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Inlandsbanan route + Åland islands

Hi everyone,

Last year I started a similar topic, but then decided it wasn't the right destination for my 2023 summer.
This year I'm set on doing this though. And I've already asked my 2 weeks of leave time from work.
That's because I want to travel during midsommar, see the midnight sun, go beyond the artic circle and hopefully see the Åland islands.

This is my rough plan for the first week.
1 night in stockholm (I land at ARN late afternoon)
1 night in Mora
1 night Ostersund
1 night Arvidsjaur
then I'm not sure if I should spend 3 nights in Gallivare or just 2 and then add 1 or 2 nights in Abisko or Kiruna?
I'd fly back to ARN from Gallivare airport or Luleå, it depends on how many nights I decide to spend in the northern area.
If I fly back from Gallivare, it would be on a Monday, so I'd have 3 nights (gallivare only or gallivare+abisko/kiruna).
If I fly back from Luleå, it's on Wednesday, so I'd have 5 nights (gallivare only or gallivare+abisko/kiruna+luleå).
Any advice about this? Is it worth IT to go as north as Abisko during summer? Should I stop 1 night in Kiruna or spend all my time in Gallivare instead?

Then I'm wondering if it's a good idea to spend the rest of the week in the Åland islands or not.
If I get back to ARN on Monday, I could take the ferry on Tuesday and get back to Stockholm on Friday and spend the last 2 nights in the city. So that would leave me with just 3 nights on the islands (but about 2.5/3 days because of the ferry). Is it enough time to get a taste of the islands? If yes, could staying in Mariehamn and taking the bus or renting a bike be a good idea? Or should I just stay in Stockholm and maybe book the archipelago cruise with Viking line for a day?
Instead, If I fly back from Luleå on Wednesday, I highly doubt to be able to add the islands to my itinerary. I would just spend some time in Stokcholm.
Has anyone been there and has some kind of insight?

Thank you all in advance for your help.

Posted by
6656 posts

That sounds like an interesting and fun trip!

You don't need to spend a night in Mora, you can take a morning train from Stockholm to Mora and catch Inlandsbanan's train to Östersund. But spending a night in Mora is not a bad idea, there are things to see there. I can really recommend the Zorn museum if you like art.

It is worth visiting Abisko in the summer, it has been a popular summer destination for a long time. Summer tourism started long before winter tourism. It is northern end of Kungsleden, Sweden's longest hiking trail, so a lot of hikers visit. But if you're coming from a trip on Inlandsbanan, you've already seen a lot of northern Sweden, so I'm not sure if a visit to Abisko will add that much, unless you really want to see the mountains.

Regarding which towns to visit, Kiruna is more interesting than Gällivare in my opinion. Luleå is also worth a stop. Although you probably need to spend a night in Gällivare since Inlandsbanan arrives rather late. But three nights in Gällivare might be a bit too much.

Going to Åland is an excellent idea! It's a lovely group of islands in my opinion. But the best way to get there if you're coming from northern Sweden is in my opinion via the Grisslehamn-Eckerö ferry, run by Eckerölinjen, https://www.eckerolinjen.ax . It's the fastest way to Åland. If you're flying to Stockholm, take a morning flight and then the bus or train to Uppsala. Have lunch in Uppsala and then Eckerölinjen's coach to Grisslehamn departs 13:00. Or if you take the overnight train south, buy a train ticket to Uppsala. And 3 nights is enough to get a taste of Åland, it will allow you to see Mariehamn and travel to other parts of the islands.

Posted by
92 posts

Hi Badger!

Thank you for the super detailed advice!
I'm going to re-evaluate my time in the northern area then. Maybe I'll stay one night in Gallivare and 2 in Kiruna and do a daytrip to Abisko or add a night there too.
I will also look into that ferry route to Åland.

By the way, do you have any recommendation on how to look for accomodation?
So far I've only used Booking and I haven't tried the hotel function on Google Maps yet for this trip. Is it a good option in Sweden in general?
I'm asking because in Gallivare, for example, I've only seen about 4 places to stay on Booking. And that could be because of its size obviously, but I'm asking just in case.

Again, I'm very grateful for your kind replies.
Have a nice evening!

Posted by
6656 posts

Only four places to stay in Gällivare doesn't sound unreasonable, it's not a major city. With around 11 000 inhabitants those hotels are probably enough for the visitors it gets. My suggestion would be Grand Hotel Lapland, https://www.grandhotellapland.se , simply because it's just next to the railway station.

If you're planning to spend some time in Stockholm before leaving Sweden, the Viking or Silja ships can be a good option to get back to Stockholm from Åland. They are a bit slow, but the views are great.

Posted by
92 posts

Hi Badger!

