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Wild camping in Sweden

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It is deafeningly silent when I wake up. My tent is in the middle of nowhere. No water, no electricity. Back to basics. I left with my backpack and tent to go wild camping in Sweden. Go as I want and every night picking a nice place to spend the night. You can’t get much closer to nature (and yourself).

In Sweden, wild camping is allowed thanks to allemansrätten, provided that you follow some rules. You have to respect nature and the environment to the maximum and you have to stay away from fenced grounds and stay out of sight of houses.

Wild camping in Sweden: what’s allowed?

  • You can place your tent for 24 hours in a place that is on a non-enclosed site, out of sight of houses and where there is no prohibition sign for wild camping. In certain national parks it is not allowed. This is indicated by a sign at the entrance.
  • Respect nature: you must not destroy, disturb or leave waste behind.
  • Picking berries and mushrooms is permitted. Make sure you know which fruits are edible!

Tips for wild camping

Wild camping for the first time?

Build up slowly. Start with 1 or 2 nights of wild camping and combine with a stay at a campsite or even a few nights at a hotel or in an airbnb. And if the weather suddenly changes completely, you can still continue your holiday with more comfortable hotel stays. Die hards will of course continue to wild camp. Sweden is a good place to go if you’re wild camping for the first time!

Pick the right spot

Look on the map where you can find a nice place. This can be near a lake, along the water, … It is advisable to install your tent when it is still light. In Sweden during the summer months this is not a problem as it does not really gets dark.

Wild camping next to a waterfall may seem idyllic but the water keeps flowing at night too so good ear plugs will be a must. A place close to the water also seems like a dream, but in the summer season that will mean more mosquitoes, especially if you go a little later in the summer season. It’s better to place your tent a few hundred meters away from the water.

Electricity and water

Wild camping is really back to basics. Make sure you are provided with everything. A good backup for essential things is not a bad idea. Do not only rely on Google Maps or a GPS for navigation, but bring a compass and a detailed map. You wouldn’t be the first to suddenly fall out of battery or have no range. Of course it is best to also take an extra external battery with you!

If you go wild camping in Sweden, you normally don’t have running water. The toilet can be found behind a tree. You can wash in a lake. Biodegradable, ecological soap is a must if you don’t want to do without soap for a few days. You will find special products in the specialized store that you can use both as a shampoo and for washing dishes. Do not use more than necessary. It is even better not to use any soap at all since even ecological soap still has an impact on the environment!

Take enough water with you. The lakes in Sweden are generally pure enough to drink from. With a water filter like the life straw you’re safe.

Light your fire

Do you want to light a fire to warm up, cook food, …? Make sure you know whether there is a ‘eldningsförbud’ or prohibition of open fires or not. Don’t make a fire on bare rocks anyway, they could burst. Choose a substrate of sand or gravel. Make sure the place is refractory and extinguish the fire completely before you move on.

Bears and other animals

The chances are rather small to see and meet bears or wolverines but it is possible. In general, making a lot of noise is sufficient to keep them at a distance. Also make sure that you always put away the food properly. You can also come across snakes in Sweden.

Wild camping by car?

Keep in mind that the distances in Sweden to help, a gas station, supermarkets, … can be greater than expected. Make sure you always fill up well on time, stock up on a sufficiently large supply of food and drinks, …

It is less easy to reach unique places by car. It may be more comfortable to be able to take your things with you in the car, but vehicles may not just go everywhere or park anywhere. Allemansrätten doesn’t apply to cars, campers and caravans.

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wild camping in Sweden

Important dates and (school) holidays in Sweden 2020

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A new year, a new empty agenda! My agenda is never empty for very long and I begin to mark all the long weekends and vacations. Knowing when the holidays and vacations fall is so handy when planning a trip. That’s why I set up a list for you with the dates of the holidays in Sweden. This way you can not only avoid finding out many things closed during your stay, but you can also choose your travel dates in function of certain festivities.

Swedish Holidays 2020

The official Swedish holidays are röda dagen (red days) in Sweden. These are the days when most of Sweden do not have to work. I put them bold in the list below. Midsummer Eve and Christmas Eve are in bold and italic. Although no official holidays in Sweden, most of the Swedish take the day off or stop working earlier.

