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A smaller unnamed lake close to Häckeberga lake

A guide to Swedish nature

The rules and regulations of the Right to Public Access (Allemansrätten), Nature reserves (Naturreservat) and National Parks (Nationalpark).

The are many Swedish nature rules and regulations. They are important to know and follow, but they are designed for your benefit and enjoyment just as much as for the protection of the lands and waters.

Allemansrätten (The Right of Public Access)

The Right of Public Access – Allemansrätten in Swedish – is something that Swedes are proud to have as part of their national identity.
This right allows everyone access to do things like hike, camp, bike, swim, boat and more in Swedish lands and waters.

At a very high level Allemansrätten ensures peoples right to access and use land and water as long as you don’t disturb and don’t destroy.

Possibly the most exciting part of this set of rules is that you are allowed to camp anywhere for a night or two. Seriously, just pitch a tent and spend a night, it’s not a problem!
Of course you are, as the rule above implies, not allowed to pitch a tent in a crop field as that would destroy crops and you are not allowed really allowed to camp on private property as this would be disturbing the owner – but you can always ask for permission!
Obviously provisions are also in place that all trash should be brought with you when you leave and that camp fire rules must be followed.

The Right to Public Access is for your benefit but also for the preservation of nature. Basically, respect the land and water – a good rule for everyday life really!

Two people sitting beside a red tent on a mountain overlooking a vast green forest landscape with a snacking river cutting through it.
Vadvetjåkka National Park
Image: Peter Rosen

To learn more about the Right to Public Access, here is a super useful publication from the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency.

Nature reserves (Naturreservat)

Protected lands in Sweden come primarily in two forms, national parks and nature reserves (naturreservat). Approximately 85% of all protected lands in Sweden are protected through nature reserves.
In case you were wondering, 10% of all Swedish land are protected, so 8.5% of all Swedish lands are nature reserves (nerdy math time is now over).

Nature reserves in Sweden are sign posted using the blue naturreservat sign featuring a “snowflake”.
(Peter “accidentally” deleted the picture I took of this sign… we will get one on our next hike!)

Nature reserves are open and accessible all across Sweden, though you find most of them in Northern Sweden where there are vast landscapes and less people.
There are exceptions to the rules of course and some of these areas are not accessible and should not be entered by humans in order to protect animal and plant species in the area. These will be sign posted.
Each nature reserve can have different rules based on why it was deemed a nature reserve. Specific rules should be sign posted in the area.

The Swedish environmental code allows for the creation of nature reserves in order to minimize the effect of humans on lands. It lays out five reasons for creating nature reserves.

  • Preserving biodiversity
  • Nurture and preserve valuable nature
  • Meet the needs of outdoor recreation areas (this one actually encourages people to get into nature, how cool is that!)
  • Protect, restore or create valuable habitats
  • Protect, restore or create habitats for species worthy of protection

You can use this interactive map provided by Naturvardverket (nature protection agency) to see all nature reserves and much more – including national parks. Pay particular attention to the red outline filter called “tilltadesforbud” – this outlines areas you are not allowed access. This is mostly for areas with significant importance to animals and plants.

National parks (Nationalpark)

There are 30 national parks in Sweden. National parks offer the best protection to valuable nature in Sweden.

A pioneering effort, national parks in Sweden were the first in all of Europe, established in 1909.

National parks have specific entrances and there is always information posted, so if any special rules apply it is easy to find out.
Many of Sweden’s national parks also have visitor centers nearby called “Naturum”. These are staffed and people are more than happy to help you so that you get the best out of the national park experience!

Fun fact! Did you know Sweden is home to the smallest national park in Europe? Established in 1919 it covers just 0.36 km2.
Dalby Söderskog national park is just a short bus ride from our home in Malmö and while small, it’s just cool to have been to the smallest national park in Europe!

Mossy hills with large trees rising from the ground, a small stream cuts through the middle of the mossy hills.
Dalby Söderskog
Image: Peter Johnsen

To learn more about national parks, here is a super useful publication from the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency.


Take advantage, Sweden offers so many outdoor opportunities through these regulations. Please don’t abuse these rights and please make sure you respect the nature.
Learn more about some of our favorite places to hike near to Malmö.


To learn more and for the latest up to date information please visit https://www.naturvardsverket.se/ (in Swedish) or http://www.swedishepa.se/ (in English). This organisation does a lot of great work, along with many others for the advancement of Swedish nature. They also created the interactive map linked to above.


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