NORTH TO SOUTH OR SOUTH TO NORTH
My trail descriptions on this site are written from north to south. If you’re hiking in the other direction, just read everything in reverse.
I have passed Sälka four times, twice while heading south, and twice while heading north. My actual personal preference is to head north, especially if you are only doing the northern loop between Abisko and Nikkaluokta. However, since I have only hiked the full section while heading south from Abisko to Kvikkjokk, I am writing the guide in this direction.
A lot is written elsewhere about the magical feeling of hiking south through the mountains with the sun at your face. In my experience, if you’re lucky enough to have 2-3 sunny, 15+ ˚C days in a row, you’ll just end up with a sunburn. The best comparison I can make to hiking south is to go stand on the street and face the sun for 4-6 hours. If you find this enjoyable, then you’ll like hiking south. If you get annoyed at the sun in your eyes and find yourself staring at your feet the whole time, then hiking north is probably the better choice for you.
Additionally, and mostly only applicable if you’re hiking the northern loop between Abisko and Nikkaluokta, is the finish of the trail. From Nikkaluokta there are only 2 buses per day during the season; a morning bus and an afternoon bus. While you have plenty of time to hike the 19 km from Kebnekaise Fjällstation, this does put you on something of a schedule. Whereas in Abisko, assuming you are going to stay one last night in the hostel, you can arrive when you want. And personally, it is a bit of an abrupt transition to go from a week of amazing wilderness to Kiruna (no offense Kiruna).