Lapland: 4 nights
If you only had time to road trip one part of Sweden, then it should be Lapland.
Especially if you are planning on driving in Sweden in winter, when Lapland is a snowy winter wonderland.
As we entered Lapland from Northern Norway, we arrived at a border crossing near Riksgransen in the far northwest.
We arrived at about 5pm which, in October/November time, meant it was already dark; so we spent the night in a car park just off the main road.
Riksgransen to Kiruna
The next day, we headed off early to a small village called Abisko.
This is actually one of the best places to visit in Swedish Lapland as there’s a surprisingly large amount to do for tourists, such as exploring the gorgeous Abisko National Park.
If you don’t have too long to spare, then you should do a small part of the Kungsleden Trail.
The full route is 440km long and runs between Abisko and Hemavan; a truly epic walk and one I am keen to complete one day, a nice follow up to my 800km Camino walk in 2018.
It’s also possible to visit a local Sami tribe from Abisko.
They give you an in-depth look at the Sami way of life and culture; an experience we didn’t do ourselves but would love to in the future.
One of the things in Abisko we were most excited to do was to venture up to the Aurora Sky Station, however, it had just closed for the winter by the time we arrived!
Here, you get a chairlift up the mountain to a cafe/museum/restaurant which I can only imagine has the most breathtaking views!
I believe it’s also a popular spot to ski or snowboard down as well.
From here we ventured another hour or so east towards a town called Kiruna.
This is the northernmost town in Swedish Lapland and a great place to pick up anything you need to keep you going; like food, booze, clothes and fuel.
It’s a cute little town filled with shops, cafes and restaurants and we actually spent a few hours enjoying the small town, especially from Cafe Safari which I would recommend visiting.
Kiruna to Lovikka
Not far outside of Kiruna, you have two really great places to visit!
The first one is ICEHOTEL 365, which is an ice hotel/art exhibit open all throughout the year.
It’s possible to stay here overnight, or instead just visit for a couple hours to explore the intricate ice artwork in every room.
If you visit from December onwards, they have an even bigger ice hotel that they open for a few months to host more guests.
From here, you can carry on for another 20 minutes or so down the road until you come to … of all things … a space centre!
The Esrange Space Centre carries out all kinds of work out here in the barren wilderness of Swedish Lapland.
You can’t visit the whole centre, as I imagine it’s all pretty top secret!
However what you can do is visit the small visitor centre that’s packed full of old satellites and rockets, as well as other equipment they use.
It’s really interactive and interesting and they even have free tea, coffee and hot chocolate; what more could you want!?
From here, you can venture westwards even more until you reach the town of Lovikka.
After visiting an Ice Hotel and a space centre all in one day, you probably don’t think your day could get any more exciting.
Well, you're wrong!
Prepare to be shocked and amazed as Lovikka is home to none other than …
The world's largest mitten!
That’s right, at the side of the road in the middle of town you have a giant glass container and inside is a 12 foot tall mitten that was knitted by the locals back in the year 2000.
Our images are pretty poor as we arrived when it was dark, but it is actually kinda cool.
Oh and if you’re looking for somewhere to eat nearby, then I can recommend Junosuando Pizzeria; it’s cheap and the food is surprisingly good for such a wide menu cooked by just one guy.
Lovikka to Lulea
Much of this day is spent driving south to Lulea, the largest city in Swedish Lapland, not far from the border out of Lapland.
The drive is really easy on essentially one straight road, but the scenery is really nice as you’re surrounded by countryside almost all of the way.
We stopped off in a few towns along the way, but the biggest reason to take this road is that it passes by the Arctic Moose Farm.
This place is exactly what it says on the tin, a local farm where the owner has a small herd of moose that he cares for and uses as a site for visitors looking to get up close and personal with these giant creatures.
You can feed them and learn all about them, and the guy running here is really friendly, just be sure to contact him a few days ahead of time and book yourself in.
Up until this point we had only seen moose in the wild once, despite driving for days through both Finnish and Swedish Lapland, seeing signs at the side of the road warning you about them.
So it was really nice to finally be able to get up close and personal with them.
