Our ferry arrived in Sweden at around 2 AM Monday morning. After such a long day, we didn’t have the energy to drive through Gothenburg to find a parking spot. During the ferry ride we luckily had ample time to look up the address for a free camper spot nearby. We found a great spot near a lake just outside of Gothenburg, parked our home and went to sleep.
Before we set off to explore the rest of Sweden, we first wanted to take a look at Sweden’s second largest city. We were there already, after all. So after a good night’s sleep and a dive into the lake, we were off driving through Gothenburg to find a free parking space to spend a few nights.
Although our first spot was free and quite alright, it was too far from the city center for us to be able to thoroughly explore the city. Additionally, there were no public transport possibilities nearby. When exploring large cities we prefer to use buses and trams.
Our first attempt
Whilst driving through Gothenburg, the first thing we noticed was the share amount of parking signs. Each of them forbidding us to either park there with a camper, or for longer than 2 hours on end. Eventually, we ended up in the outskirts of Gothenburg, at what we thought it to be at the time, a free public parking lot.
Arriving at our camper van the next day after exploring the city, we were just about to unlock it, when we saw that we had a parking ticket! To this day, we’re still not exactly sure why. We just drove off immediately in search for our next spot.
When you fall down, get back up
After driving around for an hour we still had no luck. It was late, and the sun had set already. It was time to visit another official camper spot. We found one online, fairly close to the city center.
It wasn’t the most beautiful place to spend the night. As it was adjacent to an industrial area with lots of traffic surrounding us. Though it only cost a little over 60 Swedish Kroner each day, so we couldn’t complain too much. At least we couldn’t get another parking ticket and we could sleep peacefully for another night!
After our first day, we explored Gothenburg from that location. We had to leave the following day however, as again, we were only allowed to park there for 48 hours.
Our second attempt
This time we drove through the northern part of Gothenburg. We hadn’t even been there! That’s how large the city is, compared to what we are used to in Holland at least.
We ended up on a small parking lot in a residential area. During our research online, we’d read that you are (officially) allowed to spend the night in such a location. Many people did mention however, that the residents are not always thrilled about it if you do so, and that it’s best to ask permission. So that’s what we did.
A woman at a home nearby was busy cleaning out a rug in her garden as we stepped out our camper van. We proceeded to ask her whether we were allowed to spend the night, and whether people would complain. Turns out, we’d approached the perfect person.
The camper van boom
She’d previously owned a camper van herself, but just sold it last week coincidentally. She told us that around 10 years ago, camper vans/campers were supposedly quite scarce in Sweden. You could park and spend the night just about anywhere. Things had changed over the course of the next few years however.
Campers became immensely popular in Sweden. Suddenly everyone seemed to own a camper and many tourists visited the country. This overpopulation of campers and camper vans in-turn caused a lot of annoyance with the majority of Swedish people.
As a result, the overnight stay of campers was banned in more and more places throughout the country. In large cities in particular. That is why we came across so many parking signs. On every parking lot throughout Gothenburg, and at the entrance of every street, there is a sign that either has a time limit, or that forbids campers to park there (the latter being most common).
Much to their dismay
The general annoyance of the Swedish towards campers eventually became the reason for her to sell her camper van.
Over the past year, she enjoyed traveling in their camper van less and less. Too often did she feel like they were not welcome whilst looking for places to spend the night. It resulted in them ending up on campings, places she didn’t particularly enjoy. As a result, they just sold their camper van one week before we met her.
Well, what we’ve experienced until now, though we’ve only been in the country for two weeks, seems to second this perfectly. We haven’t heard any complaints from people yet, but we’ve mainly stayed either on official camper spots, or close to nature areas until now.
Have you been wild camping in Sweden with your camper/camper van? Share your story with us below! We’re curious to hear about your experiences. Meanwhile we’ll just keep traveling and see how everything pans out in the next few weeks.