Abisko in Winter: A Complete Guide

Considering a visit to Abisko in winter? Here’s everything you need to know!

Whether you’re visiting Abisko for a chance to see the northern lights or explore Abisko National Park, the winter is a wonderful time to visit this outpost in northern Sweden. 

I visited Abisko while on a longer trip through Finland, Sweden, and Norway, and it was absolutely one of the highlights. I loved getting to snowshoe and hike in the national park, especially the portions that I was able to reach because my group had a car. 

I saw the northern lights several times while I was in Abisko, usually from the front port of the STF Abisko Turiststation, where we were staying. It felt like nearly everyone there was using the My Aurora Forecast app, so anything there was a notification a swarm of people went outside to look into the night sky. 

One of my favorite parts of visiting Abisko was meeting the other travelers who made their way to the Arctic Circle. Many were on one-in-a-lifetime trips to see the northern lights, while others visited from nearby regions with their families. Nearly everyone I met was kind, welcoming, and open, which made for an overall positive experience.

A snowy river scene in Abisko National Park in the winter
An icy, snowy river in Abisko National Park.

Things To Do in Abisko in Winter

Here are all of the top things to do in Abisko during the winter. 

See the Northern Lights

You can see the northern lights from various points in Abisko. The best way to spot the northern lights is to take a photo of the sky with your phone when you think there might be auroral activity. Your phone’s camera will pick up the light much better than your naked eye, so you can use it to tell where you should be looking. 

Take a Northern Lights Tour

Although you can see the northern lights from the central areas of Abisko, you’ll have more luck if you join a tour. The tour will take you to spots with active auroral activity and reduced light pollution, increasing your chances of seeing vibrant colors. 

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    Have a wintery bonfire

    One of the highlights of my trip to Abisko was attending a bonfire at the STF Abisko Turistation. There are bonfire pits along with picnic tables and dry wood set up near the lake, so it’s very easy to start a fire or join one that’s in progress. 

    I brought a thermos with hot cocoa with me and was able to sip my cocoa while I watch the northern lights brighten the night sky. 

    People watch the northern lights near a bonfire in Abisko in winter
    A view of the northern lights from fire pit at the STF Abisko Turiststation.

    Snowshoe in Abisko National Park

    I love to snowshoe, it’s one of my favorite wintertime activities. Many of the trails in Abisko near the Turiststation are packed down enough that you can simply hike along them. However, if you want to go out a bit further you’ll want snowshoes or cross country skis to manage the deeper snow.

    A snowy cross country ski trail with snowy mountains in the background.
    A cross country ski and snowshoe trail in Abisko National Park.

    Visit a Traditional Sauna

    Saunas are an important part of Swedish culture, and they’re a great way to warm up. Many accommodations in Abisko have saunas available for guests, or you can book a session in a traditional smoke sauna. 

    The traditional smoke saunas are dark and heated with wood. You can alternate between sweating in the hot sauna and cooling off in the snowy outdoors – an invigorating experience. 

    Enjoy a fika from a cozy indoor spot

    There’s nothing better than enjoying a cup of coffee or tea by a fireplace on a cold day. In Abisko, one of the most comforting wintertime activities is to eat a chocolate treat while you watch the snowfall. 

    The best place to have a fika in Abisko is probably your hotel. At the STF Abisko Turiststation, you can find plenty of cozy nooks, where you can sip a warm drink, read a book, or quietly chat with friends.

    Weather in Abisko in Winter

    Given its location above the Arctic Circle, it’s no surprise that Abisko in winter is quite cold. January sees the coldest average temperatures in Abisko, with lows around 5° F/ -15° C and highs around 20° F/ -7° C. 

    Average temperatures in December are 25° F/ -4° C for the high and 11° F/ -12°C for the low. February average high temperatures are 21° F/ -6 °C and lows are 6° F/ -14°C. 

    Abisko starts to see snow in the late fall, followed by significant snowfall during the winter months. 

    What to Wear in Abisko in Winter

    I was comfortable when I visited Abisko in the winter because I had the right gear. 

    I mostly dressed like I would for an especially cold day outside in the winter in Colorado, so you don’t need specialty gear to be comfortable. You do, however, need to dress in loose layers – tight fitting clothing is less warm because the air doesn’t have room to circulate. 

    I wore a base layer, an insulating midlayer, and a waterproof/windproof shell. I also used small hand warmers and toe warmers for extra comfort. 

    I wore a parka, snow pants, snow boots, and a warm hat in Abisko in the winter
    Stay safe by dressing warmly in Abisko.

