The Swedes have an enviable and relaxed relationship with nature partly due to a public right to roam, known as allermansrätten. Let us introduce you to the best hiking trails in the most superb natural surroundings in Sweden.
High Coast Trail
The term “High Coast” might make you think of Washington’s Olympic Mountains, but there’s different geology at play here. During the last ice age, the region was crushed by glaciers—and the land is still rebounding, hence the name High Coast. Here, too, you’ll find rocky Scandinavian peaks, dense evergreen forests, and remote lakes, but also caves, rich understories lush with lichen and ferns, and one of the top hiking destinations in the country.
Running from Hornöberget in the south to Örnsköldsvik in the north, this 130km long trail, listed as a Unesco World Heritage Site, is divided into 13 stages. The paths run through dense forests in Skuleskogen National Park, along the shores of wonderful bays and past cultural heritage sites. You also walk across high cliffs and the mountain Slåttdalsberg, which is divided into two by a 200m long, 30m deep, and 7m wide crevice called Slåttdalsskreva.
“Ovik” Sweden’s Outdoor Town
If you’re looking to do a little trekking but also want to enjoy all the other outdoorsy awesomeness Sweden has to offer, head to “Ovik” (the full name is Örnsköldsvik). It’s the ideal launch point for forays to the High Coast, but also a mountain town by the sea, with multi-pitch rock climbing, forested mountain biking, and endless water-based activities, including sea kayaking, beach days, and sailing. For all of these reasons and more.
Related: Hitting the Walking Trails in Scandinavia
The Österlen Trail in southeast Skåne
The Österlen Trail, which meanders through southeast Skåne, is dotted with picturesque fishing ports, long sandy beaches, nature reserves and leafy beech forests. The entire trail is 188km, divided into 14 stages. One richly varied stretch is from Simrishamn to Kivik, along sandy beaches and through meadows and apple orchards. The trail also passes through Stenshuvud National Park, which boasts one of the finest beaches in the country, while Tjörnedala is rich in flora and fauna. There are plenty of charming bed-and-breakfast places, hotels and cafés along the route.
Skåneleden Trail, Skåne
The Skåneleden Trail is a 1,162 km long hiking trail that takes you through the beautiful natural and cultural landscape of Skåne, the most southern region. The route is subdivided into five stages. Whether the trail should take you along the coast or through forests will be your choice and yours alone.
The Skåneleden Trail is an attractive alternative for those who wish to combine nature experiences with culture and culinary enjoyment. The route passes through deep forests of deciduous and coniferous trees, through impressive nature parks, along quiet lakes and through deep gorges. You will, however, also see undulating hills with fields and white beaches that go on for miles with occasional picturesque fishing villages. Experience the impressive coast at Kullaleden, meander through the blooming meadows and fields, or through the Österlen forests. Along the entire route you will find pleasant and beautifully located hotels, B&Bs and camping sites.
Related: Freedom to Roam in Scandinavia
Keb and the High Peaks
“Keb” is short for Kebnekaise, which, at just under 7,000 feet, is Sweden’s highest peak. But Keb also stands for the region the massif resides in. Tucked up against Sweden’s northwest border, Keb is both remote (the closest town is a bus stop) and barren—think verdant alpine tundra, snowcapped summits, and alpine lakes. Which is to say the country is beautifully reminiscent of the Beartooths on the Wyoming-Montana line.
Most folks make the 12-mile trek from Nikkaluokta (the bus stop) to the Keb Fjällstation—a full-service alpine hut complete with bunks, a restaurant, and hiking boot rentals. To continue to the summit of Keb from the mountain station, expect a 10-to-14-hour day. Want to get even farther afield? Aim for the area between the Kebnekaise massif and Kaitumjaure Lake. There are no hiking trails, but there’s great fly-fishing.”
Abisko and the Northern Parklands
North of Keb, Abisko National Park is only 30 square miles but serves as a vital hub for Scandinavian trekking. Sweden’s famous 270-mile Kungsleden (or King’s Trail) terminates in Abisko (above the Arctic Circle), where it meets the 500-mile Nordkalottruta (Arctic Trail), which rings Lapland, connecting Norway, Sweden, and Finland.
Related: White Nights in Northern Sweden
Kungsleden Trail, North Sweden
The more than 400 km long Kungsleden Trail, which stretches from Hemavan to Abisko in Lapland, was established at the end of the 19th century. This historic path is considered one of the most beautiful hiking trails, both in summer and winter. Of course, the latter would require skis.
