Sweden is a beautiful country, its four distinct seasons a joy in their own right. The allure of Swedish nature is all around you, from the magical Northern lights when you look up onto the sky, to the cloudberries that speckle the moss with a soft shade of orange, and the clear blue waters of the 95,700 lakes covering 9 percent of the land. And the best thing is, it’s free for all to enjoy.
You see, in Sweden, there’s this thing called “allemansrätten”, which translates into the freedom to roam or everyman’s right. Basically it means that everyone is allowed to spend time in nature as they see fit, even on private property. One can camp under the open air, hoping to catch a glimpse of those Nordic lights swooshing across the sky, pick as many cloudberries as one’s stomach can handle, and both swim and fish in the many lakes scattering the Scandinavian country best known for its social democracy and ABBA.
Growing up in Sweden, this is all a normal part of life. Spending time outdoors is so natural, that nature’s accessibility is often taken for granted. This is, however, often not the case with foreign tourists visiting the country. Especially people from the US, who are used to seeing threatening signs like: “Private property, keep out!”, are amazed when they hear about the Swedish freedom to roam. Sometimes, they even have to double check – just to make sure their hearing isn’t playing a trick. Because, yes indeed, they can hike wherever they want, pick whatever they want, and sleep wherever they want.
Unfortunately, however, not many tourists have discovered the joys linked with the freedom to roam, and a majority still hit up the fancy hotels in the capital, and cultural hub of the country – Stockholm. And while Sweden certainly has a lot of offer to urbanites and culture lovers, the natural beauty of the countryside – and its easy accessibility – still, somehow, remain a hidden gem.
So the next time you visit Sweden, maybe just pack a light backpack with hiking boots, a sleeping bags and the bare necessities. You can pick berries along the way, drink the cleanest water you’ve ever tasted directly from the river streams, pick a campsite when you get tiered, light a fire and sleep under the stars. And it won’t cost you a penny, as long as you respect nature and treats her with the respects she deserves.