Once you reach Lulea, you’re out of what I consider the truly beautiful and barren part of Sweish Lapland.
It’s a great city to once again stock up on any essentials you need, and also to get back in touch with civilization!
On our first visit to Lulea, the whole of Lapland seemed to have a freak drop in temperature and the entire lake/ocean around the city froze over and kids were out playing ice hockey!
It was almost unbearably cold walking around the city; but then when we returned a week later (even deeper into winter) the water was unfrozen.
So basically, expect there to be drastic changes in temperature at that time of year as Lapland really is a crazy place to visit!
Other great things to do in Swedish Lapland:
Here’s a few other things in Swedish Lapland that we were unable to do because they didn’t fall on our route; however they could be well worth checking out ...
- Visit the Sarek National Park
- Head to the Stuor Muorkke National Park
- Discover the abandoned town of Laver - I found this place on Atlas Obscura.
- Stay in an arctic igloo - we stayed in a few of these in Finnish Lapland and it was amazing!
- Go on a husky ride - again we did this in Finland, it’s so much fun!
Where to stay in Lapland:
As we had our own campervan, we wild camped every night we were in Lapland. In itself, this is an incredible experience as this allows you to stay in some really remote and beautiful spots.
I would actually say that wild camping was one of my favorite things to do in Lapland, especially when you find a spot with a little campfire!
And don’t worry, wild camping is perfectly legal everywhere in Sweden because of the Everyman’s Right which is written into the constitution of all Scandinavian countries.
Below is a quick list of all the places we stayed in Lapland.
We had more than 4 nights here as we visited the region twice, but I would say that 4 nights is plenty of time to follow the route given and even to add in more spots.
- Tornehamn parkplatz 16 - Near the border, large open car park by a lake (frozen when we were there), I imagine it’s lovely in Summer.
- Marknadsvägen 230 - Quiet spot by the lake near to the ICEHOTEL, even has fire pits and a small “dining room”, as well as toilets.
- Lappeasuando Rest Area - Big rest area for lorries and other vehicles - with flushing toilets and a small restaurant (again, closed when we were there).
- 67°09'42.1"N 22°38'04.6"E - Was completely covered in snow when we were there, not sure if you can stay here in the summer months as it’s a big car park area for visiting the island. There’s a hut here that looks like it sells food and then a little ticket booth; guessing this place is very popular in the summer.
- Rastplats BD3 - Truck stop by the motorway, has running toilets.
Lulea to Härnösand: 2 nights
When researching the best road trips in Sweden, a lot of other bloggers talk about the west coast of Sweden.
Well, it’s true the coastal road south all the way from Lulea to Stockholm is really quite lovely!
Compared to driving in Lapland, it’s also a lot easier as you have actual motorways.
Also, most of the journey south you have the Gulf of Bothnia on your left hand side and gorgeous mountains and national parks on your right.
So, if you’ve only got a few days or a week to road trip Sweden, then a good itinerary could be to hire a car in Lulea, see a bit of Lapland, drive all the way south to Stockholm and then leave the car there before flying home.
The first stretch of this drive is from Lulea to Härnösand which can be done in about 2 days if you want to stop off at a number of sites along the way.
One of the most noteworthy places to stop at is Bjuröklubb, roughly 2.5 - 3 hours south of Lulea.
This is a nature preserve located on a small peninsula.
Here, you can park your car and go for a number of walks in the forest, but one of the best places to visit here is Bjuröklubb Lighthouse.
It has a high position offering some incredible views out over the Gulf of Bothnia.
For us, these views lasted for about 5 minutes, before a mist descended so we were unable to capture the sorts of photos we’d have liked; but trust me, it’s a fantastic spot to visit!
Outside of winter, I believe there’s a small cafe there and you can possibly go into the lighthouse as well.
On the walk up to it, they also have spots for fishing and even a wood-fired sauna, which you can get going yourself.
From here, you’ve got about another 4 hours of driving to reach Härnösand, but towards the end of the drive as you near Härnösand, you have some really cool things to see.
The first of which is Skuleskogen National Park, one of the most popular and famous national parks in Sweden.
From higher points in this park you get breaktaking views out across the forests, as well as the Gulf of Bothnia.
