Planning a hike on the Kungsleden

My partner’s paternal grandfather was Swedish so we planned to go to Sweden to visit some of his second cousins. We both love hiking and while he was researching our trip he came across the Kungsleden (or King’s Trail). This is a 270 miles (440 km) hiking trail in Swedish Lappland, between Abisko in the north and Hemavan in the south. Billed as one of the world’s best hikes, it passes through one of Europe’s largest remaining wilderness areas.

We decided to walk the top section between Abisko and Nikkaluokta, which covers a distance of 64.5 miles (104 km). This is the most alpine but also the most walked section. Despite this, there didn’t seem to be much information about it on the internet when it came to planning our trip. Luckily, we found an itinerary for an organised tour and adapted it to suit our time frame (see below).

Day 1 Abisko Mountain Station to Abiskojaure hut (9 miles)

Day 2 Abiskojaure to Alesjaure hut (12 miles)

Day 3 Alesjaure to Salka hut (missing out Tjäkja hut – 15 miles)

Day 4 Salka to Singi hut (8 miles)

Day 5 Singi to Kebnakaise Mountain Station (8.5 miles)

Day 6 Kebnakaise to Nikkaluokta village (12 miles).

Getting there and away

The first day also included flyKiruna Airporting from Stockholm to Kiruna and then catching a bus to Abisko. We flew from Stockholm to Kiruna with Scandinavian Airlines. The plane left at 11.20am and arrived at 12.40pm. Kiruna has a tiny airport and I’ve never seen so many backpacks come off a plane! From there we caught the number 91 bus, which left the airport at 2pm and arrived in Abisko at 3.30pm. This meant we didn’t start walking until around 4pm, but it wasn’t a problem as in the summer there is plenty of daylight and the first section of the walk is fairly flat and easy walking.

On the way back, buses for Kiruna left Nikkaluokta at noon and 4.20pm. As our flight to Stockholm left at 11.55am on day 7 we had to arrive at Nikkaluokta in time for the later bus on day 6.

Facilities

The kitchen at Abiskojaure hut
The kitchen at Abiskojaure hut

Mountain huts are located between 10 and 20 km apart along the trail. The huts are fairly basic with no electricity or running water. They consist of dormitories with bedding provided and a kitchen area with gas stoves, crockery, cutlery and pans. There are no showers (although some have saunas) and the toilets are drop toilets located some distance from the huts. Visitors are expected to do chores, such as fetch water from a stream or chop wood for the fire, and everyone has to clear up after themselves. No one is turned away from the huts so they can get quite crowded at times, especially in bad weather.

Singi hut
Singi hut

All but Tjäka and Singi huts on the above stretch sold food supplies. We took some food but bought breakfasts as we went, and some items to supplement our dinners. Some huts also sell beer so we had a well-earned drink on a few nights. As a guide to prices, cereal for two cost 40SEK and dried milk was 20SEK. The price of beer seemed to vary widely, at one hostel we paid 50SEK a can and at another we got two cans for 40SEK!

Cost

Staying in the huts is not cheap, the larger ones, with saunas and shops, cost 495SEK (£38) each – about the same amount as staying in a decent B&B in the UK! With a YHA card it is 100SEK cheaper so the savings over six days are quite substantial. We didn’t have YHA memberships but realised on the second day that it made sense, so we joined STF (Svenska Turistföreningen – the Swedish equivalent) at Alesjaure hut. This cost 450SEK (£35) for a couple’s membership.

Kebnakaise Mountain Station
Kebnakaise Mountain Station

Mountain stations are like small villages with full facilities and are also expensive. To stay in a 22 bed dormitory at Kebnakaise Mountain Station cost us 460SEK (£36) each with the discount. We also treated ourselves to dinner and dinner, which for two people cost 790SEK (£68) and 196SEK (£17) respectively. Both meals were buffet style, but I wouldn’t recommend booking in for dinner unless you love fish, as the meal consisted mainly of fish (rollmops, salmon, smoked salmon, mackerel).

