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Sweden motorhome country guide
Sweden is often seen as the ‘back door to Norway’ due to its flat, toll free roads that cut through seemingly endless pine trees. The large lakes of Vanern and Vattern make an ideal stop for a few days, whilst the capital, Stockholm, should not be missed. Stockholm has a congestion charge, but this only applies to Swedish registered vehicles. Southern and Central Sweden has plenty of speed cameras.
Campsites, Motorhome Stopovers and Offsite-Parking in Sweden (free wild camping)
Unlike the rest of Europe, to use the 1200 campsites in Sweden a Camping Card Scandinavia may be required. This card is not required in the rest of Scandinavia if you have a Camping Card International. Until recently Swedish campsites did not accept the CCI and engaging the campsite staff in a lengthy discussion was pointless, however this is beginning to change with some campsites accepting the CCI. The Camping Card Scandinavia is available in advance from www.camping.se or from campsites in Sweden, the validation stamp at your first campsite costs 140 SEK. Some camp-sites offer a Quick Stop facility where campsite facilities can be used from 9pm to 9am, ideal for those touring the country wishing to reduce campsite costs. Some campsites are open all year; www.camping.se has a searchable campsite database.
Short stay parking is provided at the ‘Rastplats’ Lay-bys on all the major roads in Sweden, and although overnight parking is not encouraged, in reality motorhomes frequently stay overnight. If you do use these stops do not stay longer than 18 hours. Sweden has low crime rates and overnight parking is probably less risky than on main routes in other parts of Europe, but vigilance and additional security should always be applied. Some Rastplats on major routes provide toilet-emptying points. These consist of parking areas and toilet blocks with a Latrin (Latrine). The latrines are a voluntary addition, so not all lay-bys have them. The Rastplats clearly sign different areas for cars, lorries and caravans (motorhomes). Toilet blocks have one door marked ‘Latrin’. Inside you will find a toilet emptying point. Some Rastplats have manufactured service points. Caravans can and do use these stops. Details of the Rastplats can be found on the Rastplatskartan, a road map, produced by Vagverket. This is available from the major tourist offices in Sweden. Water is not available at Rastplats. Water tanks should be replenished when visiting fuel stations for fuelling up. Water is available in heated cupboards and there are 230 Shell stations with water points. For further information on stopovers in Sweden see Nordic Camper Guide.
Offsite-Parking is possible but curiously Swedish tourist information recommends campsite use for safety and security, but hundreds of unsecured walking huts are provided across the country. Our experience is, along with Norway, that we felt safer here than in any other country. Offsite-Parking is tolerated due to the “Every Man’s Right”.
Driving your motorhome or campervan in Sweden
In Northern Sweden only the main roads are tarmac, though the compacted gravel roads are generally in good condition and can provide better stopping opportunities. These gravel roads may not be obvious on your map but do generally go somewhere. Dipped headlights are obligatory whilst driving even in daylight. Sweden has no toll roads. From October to May roads can be closed due to snow. Snow chains or winter tyres are compulsory in some areas, so it is worth investigating road conditions before travelling.
The main roads in Sweden are good, though there is little dual carriageway in the north but areas are provided for overtaking. Minor roads can be extremely bumpy and pot holed. At traffic lights the Swedes tend to leave a car’s length between each vehicle, which allows them to pull away all together. Driving through Sweden is regarded as the quick way to return in your motorhome or campervan from Nordkapp or North Norway. With few hills and no tolls it is both quick and cheap but it is also regarded as boring as there is not much to see.
If you intend to pass another vehicle and if you think the driver is not aware of your presence, flash your headlights. If the other driver sees that the road ahead is clear they will acknowledge your signal by engaging their right indicator. If you're driving slowly you will be expected to move over onto the hard shoulder while the other motorist passes, the hard shoulders in Sweden are extra wide to accommodate this practice. Do not use the shoulder as if it were another lane. Swedish drivers are very keen to follow motorhomes for long distances of straight road before initiating an overtake before a bend.
If you see elk whilst driving, slow down or stop if it is safe to do so. These are wild unpredictable animals the size of a medium horse so collision is disastrous for both parties. Reindeer are semi domesticated, and the Sami also use plastic bags at the side of the road to indicate reindeer crossing points or grazing areas. Reindeer like to stand in the middle of the road to escape the flies and enjoy sun warmed tarmac. Reindeer on the side of the road require extreme care, sounding your horn will not get a reaction. Should you be unfortunate enough to be involved in a collision with a large animal such as a deer or elk, even if it runs away, you must always contact the police to report the incident. If the animal runs back into the woods you must indicate the place with a plastic bag. If the animal is lying on the road put out warning triangles.
LPG is not widely available but a list of 30 is available at www.gjelstenli.no