail (Utvandrarleden) – where you'll pass through the villages and locations found in Sweden’s famous “The Emigrants” series of novels, written by native author Vilhelm Moberg. Sweden’s famous red wooden cottages dot the landscape and the lush forests are as legendary as you’ve heard. Smålandsleden is a 700 km hiking trail, but like most other hiking trails in Sweden, it’s easy to take in sections, so you can do a day hike or one that takes weeks.
Gotland - Sweden's largest island
The beautiful island of Gotland, in the Baltic Sea, boasts 800 kilometres of coastline that are perfect for a relatively easy ramble – although the landscape changes quite dramatically from north to south.
The far north of the island features a wild and barren landscape dotted with nature reserves and hidden limestone quarries, while to the east you’ll find green meadows filled with grazing sheep along with limestone cliffs. To the south it’s open and lush, filled with narrow country lanes – and you’re never far from the water.
A great way to test the hiking of the island is during Gotland Hiking Week, which offers guided tours that range from 12 to 24 km.
Hiking in Idre, Dalarna
Idre Fjäll, Dalarna, is a great place for outdoor activities for the whole family.
Photo: Idre Fjäll
Hiking in Idre, Dalarna
Photo: Idre Fjäll
Hiking the Kings's trail, Swedish Lapland
Photo: Cody Duncan / Swedish Lapland
STF Abisko, Swedish Lapland
Photo: Pär Johansson / www.swedishtouristassociation.com
Hiking in Glaskogen, Värmland
Photo: Øyvind Lund
Couple walking near Hovs hallar on Skåneleden
Photo: Mickael Tannus
Photo: Mickael Tannus/visitskane.com