In 2015, right after moving up here, I decided that I want to visit all of Sweden’s national parks. There are 30 of them (as of 2020) and they are distributed all over the country.
Visiting a such a specially designated area is really exciting to me, because it means visiting a part of nature that is of exceptional value and often unique.
As a little game I rate them on a scale between ♥ one heart and ♥♥♥♥♥ five hearts.
The first swedish national park I had been to (in 2014) was
1. Abisko Nationalpark ♥♥
From a maximum of 5 imaginary points, for the perfect national park experience, I’d give Abisko no more than 2. The nature is pleasant, there are mountains, lakes, forest, northern lights and midnight sun… but- it just doesn’t feel like an area of protected environment. There is the huge Abisko Touriststation, the train station, a cable car going up mount Nuolja (for exorbitant prices), there are tracks of all-terrain vehicles all over the place and it’s generally very crowded. I have been there four times now, in summer and winter, and in my mind it is not a calm or exceptionally beautiful place.
2. Söderåsen ♥♥
The second national park I got to visit was Söderåsen, which is located in Skåne region in southern Sweden, so a very different environment in comparison to Abisko, which is north of the Arctic Circle. For Skåne the nature is really exceptional though: it’s a pleasant forest with a deep valley in the middle. I also give it 2 out of 5 points. That’s mostly because it didn’t leave any long lasting impression on me, I walked through the park twice and for about one afternoon and feel like I have seen pretty much everything and I’m not longing to go back there. I see it as a beautiful forest with some nice trails, but it isn’t so big or special that it would be worth to travel really far to get there.
3. Dalby Söderskog ♥♥♥
I visited this tiny National Park under the short period where I lived in Lund, a town in southernmost Sweden. Dalby Söderskog is only 36 hektars big (which is 0,36 km²), so you can discover all it has to offer in about an hour. That might sound a bit disappointing but I still want to give Dalby 3 out of 5 points. Here is why: This national park has been founded 1918, so almost hundred years ago and the forest is incredibly dense and old. I walked in there on a late autumn afternoon and in the rain and I felt like the forest absorbed me immediately. I could hear no more sounds from the roads, I felt like I was inside a huge forest. It was dark, there were no other people and I got actually a bit scared. There were signs of wild bores almost everywhere and the trees were really closing in on the narrow trail. I really enjoyed how such a small area of forest could feel so intimidating.
4. Padjelanta ♥♥♥♥
Padjelanta is a huge national park and part of Laponia world heritage (together with Sarek, Stora Sjöfallet and Muddus national parks). Here I felt that I experienced really outstanding nature and relative wilderness. There is a 160 kilometer trail that crosses the area and there are endless possibilities of hiking and skiing outside the trail for weeks. In the east there are the alpine peaks and glaciers of Sarek, in the west there are the huge lakes Virihaure (in the picture) and Vastenhaure, which border to Norway. On the norwegian side the mountains are, of course, really impressive and amazing to look at. If you want a bit of comfort, there is a network of mountain huts and there are even helicopter transports for quite affordable prices. That are some of the reasons why Padjelanta gets 4 out of 5 points. I have been hiking here two times now and I will definitely come back!
5. Tiveden ♥♥♥♥
Tiveden is located between Sweden’s two biggest lakes, Vänern and Vättern. The area is not huge but the terrain is demanding and what you would call trollsk in Swedish- the feeling that this is where the trolls (could) live. The trail that takes you for a loop in the forest is going sometimes rather steep up and down slippery rocks and past fallen, mossy and overgrown trees. I can say that I haven’t walked in an environment like this anywhere else and that’s why Tiveden gets 4 out of 5 points.
6. Tresticklan ♥♥♥♥
Tresticklan is without any doubt one of my favorites, be it summer or winter. It’s located by the norwegian border, about two hours of drive from Gothenburg. The forest feels wild and the terrain outside of the trail is demanding to walk in. There is plenty of wildlife- even seldomly seen species like lynx and wolf. The best part is probably that almost no one seems to care about this forgotten gem, there are very few people visiting this national park. I give Tresticklan 4 out of 5 points because it is a rather big area without streets or many people and the nature feels untouched and complex.
7. Fulufjället ♥♥♥
I haven’t really seen so much of this national park yet, but so far I want to give it 3 out of 5 points. It features Sweden’s highest waterfall (which would be just a random waterfall anywhere in Norway) and some of the southernmost mountain area in the country. There are some trails and huts and right by the parking there are information booklets about what to do when you meet a bear. I saw no bear and no other animals either on my walk to the waterfall. The nature seemed quite interesting, with some very old trees and views over the surroundings, as far as mount Städjan by Idre. I will definitely come back and spend some more time here!
