I stayed in Kiruna and wanted to see the northern lights. All over the city there is advertising for the Aurora Skystation in Abisko. I have just got back to Kiruna from a trip to the Abisko Skystation, and I want to tell you all not to waste your money.
We paid over 1600kr (about US$235) each for this tour from Kiruna. The operator of the trip, Kiruna Safaris, just hired a minibus, and loaded eight people onto it, and drove to Abisko. There we were simply given the standard treatment at the Aurora Skystation which actually costs only 495kr: see http://www.auroraskystation.se/nightvisit/. So we paid the tour operator Kiruna Safaris over 1100kr each for the privilege of going in a minibus shared between eight, when even a /taxi/ for the 1.5 hour drive would have been marginally cheaper! We expected something more than the cold sandwich and tiny kindergarten style 'exhibition'. When we got to the top, we were not treated very well, as there were others who paid more money to have dinner there. We were 'hidden' behind a curtain so as not to disturb them. I'm not sure how tourism in Sweden is regulated but this was so expensive for such little benefit that I am thinking about making a complaint.
So, let our wasted money (the better part of $1000 between the three of us for four hours) at least serve some benefit for other travellers out there. Stay away from Kiruna Safaris, and dont take tours to Abisko starting in Kiruna. If you want to see the lights, the bottom of the ski slope within Kiruna is quite a good place - you dont need to go to Abisko.
Unique Suggestions: If you have to go to the Abisko Aurora Skystation, do it by private transportation. Take the train to Abisko, (only about 90kr per person) then visit the Skystation in the evening and stay the night at the Turistation in Abisko. you can get the next train back to Kiruna the following day. It will still be cheaper than taking "Kiruna Safaris". Kiruna Safaris doesnt need your money - its already got a lot of mine!
If you happen to visit this place during winter, you will have to use restroom quite often. In most of the Swedish places, if you are buying something, they let you use the restroom for free, but not in Kiruna. We were at Sibylla (Swedish McDonald's) to eat really crappy Vegetarian burger, one of our friend needed to use restroom and they were charging SEK 5 to use it (Picture attached) I think this was very cheap of the place manager to charge money to its own customers.
Fun Alternatives: Better use facility as and when you find free one, even if you are not in emergency. You never know when "emergency" really comes in the cold climate.
I guess the dogsled tours would qualify as a tourist trap, since they're ridiculously expensive. I thought it might be interesting, and I would have went if not for the high price. I figure I can do it for free back home (I have an uncle in Quebec who owns a dogsled) so why bother? I went on a moose safari instead, which was much cheaper and totally worth it. But I guess if dogsledding is a once-in-a-lifetime thing for you (like, if you live outside of Canada or Scandinavia) and you have a lot of money, the dogsled tour might be worth it for you.
Unique Suggestions: Be aware that you have to pay lots of money for it.
Fun Alternatives: Go on the moose safari tour instead.
Apparently the two taxi companies in Kiruna have joined together and now hold a monopoly over the town. They therefore charge up to 30 euro to get from town to the airport, which is no more than ten minutes away.
Unique Suggestions: Pure extortion but what can you do?
Try to share with other people.
A taxi with four people in it would cost each passenger about 7euro.
it costs 140 sek to get into the mine and the only cool part of the whole thing is driving down into the mine where you end up 500 meters underground. then you're treated to two hours of propaganda about the mine. you don't get to see anything in operation they just show you a bunch of old, decrepit, useless mining equipment. not worth the time or money.