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How do I get from Berlin to Abisko, Sweden? I have a Eurail pass, so I would like to make the most out of that.

UPDATE: I will be traveling in Winter. Still not sure yet, but any time between late October to end early January. I would prefer not to hitchhike, but am looking for an economical way to get there as long as it doesn't take too long. (My definition of too long is anything that would be more than an overnight ride. In fact, an overnight ride may be good in some instances as it doubles as lodging.)

Ideally, I would like to get into Abisko in the afternoon, see the lights, and leave before midnight, get to Kiruna and take the train back to Stockholm. I don't even know if train times run that late, but the point is that I want to save money and time!

UPDATE 2: Traveling in November/December.

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Are you trying to find the cheapest or fastest way? Or easiest? Ie hitching is really cheap, but lots of people don't like doing that... –  Mark Mayo Aug 10 '13 at 4:59
    
He mentions the Eurail pass. –  PERSONA NON GRATA Aug 10 '13 at 7:19
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3 Answers

up vote 5 down vote accepted

You should really consider flying from Stockholm (ARN) to Kiruna (KRN). It's hour and a half, while the train is more than 17. You can then take a train from Kiruna to Abisko (takes less than hour and a half, price is trivial at 60 SEK). Unfortunatelly, you won't be able to use your Eurail pass if you take the flight.

SAS has two flights per day on average, and the price is comparable to what you would pay for for a normal train ticket. Prices are around 750 SEK, from what I see, one month from now on a week day. SJ asks for 550 SEK for 18-hour journey on the same day, or 650 SEK for a 17-hour one.

Also, as Sergio suggests in comments, depending on season taking the train could be risky, particularly if you plan this weeks ahead of time. Snowfall can start as early as September and last until May, and can cause problems for railway transport (for a couple of days, if unlucky).

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But he wil have some trouble to redeem his Eurail pass with SAS ;-) –  PERSONA NON GRATA Aug 10 '13 at 8:38
    
Norwegian restarts flying to KRN and they're cheaper. However, consider that taxis from KRN to Kiruna centre are 150 SEK per person. Walking the 8 km in winter is not recommended. Starting 30 August, the Kiruna train station is moving and will be out of city, so you'll need another taxi there, 90 SEK per person. Transfers from flight to train are not guaranteed, in case of delays you might have to spend the night in Kiruna. Overall, flying is certainly not the cheapest option. A combination of flying Berlin – Arlanda and taking the train from there may be. –  gerrit Aug 12 '13 at 11:26
    
It is not possible to fly Berlin to Kiruna and reach Abisko the same day. Recently, trains have become a lot more reliable, with >1 hour delays happening only once a week, and a 1–2 hour delay doesn't really matter on the final journey leg. Train connections are guaranteed in any case; I've had train reservations Kiruna – Spain or Kiruna – Italy had completely replaced on three occasions due to a missed connection in Stockholm. –  gerrit Aug 12 '13 at 11:33
    
@gerrit It is not possible to fly Berlin to Kiruna and reach Abisko the same day. Actually, it seems it is. I found some flights that arrive at KRN around noon, and there are few hours left to catch the 14:58 train to Abisko. Granted, it's quite expensive, but OP can go by train to Stockholm and then fly to Kiruna from there. FWIW, I haven't suggested that OP fly all the way, but rather only Stockholm-Kiruna. Train connections to Stockholm from Germany are excellent, and OP would be able to utilize their Eurail pass. –  mindcorrosive Aug 12 '13 at 15:53
    
@mindcorrosive Hmm, okay. Thanks for the correction. –  gerrit Aug 12 '13 at 22:59
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How do I get from Berlin to Abisko, Sweden? I have a Eurail pass, so I would like to make the most out of that.

The cheapest option Berlin – Abisko on EUrail

  1. Berlin – Copenhagen, train 50473, 00:32 – 10:07

  2. Copenhagen – Stockholm, train 536, 11:15 – 16:40

  3. Stockholm – Abisko, train 94, 17:58 – 11:33

Details

I recommend to take train 94, the direct train from Stockholm to Abisko. It departs at 17:58 and arrives 11:33 the next day. November is the low season, and it's certainly the cheapest option for the last leg, if you are satisfied with just a seat. Even with a couchette, it can be quite cheap. If you book now for November, you can get an adult ticket for 550–650 SEK (65–75 EUR), or around 100 SEK more if you want a place to sleep, which I recommend. Youth or student tickets are cheaper, and if you're on Eurail you pay only reservation fees. The train also stops at Arlanda. Train 94 is often late, so you might arrive Abisko only at 13:00, but that should not be a disaster.

