Imagine being able to pack up your favorite variety of General, strap on your favorite hiking boots, and head out into the wild over fence, over glade, over glen…with hardly any limits on where your legs can take you or your head can rest.
Sounds pretty amazing, right? This is the guiding principle of allemansrätten (/ah-leh-manz-REHT-ten/), or “the everyman’s right,” a freedom granted and codified by the constitution of Sweden. It means when you’re in Sweden you have the right to walk, cycle, ride, float, ski, and camp on basically any land you’d like with the exception of private gardens, near a dwelling or house, or land under cultivation. Swedes often refer to it as the “Freedom to Roam,” and it is a major part of Swedish life.
These Outdoor Access Rights—as they’re also called—were written into the Swedish constitution in 1994, and state that, notwithstanding the right to own property, “everyone shall have access to nature in accordance with allemansrätten.” It further explains that this encompasses “actions that are not crimes, will not make a person liable to pay damages, nor can be prohibited by any authority.” It also includes the right to gather wild berries, mushrooms, and flowers (with some exceptions), and fish in the five big lakes and along the coastline. There are some restrictions to the right: such as certain nature preserves, species of plants and flowers, proximity to private homes (known as the “hemfridszonen” or “peace-at-home-zone”), etc. You can read more from the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency.
These restrictions are relatively minor, and all rely on common sense. They mostly follow the rule of thumb of “do not disturb, do not destroy”—a maxim the country puts on equal footing with allemansrätten. The principle focuses on leaving nature as you found it. This means things like leaving behind no garbage (which General puts into practice with our disposable lid cans), not destroying the land, respecting animals, and traveling at least 100 meters away from campsites or trails to use the bathroom (you also must dig a pit to do your business and bury, burn, or take any toilet paper you use).
Now that we know you can roam where you want to across the beautiful countryside of Sweden, let’s learn about some of that countryside. From mountains to forests to miles and miles of coastline, Sweden is filled with natural and pristine wonders for you to take a nature bath in. Here are just a few highlights of this beautiful country:
Lappland is one of the largest regions in Sweden covering nearly a quarter of the country’s land area in the north. It contains multiple national parks, but, most importantly, the Vindelfjällen Nature Reserve, one of the largest nature reserves in Sweden with an area totaling approx. 5,628 km2. The reserve is covered mostly by a section of the Scandinavian Mountain range, but also includes the Ume River drainage basin, a portion of the Vindel River (from which the reserve gets its name), the Lapland Plains, Nordic taiga, alpine tundra, birch forests, and wetlands.
Located on the southernmost tip of Sweden, Skåne is an area rich in both dense forests and sprawling plains filled with native plants and agriculture. The northern parts of Skåne contain deep fir forests and pinewood forests along with multiple lakes. A band of deciduous forests stretch along the Linderödsåsen ridge from the northwestern to southeastern parts of Skåne. The areas in the southwest and southeast contain two major plains (Söderslätt and Österlen respectively) that are some of the most fertile in the world. There farmers grow sugar beets, corn, peas, and rapeseed. Skåne also contains three national parks, and miles and miles of scenic coastline with beaches and fishing.
Bohuslän is located on Sweden’s western coast and features a breathtaking rocky coast and archipelago (Sweden’s second largest) with roughly 3,000 island and 5,000 islets to be explored. The area was ranked 7th among the world’s “last great wilderness areas” by CNN Travel for it’s beautiful granite coasts, picturesque fishing villages, and Kosterhavet National Park’s marine nature reserve—Sweden’s first and home to Sweden’s largest seal colony. Bohuslän, while also containing multiple forests and meadows to hike, is a sailor and kayaker’s dream with miles of coastline to roam and explore.
With all this beautiful open space and the mandated-by-law right to freely roam about it, why haven’t you bought your ticket yet? Sweden and its unending beauty awaits.