When to hike

The Kungsleden has a short season – from the end of June to mid-September. We went in mid-August and I wouldn’t have liked to have gone much later as the weather could turn nasty. In fact, even in mid-August, people in tents were flocking to the huts for a reprieve from the cold outside.

What to take

Below is a list of what I took on the Kungsleden hike as a guide:

Hiking trousers (with zip off bottoms)

Long sleeved thermal top and leggings

Long sleeved shirt

Sleeveless jacket

2 x T-shirts

Fleece jacket

Waterproof rain jacket

Waterproof trousers

3 x pairs of hiking socks

3 x pairs of pants

Night wear

Camp shoes

Hiking boots

Sun hat

Beanie and gloves

Sleeping bag inner

Small towel

Head torch

Kettle and stove

Plastic cup

Compass and whistle

Trekking poles

Pack cover

Water bottle and bladder

Toiletries (soap, toothbrush, toothpaste, chap stick, moisturiser, sun block, insect repellent, wet wipes, fixomull tape)

First aid kit

Smart phone, charger and adaptor

Sunglasses

Book to read

Back pack to put it all in!

I hope that this post is helpful for those who are inspired by the idea of a hike in Swedish Lappland. In a later post I’ll write about my experience on the trail.

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38 thoughts on “Planning a hike on the Kungsleden

  1. Hey Cate, I don’t know if you noticed I nominated you for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award. If you go to my site, it is explained. I hope you will think about accepting, but fine if you don’t. Just wanted you to know I think you are an inspiring blogger.
    Mary

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Mary,
    Yes, I had noticed – thank you very much! It was a lovely surprise and I meant to get in touch with you about it. However, we’ve not had very good internet access lately so doing anything on the internet turns into a long drawn out job. It took me two days to post my latest blog!
    I will be honoured to accept it but it will have to wait until I get back from my travels and have a bit more time and internet access.
    I find your blogs inspiring too. So glad I happened across them.
    Cheers,
    Cate

    Like

  3. Hi Cate,
    A friend and I are leaving for the Kungsleden in less than a month (So excited)! Your blog is full of information, but I just had question:
    Is there everything needed to cook in the huts (Pans,plates,…)? Or do you have to bring them along?

    Thanks, -Sam

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Sam,
    Thanks for your comment. We took a small kettle, gas stove and plastic mug so we could have hot drinks at lunch time – some days you need them to warm you up. But the huts on the section we did are equipped with everything you need to prepare dinner and breakfast.
    I hope you have a fabulous time.
    Cheers Cate

    Like

  5. Hi Cate,
    Thanks for sharing your experience.

    I have a small question. You mention the cost of some shop items, do you know the rough cost of other food stuffs in the huts, such as tinned food, potato/smash etc?

    We’re heading to Hemaven in mud August and just need to work out our cash budget.

    Thanks,
    Wayne.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Wayne,
      Thanks for your comment.
      Sorry, but I can’t remember the exact price of food items in the huts … but it’s not cheap. We took some food with us and just supplemented our supplies along the way.
      Enjoy your trip.
      Cheers Cate

      Like

  6. Hi Cate,

    thanks so much for the information. I’m planning on hiking Abisko-Nikkaluokta in late August and will be flying into/out of Kiruna. I have a few questions that I’m hoping you can help me out with:

    1. Do you need to book the buses to/from Kiruna or the mountain huts ahead of time?
    2. Does the bus (route 92, I believe) from Nikkaluokta go straight to the Kiruna airport or do I have to transfer from the Kiruna bus station to the airport?
    3. I’m planning on staying in Kebnekaise for night 6 and then finishing the hike in Nikkaluokta on Day 7 (but wouldn’t be able to fly out until Day 8). Are there places to stay in Nikkaluokta for the night?

    Thank you Cate, your blog has been very informative for me!

