Advice on Wild Camping in Sweden
You might be interested in wild camping in Sweden, or you might want to live vicariously through my experience. Either way, here is how my first wild-camping trip in Sweden in 2021 went and some advice based on that. We, two 23-year-old Europeans, and a 2015 Ford Focus, drove to Sweden, through Denmark and camped around mostly in the province of Småland for about two weeks.
Basic rules of wild-camping in Sweden
Wild camping or camping in nature off of official camping grounds, is legal in Sweden as long as you adhere to the following rules:
You can’t leave any waste
You have to set up the camp out of sight of other people, in case of privately owned terrain you will have to ask permission
You can only stay for 24 hours and in case you’d like to make a fire, you will have to check in with the local municipality to confirm if it isn’t too dry.
We mostly did this by googling the municipality and calling their respective phone numbers. The automatic reply usually has an option for the current fire situation.
What to take with you?
Start with a car. A good car. This will save you down the road later. Get a tent, with a good anti-insect net, again a lifesaver. An air mattress, a sleeping bag, a cooler for food, as much water as you can store inside the car (think of a large jerry can), sunscreen, towels, food for a couple of days, alcohol, two rolls of duct tape, Swiss army knife, Knäckebrot (crisp bread), and Kalles (a Swedish pink caviar spread) or some kind of spread you can put on the crackers.
I would personally suggest bringing a BBQ, if your car is big enough. In our case, we brought a small green egg bbq. Any bbq will do really, but we just liked this one a lot. It’s a great way to relax and make tasty food. And, if you can, have two decent drivers that can also navigate, are willing to do some off-roading, and are in for some adventure. Don’t forget to keep an eligible driver’s licence for Sweden. This might be checked at some point, and you don’t want to stand there empty-handed.
We started our journey from Denmark. From Denmark, it is pretty easy to reach Sweden by the bridge. Yes, this is in fact the same bridge as in the popular series the Bridge (2011). You can pay for your ticket online beforehand, or at the toll. The roads and traffic are of standard north European quality. Good roads with some winter patches, not many people, safe, and a fun time driving around. You’ll see a lot of fencing next to the roads, this is for the wildlife that can possibly cross the road. Be aware of that. Other than that, I can personally recommend the province of Småland and anywhere north of that (yes, that’s the name of the kid’s playground in IKEA. You smart cookie!). This is where you’ll find the first wild camping spots, south of Småland doesn’t really have enough trees and lakes to provide proper camping grounds. So go north.
How to find a camping spot
We mostly used Google maps. Find a lake wherever you might want to drive to and turn on satellite pictures. Zoom in around the lakefor a small, driveable-ish road leading to something that kinda looks like an open spot near the water? Try to get as close to the spot using the normal roads as possible. This is why you will need good adventurous drivers and navigators because you will have to get off-road for the next part. There are usually tracks visible that you can follow to get closer to your spot. Keep track of where you are using Google maps’ GPS.There might be a spot to park your car and a flat surface to pitch your tent. I prefer being close to a quiet lake. If I dont find it, I rinse and repeat.
What to do now
Park the car and look around for a place to make a campfire, slightly away from the tent. Again, please check in with the local municipality, and if you don’t know how to build a proper fire, maybe just skip this instead of taking the risk of becoming Sweden’s next news line. If you do know what to do, good job scout. It’s time to build the camp, start a new routine. In our case, after two weeks we were able to get the routine down to about 45 minutes from hours depending on how hard the ground underneath us was.
After you have built the camp it will probably be late afternoon, this is where the BBQ comes into play. Have a drink to celebrate (if you like). Well done, you are now officially a happy camper. Your next challenge will now be sundown. Luckily you’re in Sweden so this will happen pretty late in the day. However, you are camping next to a beautiful lake. Do you know what this means? Mosquitos! Don’t worry, you’ll be fine. But please do the following to prevent yourself from becoming a tasty meal for these bloodsuckers. Make sure the insect net inside of your tent is closed at all times. I mean it, all the time. Now at sundown make sure to cover yourself in full loose-fitting clothes. This will create a little barrier between you and the insects. It won’t be bulletproof though. One other piece of advice that I can give is to get a basil plant at a supermarket and actually rub the basil over your legs and arms. Mosquitos don’t like intense smells and you get to have a nice Italian-style spice rub.
The next day
Have a dip in the lake and bust out your Knäckebrot. Depending on the weather, you are driving today, maybe have a drink, or seven (not while driving ofcourse). Chill out, read a book, swim and have fun at your secluded lake. This is what the trip is all about after all. Explore the area around the lake, find some berries (only pick berries you recognize, that are above knee level (rabies), and wash them before consuming).
Things you’ll learn the hard way
Wild camping might not be for you if you, understandably, need modern-day comforts. The truth is that there are none out there in nature. There are no bathrooms or toilets. Where do you go then? Bushes! Yup, you heard me. Try to get as far away from your camping ground, and take a roll of toilet paper with you as well as a bag. Look for an okay-ish flat spot with not too many insects crawling around. Bury your sins, double bag waste and trash your waste as you’re making your way to the next spot.
The worst way to start a car
Be careful to not leave anything turned on inside the car, especially the headlight is easy to forget, or you will wake up to a dead battery. But just in case it does die on you, keep a starter kit, general knowledge on how cars work and/or having an assurance like Ford Assist in Europe that can help you out a lot. Or if your car is on a flat surface, pushing it from the back with all your might in the hopes it can start, might work.
If you are adventurous, enjoy the peace and quiet of nature and can survive without modern-day comforts, you will find that wild camping is a really fun mix of excitement; finding a place, off-roading, and camping. You can just chill, swim, read, cook, and watch the stars. It's just you and mother nature. I personally remember this trip as one of my favourite holidays.
I’m Nukkel. I’m 25 years old. I have done quite some short trips in Europe. Currently, I am exploring America and doing a masters degree in Industrial design. I mostly enjoy culture and architecture trips in Europe, and nature trips in America. Wherever I am though, I am always down for good food.