Yes, I am planning to get back to Stockholm with Viking Line. :)

Regarding the Inlandsbanan route, if you were to choose between Arvidsjaur or Jokkmokk to stay for one night, which one would you pick?
The train from Ostersund arrives late afternoon at both places (a couple of hours of difference). I'll have that evening and all the following day to explore the surroundings, as the train to Gallivare leaves at the same time, around 17/18.
From my research online, I have gotten the impression Jokkmokk should be more interesting as I could better discover the Sami culture. And it's also closer to the Artic Circle sign, which I could trek to just to get a picture with it. (Basic I know, but I want to do it. Long story short: I have a very small notebook with a "travel goal" on each page and I take a picture with it every time I complete one my "tasks".) I'm rambling now, I'll go to sleep.

As always, thank you so much for all the help!

Posted by
6656 posts

I'd say your research is correct, if the choice is between Arvidsjaur and Jokkmokk the winner is Jokkmokk in my opinion.

Arvidsjaur is mostly famous for two things. It's home to a large army regiment and is a major centre for car testing in Europe. (The latter means that there are direct flights from Arvidsjaurs comparatively small airport to many major European cities in the winter.)

Jokkmokk on the other hand is home to Ájtte, museum of Sami culture, https://www.ajtte.com/english/ That alone makes it a much better place to visit in my opinion. It has also long been a local centre in the area and the famous winter market has been held there since 1605. And if you want some local music to listen to, here is a hit from around ten years ago: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_qHPnnazBZc

And if I'm not mistaken, Inlandsbanan usually makes a 10 minute stop at the arctic circle for photos.

Posted by
27414 posts

I liked the Zorn Museum in Mora a lot, but I'd recommend finding a hotel in Mora right away if you're going to spend the night there; it was an expensive town for me on July 30, 2022.

Posted by
92 posts

Hello!

I have already booked half of my planned accomodations for these 2 weeks and Mora is one of them. :)
I also reserved the Inlandsbanan train tickets as soon as they went online. I was mostly worried about that.

Does anyone have advice on where to stay on the Åland islands? I've picked one spot near Mariehamn but I'm open to evaluate other suggestions.

Thanks in advance!

Posted by
6656 posts

Great! I hope you have time for the Zorn museum.

What spot have you picked on Åland? My suggestion would be to stay in Mariehamn.

(I also hope that you write a trip report after you're back, I would love to hear how this trip went.)

Posted by
92 posts

Yes, I hope to have time to visit the Zorn Museum!

As for the accomodation on the islands, I like the Strandnas Hotel (pro: private bathroom) and the Overnasgarden Gasthem (pro: the location). Both have breakfast included. They're not in the centre of Mariehamn though.
I've also seen a farm living option, which is kind of a glamping site, but it is even further away from Mariehamn.

I am not sure I will be able to write a trip report as nice as the other ones I see on this forum, but I will try my best to report back here on this topic during or after the trip. :)

Posted by
6656 posts

While neither Övernäsgården nor Strandnäs Hotell are in the city centre, they are close enough in my opinion. They are both within walking distance of the centre, or a short bus ride. So neither is a bad option in my opinion from what I can tell.

Posted by
92 posts

Hi!
Badger, do you think I need to buy the ferry tickets in advance or I'm good buying them a couple of weeks before travel day?

Posted by
6656 posts

For Eckerölinjen there is no need to buy in advance. A day or two before is probably enough. I haven't travelled with them since before the pandemic but then you could usually just show up and buy a ticket from the bus driver.

For Silja and Viking, a few weeks in advance is probably enough.

Posted by
92 posts

Thank you!

Do you have any experience with populAir by the way?
I've contacted their customer center, but their answer are very very meagre.

My plan involves one of their flights from Gallivare to Arlanda (16:00-18:45). And, as I've seen a flight from Arlanda to Mariehamn (20:00-21:35), I asked if they would have an option to have both flights on 1 ticket. And, if not, if I would have anough time to exit from arrivals and re-enter through security control and catch the second flight.
Have you ever flown with them?

This way I would spend more time on the islands and get a Viking ferry back to Stockholm at the end of my 3 days there.

Posted by
6656 posts

I'm sorry, but I have no experience with populAir/Amapola.

I think they use terminal 5 now so I'm not sure about doing it as a self connecting trip or not. Before the pandemic, when the tiny planes used terminal 3, I would not have been worried about it at all. But terminal 5 is much larger.

Posted by
155 posts

My plan involves one of their flights from Gallivare to Arlanda (16:00-18:45). And, as I've seen a flight from Arlanda to Mariehamn (20:00-21:35), I asked if they would have an option to have both flights on 1 ticket. And, if not, if I would have anough time to exit from arrivals and re-enter through security control and catch the second flight.