You will hike through a breathtakingly beautiful alpine landscape, between mountain meadows full of flowers, sparkling glaciers, bubbling brooks, dark gorges and the most stunning birch forests Sweden has to offer. In summer the midnight sun will almost tempt you to just keep on walking, and in winter there is a good chance of seeing the magical northern lights dance like curtains moving in the wind against the nightly sky.
The section between Abisko and Nikkaluokta is the most alpine-like which makes it one of the most visited sections. From Saltoluokta to Kvikkjokk the terrain alternates between barren plateaus above the tree line and meadows surrounded by mountains and forests. Not too far from the trail is the impressive plateau of the Sarek National Park. Wooden steps and bridges ensure safe passage for both hikers and skiers and as the comfortable overnight huts are well within walking distance the daily hikes will never last too long.
The Tarfala Valley, east of the Kebnekaise massif, is one of the most breathtaking sights in Sweden. Here you’ll find Tarfalatjåkka, a turquoise mountain lake flanked by some of the most dramatic peaks in the country. It’s also home to Tarfalastugan, the Swedish Tourist Association’s highest mountain cabin.
You can access the cabin from the Kebnekaise mountain station, which is 8km away and 500m above sea level. The cabin has shared dormitories for overnight stays, while Kebnekaise mountain station has suites and camping places.
The Jämtland Triangle
The Jämtland Triangle runs between the mountain stations of Storulvån, Sylarna and Blåhammaren in the Jämtland mountains. It’s one of the most popular hiking trails in the country, largely thanks to the numerous cabins, saunas and good places to eat along the way. The Swedish Tourist Association mountain station at Blåhammaren is renowned for its gourmet food and panoramic views.
Storulvån, around one hour from Åre, is a popular start and finish point. The entire walk is 47km.
Sörmlandsleden Trail, Södermanland
For those who wish to travel the friendly landscape of the most southern part of Middle Sweden at a safe distance from the civilised world, we highly recommend the Sörmlandsleden Trail. This Swedish hiking trail of more than 1,000 km is very interesting both from a landscape as well as historic perspective. The route is subdivided into 100 daytrips of different difficulty levels, varying from challenging to those that resemble an easy Sunday stroll. Most starting points are easy to reach by car, bus or train.
You will be walking in a highly diversified natural environment. One moment you could be walking in an open landscape and the next in areas of un-spoilt nature, old forests or along fantastic coastlines and shores. This route takes you past no less than 80 lakes that will all tempt you to take a refreshing bath right in the middle of nature. There are many places and locations that are of cultural historic importance near the trail.
Also, well within reach of the route are hotels, inns, B&Bs and youth hostels. However, for those who prefer to spend the night in the open air there are designated protected overnight places at the most beautiful of locations.
The Emigrant Trail
The Emigrant Trail, the 130 km long trail in the Småland region, passes along and through villages from which many citizens emigrated to America between 1850 and 1910. The reason being the hard and rocky ground making it hard to grow crops. This resulted in a famine causing many inhabitants to leave this area. Vilhelm Moberg, the author, wrote about the emigrants’ experiences. Reading the book will take you to the surrounding area of the villages Ljuder, Långasjö, Korpamoen, Moshult and Duvemåla. A great reason to travel through this area and as you will encounter all sorts of overnight accommodations en route. You can take all the time you need to explore it.
St. Olavsleden Trail
Everybody has heard of the Santiago de Compostela Pilgrim Route. Would you like to follow a more original Pilgrim Trail? Then Sweden is the place to come to because we have the St. Olavsleden Trail. This pilgrim route passes through Sweden and Norway, from the Swedish east coast to Trondheim in Norway. You can follow in the footsteps of Norwegian King Olav Haraldsson as he walked from Sweden to Norway almost one thousand years ago. While walking you will feel as if you are a part of that very history; sometimes it will feel as if you’re walking through a live museum while surrounded by beautiful nature as well as impressive culture.
The 340km Siljan Trail snakes around Lake Siljan and the valley along Lake Orsasjön. It’perfect for families and beginners, with plenty of conveniences along the route. It’s also a delightful way to experience the many sights in the Siljan area, such as Zorngården in Mora (home of famous artist Anders Zorn) and numerous mountain farms dating back several centuries. There are many places to stay overnight, from cabins to luxury hotels, not least in idyllic Tällberg. You can also take a one-day outing to Rättvik, with Lake Siljan in view the whole way. Another easy hike is around Lake Orsasjön, a 40km walk through undulating landscape.
The Best Hiking Trails in Sweden, compiled by Tor Kjolberg