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How to See the Lapland Northern Light: Our 3-Day Sweden Itinerary

By February 21, 2019February 25th, 201915 Comments

Looking at photos of the Borealis aurora shining through a clear night’s can cause major FOMO for the travel enthusiast. Luckily, we were fortunate enough to see the rich colors of the Swedish Lapland northern light up close and personal.

With minimal planning, my boyfriend and I were able to organize a seventy-two hour Sweden itinerary. Although there are many countries you can view this natural wonder from, we chose the town of Kiruna, Sweden.

Why Kiruna made our Sweden Itinerary

Located just 150 kilometers from the arctic circle, Kiruna is located in the heart of the Swedish Lapland. A quick 90-minute flight from Stockholm will land you in the perfect spot to launch your search of the astrological wonder. From Ice Hotels to cozy, upscale hostels, there is a wide range of accommodation to choose from.

sweden itinerary sami tradition

Northern Sweden is stunning at sunset, even if sunset happens in the middle of the day!

Kiruna is also only an hour’s drive from the Abisko National Park. This park was named as one of the most magical places by National Geographic.

Best ways to view the Lapland Northern Light

Whether you prefer to snowmobile, travel by a reindeer-drawn sleigh, or huddle around a lakeside fire, there is an abundance of options to see the Lapland Northern Light. Ultimately, we choose to soak in the views from the comfort of our bed!


lapland northern light skynest cabin

No need to leave the comforts of this cabin to check out the northern lights!

SkyArk is a small business located in Kurravaara, a 20-minute drive outside of Kiruna. They encourage you to take a deep breath, slow down, and soak in the natural beauty. Our lakeside cabin included a 180-degree skylight, designed with stargazing in mind! Throw on a pair of slippers, pour yourself a cup of tea, and take in the unforgettable views.

lapland northern light frozen lake

I must admit that we didn’t stay cozy for long because we quickly learned that the best place to see the Lapland Northern Light is to stand in the middle of a frozen lake. This sensory experience includes the sounds of ‘singing ice’, which we learned is the sounds of the ice shifting. Once you have experienced the auroras, defrost your body by partaking in the sauna culture of Scandinavia. SkyArk offers guests a mini sauna with stunning views of the lake.

sweden itinerary ice dancing

Channeling my inner Elsa in the Swedish Lapland!

The cabin alone was enough to recommend Skynest as a must do on any Sweden itinerary. However, the genuine hospitality of Elin, Albert, and Andrea really made the experience spectacular! From the excellent tips on viewing the northern lights, preparing delicious fresh breakfast, to offering us rides into town, we could not have asked for better hosts!

Making the most of sunlight in Sweden

lapland northern light kiruna church

Kiruna Church is stunning at sunset!

Given that Kiruna is located 150 kilometers from the arctic circle, winter comes with shortened daylight hours. With the sun not rising until 10AM and setting at 2PM, there wasn’t much daylight to work with. Given my boyfriend and I needed to work remotely for parts of the trip, we took a slower pace, however, Kiruna has plenty to offer the adventurous tourist on a Sweden itinerary:

  • Check out Kiruna Church One of the most iconic buildings in Sweden, Kiruna Church is a stunning piece of architecture, modeled after a Sami goahti (cot tent). Fun fact, this church will be moved in 2025 as part of a city renovation effort. The move will support the local iron ore mine, which is the lifeblood of the local economy.
  • Take a Tour of the Ice Hotel View the incredible ice sculptures with you jaws dropped! Each hotel room as commissioned by different artists and has its own unique vibe.
  • Learn about the Sami Culture The Sami museum is a short fifteen minute walk away from the Ice Hotel. Enjoy a warm coffee by the fire in the tent and learn about the history of the indigenous people of Northern Sweden. Added bonus, you can purchase some moss to feed the reindeer located in the outdoor park on the property!
sweden itinerary feeding reindeer

Can you tell that I’m terrified? Those reindeer are hangry!

Life is short, be sure to Fika!

Fika is a tradition that involves making time to enjoy coffee and treats among friend. Personally, I’d consider this to be a critical part of any Sweden itinerary. Located in the heart of Kiruna’s city center, Fika by SPiS has a cozy and quiet atmosphere with a wide variety of treats to choose from.

Be sure to try the Kanelbullar, a pasty spiced with cinnamon and topped with sugar. It pairs perfectly with a bold cup of coffee in the afternoon. Digital nomads beware: the wifi signal and plethora of power outlets make this the perfect spot to get caught up on work.

sweden itinerary must do fika

Life is too short not to Fika!

We certainly made plenty of time to sit back, relax and enjoy the Lapland Northern Light during our time in Kiruna. I’m determined to find the Fika culture back home in the states.  Hopefully, this won’t be our only visit to part of the world. I’m sure the summer months have even more adventure to offer!

lapland northern lights pin

Where have you traveled to see the Northern Lights? Do you have any tips to make the most of this experience?

Jeanne Harran

Author Jeanne Harran

Jeanne is a digital creative by day who is always itching to take her next adventure. She was bit by the travel bug while living in London in 2007 and has been exploring ever since. You can find her on Instagram @jmharran.

More posts by Jeanne Harran

Join the discussion 15 Comments

  • It was a pleasure to meet you guys!!! Thanks for talking about us!!!
    Now we are in lofoten islands, another paradise!!!

  • Wow! Stunning pictures. This is a really helpful guide. Seeing Northern lights is on my bucket list. Hopefully, will plan my nordic countries trip soon. Thanks for the tips!

  • Shreya Saha says:

    That’s a great way to spend 3 days in Sweden. I would definitely book the cabin in Lapland from where I can see the Northern lights without leaving the comfort of the cabin. Walking on a frozen lake is an amazing experience too. I would love to spend a week in Sweden to experience all of it.

  • Pooja says:

    The Northern Lights have been in my bucket list for so long. But the thought of venturing out into the snow is holding me back. So I loved the thought of sitting in the comfort of a cabin. My daughter is obsessed with Elsa so will surely plan a trip to sewden.

  • Yukti says:

    To witness a glimpse of Northern lights must be a lifetime experience. I loved your Sweden itinerary as you have chosen your stay in the lap of nature. A cabin beside a frozen lake and listening to ice sounds must be very unique thing to do here. That pinkish sunset sky is very romantic and beautiful. A very peaceful place it is.

  • Cat says:

    I would enjoy traveling by a reindeer-drawn sleigh to see the Lapland Northern Light. Soaking in the views from the comfort of my bed sounds just as amazing, though. When I visit I want to make sure I take time to learn all I can about the Sami Culture.

  • Jane Dempster-Smith says:

    I have always wanted to do this and to stay at the Skyark would be heaven. Kiruna seems the ideal place to fly into. I was introduced to ‘fika’ in stockholm a few years ago and I would look forward to enjoying here. Thanks for the information.

  • Have always been fascinated by the Northern Lights. Was not aware that these could be viewed from Sweden as well. But Kiruna looks like a slice of paradise, so pristine and enchanting. Standing on frozen ice to watch the Northern Lights must have been quite an experience. So now we have another exotic location up on our bucket list.

  • MEENAKSHI J says:

    Nothing like witnessing the northern lights from a wooden cabin. I am sure it is once in a lifetime experience. Your captures are mesmerizing. And, yes, did not know that we could witness this nature’s beauty from Sweden.Thanks for the suggestion and a very useful itinerary.

  • This is brilliant, I loved reading about your choice on choosing Kiruna, and what you got up to!
    I was attracted to Kiruna, as it was cheaper than other lapland destinations, but still offered the arctic activities!

    I loved my trip!

    Thanks for sharing 🙂

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