Written by Anne Pihl
Sweden’s possibly best kept secret has been revealed. Over 100 free cabins and cottages dotted around the Swedish countryside have now been mapped in one handy guide. This accommodation is available for anyone to stay overnight and all you need is your own sleeping bag!
Stuglandet, a guidebook to climate smart and affordable tourism by journalist Kjell Vowles and photographer Moa Karlberg, compiles and maps free Swedish cabins & cottages for the first time. The aim of the guide is to encourage environmentally friendly travel and to make the countryside accessible to everyone, irrespective of their financial circumstances. Many of the cottages can be accessed by bus combined with a short walk or a few hours hike.
The accommodation varies from old logging cabins to newly built cottages. They are owned both privately and by county boards and municipalities that want to encourage exploration of the great outdoors. In some cases, they are run by local associations and town councils that want to showcase their hometowns.
How to book?
Here’s the only snag – you can’t. The common thread is that the cottages are all available free of charge but cannot be booked in advance and operate on a first come first served basis. If someone is already there, you have to reach agreement. Most do not specify how long you may stay but the guiding principle is one night.
Freedom to roam
Potential clashes can easily be avoided by bringing a tent. Allemansrätten (The freedom to roam aka everyman’s right) allows the general public to to walk, cycle, ride, ski and camp on any land with the exception of private gardens, near a dwelling house or land under cultivation.
How to buy the guide
Understandably, Stuglandet has flown off the shelves but is still available at some branches of the Swedish book store Akademibokhandeln. A new delivery is due around 10th August. (Publisher: Votum). This is great timing for anyone who would like to try out two classic and extremely popular Swedish leisure activities – picking wild mushrooms and berries in the forest.
The guide is also a wonderful resource for anyone planning a staycation or perhaps a visit to Sweden. Just a word of warning to anyone new to simple country cabins – indoor plumbing is not usually provided!
A stark contrast to Swedish city accommodation
Although the Swedish countryside offers many unique and free accommodation opportunities, the situation is unfortunately very different in Swedish cities. Stockholm, in particular, remains one of the world’s most challenging rental markets. If you are moving to Sweden and need help with finding a new home or other practicalities, please do not hesitate to contact Relocate to Sweden for details about their relocation services.
About the author
An Irish expat in Stockholm. I moved to Sweden in 1998 with my Swedish husband and new-born daughter after living and working in England, Germany and Ireland. With nearly two decades of experience of living, working and raising a family in Sweden, I now help other expats moving to Sweden through my relocation company.