Backpacking in Sweden
Sweden has over 400 different hiking trails which pass through some of the most amazing scenery in Europe, from Gotland in the Baltic and Swedish Lapland in the far north to the archipelagos of the West Coast and the southerly temperate trails of Skane, Blekinge and Halland. Economy car hire is the ideal way of accessing these fabulous trails and exploring the rich natural and cultural heritage of this wonderful country.
The hiking trails in Sweden have got catering for backpackers down to a fine art, without sacrificing anything in the way of adventure and a sensation of being in an unspoilt wilderness. There are literally hundreds of well-maintained huts, mountain-stations and hostels strung out along the network of criss-crossing trails, all run by qualified staff and constituting a great hiking resource.
One of the most justly famous hiking trails in Sweden is the King’s Trail, or Kungsleden, running between Hemavan and the Abisko National Park, in a 400km hikers’ stairway to heaven and the very stuff of outdoors enthusiasts’ dreams. The route takes you through a romantic and bracing landscape of rapids, rivers and bubbling brooks, and some of Europe’s best high mountain plateaus.
In Laponia, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and Swedish Lapland there’s a whole network of fabulous national parks, including the Abisko and Sarek parks, two areas of truly outstanding natural beauty. There are in fact no fewer than 29 parks in Sweden and they’re all free to explore and enjoy.
There’s a fabulous hiking trail in central Sweden along the Vasallop in Dalarna province, excellent for trekking in spring, summer and autumn, and in winter there’s great cross-country skiing here.
In the west, the Pilgrim Trail or Pilgrimsleden in the province of Dalsland is the best of a good bunch, and in neighbouring Vastmanland the Bruksleden is another very popular hiking trail.
The south of the country is far more temperate than the northern and central regions, and here the Halland, Skane and Blekinge trails have a well-deserved reputation as being amongst the best in Europe in terms of variety and accessibility. The Emigrant Trail and the John Bauer Trail are also in the south, in Smaland province, and attract visitors from the rest of Europe as well as from Sweden.
Sweden has a very enlightened attitude to public highways, probably the most enlightened in Europe, and hikers and walkers will never find themselves confronted by a miserable ‘Keep Out – Private Land!’ notice during their ramblings, as they often are in the UK. In Sweden, the Right of Public Access is enshrined in the country’s constitution, and as long as you leave a place just as you found it you’re free to wander at will and enjoy gorgeous, breathtaking landscapes without having the dogs set on you by a twit in a deerstalker and tweed jacket.
As well as being a Mecca for hiking enthusiasts, Sweden is also rich in cultural experiences. You can conveniently combine premier hiking with a look at the Royal Palace in Drottningholm, the Museum of National Antiquities in Stockholm and numerous other places of historic and cultural interest. The roads are excellent for travelling around by car, and this is the best way of tailoring your holiday here.
David Elliott is a freelance writer who loves to travel, especially in Europe and Turkey. He’s spent most of his adult life in a state of restless excitement but recently decided to settle in North London. He gets away whenever he can to immerse himself in foreign cultures and lap up the history of great cities.