Enjoying the Freedom of Swedens Everymans-Right
Sweden is a dream destination with unspoiled nature where everyone can feel at home. Thanks to the Everyman’s Right, which allows free access to nature, you can engage in virtually any outdoor recreation: from hiking and horseback riding to swimming and berry picking. Wild camping is also allowed. Pack plastic bags and a small shovel and let’s head out into the countryside!
Sweden’s idyllic nature is diverse and expansive. Its attractions include flower meadows, deep forests, island groups, mountains and countless lakes. The right to move freely in nature is called Everyman’s Right, or “allemansrätt” in Swedish. This ancient rule, which was only written down in the Swedish constitution in 1994, allows you to go on relaxing hikes, long bike rides and excursions into the mighty mountains.
Bathing, boating, berry picking – everything is allowed. You can even pitch your tent in the nature and spend the night under the open sky. This great freedom in dealing with nature exists in Sweden and, in various forms, also in Finland, Norway, Scotland and Switzerland, where it is called “Jedermannszutrittsrecht”.
Bring a basket!
One of the most exciting benefits of Swedish right of access is that anyone can pick up nature’s edible treasures. Mushrooms, blueberries, wild strawberries and raspberries, and lingonberries thrive in Swedish forests. In some regions you can even find nuts. You can also pick flowers as long as they are not protected. For example, all orchid species are protected throughout the country and do not belong in your bouquet.
Also note that picking berries, plants, mushrooms and nuts is prohibited in national parks or nature reserves. Generally, you may gather for your own use. However, digging up plants or picking them for sale is prohibited.
Hiking with dogs
Four-footed friends are also welcome in the wild, but must be kept on a leash during the bird breeding season (March 1 to August 20). During the rest of the time, too, dogs must be kept under constant control to avoid conflict with wild animals.
There are other rules to follow, but the regulations are vague in many respects due to their centuries of oral tradition. Just stick to the Swedes’ rule of thumb: “Don’t disturb – don’t destroy.” So not leaving trash behind goes without saying. Respectful treatment of nature needs little explanation. You could say the Everyman’s Right reflects the common sense of people in a country that is 57 percent forest.
Swimming, snorkeling, setting sail: Everyman’s right also applies on water
Sweden is crisscrossed from north to south by clean rivers and lakes, and thousands of archipelagos surround the coast. Since the right of access to nature applies equally to land and water, you can swim and sail almost anywhere. Rent a boat and spend the night on the water – it’s your right. Just like on land, certain rules apply, of course:
You may use a dock to temporarily moor your boat or go into the water from it, as long as the dock does not belong to private property.
Boating and swimming in bird sanctuaries and nature reserves is usually prohibited.
Jet skis are allowed only in public channels and designated areas.
Camping in the Swedish wilderness
Would you like to wake up to the sound of birds singing in the wilderness? Everyman’s right allows you to camp wild in Sweden. As long as you do not disturb the landowner or damage nature, you can pitch your tent for up to two nights in a spot of your choice.
Consider the following points before pitching your tent:
The site should not be near houses, farmland, or pasture.
Larger groups must obtain permission from the landowner before camping.
Camping is usually not allowed at sports fields, in national parks, and in nature preserves, but there are exceptions. Read through the information boards at the site.
Outdoorsmen know: a makeshift outdoor toilet is quickly “built” with a shovel. Please do not leave any paper behind!