I know, I know – “Sweden” and “budget” is not a common combination. Sweden is famous for being one of the most expensive countries to travel to. Accommodation is expensive, food is expensive, wine is crazy expensive. How can anyone go to Sweden for a budget trip?
If what you’re after in Sweden is a nature experience, you’ll be surprised at how this country actually makes it pretty easy to enjoy nature on a budget. Sweden is a small country, but it is also an empty country; you’ll be able to find empty lakes for skinny dipping or beautiful wildflower fields without meeting anyone except a couple of cows or a herd of reindeer.
If you’re after a real vacation in the wild, and your bank account has seen better days, Sweden is the place for you.
1) You can put up your tent anywhere in nature
In Sweden you don’t need to ask for permission to put up your tent in the wild. You’re allowed to camp for one night everywhere except for a few exceptions. This makes it possible to experience Swedish nature truly from the inside – and entirely for free. The only thing you need to be aware of is whether you’re in a nature reserve, where there are different rules (depending on the area), or you’re in someone’s garden (not popular). Good things to remember to bring are mosquito spray (the northern part of Sweden especially has really angry mosquitoes) and a flashlight to scare away curious animals, since the Swedish forest is full of wildlife. Also – Swedish nights can still be kind of cold in the summer. So bring a warm sleeping bag just in case.
2) All of Sweden’s National Parks are free
While in many other countries you need to pay entrance fees to explore national parks, in Sweden they’re all free. And they’re also very well taken care of. Sweden has 29 national parks and over 4500 nature reserve areas. One of the most famous national parks in Sweden is Abisko National Park in the far north. Here you can experience the midnight sun and go on aurora safari, meet reindeer and hike on Kungsleden – one of Sweden’s most famous nature trails.
3) The forest and sea is filled with food – and it’s all yours to eat
When traveling in summertime to Sweden, you will find loads of food in the forest and along the roads. There are berries like blueberries, cloudberries and wild strawberries, but also mushrooms such as chanterelles. You can also go fishing along the coast and in our two biggest lakes without any permission. Basically, the ingredients are all there for you to create the most luxurious and typical Swedish meals. Make up a fire or use your camping stove, and enjoy chanterelles or mackerel on Swedish crisp bread for lunch or dinner. An amazing classic Swedish breakfast is also to break crisp bread in milk or filmjölk (sour milk) and to eat it with berries on top.
4) You can enjoy the archipelago on your bus ticket
If you still want to spend some time in the cities of Sweden, but also want to see the countryside, going island hopping on your bus ticket is an amazing and cheap Swedish experience. In Gothenburg – the second biggest city in Sweden – your normal city bus ticket is all you need to jump on the boats from the city to the archipelago. Stockholm offers an archipelago pass if you want to do a 5 day jump-on-jump-off island tour, or you can get single tickets if you’re only going for a day trip. Sweden has more than 220,000 islands and they’re all different to each other. Maybe you’ve seen pictures of small islands with just one lonely little red house in the middle? We have them, sure! But we also have islands where the whole island is a nature reserve covered with forest, or islands where you can find gourmet restaurants and old school outdoor dance floors with live music. It’s such an amazing and cheap way to turn your weekend city break into something much more.
5) There are free, open cabins to use all over the country
If you’re not a tent person but you still want to enjoy Swedish nature in a direct and inexpensive kind of way – you can! All over Sweden there are free cabins open for everyone to use and sleep in. Moa Karlberg and Kjell Vowles wrote a guide book to these cabins called Stuglandet (The cabin country). So far it hasn’t been translated into English, but you can check out their Facebook Page or Instagram and with help of Google Translate find out everything about these free cabins in Sweden. It’s such an amazing opportunity that not even most Swedes are aware of.
Have you experienced the Swedish wilderness? What are your tips? Let us know in the comments!