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Abisko in Winter: 19 incredible winter activities you should do

Wondering what to do in Abisko in winter? You came to the right place.

Abisko is located far up north in Swedish Lapland and is a great base to explore this winter wonderland. It is a small village with only 85 inhabitants. This is the big advantage over Kiruna. There’s almost no light pollution, massively increasing your chances of spotting the Northern Lights.

Because the village is so small, you find yourself surrounded by nature the moment you walk out of your hotel. This makes the experience very different and far superior to Kiruna.

In this post, we will cover Abisko Nationalpark, the many exciting Abisko winter activities, and many other top things to do in Abisko in winter.

There is a really good chance that this post contains affiliate links. If you click one of them, we may receive a small commission (for which we are deeply grateful) at no extra cost to you.

Northern Lights in Abisko in winter
The magical Northern Lights

Best Things To Do In Abisko In Winter

Watch The Northern Lights

Many people are drawn to Abisko to see the Northern Lights because of a weather phenomenon called the “blue hole”. Chances are that you’ve also learned about Abisko this way and that this is what took you to this post in the end.

I’m not going to go in great lengths to explain the blue hole, we have a separate post for that.

The main thing to remember is that thanks to constant western winds from the jet stream, the sky above Abisko is often clear when it is cloudy in Kiruna and other places in Swedish Lapland.

This means you have better chances of spotting the Northern Lights in Abisko.

Northern Lights tours from Kiruna will take you to Abisko, resulting in an extra hour’s drive at the start and end of your tour.

If you’re serious about spotting the Northern Lights it is better to go to Abisko and join a Northern Lights tour from there, the tours will be cheaper and you win an hour of extra sleep.

Highlights

Seeing the Northern Lights is truly a magical experience and it stays fascinating because it is different every time. Note that no one can guarantee that you will see it while you are in Abisko.

What You Need To Know

You don’t have to get a stiff neck from watching the sky for hours, waiting for the Northern Lights. There are websites and apps that share an Abisko aurora forecast.

We used the Aurora app. (Google PlayApple Store) It provides the KP index and predicts the current chance of seeing the Northern Lights based on your phone’s location. There are also charts with the KP values for the coming hours and days. If you want you can receive push messages when there’s a good chance of spotting the aurora.

To see the Northern Lights in Abisko you will ideally need a KP index of 3 or higher.

Check prices and availability:
Northern Lights Tour Abisko

Tip: Pictures of the Northern Lights with your mobile phone won’t be as spectacular as those with a photo camera. This is one area where a regular camera still has an edge over your phone. If you want to take home great souvenirs of the northern lights but don’t have a photo camera, or if you don’t know what settings to use on your camera, we advise joining a Northern Light photography tour. You will get a camera preconfigured with the right settings as well as a tripod and learn how to make the best pictures.

Check prices and availability:
Northern Lights Photography Tour Abisko

For the ultimate experience why not chase the Northern Lights with a snowmobile? A guide will escort you up the mountain and take you to some beautiful scenic locations from where you can see the Northern Lights.

Check prices and availability:
Northern Lights Snowmobile Tour Abisko

Or read our post about seeing the Northern Lights in Abisko. If you are looking for a more in-depth guide about the best Northern Lights tour in Abisko, click here.

Dog sledding in Abisko in winter

Go Dog Sledding In Abisko

This was without any doubt the best tour we did and the one we will be talking about for many years to come.

If you’re like us, a fan of winter destinations, you may have come across other dog sled tours in places like Canada or Finland. We did a dog sled tour in Canada but it was nowhere near as exciting as the one we did here.

The big difference was that we did get to drive the dog sled ourselves this time. Not for 5 minutes, and not together with another driver. No, we got to drive the sled ourselves for the full tour.

Riding your dogs through the beautiful countryside, meandering between the trees, and going up and down the rolling hills, gives you an incredibly free feeling.

Various tours are available. There are many tours where you can go as a passenger but if you’re physically able we absolutely recommend going for the driving experience.

Highlights

It gives an incredible thrill to explore the snowy landscape with a dog sled.

What You Need To Know

No advanced steering skills are required to drive your own dog sled.

In the corners, you have to slightly lean into the corner and the sled is equipped with two brakes that you will have to use if you approach sharp turns too fast or get too close to the person in front of you.