That leaves the travel from Berlin to Stockholm. You can either try to find a cheap flight, or take the train. The Berlin–Malmö train from Sergio's answer runs rarely if at all during the low season. To reach train 94 Stockholm – Abisko (see timetable here), you must arrive in Stockholm by the latest 17:38. In this case, your transfer in Stockholm is guaranteed: train 93 will either wait for confirmed passengers, or you will be rebooked to your next train. Just be sure to tell the train crew about your transfer.

From Copenhagen to Stockholm, train 536 runs every day except Saturdays. It departs Copenhagen 11:15 and arrives Stockholm 16:40. It's a fast train, but with a Eurail ticket you only pay the modest reservation fee.

The direct train from Berlin to Copenhagen departs Berlin Hbf nightly at 00:32, arriving Copenhagen 10:07. Warning, on some dates there are trackworks and the arrival in Copenhagen is too late. Again, reservation fees are modest on EUrail, certainly if you're satisfied with a seat.

In case of delays

For train travel within Europe, all connections are guaranteed in case of delays occurring in Sweden¹. I think I've travelled by train from Kiruna to southern Europe (Spain, Italy) five times now. Three times, a delay in Kiruna – Stockholm caused me to miss all connections. On every occassion, SJ replaced all connecting reservations without any bureaucracy. All I needed to do was to go to the customer service, show my Kiruna – Stockholm reservation, Stockholm – Spain/Italy reservations, and they would give me new reservations. Took less than 20 minutes, with no forms to fill and nothing to pay on my side. In summer, trains may get full, but this won't be a problem for you unless you travel around Christmas, so they can just give you the fastest connection as-is.

In Abisko

Ideally, I would like to get into Abisko in the afternoon, see the lights, and leave before midnight, get to Kiruna and take the train back to Stockholm. I don't even know if train times run that late, but the point is that I want to save money and time!

It is not possible to see the northern lights in Abisko without staying there for the night if you depend on public transportation.

In the low season (late September - early February), Abisko is served by only two trains per day. In particular, the last southbound train departs 14:30, so you cannot see the lights. From the Luleå–Kiruna–Narvik timetable, northbound trains arrive 11:40 and 16:31, while southbound trains depart 12:00 and 14:30. You should really spend the night in Abisko to have a good chance to see the lights.

Alternative

As an alternative, you could consider flying to Stockholm Arlanda Airport and take the train from there. SAS and SJ used to have an agreement to wait for each other through FlyRail, but I think that has finished, so your connection may not be guaranteed. Flight + train is still a popular compromise between cost and travel time.


¹In theory, the same is true in other countries, but it can be much harder bureaucratically to get your right. For example, in Germany, I had to pay new tickets out of pocket and apply to get money back for the old ones that I could not use. That took months to be fixed.

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I made a search here in Sweden in SJ and found a train possibility:

Start: 22:30 Berlin Hbf - 08:10 Malmö C
Change 1: 12:11 Malmö C - 16:40 Stockholm C
Change 2: 17:58 Stockholm C - 11:33 Abisko Östra

Its a 37 hour trip.

If you have a better way to get to Copenhagen (Danmark) or Malmö (Sweden), then the train is very easy from there.

EDIT: Just checked there are 2 trains a day from Stockholm to Abisko in November/December periods.

To Abisko from Stockholm
17:58 - 11:40 ( 17:42 hours trip)
22:12 - 16:31 ( 18:19 hours trip)

And back to Stockholm (also 2 a day):
12.00 - 06.30 ( 18.30 hours trip)
14.30 - 09.20 ( 18.50 hours trip)

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It is wortwhile to mention that the Berlin-Malmö train is only running from April to August. The alternative is via Hamburg and Copenhagen –  PERSONA NON GRATA Aug 10 '13 at 7:22
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