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See the northern lights on this train adventure

Travelers around the world dream of seeing auroras dance across the sky. An exciting and easy way to turn this dream into a reality? Simply hop on the train. 

 

Abisko, a remote community in northern Sweden, is one of the best places in the world to see the northern lights. Between mid-November and mid-March, auroras frequently flicker across the dark Arctic skies. You can reach Abisko by night train from Stockholm, making the adventure accessible to rail travelers across Europe. 

 

Taking the train will deepen your travel experience. You'll glimpse snow-covered forests – and perhaps some wild reindeer – on your way to the Arctic Circle.

 

Choose your Eurail Pass, make your seat reservations, and savor each moment. You’re about to experience one of nature’s most awe-inspiring phenomena. 

Aerial shot of Abisko, Sweden

Hamburg, Germany

 

The aurora-chasing adventure begins in Hamburg, the last major German city many travelers pass through before crossing into Scandinavia. 

 

On a winter visit to the port city, stroll around the Speicherstadt, a massive warehouse district. Warm up with a coffee at the Speicherstadt Kaffeerösterei and make sure to visit Miniatur Wunderland, the largest model railway system in the world.

 

Bonus points if you can find the miniature version of Kiruna, Sweden – a northern Swedish city you’ll visit later in the trip. 

The Speicherstadt warehouse district in Hamburg

From Hamburg, board a night train to Stockholm. The overnight journey takes just under 12 hours. Reservations are required.

Stockholm, Sweden

 

By mid-morning, you’ll arrive in Stockholm, crossing the Riddarfjärden bay on your way into the Swedish capital. 

 

Stockholm is a place best experienced slowly. Take your time exploring, and if you get tired, simply hop on the city’s convenient metro to experience another neighborhood.

 

Don’t forget to look around while you’re underground – over 100 Stockholm metro stations double as art exhibitions. Our personal favorite? The Hallonbergen station, filled with art inspired by childhood imagination. 

 

If you visit in January or February, make sure to try a semla bun while in Stockholm. The mouth-watering dessert can be found in bakeries across the city between Christmas and Easter. 

A landscape of Stockholm's skyline during a winter sunset

From Stockholm, board a night train to Kiruna. The overnight journey takes just over 15 hours. Reservations are required.

 

Prefer traveling during the day? The same journey can be accomplished in two travel days, with a stopover in Umeå, a riverside university city. 

Kiruna, Sweden

 

Welcome to life above the Arctic Circle. Kiruna, the northernmost city in Sweden, sits roughly 200 kilometers into the polar circle. Dress warmly (it helps to wear three layers top and bottom, plus gloves and a hat) and get exploring. The area around Hermelinsgatan and Matojärvigatan, dotted with brightly coloured houses, is a scenic place to start. 

 

If you time your visit accordingly, you’ll get to experience the Kiruna Snow Festival, held annually each January. The ice sculpting competition – with competitors hailing from all over the world –  is the festival's crown jewel.  

 

Kiruna is currently undergoing a massive change, moving large chunks of the existing community a few kilometers away due to the extensive mining operations nearby. Some buildings – such as Kiruna’s century-old train station – have been demolished, while others are being picked up and moved to their new home. 

A residential neighbourhood of Kiruna, covered in snow, during dawn

From Kiruna, board a regional train to Abisko. The journey will take about an hour and a half. Reservations are required.

Abisko, Sweden 

 

What makes Abisko an ideal place to see auroras? The town, with its population of less than 100 residents, offers little light pollution. Plus, the region's unique microclimate keeps its skies clearer than in other parts of the Arctic Circle. 

 

To maximize your chances of seeing the northern lights, it’s helpful to book an organized aurora-chasing excursion and stay for multiple nights. Travelers should stay in Abisko for “at least four or five days,” advised Aril Petersson, an ice climbing instructor in Abisko.  “Most [travelers] come for one or two nights to see the auroras, but if the weather is unfavourable, you can miss it.”  

 

There’s plenty to do during the day in Abisko, too. Take a walk past Abiskoeatnu Canyon to the shores of Lake Torneträsk and keep an eye out for wildlife. “In the village, right now, we have a moose mother with her calf, wandering around," said Petersson. "That's nature TV at its best.” 

 

Keep your distance and enjoy the show. 

Green auroras dancing over a lake in Abisko, Sweden

Want to go one stop further? Travelers may choose to take the train two hours east to Narvik, Norway, the northernmost stop in the Pass network. 

Feeling inspired? With Eurail, you can:

Tour Europe by train with 1 Pass
Experience the highlights and hidden gems 
Travel flexibly on trains that don't need reservations
Stay conscious and travel sustainably