My dogs seemed to be in excellent shape that day, I was constantly faster than the person in front of me, but it may also be necessary to help the dogs a bit in some of the uphill sections.

It’s all pretty easy and your tour guide will demonstrate everything before you head off to explore the polar landscape with your dogs.

As said above, we opted to drive ourselves, but you can also join this tour as a passenger.

What Others Are Saying

It’s hard to hide my enthusiasm about our experience, but rest assured, it’s not just me, the reviews are also only showing positive reactions about the tour.

Everyone agrees that it is a unique experience to explore this beautiful landscape with these adorable dogs.

Check prices and availability:
Drive Your Own Doglsed

If you prefer going as a passenger then is this the tour for you:

Check prices and availability:
Dog Sleeding Passenger Tour

Or read our full post about dog sledding in Abisko.

Snowmobiling in Abisko
The snowmobile is an essential mode of transport in Lapland

Explore The Landscape On A Snowmobile

Unless you’re living in a location with harsh winters, you rarely have the chance to ride a snowmobile. It tops the bucket list of many although others detest the activity, stating that it takes away all the charm of a nature escape.

One thing is certain though, snowmobiles and Lapland go together like hot chocolate & marshmallows. The residents do their grocery shopping with them and there are special traffic signs to warn about crossing snowmobiles.

If you’ve always wanted to ride a snowmobile, I can’t think of a better place than Abisko.

This tour will take you deep into the countryside to places you wouldn’t be able to get to otherwise. There will be scenic views throughout and you may be able to spot local wildlife like moose and deer.

Highlights

Plowing through the snow on such a powerful machine is certain to give you a kick.

What You Need To Know

Your guide will start by explaining everything you need to know about the snowmobile. You will also get some warm clothing.

If you don’t want to drive yourself you can join as a passenger.

What Others Are Saying

The landscape is amazing and the guides are very friendly and helpful.

Check prices and availability:
Snowmobile tour

Ice climbing in Abisko
Me ice climbing in the Abisko Canyon

Go Ice Climbing

If you’re up for a challenge during your vacation then ice climbing may be it.

In Abisko you have the chance to give this challenging sport a try under professional guidance.

No previous climbing experience is required to join this ice climbing tour.

I did it and managed to complete the challenge and I have never climbed a mountain, let alone an icefall, before.

Highlights

Did I immediately register in a climbing club afterward? No, I didn’t. But I don’t regret for a second that I joined this tour.

It’s always nice to try something new and those who like to push their limits and try new adventures will have a blast.

What You Need To Know

You will be outfitted with an ice pick and ice cleats.

Your guide will explain the required technique and will also act as the belayer so that you can safely attack the ice fall.

Check prices and availability:
Ice Climbing Tour With Certified Guide

The Abisko Canyon in winter
Some of the icefalls in the spectacular Abisko canyon

Admire The Frozen Waterfalls

If ice climbing is a little too adventurous you can still admire the beautiful Abisko ice fall and several other smaller falls in the canyon, from a safe distance.

The Abisko canyon is located right next to the Abisko Turiststation (which is by the way an excellent place to stay in Abisko). There is a trail that leads from the Turiststation to the canyon.

The trail loops around the canyon and offers several spectacular views of the canyon from different angles.

Moose with calf
A moose with her calf that we spotted from one of the trails close to the Turststation

Abisko Winter Hiking

Abisko is located in the Abisko National Park, a hiker’s paradise any time of the year.

The most famous trail is the Kungsleden or King’s trail.

This trail is over 400 kilometers long and crosses a large part of scenic Lapland.

If you’re into an exciting multi-day trek you can start in Nikkaluokta or even all the way down in Hemavan and walk or cross-country ski to Abisko, spending the night in the mountain cabins along the way.

You can also hike a part of the Kungsleden as a day hike or explore one of the many other well-marked trails in the area.

Tourist guides are available daily at the Turiststation and can advise you on the state of the trails and the best areas to go.

Highlights

If you’re looking for a family-friendly Abisko winter activity, this is it.

Go explore the Abisko national park in winter at your own pace and enjoy the many splendid views together with your little ones.

We walked on our own but it is also possible to join a guided tour.

Check prices and availability:
Guided hike in Abisko

Join a photography tour

Abisko’s landscape is stunning in so many ways. The expansive views are breathtaking and there is also a lot of beauty hidden in the small details. Photographers can indulge themselves 24/7.

