Imagine pitching a tent on the perfect stretch of land. You chose a spot facing the mountains. There’s a river nearby. All you hear is the sound of insects humming and the crackling of your fire. It’s a prime spot. There’s just one tiny thing…you set up camp on private property. If you were in the U.S., a farmer wielding a pitchfork would probably chase you off his property yelling, “Get off my land.” Or more likely (and less dramatically) you’d end up in the back of a police car for trespassing. In Sweden, the laws about nature—and your access to it—work a little differently.
The Right of Public Access or Allemansrätt gives anyone—both citizens and visitors—the privilege to roam the Swedish countryside wherever they like. So long as you don’t trample through someone’s backyard garden or intrude too close to a house, this cultural common law allows you to go just about anywhere in the Swedish wilderness. Pick berries. Climb a cliff. Wander through the woods. Ski. Boat. It’s all completely fine. The mantra is simply, “Do not disturb. Do not destroy.”
Sweden makes it easy to choose your own adventure! Discover all of the activities you can do in the Swedish wilderness. No permits needed. It makes our camping grounds and national parks seem pretty limiting, huh?
Hike or ski
Feel free to just roam. You can hike or ski pretty much anywhere in the Swedish countryside so long as you don’t disturb the landowners or destroy nature in any way.
Pick flowers, berries and mushrooms
In Sweden you are free to pick berries, mushrooms and flowers in the wild. Just keep in mind that destroying trees, picking protected plants and damaging animals’ seeds, nest or eggs are big no nos.
Set up camp
Go ahead. Choose the best campsite you can find. Your options are near limitless. You can set up camp just about anywhere so long as you’re not visible to the landowner’s house and you don’t pitch your tent on land used for growing or grazing. Generally you should move on after one or two nights’ stay.
Explore country roads—even private roads—on your bike so long as you don’t intrude on the grounds of anyone’s home or destroy nature in any way. That means you should avoid going near houses, farmland, gardens, plant nurseries, park plantations, forestry plantations and other sensitive land.
Feel free to cozy up to a warm fire while camping. Just use common sense. Don’t place a campfire where it could possibly spread or cause damage. The Swedish Environmental Protection Agency also notes that you shouldn’t build a fire next to a rock because it can cause the rock to crack.
Your doggie is welcome wherever you go. You just have to keep him or her on a leash during hunting season, which lands between March 1 and August 20.
Swim and sail
The rules that allow you to roam on land also apply on water. Sail your boat through Sweden’s archipelagos (collections of islands), moor your boat and stay a couple nights. You're always free to swim and kayak wherever.
There's something so refreshing about the freedom to just wander, don't you think?
image: Steve & Jemma Copley