    -Melanie

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Melanie,

      Glad you found my Kungsleden blogs informative. It’s a couple of years since I did the Abisko-Nikkaloukta hike, so please bear that in mind and verify my information once you get over there.
      1. You don’t need to book the mountain huts as the wardens will never turn people away. This means they can get quite full, especially if the weather is bad so the earlier you can get there the better. I’m pretty sure we didn’t book the buses to and from Kiruna in advance.
      2. We stayed in Kiruna overnight at the end so I’m not sure if you have to change buses to get to the airport.
      3. Most people stay overnight in Kiruna at the end of the hike, but there may be places to stay in Nikkaluokta. We didn’t look into it. There are two buses a day from Nikkaluokta to Kiruna – one about midday and the other around 4.30pm.
      Good luck with the hike.
      Kind regards,
      Cate

      Like

      • Hi Melanie,
        Thanks for letting me know. Glad the information in the blog helped and great to hear that you enjoyed the hike. Was the weather fine?
        Cheers Cate

        Like

      • Unfortunately, it rained half the time. But it was still beautiful – I can only imagine what it looks like in perfect sunshine!! I’ll have to go back again someday 🙂

        Like

  7. Hi Cate,

    Loved reading your blog and all the useful info. I’m about to do the hike (Abisko to Nikkaluokta) later this month and wanted to ask about water supply. How much did you have to carry or if there were streams nearby for easy refilling. Also whether any filtering systems were required for the water. Many thanks, Joe

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Joe,
      Thanks for your comment. Glad you found the post useful.
      I can’t remember exactly how much water we carried, but not excessive amounts as there are streams around you can refill from. We didn’t treat the water and didn’t have a problem. In fact, the water to supply some of the huts comes from water courses.
      Have a great hike!
      Kind regards,
      Cate

      Like

  8. Hi Cate,

    Back from my hike along the Kungsleden Trail (last week July’16) from Abisko to Nikkaluokta. I thought it might be useful for your readers if I posted some updated prices and bus times etc.

    The small boat services available on the Abiskojaure to Alesjaure leg and Kebnakaise to Nikkaluokta leg are now 350kr one way.

    The bus (91) from Kiruna to Abisko runs 2.15pm from Kiruna airport or 2.40pm from Kiruna bus station in the town centre.

    The bus (92) from Nikkaluokta to Kiruna runs twice a day; 11.10am and 4.40pm.

    The hike itself was truly amazing and I would urge your fellow readers to just head out there! Please feel free to ask any other questions.

    Many thanks,

    Joe (from London)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey Joe –

      Thanks for posting those updates to my blog information. How did you find the water situation?

      So glad you had a great hike!

      Cheers,

      Cate

      Like

      • Hi Cate,

        You were right regarding the water situation with numerous streams and rivers all along the way to top up on water supply. I didn’t need to carry any more than 700ml and in fact some hikers only carried a cup whilst hiking to drink every time they passed a water source.

        Thanks,

        Joe
        ps. The water was beautiful to drink

        Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for the updated info Joe (and thanks for responding to my post earlier, Cate). I’m sure I’ll have more questions to come in the next month (I’m starting the hike at the end of August)… can’t wait!

      Melanie (from Canada)

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hi Cate,

        as promised, I’ve already thought of some more questions:

        1. I’m planning on using my phone as a camera and to contact people if an emergency arises. Are you able to charge electronic devices along the trail at all and what is the cell tower reception situation like? If this isn’t possible, did you use a GPS tracking device of some sort in case you needed to send out an SOS?
        2. Are there usually extra spots in the Kebnekaise Mountain Lodge? The online booking system says the lodge is full for the last night of my hike and I’m wondering what my options are for accomodations. I’d prefer not to carry a tent/sleeping bag just for that last night – is there another hut nearby or does the lodge take in everyone like the other huts do?

        Thank you for your help!

        -Melanie

        Liked by 1 person

    • Joe,

      Do you remember whether you had to pre-purchase bus tickets to Abisko from Kiruna? or on the way back from Nikkaluokta to Kiruna? I’m mainly concerned with whether there will be enough room on one bus ride for all travelers, considering there aren’t many in a day. Thanks!