If you’re a photography enthusiast, you will feel like you’re in paradise.

You can join a guided tour, led by a professional photographer. He will share his tips to take the best shots of the snowy landscape and point out opportunities for original pictures.

Photo composition, hyperfocal focusing, and macro photography of ice crystals are just a few of the things that will be covered during this tour.

The tour can also be worthwhile for experienced photographers as the guide knows the National Park like he knows his backyard. He will take you to the most spectacular locations and make sure that you leave with some stunning pictures.

Lastly, you don’t need a professional camera to join this tour. You can borrow a camera. All you need is a standard size SD card to take your pictures home.

Highlights

As an avid photographer, you know that you can keep learning about your hobby. This is an excellent opportunity to learn some new tricks from a professional photographer and take home some unique memories from your trip.

What others are saying

The tour is given by apt teachers who will help you make artistic photos while sharing useful pieces of advice. They can answer all of your photography questions and will be able to take your photography skills to the next level.

Check prices and availability:
Landscape photography tour

Sunset over Lapporten in Abisko
Sunrise over Lapporten

Watch The Sunrise And Sunset

Sunrises and sunsets always have something magical and they can be pretty damn impressive in Abisko as well.

Above you see a picture of the sun rising behind Lapporten, an iconic U-shaped valley at the border of Abisko National Park.

Unfortunately, the picture doesn’t show the complete valley, but only the left part of it.

Lapporten is a familiar sight, something you will immediately recognize if you arrive at Abisko, and a true landmark.

We had the pleasure to enjoy many stunning sunrises like this.

Best of all, the short days in winter mean you don’t have to get up early or stay out late to see these spectacular sights.

The Björkliden ski station
The Björkliden ski station

Go skiing in Abisko

There are plenty of opportunities for skiing in and around Abisko.

Björkliden and Riksgränsen are 2 popular ski stations within a half-hour drive from Abisko.

Especially Riksgränsen is popular among the locals. It’s the largest ski station in Sweden with 17 slopes. What makes it so special is that it is open till midsummer (June 24th).

Do you know of another place where you can ski until the middle of the year?

You can also ski off the beaten path in Abisko.

There is a large area where off-piste skiing is allowed.

If you rather don’t venture out alone you can join an Alpine Ski-touring trip where an experienced guide will show you some of his favorite spots in the mountains.

What You Need To Know

There’s a rental shop at Björkliden and Riksgränsen where you can rent equipment.

The ski pass will be around 45€/day.

Cross Country skiing in Abisko National Park
Cross Country skiing in Abisko National Park

Go Cross Country Skiing in Abisko

Cross-country skiing is one of the favorite pastimes of the Swedes.

Why not put on a pair of cross-country skis yourself and discover why they love it so much?

It was our first time on cross country skis and I have to admit it took some getting used to. However, after a few falls, I started to discover the joys of this sport.

When you’re gliding through the tranquil snowy landscape you’re overwhelmed with a sense of peace.

Cross-country skiing is an excellent way to explore Abisko National Park in winter.

What You Need To Know

If you want to venture off alone you can rent your skis. The shop owners or the tourist guides at the SFT Turiststation can tell you more about the local trail system and the best places to go.

There are both groomed and non-groomed trails that start close to the Abisko Turiststation. As beginners, we found the groomed trails a little easier.

If you rather have someone tell you the tricks of the trade before you put on your skis, you can join a tour.

Ice Fishing
Ice fishing

Try Your Luck At Ice Fishing

Ice or no ice, it’s always a good day for fishing. That’s what someone must have thought when he invented ice fishing.

He has been proven right because ice fishing is supposedly easier than land-based fishing.

When a river or lake is frozen you can drill a hole in the middle and throw out your fishing rod at the deepest part, where most fish can be caught.

If you want to experience what ice fishing is all about, then you can grab your chance in Swedish Lapland and book an ice fishing tour.

The guide will take you to a suitable location by snowmobile and provide all the necessary equipment, including some snacks and drinks to enjoy while you wait for the fish to bite.

What You Need To Know

Be sure to dress warmly. You will receive winter suits, gloves, boots & socks because you will be sitting still while waiting for the fish to bite.

