Cycling in Sweden
Sweden is huge, we covered only a small area during our cycling trip. Mainly in the provinces of Dalsland and Värmland. Our route started in Gothenburg and led us to the region of Charlottenberg. From here we continued our way to Norway. If you love forests, lakes, cinnamon rolls and endless roads, Sweden is the perfect cycling destination for you.
Roads to Movement in Sweden
Below you can find an overview of the places where we slept in our tent or at which Warmshowers hosts we could go. Zoom out on the map below to see all the places.
Number of days cycled: 11
Total distance traveled: 451km
Long distance bike routes in Sweden
If you'd like to plan a multi-day cycling trip in Sweden, you can certainly find inspiration through the links below.
European Divide Trail: With 7,600km, the longest bikepacking route across Europe, from Portugal to the North Cape. From Gothenburg to Charlottenberg we followed the unpaved route in Sweden. Only on the stretch between Bollungen to Granan we ended up on a very tough mountain bike stretch which we would not recommend to cycle with a heavily packed touring bike. We loved this stretch in Sweden!
Sweden by Bike is Sweden's official website to look up possibilities for cycling routes.
Several Eurovelo routes run through Sweden.
From Gothenburg the cycle route 'Kattegattleden' starts. We did not follow it, but the multi-day bike tour is popular among cyclists.
Sleeping in Sweden
There is an abundance of sleeping options in Sweden. For us, it was the first country where we could enjoy the Allemansrätten. This unique principle gives the right to everyone to spend time anywhere. A lifestyle that, in our opinion, ensures that everyone treats nature in a caring manner. You may pitch a tent wherever you like, wild camping in other words, but there are a few rules attached to this way of camping:
Respect nature and take all garbage with you
You have to be at least 150 meters away from houses. If you want to camp closer to the house, you should always ask the owner (we only found 1 place during our trip in Sweden where a local farmer was not too happy to help us out).
You can stay for a maximum of 24 hours in one place
Be careful with making a bonfire, this is only allowed in places with a firepit
You may not camp in nature reserves. Most of the times this is indicated quite good
If you are traveling with a car or campervan through Sweden, the rules are stricter and you may not just stand on any surface. You need to check this in the different districts.
In addition to the Allemansrätten, you can also rely on shelters in Sweden. Compared to spending the night in Denmark, we have to say that Sweden is a bit rougher. The shelters are often hidden in the forest and most of the time we found them to be too narrow for two people, but also less sheltered from the wind. Amenities (such as water or a toilet) were rarely nearby, only a place to make a fire was usually available. Two nice apps to find shelters in Sweden are:
Vindsyddkarten (Paying: One-time fee of €18 OR €1.69 per month)
Campwild (we usually used this website)
Overnight stays at hotel/hostels are generally quite expensive and Warmshowers are mainly only found in/around cities. We recommend looking for an affordable stugor if you are tired of camping. These are small, typical Scandinavian huts with usually only a bed, a fridge and a roof over your head. Mostly these are located on campsites so you can still enjoy a hot shower and a communal kitchen. Also a hostel on a campsite can offer a solution to sleep more budget friendly. Our tips:
Camp Grinsby offers blissful opportunities for camping (tent and motorhomes), also you can stay there like us in a beautiful stugor!
In Värmland we stayed 4 nights at Nature Camping Lagom, very nice! You can book a spot at the campsite or in the hostel through their website, for the bungalow you can also go to Booking.com (can be interesting for Genius members).
Budget in Sweden
In Sweden you pay with Swedish Krones.
€1 = 10.35 Swedish Krona (May '22)
Average budget in Sweden that we spent:
Groceries in the supermarket: €15.72 per day (for the 2 of us together)
Price for a coffee: €3 to €4 (tip: if you order a filtered coffee you can get a free refill in many stores)
Price for a cinnamon roll: €1 to €1.50
Price for a soda: €3 to €4
Budget restaurant: €5 to €15 (from Ikea or 7Eleven to a budget restaurant)
Accommodation: €45 for a stugor // €45 for a hostel double room // towards €100 or more for a hotel or AirBnb
Road conditions in Sweden
As a cyclist, unfortunately you are not always in the advantage on a cycling trip through Sweden. Still, we were positively surprised when we arrived in Gothenburg, because in and around the city, the bicycle network was really good. The Swedes warned us: "Once outside the city, it's a different story!". And they were right...