With checked luggage there are too little margin, check-in closes 19:20, without checked luggage you can stay airside so that will work most times. Hand luggage is only 45x20x35cm.

Posted by
92 posts

I will only have a small backpack with me, so checked luggage wouldn't be a problem.

Thanks to both of you for the additional info!
I will definetely check how much time I would need if changing terminal.

I will report back my feedback about the airline after flying with them, as I'm going to buy for sure at least one of the flights.

Thank you :)

Posted by
92 posts

Hi everyone!

Can someone tell me if I'm understanding correctly?
I've read on the Vy website that trains on the Abisko-Stokckholm route are not available to buy as direct trains, only with a stop in Boden.
If I try to buy 2 tickets separately (Abisko ostra-boden + boden-uppsala), I see something wrong with the train times. The first train arrives in boden at 18.14, but the second one leaves at 17.54. The train after this one seems not available to purchase.
Am I doing something wrong? Do I have any other option?

The only other alternative I could think about is this following plan:
- Gallivare to Kiruna by bus
- Kiruna to Narvik by train (I can't find a direct one from Gallivare, nor I see an option with a stop somewhere)
- spend 2 nights in Narvik instead of Abisko (that was my original plan)
- take the bus from Narvik to the Narvik/Harstad airport and then a flight to Arlanda via Oslo
And then I will get to Uppsala and follow my original plan.
Any opinion about this?

Thank you all in advance!
(Sorry if some of the sentences aren't clear enough, but it's late at night and I'm not sure my english side of the brain is working at its best at the moment.)

Posted by
6656 posts

What date? Vy has had problems with their booking system lately.

Posted by
92 posts

June 24th is the day I would have bought the ticket for the train from Abisko to Uppsala (arriving the following morning).

Posted by
6656 posts

I checked their website and it seems like they are not willing to sell tickets that date. You could try calling them and see if you get some answers, +46 771 444 111. But if that doesn't help it might be time to start looking for other options.

Going via Narvik is not a good idea in my opinion, the easiest alternative is probably to fly from Kiruna to Arlanda instead, there are direct flights which is better than having a stop in Oslo in my opinion. SAS has 1-2 daily flights from Kiruna, www.flysas.com

Posted by
92 posts

I've tried contacting the Vy customer service via mail yesterday. I will wait until tomorrow and then I will definetely book a flight.

I've already looked into flying from Kiruna, but the prices are really high at the moment. A ticket is about 300€.
Leaving from Narvik Airport instead is still around 150€ and I don't mind spending 3 hours at the Oslo airport. Budget wise, I'm leaning towards this option.

I am quite sad about the train thought, but oh well. It will be a trip for another time.

Posted by
6656 posts

You could also look at flights from Gällivare or maybe even Luleå. They might be an option.

Posted by
92 posts

Flying from Gallivare was my original plan, but I would have needed to cut a night from Abisko and spend one in Gallivare again, because the bus would have not gotten to the town in time for the flight. And I thought if I need to spend just one night in Abisko, there's no point going there at all.

The other day I've looked into flying from Lulea, but they're expensive. I will check again today.

Posted by
92 posts

Could a night bus or something similar be an option for that area? I know Flixbus doesn't go that far, but is there maybe another one?

Posted by
6656 posts

No night buses that far north, the distances are long and it's not a densely populated area. So I think the best option is probably to book the night train, at least that is what I would do.

Posted by
92 posts

Hello!
I'm writing an update while I'm on the train to Mora.

At the end I chose to buy the plane ticket from Narvik. It just went better with my plans, as the train would have made me late for the bus to Grisslehamn from Uppsala.

Thank you Badger for your help!!

Posted by
92 posts

Hello!

Just a brief report of my first week in the North of Sweden.
I had an amazing time and absolutely loved the train journeys. I really recommend the Inlandsbanan train to everyone who enjoys trains and wants to somewhat try a slower travel pace. The atmosphere during the train rides was joyful and it's easy to connect with the other fellow travellers. It is also really lovely to meet some of them again in the following stops along the way. I won't lie, changing accomodation every night was quite tiring and if I would do it again in the future, I would try to add one more night in some of the stops. However, I do not regret any of my choices.
I also totally loved the train going from Gällivare to Narvik. When passing the border, you could actually recognize a difference from Sweden to Norway, it was incredible. And seeing the fjord from the railway, just wow.
The weather has been amazing so far. Today was the first day it was raining just a bit. Luckily I am at the airport and have nothing planned to do outdoors. Hopefully I will see some of the fjords from above before going over the clouds.

I have high expectations of my week in the South of Sweden, can't wait to reach the Åland Islands tomorrow!