      Like

      • Hi Sandra,

        Apologies for the late reply, just been on a long stretch of working nights. I didn’t buy a return ticket from Kiruna to Abisko. I went in peak season and had no issues obtaining a seat back from Nikkaluokta to Kiruna after the hike. I think there were two buses a day but plenty of seats left over. August should be a great time to visit, hopefully the mozzies will have calmed down by then. I went mid/late July last year.

        Like

    • Hi Joe,

      What distance does the boat cover of the 19km trail from Kebnakaise to Nikkaluokta? Just seeing how much time can be saved by taking the boat.

      Thanks!

      Like

      • Hey Sandra,

        If my memory serves me correctly I think it shaved off about 5-7km. I do remember it being a really pleasant boat ride. It’ll probably save you an hour or two in terms of time.

        Cheers,

        Joe

        Liked by 1 person

      • Hi Sandra,

        Joe’s memory was correct – I found the following on the internet … so the boat trip saves you about 5.4km of hiking.

        “It is 19 km from Nikkaluokta to Kebnekaise mountain station. You can after 5.6 km take a 30 minute long boat trip over the lake Laddjujavri, and then it remains 8 km before reaching the mountain station. (From: http://www.kirunalapland.se/en/see-do/nikkaluokta-kebnekaise-2/)”

        We walked it all and didn’t have a problem getting to Nikkaluokta in time for the bus. In fact, we had lots of time to check out a really cool cafe and art gallery near the bus stop.

        Cheers,

        Cate

        Like

  9. Hi Melanie,
    I didn’t have a Swedish SIM or global roaming so didn’t use my phone for calls. I can’t remember whether you can charge electronic devices in the huts, though you certainly can in the mountain stations. I remember I didn’t take as many photos as usual, and turned my phone off when I wasn’t using it, but I wouldn’t have expected the charge to have lasted 6 days.
    I didn’t carry a GPS tracking system. The track is very well marked and well used so you don’t need to worry about that.
    We didn’t book into Kebnekaise and managed to get into in a 22 bed dorm. I doubt very much that they would turn anyone away. There are no other huts nearby as far as I’m aware.
    Cheers,
    Cate

    Like

  10. Thanks for the great blog entry Cate
    I’m considering (already planning) to hike the Kungsleden next year (Not decided for whole trail or parts yet). One thing I often was wondering, just like some of your other readers was the price of supplies in the huts. So far your blog has been the only one where I came across any information (Thanks). Have you by any chance found any other places with more information about supplies in the hut?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Sam
      Thanks, glad you found the blogs helpful.
      I can’t remember the exact prices of food stuff in the huts but, like most things in Sweden, it wasn’t cheap!
      Cheers Cate

      Like

  11. Im planning part off the trail late june got 9days in all was wondering what size backpack did you took as your gear list seems small….

    Like

    • I took a small macpac. I don’t have it with me at the moment but it’s not very big (maybe 35-40 litres). The less you can get away with taking the better!
      Good luck.
      Cate

      Like

  12. Cheers Cate. Was hoping to get away with a bit smaller pack as im only doing the south section in july trouble finding out about transport getting there though

    Like

  13. Hi Cate,

    Thanks for your great blog entry! I have a question about the sleeping bag, is a thin one really enough (do the huts provide blankets) or do you need a warmer sleeping bag?

    Also, can you join the STF somewhere in Abisko?

    Thanks so much for your help

    Cheers, Jasmine

    Like

    • Hi Jasmine,
      Glad you found the blog post useful. To answer your questions:
      A sleeping bag inner is all you need to take as the huts provide duvets and blankets. They’re quite cosy so you will be warm enough.
      Yes, you can join the STF at the huts, so do it at Abisko Mountain Station so you get the most savings from joining.
      Hope you enjoy the experience.
      Cheers,
      Cate

      Like

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