You will find few or no dedicated bicycle lanes once you leave the area around cities. On larger E- and N-roads, you will also often be accompanied by cars and trucks, so we recommend avoiding especially these E-roads. There is little room for cyclists and the traffic is quite fast, but they do keep enough distance. The traffic is of course not comparable to the traffic we know in Belgium on these kind of roads and it is really no disaster to cover small distances on them. We never felt unsafe but we would recommend avoiding the big roads as much as possible, even if they are almost the only option to cycle over paved roads.
Fortunately, this gigantic country offers plenty of alternatives, at least if you're willing to embrace slightly more challenging surfaces. Except from the area around Gothenburg, we have never really spend much time on paved roads. There is a large network of small roads that will take you through the Swedish forests and on some days you can count the traffic on one hand. We found this incredibly fun to cycle! Sand, tree trunks, mud and grassy fields are very common. Our Surly Bridge Clubs take care of these gravel paths with ease. A standard touring bike with thin 28" tires, however, would really fall short to overcome these Swedish roads in our opinion.
Conclusion. There are plenty of opportunities to avoid major roads, but be prepared to slow down your cycling pace a bit because of these gravel roads. We found cycling in Sweden absolutely fantastic and can recommend it to anyone. It's hilly (believe us, it's not flat for a mile), challenging and takes you through some of the most beautiful forests and lakes you can imagine. This tough, undulating character combined with the state of the bike paths, makes us feel hesitant to recommend Sweden as a first cycling destination, it might be just too challenging for many. In that respect, Denmark (check that blog here) is more recommendable, but in our opinion Sweden offers even more adventure.
Food and drinks in Sweden
The supermarkets are open on Sundays which is very easy, but don't underestimate the distances between them if your are cycling through the inland of Sweden. You will have to do a bit of planning and take supplies with you for 2 to 3 days. There is almost always an option to get away from these tracks for 10 to 20km but then you lose quite a lot of time and end up doing groceries in more expensive, small stores.
So in addition, we would like to give you the tip to stock up at the larger supermarkets in the cities. Nuts, wraps, oatmeal, etc. We did our shopping mainly in the Lidl, here they also have plenty of vegan options. The Ica supermarkets will cross your path a lot as well, but it is a bit more expensive compared to Lidl. Still, we enjoyed shopping in Ica as well since they could often offer good deals. In some Ica stores you are also offered a free coffee if you shop for at least €10 (100 Swedish Kronor).
Climate in Sweden
The climate in Sweden is very diverse, but we were incredibly lucky with the weather in April/May. An average daytime temperature of 8 to 12 degrees Celsius was fine for cycling, although the nights could still be cold with temperatures around freezing point. So be sure to take good sleeping gear with you on your trip!
Normally it often rains in Sweden around this time of year, but we stayed very dry all in all. The more north you will travel, the colder it will become on average of course. Snow is not unusual in April/May once you get a bit higher than Gothenburg and this is something that can change very quickly. So be sure to travel prepared!
Cycling vacations in Sweden: Our tips and fun facts!
Swedish is of course the official language, but many Swedes speak a fair bit of English.
You will quickly spend some money for a coffee in Sweden, still like to have a coffee? In the Biltema and Ikea you can find them cheap!
A quick lunch? Stop at IKEA, not expensive and a delicious lunch! There is even vegan kötbullar. We also ate vegan hot dogs at the 7Eleven for 1.5€. (You do need about 3 to 4 of them to have really eaten)
From Denmark you can take a boat from Frederikshaven to Gothenburg. Very convenient and we paid only €42 for the two of us, including the bikes.
There is no shortage of wildlife in Sweden. You'll find predators such as the wolf (according to a local, the Värmland district has the largest wolf population in Europe), bears and lynx. These are obviously very difficult to spot and you should not be afraid, the chance that these timid animals appear on your path is very small. The moose population in Sweden is currently around 400,000 according to local sources. We saw two live moose and unfortunately also one dead one.
Be careful of tick bites, it is crawling with ticks so be sure to take a lubricant. The closer to summer, the more you will find them.
In Gothenburg, you can eat delicious vegetarian and vegan food in one of the city's oldest veggie restaurants for a top price of only €9 to €13. Be sure to visit the friendly owner at Solrosen restaurant.
We very rarely found vegan yogurt (often coconut varieties but we don't like them), but there is plenty of soy and oat milk on offer.