What Others Are Saying

This is a fun experience. You will not only learn more about ice fishing but also other facts about this remote area.

Check prices and availability:
Ice fishing

Moose spotting is one of the fun things to do in Abisko in the winter
We saw several moose during our stay in Abisko

Search For Wildlife

The Abisko National Park brims with life. It shouldn’t be too hard to spot moose. Elk also roam freely in the national park year-round.

If you’re really lucky you might even spot lynx and wolverines.

The latest is really shy though, so don’t get your hopes up on actual sightings, you might spot their tracks though.

We spotted moose at the lakeside from one of the trails that leave from the SFT Turiststation.

If you don’t see moose there you can try your luck again later at another popular moose spotting place, the road from Kiruna to Nikkaluokta. Here you can find more info.

Here is an overview of more fun things to do in Kiruna.

 

If you don’t have a car you can join a moose spotting tour. The tour will take you to Kiruna where the guide will follow the road to Nikkaluokta to spot moose.

Check prices and availability:
Half-day moose spotting tour

Walking on the frozen Torneträsk Lake
Walking on Torneträsk Lake with Lapporten in the backdrop

Walk On The Frozen Lake

Abisko is located on the edge of the vast Torneträsk lake.

Despite its massive size, this lake freezes over completely in winter.

When you’re here in February the ice is still thick enough to walk on. If you’re unsure you can always check with the tourist guides before your hike.

A hike on the lake provides you with stunning sights in all directions.

It’s also the place to be for unobstructed northern light views.

Base station of the chairlift to the Aurora Sky Station.
The base station of the chairlift to the Aurora Sky Station

Go Up To The Aurora Sky Station

The Aurora Sky Station is located on the top of Mount Nuolja.

You can take the chairlift to the top station to enjoy the panoramic views or to go skiing.

During the day the lift takes up skiers and hikers and it opens again at 9 PM for those who want to chase the Northern Lights.

There are two options for night visits.

The regular ticket includes access to the observation platform and all exhibits and presentations about the Aurora Borealis.

If you want to make your visit a little fancier you can opt for a Northern Light dinner at the top of the mountain.

Highlights

Even if you don’t see the Northern Lights, the ride to the top in the dark is something you will remember forever.

What You Need To Know

The open chairlift takes 20 minutes to reach the top. Dress warmly to avoid getting cold so you can enjoy the ride.

What Others Are Saying

Everyone speaks highly about the breathtaking views from the top of the mountain.

The opinions about the diner are mixed, while some find it a unique place to celebrate a special occasion, others find the experience overpriced.

Abisko Mountain Lodge
Abisko Mountain Lodge

Have Dinner At The Abisko Mountain Lodge

For a small town, you will find surprisingly good restaurants in Abisko.

There are only 2 restaurants worthy of the name, but both surprised us with their superior cuisine.

We absolutely recommend having dinner in Brasserie Fjällköket found in the Abisko Mountain Lodge.

Brasserie Fjällköket is a warmly decorated and cozy restaurant with a menu featuring a selection of dishes that give an artistic twist to the local kitchen. You can expect to find reindeer and local fishes on the menu.

We enjoyed a tasty course with reindeer that left us wanting more.

What You Need To Know

The restaurant is small so it is best to make advanced reservations.

If Brasserie Fjällköket is fully booked you can enjoy dinner at the SFT Turiststation.

The restaurant lacks the cozy atmosphere of Fjällköket but makes this up with scenic views overlooking the lake in summer.

The menu offers different variations of the same dishes and they’re just as delicious.

Entrance of the visitor center of Abisko National Park
The visitor center of Abisko National Park

Visit The Visitor Center – Naturum Abisko

The National Park’s visitor center is located right next to the SFT Turiststation.

At the visitor center, you can learn more about the rich fauna and flora of the park.

There are interactive displays that explain the phenomenon of the midnight sun.

If discovering Abisko makes you want to see even more of Sweden’s natural beauty then you can watch a movie on the first floor that gives you an introduction to Sweden’s other parks.

What You Need To Know

The visitor center is not that big so take advantage of a little break in between two excursions to pop in here.

Ice Skating
Ice Skating

Discover Lake Torneträsk On Skates

We already mentioned that this lake is completely frozen in winter. This probably makes it one of the largest ice skating rinks you can imagine.