8. Stora Sjöfallet ♥♥♥
Stora Sjöfallet is located to both sides of the immense lake Akkajaure. The nature itself is magnificent but the national park feels quite a bit ruined by human interaction. There is the big road crossing the area and the fact that lake Akkajaure has become a hydro electric power plant – with all the constructions, high voltage power lines and changes in nature that this implies. I guess you must be able to see over this destruction caused by Vattenfall to really enjoy the views here, that’s why I give only 3 out of 5 possible points. One of the best parts of this national park is the imposing mount Akka (2015 meters high), that is still on my list of mountains to climb.
9. Norra Kvill ♥♥
This national park is located in Småland, in central southern Sweden. It’s an enjoyable patch of old forest, quite hilly and with some good views over the surrounding areas. The only trail takes about an hour to complete and after that I really felt like I had seen it all. If you are in the region, it’s definitely nice to visit Norra Kvill but it’s not a landscape that will take your breath away. I also felt like there was almost no wildlife around, with the information posts only mentioning some birds.
10. Store Mosse ♥♥♥
Store Mosse means big bog or swamp and that’s a pretty exact description of what it is. This national park must be one of the flattest bits of Sweden, according to my GPS the most I went uphill within one kilometer was 10m. The hike I did leards around the lake Kävsjön and was very easy and enjoyable. The trail goes partly over the swamp and partly through the forest. What I didn’t like that much was the fact that almost the whole trail is built from wooden planks. It gave me the feeling of not being in contact with the swamp but floating over it on an escalator-like structure. This way the walk hardly feels like a hike. Another negative thing was the proximity to the busy national road on the southern part of the trail.
11. Stenshuvud Nationalpark ♥♥
At the first sight this national park is probably one of the most visited ones. An ample parking lot and plenty of people. The park consists in a forest, the seashore in form of a beach and a little hill overlooking it all. It’s the hills name (Stenshuvud means stone head) that gives the reserve it’s name.
The park is located on the south eastern side of the country, which is fairly dense populated. So this is probably one of the few parts of coast without constructions or anything man made by the shore.
In my mind the reason it’s a national park is to protect nature from being destroyed by humans, not so much because of a completely unseen, dramatic landscape.
12. Färnebofjärden ♥♥♥
Färnebofjärden is, unlike most of the National Parks i visited so far not so easy to discover by hiking. The park is located around the shore of Dalälven river, so most of the area is inside the river, or in the swamps and forests around. There are some hiking trails but the best way to see the landscape is from the water. We got a small boat, which you can rent at the campground to get a look at the area.
It seems important to have a protected area in one of the bigger rivers of Sweden. Water power plants, the construction of dams and channels and the construction of buidlings and factories has changed the face of most rivers. It is interesting and important to see a river in it’s original state and give the animals and plants a place to live. (IMHO It’s even sad that we humans have so much power that we need to “give” space back to nature.)
13. Skuleskogen ♥♥♥♥
Skuleskogen Nationalpark seemed amazing to me right at first sight. Dense forests, full of crooked old birches and pine trees, rocky grounds and rolling hills, just by the sea. The nature is very appealing and at the same time quite easy to discover. It seems like the administration of this National Park is working really well, there are three entrances with information desks and free maps and well groomed trails all through the park. If you want to take a break, have a barbecue or even spend the night, you can do so in one of the small huts or shelters.
What makes Skuleskogen so special is the fact that the mountains 10.000 years ago were underwater. The land is slowly rising out of the sea and traces of this can be seen everywhere.
14. Muddus ♥♥♥♥
Muddus is one of the parks I was looking forward to since I first heard about it. Muddus is located in the Laponia World Heritage site (alongside Sarek and Padjelanta) but still it seems off most hikers radar. It’s a huge, wild forest with endless swamps and surprisingly steep canyons. There are 5 open huts, connected by a hiking trail and several rest areas with firewood provided.
I walked around by myself and was astonished by the absolute silence. Then I started to think about the big population of brown bears and suddenly every old pine tree moving in the wind sounded like the grunt of a bear.
It’s definitely one of my favorite parks and I can’t wait to return here for more hikes and skiing adventures in winter!
15. Pieljekaise ♥♥♥
Pieljekaise is located on the famous Kungsleden trail but a bit further south than the most popular parts. The landscape is dominated by a lot of birch forests and smaller mountains above the tree line. It’s basically a very typical and common landscape for northern Sweden. I couldn’t find anything that makes this area specific or unique.
So I have to assume that the main point was to preserve some typical mountain landscape.
16. Hamra Nationalpark ♥♥♥
17. Sonfjällets Nationalpark ♥♥♥♥
National Parks 18 to 30 will be visited soon!!! 🙂