Not far past this you come to one of the best things to see in Sweden, which is the Hoga Kusten Bridge.
It spans for more than a kilometre and on a clear day really is incredibly picturesque!
It got dark as we arrived, so I recommend visiting in the daytime when you can pull in and capture some cool photos of it.
Other great things to see near Härnösand include Hemso Fortress, Rotsidan nature preserve and, of course, the city of Härnösand itself.
Where to stay along the way
Again, here are the places we stayed on our way south between Lulea and Härnösand:
Härnösand to Stockholm: 2 nights
At this point of our Sweden road trip itinerary, we actually headed directly westwards, where we entered and explored the southern end of Norway.
So we didn’t actually drive directly south from Härnösand to Stockholm so can’t comment directly on things to do or places to see; but 2 nights should be more than enough.
If you do approach Stockholm from the north, then one really cool looking Swedish attraction we weren't able to visit is the Sala Silver Mine.
All I will say is that on our drive west into Norway, we crossed through some truly breathtaking landscapes, and were able to spend the night wild camping here, at one of my favourite spots from our entire 3 month trip!
Stockholm: 1 night (at least)
If you’re tight on time, like we were, then you simply must still find time to spend at least one day in Stockholm.
I fully intend to return for at least a weekend trip as, despite spending just one day there, it quickly became my second favourite city I’ve been to in Europe.
My favourite part of the day was taking a canal tour which does a large loop around the small islands that make up the historic part of Sweden’s capital city.
Along the way, your audio guide teaches you about the history of the city and gives you information about many of Stockholm’s most famous buildings and places to visit.
For more information, check out Cazzy’s guide on the best things to do in Stockholm in one day.
Stockholm to Gothenburg: 3 nights
On your way out of Stockholm there are two places I recommend checking out.
One is the world’s largest IKEA, which is a true national icon of Sweden!
Also, they serve really cheap, great tasting food which makes a visit here more than worth it!
Situated on the banks of the large Lake Mälaren, you don’t need that long here, but it’s a nice place to take a quiet walk around the grounds and the lake, especially if the weather is clear and calm.
Another place I really enjoyed on the drive between Stockholm and Gothenburg was Lacko Castle.
Probably my favorite castle in Sweden, it’s located on the shores of the night Lake Vänern, the largest lake in Sweden.
Once again, it’s so peaceful here and the views on a clear day out across the lake are great; it’s so vast that it feels as if you’re staring off across an ocean!
Before entering into Gothenburg, there’s yet another castle that is well worth visiting; it’s called Bohus Fortress.
It dates back all the way to 1308 when it was once on the old border between Norway and Sweden.
From above, it bears a striking resemblance to the Norwegain city of Fredrikstad, the oldest city in Norway.
Throughout its history, Bohus Fortress was attacked 14 times but was never taken; and you can learn more about this immense fortress when walking around it’s grounds.
From here, it’s then only a short 20 minute drive into the centre of Gothenburg.
This is the second largest city in Sweden, and as you’d imagine there’s plenty to do.
We spent the morning exploring the historic part of the city, in the popular district of Haga.
We also took a walk up to Skansen Kronan AB which is a small fortress offering commanding views out across Gothenburg.
The one thing I’m gutted we didn’t get to do when in Gothenburg was visit Liseberg Amusement Park; it wasn’t yet open when we visited, but looks like a lot of fun!
Gothenburg to Denmark: 2 nights
The final part of this 2 week Sweden road trip itinerary takes you out through the southwestern end of Sweden and across into Denmark.
But before you leave, there’s still a nice drive to be had along the coast and one final stop in the city of Malmo.
As Sweden’s third largest city, it's a popular stopping point just before leaving or after entering into Sweden.
Though it’s the country's third largest city, you don’t need a tremendous amount of time to explore many of the best sites.
For us, we had a few hours here so each hired out a Lime scooter and spent about half an hour exploring the cobbled streets of the old parts of the city.
We had lunch in the historic Lilla Torg square and visited Malmo Castle before leaving.
Though this is your last stop in Sweden, it’s not the final thing to see.
