Moving to Sweden had recalled my long dream to see aurora. Ever since day one, I had been thinking about where and how to see it. I read here and there and realised that Swedish area of Lapland is one of the best places to see aurora. One article even claim that Sweden is actually the best place for aurora hunting because of two things: 1. The weather is a little bit milder (it doesn’t mean warm though 😀 ) than other places where the lights are visible (Siberia and Canada, for example), thanks to the effect of the Gulf Stream. 2. It is cheaper than some of its Nordic neighbours (for Nordic standard, which is still not cheap at all for me 😀 )
But, for someone who live down south in Lund like us, to get to far north is not an easy decision. It needs a long preparation. So it was not until my third (and fourth for Zaki) year in Sweden, that we firmly decided “okay, let’s go there.” We had many things to consider: the long journey, the budget, and the fact that we have a small kid, to name a few.
Once it’s settled in early 2019, I started my “research.” I know from some friends that in Swedish Lapland, Kiruna and Abisko are the best locations to catch a glimpse of aurora. I also know that Abisko is the northernmost area of Sweden that still has hotel, and due to its isolation, the chances to see the northern light is higher there. So we chose Abisko. But then, it hit us. The accommodation in Abisko is
bloody EXPENSIVE! No wonder some people prefer to stay in Kiruna and drive there (Kiruna is located 90kms from Abisko by the way and it’s also where the closest airport is located). But we don’t have car and don’t really like driving so the option is down to two: by plane, or by train.
To go to Abisko by plane, you can book a flight to Kiruna Airport (usually with 1 stop in Arlanda airport in Stockholm, depending on where you depart from) then charter a transfer bus to Abisko. We thought that option was a little bit complicated so we decided to go to Abisko by train.
SJ is the national train provider in Sweden and the only one that run a service to Abisko from Stockholm. The train actually goes to Narvik in Norway but it stops in Abisko. So don’t be confused if you only see Narvik sign on the train. There is no direct train from Lund to Abisko so we have to make a stop in Stockholm first. But it wasn’t really a big deal for us because we were indeed having something to do in the capital, so we stayed there for a night. Later we realised that it was a good decision because we had time to rest first before taking a long journey.
16 hours in the night train
The night train departed from Stockholm Central station at 6.08 pm. Since we traveled in group, with kids, for 16 hours, we booked the sleeping compartment class two. The compartment has three ready-made beds, each with a pillow, pillowcase, bottom sheet, duvet cover, duvet/blanket and towel and also completed with a hand basin which is quite useful and two luggage racks. The middle bed can be folded down to form a sofa together with the bottom bed. Each bed can actually be booked separately, meaning that you share the compartment with other passenger. In our case, it became our private compartment because there are four travellers in total.
I think it was the best choice for us. The beds are comfy and clean, my kids (and my husband 😀 ) slept well during the trip. As I shared the bottom bed with my 14 months old baby, I won’t say that I had a convenient space, but it’s still okay, I managed to sleep for 6-7 hours with couple of wake ups for night time feeding. I also like the idea of having private compartment because I have a small kid who sometimes cries or wants to walk around. By having our own space, even though it’s not huge, we didn’t disturb other passengers.
Each wagon has two toilets in both end and one shower in the corridor. The train also has a restaurant where you can buy foods and drinks. Don’t forget to use your SJ Prio points to buy food if you’re a member. It’s quite a good deal sometimes.
This was our longest direct trip by far. But it didn’t feel too long because most of the times we were just sleeping 😀 . We had prepared some things to kill the time, such as bringing books and downloading movies from Netflix (the train has no wifi onboard by the way so it’s good to save some videos or movies if you travel with kid) but we ended up not reading nor watching much.
Right after we departed we had dinner, than the kids played for a while then at 9 pm they were already fast asleep. They woke up at around 7am, had breakfast, played again. Then, after 16 hours in the sleeper train, we arrived in Abisko at around 10 am. I will write more details about where we stayed and what we did in Abisko in the next post. So, stay tuned and bye for now.