    Here’s what I wore when I went outside:

    Base layers

    Liner gloves 
    Liner socks
    Long underwear – top and bottom
    Neck warmer

    Mid layers

    Long sleeve shirt
    Patagonia sweater (loose)
    Nano puff Patagonia jacket (packed, in case I was cold)
    Wool socks


    Parka/waterproof, warm winter jacket*
    Snow pants 
    Snow boots
    Wool hat

    *A warm shell jacket is essential. You could, however, wear a waterproof anorak over a heavy down jacket to achieve the same results. 

    How to Get to Abisko

    Abisko is a remote destination in northern Sweden, so it can be difficult to reach. 

    From Kiruna

    You can easily drive or take the train from Kiruna to Abisko. The journey takes about 70 minutes by car or two hours by train. 

    The train station and airport in Kiruna are far from the center of town, so give yourself plenty of time to get there. My group ended up driving a half-panicked tourist whose bus never arrived to the airport so that she could catch her flight. 

    From Stockholm 

    There is train service from Stockholm to Abisko. The journey takes about 18 hours, often with a transfer in Boden. You could also drive from Stockholm to Abisko in about 15 hours (without stops). 

    From Narvik, Norway

    You can reach Abisko from Narvik by train or car. The train takes about two hours, while driving takes about 70 minutes. 

    We were warned that the tolls to enter Norway can be very expensive, so we decided to take the train into Narvik instead of driving. 

    A traditional Sami hut with fur pelts and a wooden door
    A Sami hut in Abisko National Park.

    Getting Around Abisko

    Abisko is a rural location in the north of Sweden, connected by train to a few other destinations. If you simply want to see Abisko, you can get around on foot or public transit after you arrive. 

    On the other hand, if you want to explore deeper into the park or get further off of the beaten path, you’ll need to rent a car. My group rented a car in Kiruna and drove up to Abisko. It was nice to be able to go grocery shopping, drive to further away trailheads, and get back to Kiruna on our own schedule. 

    Where to Stay in Abisko

    I recommend that you stay in or very near the town of Abisko. There are a handful of accommodations in the area near train stops – these will be the most convenient for anyone traveling without a car. 

    📍 Budget/Mid Range accommodation: STF Abisko Turiststation

    I stayed in the hostel at the STF Abisko Turistation when I visited Abisko and loved it. The rooms were clean, there was a sauna for guests to use, and the kitchens were large and well equipped. There’s also a nice lodge area where you can sit and chat, enjoy a fika or a glass of wine, and plenty of other travelers so you won’t feel lonely. 

    There is also a hotel and collection of guesthouses to accommodate different groups and budgets. 

    📍 Best luxury accommodation: Abisko Mountain Lodge

    The Abisko Mountain Lodge is a warm and cozy accommodation in Abisko. The property has a sauna and cozy couches and chairs where you can read or chat when you’re not chasing the northern lights. There is a great restaurant onsite, Brasserie Fjällköket, where the menu is prepared using seasonal, local ingredients. 

    Is Abisko Worth Visiting in the Winter?

    Abisko is one of the most memorable winter destinations I’ve ever visited. I loved that it attracted so many adventurous people from around the world, most of whom went to see the northern lights. 

    The Laktatjakka train station in Abisko in the winter
    A train station in Abisko National Park.

    FAQS: Abisko in Winter

    Here are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about visiting Abisko in winter. 

    How many days should I spend in Abisko?

    Three or four days is the perfect amount of time to spend in Abisko in the winter. You’ll have enough time to try a few different activities and explore Abisko National Park. 

    Is Abisko better than Tromso for Northern Lights?

    It really depends on your luck. I saw the northern lights more often when I was in Abisko, but they were much brighter and more vibrant in Tromso. Of all of the places I visited, Senja in Norway had the best northern lights. 

    Remember that the northern lights are a natural phenomenon, so there’s no way to guarantee that you’ll be able to see them, regardless of where you go. 

    Is Abisko or Kiruna better?

    If you can only visit Abisko or Kiruna, I’d recommend spending time in Abisko. It is closer to the National Park and more unique. However, you’ll find more modern amenities in Kiruna. 

    A view of Abisko National Park in winter, full of trees
    A trail in Abisko National Park.

    Conclusion: Abisko in Winter

    Abisko is a wonderful place to visit in the winter. The landscape is beautiful when covered in snow, and there are activities that you can enjoy even if the weather isn’t clear. Best of all, you’ll have the chance to see the northern lights, potentially from the front door of your hotel. 

    Be sure to dress warmly and prepare for the elements in wintery Abisko.