This is a massive 330 square kilometers of ice skating fun, certainly more than enough to try out some pirouettes and show your other ice skating skills.

What You Need To Know

Ice skates can be rented in the SFT Turiststation.

Make sure to check the ice conditions in advance and never skate alone.

Narvik, Norway
Narvik

Make A Day Trip To Narvik In Norway

Abisko is just an hour’s drive from Narvik in Norway.

With so many amazing things to do in Abisko, I’d think there’s very little chance you’ll have a day off, but if you have, I’d recommend hopping in your car and driving to Narvik.

The two towns are just an hour’s drive apart but the scenery is completely different.

Narvik is located in a fjord at the foot of a mountain.

As you drive the scenic route from Abisko to Narvik you will see the landscape gradually change and becomes more mountainous.

Narvik’s quaint center is worth exploring. When you’re cold you can go to the Totta rooftop bar at the Scandic hotel to warm up while enjoying nice views over the city.

For even more spectacular views you can take the cable car to the top of Mt. Narvikfjellet.

At the war museum, you can learn more about World War II.

It focuses on the little-known battle at Narvik, a strategic ice-free harbor.

If you have the time we also recommend driving to the Polar Park, a little outside Narvik.

Here you can see many of the local wildlife such as Lynx, wolves, and wolverines. The park also has a program where you can get in close contact with wolves.

What You Need To Know

You don’t need a car to go to Narvik, the train that rides from Kiruna to Abisko continues to Narvik.

The only drawback of the train is that the schedule is not ideal for a day visit. It leaves only 2 to 3 hours to explore Narvik.

Yet another alternative is a private guided tour from Kiruna.

Check prices and availability:
Private Guided Narvik tour from Kiruna

Camping underneath the Northern Lights
Camping underneath the Northern Lights

Go Winter Camping In Abisko

This may not be for everyone, but if you’re willing to sacrifice some comfort for the ultimate Northern Lights experience, winter camping in Abisko is for you.

You can set up your tent anywhere you like because you’re free to camp anywhere in Sweden’s wilderness.

Follow any of the cross-country or snowmobile tracks to a suitable place where you can set up camp. You probably don’t have to go far to find a quiet place without any light pollution.

What You Need To Know

You can rent everything you need, including winter tents, at the Abisko Turiststation.

Nights can be extremely cold so be sure to leave prepared.

The Abisko canyon
The Abisko canyon

How To Get To Abisko

Fly

The most common way to reach Abisko is via Kiruna.

There’s an airport at Kiruna that receives multiple flights daily from Stockholm.

If you’re lucky enough to live in or close to Stuttgart you can fly directly to Kiruna. Most people however will have to make a stopover in Stockholm.

From Kiruna, it’s a one-hour drive to reach Abisko.

We usually rent our car from Rentalcars.com or Discover Cars.

  • Rentalcars.com: Here you can quickly and easily compare the prices of different rental companies. Booking via Rentalcars is very easy. It’s a very intuitive website and you can see all important things at a glance, such as the car details, the number of miles included (usually unlimited), the included insurance, and the cancellation conditions.
  • Discover Cars: The booking process with Discover Cars is just as intuitive as it is with Rentalcars.  All rates include the CDW and I like that the deductible is already clearly shown on the comparison page. The fuel policy included mileage and the cancelation policy is also clearly stated.  Most cars are cancellable up to 2 days in advance without any fees.  In some cases, a fully refundable deposit is taken at the time of booking.

Or read our full post about driving in Sweden in winter.

By Train

There are several night trains every week between Stockholm and Abisko. The train ride takes over 16 hours. The train leaves Stockholm around 6 PM to arrive in Abisko towards noon.

Keep in mind that delays are common. We heard multiple stories of people being delayed several hours.

By Car

It’s also possible to drive from Stockholm to Abisko.

We wouldn’t recommend this because it’s a long journey and anything from ideal because of the short days.

You will need to make multiple stops along the way or do a lot of driving in the dark.

The roads are usually well maintained though, so you don’t have to worry about that.

How to get to Abisko Coming from Norway

Abisko is close to the Norwegian border. You could consider flying to Narvik (Harstad/Evenes airport) and visiting the charming town of Narvik before continuing your way to Abisko.

Narvik airport, like Kiruna airport, is very small with mainly domestic flights with the exception of an international flight from Gdansk and a few charter flights.

