Freedom – Nature – Everyone’s right – Wild camping – Sweden. It sounds so simple. It is, but not always, because only if you follow a few basic rules can you have the best holiday of your life in Sweden while wild camping.
Wild camping in Sweden – What is it?
According to the definition, wild camping consists of setting up your own chair and table in a place where there is no official campsite or pitch and possibly spending the night. It does not matter whether you are travelling with just a backpack and sleeping bag, tent, car, caravan or motorhome. For free camping enthusiasts, this means living in harmony with nature, camping wherever you like, spending the night and enjoying the feeling of adventure and freedom.
By the way, there is a form of camping that is very close to wild camping and is still legal: ask the farmer, horse farm, etc. if you are allowed to stay there for one or two nights. Sometimes it is possible to do this for little or no money. However, you should show your appreciation and at least buy the products they offer.
Pros and cons of wild camping in Sweden
One advantage is also obvious to non-campers: you save on accommodation costs. For free campers, however, there are other understandable advantages: You choose your own place on the site, which usually means that you are in the middle of nature, in a quiet and romantic place. Also, those who work in an open-plan office, on an assembly line or generally in a workplace with many people around will appreciate the solitude. So, no screaming children, no barking dogs, no car noises, no neighbour’s snoring or screaming couples on holiday arguing. The only sounds that might disturb you are those of animals rustling in the bushes, birds chirping or your own heartbeat, when your heart might burst with joy. Oh yes, you don’t even have to comply with camping rules. Well, that’s no small thing!
If there are advantages, there are also disadvantages. When you go wild camping, you have to do without electricity and fresh bread in the morning. But don’t worry! Because you can live with it! You will also have to do without the sanitary facilities of a camp site with hot showers, etc. You can put up with that too! Of course, this is less true for campers who have both a shower and toilet, perhaps even an on-board electricity converter, and are even self-sufficient for several days thanks to a solar system. Regardless of the means by which one travels, one must take into account the disadvantage that – depending on where one is – one can be evicted or even asked to pay.
Rules of conduct
Those who camp in the wild should follow a few rules, so that we campers do not fall even more into disrepute than sometimes already happens. The first rule is: leave the campsite as you found it! Of course, this only applies if you have chosen a really clean site. But honestly, who would voluntarily camp in a rubbish dump?
Rule No. 2 is: Do not be an obstacle, neither to humans nor to animals or plants!
In detail, this means:
- Do not abandon waste!
- If you are travelling with a motor home, you must never empty or flush grey water or the toilet outside the designated filling and disposal stations.
- No open fires! (Unless there is an official fireplace).
- Do not camp on hiking trails or in residential areas.
- One night in one place is enough!
- Wild camping in nature reserves should be avoided unless it is permitted or tolerated.
- If there is already more than one tent or camper van on site, it is better to move; after all, you do not want to open a new campsite.
- Be respectful of nesting birds and flowering plants!
Sweden, the land of Köttbullar and Pippin Longstocking
Sweden, the land of our children’s books, the land of forests, lakes and islands, the land of moose, trolls and blueberries. Here you are still in tune with nature. Here the adventure of (free) camping awaits you. Here you can feel safe!
Hardly any other European country is as popular with camping enthusiasts as Sweden. Here you can travel kilometres by car or on foot without getting lost in the flow of tourists, here miracles happen – just think of the Aurora Borealis -, here there is a well-developed road network and here the ‘Allemansrätten’, the ‘right of all’, applies… Really?
Free camping in Sweden in the land of moose
The ‘right of all’ is often misinterpreted in our country: many campers, caravanners or backpackers believe that it is a kind of ‘pass’ and that they can do whatever they want in nature. That’s not the case at all!
The ‘Allemansrätten’, guaranteed by the Swedish Constitution, is an old law that regulates the public use of nature, the free movement in it. This means that one can move freely in meadows, fields, forests and lakes without being hunted. Of course, only if you do not cross a vegetable garden!
The law states that you can cycle, walk, ride a horse or camp anywhere in Sweden, as long as you follow the rule ‘Respect people and nature! Single overnight stays, i.e. wild camping, are allowed. Exceptions are private gardens, populated residential areas or within sight of them and cultivated farmland.
Does all this sound attractive? It is, as long as you comply with the regulations in force. And this means more precisely:
Wild camping in Sweden is allowed for one to three nights if one does not disturb either nature or people and does not ignore the prohibition signs. However, wild camping in nature reserves and national parks is prohibited. Sleeping under the open sky, however, is also permitted here. Sounds complicated! In an emergency, can you sleep next to your motorhome?
Holidaymakers who want to spend the night in their car, caravan or motor home outside the official camping and parking areas can stay on the side of the road or in designated areas for up to 24 hours. On weekends or public holidays, the period is extended until the next working day. By the way: According to the law, it is forbidden to spend the night on private property even with the owner’s permission.
Conclusion: Free overnight camping for tent campers, yes! Caravan and camper van drivers, on the other hand, are not officially allowed to do so!
Don’t be put off! The reality is usually different: the many official camper van areas give the impression, especially in the more remote areas, that people camp here wildly. No crowds! In the middle of nature.
In addition, the many Swedish lakes almost always have barbecue areas and/or parking spaces directly on or at least close to the shore, where it is possible to camp safely during the day or even overnight. However, you should avoid ‘camping behaviour’, i.e. awnings, tables and chairs and all domestic objects outside the house.
Another tip: if a road leads to a dead end in the forest, to a lake or to the sea, check your sat-nav or Google Maps, because in many cases the road ends in a car park – usually a lonely one – where you can safely stop and spend the night. Unless there are no prohibition signs….
Enjoy free camping in Sweden and infinite freedom! You can take ideal trips through central Sweden, where dense forests invite you to absolute oxygen therapy, mushrooms and berries to eat your fill, but also lakes for canoeing. You will always find a place to spend the night, far from civilisation.
Of course, you can also freely camp in northern Sweden and admire the polar aurora. But be careful and dress warmly: the weather is much harsher here!
If you feel like it, you can also discover the neighbouring countries, Denmark and Norway!
To be considered
It is forbidden to drive through the park, outside the designated roads, with motor vehicles of any kind. Private roads and paths are closed to motor homes and cars!
A word of advice to finish
Ask in the communities, they can often give you a place to stay.