1 JanuaryNyårsdagenNew year
6 JanuaryTrettondedag Jul 
13 JanuaryTjugondedag Jul (Knutsdagen) 
25 FebruaryFettisdagen 
14 FebruaryAlla Hjärtans dagValentine’s day
9 AprilSkärtorsdagen 
10 AprilLångfredagen 
12 AprilPåskdagenEaster
13 AprilAnnandag PåskEaster monday
30 AprilValborgsmässoaftonWalpurgis
1 MayFörsta Maj 
21 MayKristi Himmelfärds dag 
31 MayMors dagMother’s day
6 JuneSveriges nationaldagNational holiday
31 MayPingstdagen 
1 JuneAnnandag Pingst 
19 JuneMidsommaraftonMidsummer eve
20 JuneMidsommarenMidsummer
2 NovemberAlla Helgons dagAll Saints
8 NovemberFars dagFather’s day
13 DecemberLuciadagenSt Lucia
24 DecemberJulaftonChristmas eve
25 DecemberJuldagenChristmas
26 DecemberAnnandag Jul Boxing Day

Swedish school holidays 2020

The Swedish school holidays are sometimes spread, depending on the region.

Christmas Holidays

The Christmas holidays in Sweden run for everyone from December 22, 2019, till January 6, 2020. Next year the Christmas holiday in Sweden will start on 21 December 2020, till January 3, 2021.

Visiting Stockholm during Christmas season? Be sure to read this article!

Winter Holidays

In Sweden, the winter holiday is called ‘sportlov’ or sports holidays. This holiday is spread between weeks 7 and 10, depending on the region. In the north it is from the 2nd till the 8th of March 2020. In the south it is from the 10th till the 16th or the 17th till the 23rd of February. In Göteborg it is week 7, in Malmö week 8 and Stockholm had week 9. You can find a detailed overview here.
If you would like to book a skiing holiday in Sweden, it may be useful to take these dates into account. Outside these periods, certain slopes can be closed or more (and cheaper) accommodation can be available.

Easter Holidays

Only Stockholm and Central Sweden have a full week of Easter Holidays. The other regions only have an extended Easter weekend.

Summer Holiday

The Summer Holidays in Sweden commence on June 10th (or 15th for Malmö), and last until August 17, 2020.

Autumn Holiday

The autumn vacation also depend on the region: from 26 or 29 October to 30 October 2020.

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Important dates and (school) holidays in Sweden

How Sweden celebrates midsummer

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Last year I celebrated midsummer in Sweden for the first time. What a wonderful party! In Sweden, midsummer is just as important as Christmas . Girls wear flower crowns in their hair and a lot of people wear traditional costumes. The maypole is straightened together with the entire village, after which children and adults dance around it while they sing about frogs.

Midsommar or midsummer

The Swedes celebrate the start of the summer, the time of the solstice, on the Friday that is closest to June 21 (ie the Friday between June 19 and 25). It is a real holiday: just like at Christmas (almost) everyone is home and almost all shops are closed. On midsommarafton or the eve of the midsummer party, the shops and museums close earlier so that everyone has time to prepare the party. Midsummer is mainly celebrated with family or friends. For many Swedes, midsummer is the start of their summer vacation.

Midsummer in Sweden

If you are in Sweden with midsummer, try to find out in advance where you can attend a traditional midsummer celebration. If you’re lucky, Swedish friends will invite you to this party. I myself was in Mora last year and happened to come by a very authentic midsummer party in one of the neighborhoods. Whoever is in Stockholm may experience the city as ’empty’. Most of them go to their summer house (or that of friends). Yet with midsummer in Stockholm you can also go to Skansen for a traditional celebration.

The maypole

Under loud encouragement from the public, some strong men (and women) set up the maypole (in Swedish: midsommarstång or majstång). The May tree is a cross-shaped pole that is completely decorated with greenery and ribbons and symbolizes the fertility of the earth. The different villages / neighborhoods sometimes outdo each other with the most beautiful or largest maypole.

Små grodorna

Young and old will dance and sing around the maypole. Everyone happily participates. You soon learn the dances. The day before midsummer I had practiced the song Små grodorna on the Inlandsbanan together with some Swedish couples. A moment I will never forget! They taught me the lyrics of the song and the accompanying dance. Imagine: 9 adults who happily jump around like frogs in the aisle of the train. Memorable!

Strawberries and aquavit

Besides the maypole you can also see strawberries (or strawberry cake) popping up everywhere. The Swedes are crazy about these red fruits and eat a lot of them during midsummer. A little later in the evening the aquavit (strong drink) should not be missed. All kinds of traditional Swedish dishes are on the table (lots of vegetables but also potatoes and fish).

Just as traditional as pickled herring and potato salad is the fact that the weather is often less good. The Swedes sometimes laugh that it is just as cold on Christmas as it is on midsummer. A few years ago it was even the reverse and in certain places in the south of Sweden it was warmer at Christmas than on midsummer.