Abisko to Narvik is 1 hour by car. The airport is located an additional hour further, halfway between Harstad and Narvik.

Check prices and availability:

Discover Cars Narvik

Rental Cars Narvik

Warming up at the fireplace at the Turiststation.
Warming up at the fireplace at the Turiststation

Where To Stay In Abisko

Due to the small size of the town, and the limited number of hotels, choosing a hotel in Abisko won’t be that hard. The biggest challenge may be to find one that has availability.

In Abisko there are 5 hotels, 4 of them are located inside the town.

Abisko Turiststation

The fifth, the Abisko SFT Turiststation is located two kilometers further down the road, within the boundaries of the national park.

The key question when choosing your hotel is whether you want to be inside the village or at the Turiststation. We suggest the latest for a number of reasons:

  • The Turiststation is located at the start of several beautiful trails.
  • You can rent all your gear at their shop and it’s only a very short walk to the lake if you want to go ice skating, or to the many cross-country trails
  • The visitor center is right next to the hotel
  • The Abisko canyon is also only 5 minutes on foot
  • You can also walk to the chair lift to go to the Aurora Sky Station

As you see the Turiststation is closer to all the main sights. We only once used our car when we were there and that was when we went to the Abisko Mountain Lodge for dinner.

Tours provide pick-ups in all hotels.

If you don’t have a car we certainly recommend staying at the Turiststation because this will allow you to still explore some things on your own.

Without a car, you have to walk about half an hour from the town to the sights.

Rooms at the SFT Turiststation are basic, with good beds and a hot shower to warm up after a cold day outside, but nothing fancy. You can also book cottages for up to 6 people, rooms with a shared bathroom, and even a bed in their dormitory.

Breakfast is excellent and we really enjoyed dinner as well.

There are 2 saunas that guests can use free of charge and there’s 24/7 coffee and thee included.

Check prices and availability:
Booking.com

Abisko Mountain Lodge

If you prefer staying in the village, the Abisko Mountain Lodge is a great alternative.

Here you will stay in a typical Swedish lodge. You will stay in a comfortable room with heated floor. The staff is friendly and the restaurant is like we said top-notch.

Check prices and availability:
Booking.com

If the Sft Turistation and the Mountain lodge are fully booked, you can look for other options on Booking.com.

The Kungsleden trail in Abisko.
The Kungsleden trail in Abisko

More Abisko Travel Tips

Book Your Accommodation Well In Advance

We already mentioned it above. There are only 5 hotels in Abisko, 2 of them are hostels, and with the exception of the Turiststation, most are small-scale.

We usually book our accommodation well in advance and we always recommend that on our site. If you are one of the first to book, you can choose your ideal hotel in the location of your choice.

This is all the more true in Abisko. There are always people who commute up and down between Abisko and Kiruna because they couldn’t find a hotel in Abisko.

If possible we would advise you to book about 1 year in advance.

Check prices and availability:
Booking.com

Bring Your Own Food

There is only one supermarket in Abisko and it sells a surprising amount of sweets, but only limited sandwiches, salads, and the like.

The wide assortment of sweets can be explained by a tax difference between Sweden and Norway. In Norway, there’s a tax on sweets which makes them cheaper in Sweden. Many Norwegians drive across the border to satisfy their sweet tooth.

If you want to take a lunch box on longer trips it’s best to buy some food in Kiruna before you depart for Abisko. If you don’t, you will have to eat the same sandwich over and over again.

You can also ask for a lunch box at breakfast at the Turiststation. They also provide an excellent buffet for lunch.

Bring Ice Cleats

Ice cleats come in handy in Abisko.

The trails can be slippery and you may feel more comfortable wearing them.

Here you can find more info on ice cleats.

Bring Some Nicer Clothes If You Plan On Dining

The restaurants are not that fancy but we always felt better being able to change our outdoor clothes for something more stylish when we went for dinner.

Being out and about a full day we always wore many layers and we often felt like the Michelin man.

It felt good to switch into something more casual after the shower to go for dinner.

Conclusion

We enjoyed our winter trip to Swedish Lapland a full 200% and Abisko was the icing on the cake. Abisko is the complete package, with a wide range of winter activities and the real feeling of complete remoteness in a true winter wonderland.

Enjoy your trip to Abisko!

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