The fifth largest country in Europe, Sweden’s landscape is generally flat or gently rolling lowlands, with more than half being forested. Nevertheless, there are mountains. Located mostly in the far north, especially above the Arctic Circle, these peaks are primarily part of the Kölen or Scandinavian Mountains.
Many of the highest mountains in Sweden are within national parks, and most are in the UNESCO-listed Laponian Area. This encompasses the Arctic region of Sweden and is protected as the ancestral home of the Saami people. As such, many of Sweden’s highest mountains have names in the Saami language. This is just one of the aspects of the biggest mountains of Sweden that we’ll explore in this article. Ready? Read on.
When speaking of the highest mountains in Sweden, Kebnekaise claims the top spot. This vast, heavily glaciated massif lies in the far northern county of Norrbotten, about 100 miles inside the Arctic Circle and 25 miles from the Norwegian border. Kebnekaise has two peaks, the northern and ice-free Nordtoppen, and the southern Sydtoppen, which is glacier-topped. Of the pair, the northern Nordtoppen is the highest summit in Sweden at 6,879 feet. But this wasn’t always the case. Until 2019, Sydtoppen was officially number one of Sweden’s highest mountains. When it was first measured in 1902, it rose 6961 feet above sea level. However, as its ice cap has melted, its height has shrunk, measuring in at 6,875 feet in 2019.
In the Northern Sami language, Kebnekaise, also spelled Giebmegaisi, means “Cauldron Crest,” sometimes translated as “kettle top” or “our cauldron.” Such a moniker would usually be referring to the specific kettle hole landform feature, a depression caused by glacial retreat. However, Kebnekaise doesn’t have a kettle top. There’s a theory that this name was originally intended for nearby Mount Duolbagorni, which does have a kettle hole, and that the misnaming was due to a misinterpretation of a map.
Mount Sarek, or Sarektjakka, ranks second among the tallest mountains in Sweden, boasting an elevation of 6,854 feet. Situated in Sarek National Park in Norrbotten, this peak stands as a testament to the rugged beauty of Sweden’s northern landscapes. The park itself is renowned for its rich geographical features, housing six of the thirteen highest mountains in Sweden and nearly 100 glaciers.
Sarek National Park offers a variety of ecosystems and terrains. Vast rounded valleys carved out by ancient glaciers intersect with fast-flowing rivers, creating a haven for a wide range of flora and fauna. This high alpine area is teeming with wildlife, including bears, wolves, lynxes, and elks. Among the notable geographical features is the Rapa Valley, through which the Rapa River snakes its way, creating a dramatic delta as it meets Lake Laitaure. From a cultural perspective, the Sami community has a rich history intertwined with the park’s landscapes, using these terrains for reindeer husbandry, preserving age-old traditions.
Next among the biggest mountains of Sweden is Kaskasatjakka. Its summit, which is actually a plateau, reaches 6,811 feet above sea level. Located just three miles northeast of Kebnekaise in Norrbotten, it further accentuates the rugged beauty of the region.
The dozen or so peaks of the Ahkka massif are certainly among the tallest mountains in Sweden. Located in the southwestern corner of Stora Sjöfallet National Park, the highest of its peaks is Stortoppen at 6,611 feet. The range is held sacred by the Sami people, and the name Ahkka roughly translates as wife, woman or mother. More colloquially, it’s known as the “Queen of Lapland.”
The southernmost member of the Scandinavian Mountains, Helagsfjallet, Mount Helags, sits alongside the Swedish-Norwegian border. It’s located in Jamtland County. Reaching around 5,895 feet above sea level, it’s one of Sweden’s highest mountains, and the biggest south of the Arctic Circle.
The Biggest Mountains of Sweden
The Swedish landscape, while predominantly known for its serene lowlands and forests, offers a stark contrast in its northern regions. The highest mountains in Sweden not only shape its geographical identity but also echo stories of history, ecological changes, and cultural significance. From the ever-evolving Kebnekaise to the culturally-rich Ahkka massif, these peaks provide a glimpse into the intricate tapestry of Sweden’s natural heritage.