Why trespassing is welcomed in Sweden.
In a country filled with rule-abiding residents, it is quite interesting to learn that Sweden actually encourages people to trespass! Enter allemansrätten, the Right of Public Access.
With all of the forests, lakes, islands, and general open landscapes throughout Sweden, the residents here love to be outside and camp. And allemansrätten provides some legal protection to do just that! Allemansrätten allows anyone roam freely. For example, you are welcome to camp anywhere, swim or travel by boat in someone else’s waters, or cross through the countryside during a hike. You can think of it as freedom under responsibility.
This, of course, does not mean that you are welcome to pitch a tent in someone’s fenced-in backyard! However, you are welcome to pitch that tent out in the forest, even if it is technically owned by someone else. But if you are walking across or sleeping on someone’s land, be sure to keep a reasonable distance from houses, yards, gardens, and fenced-in areas.
Allemansrätten also allows you to pick mushrooms or berries in the forest, but be mindful if certain lands are vulnerable to damage. Similarly, the rules in national parks and nature reserves may also be different. Remember, you always need to tread carefully, respect nature, take pre-established paths, and generally leave no trace!
“Everyone shall have access to nature in accordance with the right of public access”Swedish Constitution
From a young age, children will be found exploring parks and forests with school groups and many families fish, go berry picking, or hike in forests together. Like fika and lagom, allemansrätten is integrated into Sweden’s national identity.
- Allemansrätten has been around legally in Sweden since the 1940s and was added to the constitution in 1994, but the concept is much older (since the Middle Ages!)
- Similar laws are in many other countries too, such as Scotland, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Estonia, Latvia, Austria, Czech Republic, and Switzerland.
- You are welcome to pitch a tent or even park a motor home on another person’s land for up to 24 hours! After that amount of time you will need the landowner’s permission to stay longer.
- Chanterelles are known in Swedish as “the gold of the forest” and they are delicious and a late summer favorite of mine!
- The Environmental Protection Agency in Sweden is Naturvårdsverket.
- Respect any signs by landowners that ask you to stay off their private lands. There is always another way around. Or ask for special permission!
- Allemansrätten does not necessarily protect the right to hunt, log, make fires, or drive off road vehicles. Do more research about the area you are in if you are interested in these activities.
- Looking for some hiking trips? Find a trail (leden) in your area! Skåneleden is the trail nearest me, but they are all throughout Sweden. I’ve also hiked some of the Kungsleden in Abisko, which I will talk about in a post soon!
Hope you learned some new Swedishness today and I’ll see you in the next post!