Instead, you still have one last impressive experience to be had, which is taking the 5 mile long drive across the astounding Øresund Bridge.
It really is an epic piece of engineering and the drive across it gives you the chance to take in some wonderful views out across the Baltic Sea.
Just be aware that it is relatively expensive to cross, and you’re best off paying online before you cross it.
A little bit on wild camping in Sweden
I just wanted to cover the topic of wild camping in Sweden a little more, as this is what we did almost every night we were in the country.
Wild camping is perfectly legal in all Scandinavian countries, as the Everyman's Right or Right to Roam is written into the constitution.
I can honestly say that wild camping is so much fun in all of the countries we visited during this road trip, especially Estonia, Latvia, Finland and Norway where they actually encourage it and have lots of designated spots, often with toilets and freshwater.
Finding wild camping spots is sometimes very easy and sometimes a little tricky.
It contains thousands of camping spots all around the world, many free and many paid.
I would say that around 50% of the time this app allowed us to find somewhere to stay.
Other times, we searched on Google and usually simply zoomed in on Google Maps to the area we knew we would roughly end up at that night.
You can often find large car parks in the entrances to national parks, many of which have toilets to use as well.
Of course, you need to be sensible and respectful about where you stay.
So never stay on someone else’s property and never leave any rubbish behind.
As we were in Sweden in November/December there was basically no one else road tripping Sweden at the time so not once did we share a wild campaign spot with any other travellers; just the odd truck driver.
I can imagine that in the busy Summer months, many of the best camping spots fill up quickly and it may take longer to find them.
I’ve included as many of our wild camping spots as I could remember above so hopefully they can help you.
On the odd occasion we couldn’t find a spot, or simply needed to shower or wash our clothes, we would stay in a campsite and there are tonnes of these across Sweden.
That being said, during these winter months, most will be closed (especially in Lapland!).
We stayed at a few First Camp campsites and recommended them as they are very cheap and have great facilities.
Other ways to find accommodation in Sweden
If you plan on road tripping Sweden in a car, then I’m guessing you won’t want to spend the nights sleeping on the back seats!
These are the 2 sites that we use for 99% of our hotel and hostel bookings all around the world.
Booking.com usually has the biggest range of places to stay as well as the best prices.
Airbnb is great for finding unique places to stay and also getting to meet locals.
If you're up in Lapland then you can find some really cool tree houses and arctic igloos through Airbnb.
How expensive is it to road trip Sweden?
By and far your biggest expense will be fuel, as it is certainly not cheap.
It’s actually about 20-30% more expensive than in Norway!
When we were there (November/December 2019) the price of diesel was always around 160SEK per litre.
There was very little fluctuation in the price and we paid this the whole way through the country.
If you have your own car or campervan then great, but if you need to rent one then this will also set you back.
Read Also: How to convert a van into a campervan
We always recommend searching through Rentalcars.com to find the best deals on car hire.
We have booked through them ourselves numerous times when hiring cars around the world, and they compare all of the biggest car hire firms and usually come in much cheaper than booking directly.
If you need to hire a campervan, then there are a few companies in Sweden that offer this; I can’t recommend any specifically but simply Googling “campervan hire Sweden” turns up a bunch of results.
The great thing about hiring a campervan is that, though it’s more expensive than a car to hire and fuel up, it means you don’t have to spend money on accommodation each night.
You also get to spend the nights in some really beautiful locations so I would highly recommend it for this reason alone.
Toll roads in Sweden
There aren’t any toll roads in Sweden (at least that we could find on our time here); however you will need to pay a congestion charge for Gothenburg and Stockholm.
We didn’t see a single sign for these charges when we were there.
Instead, we only found out about it when they issued a fine to the person who had been using our van before us.
Luckily, this allowed us to see our charge (just 86 cents) and then pay it in time.
If you miss the deadline then they issue a ridiculous fee of roughly 50 Euros.
For more information, here’s a good article to read.
Final thoughts on planning your own Sweden road trip itinerary
I really did enjoy our time road tripping Sweden, and fully intend on returning one day.
In fact, I would be lying if I said that I didn’t love every single part of our 3 month road trip around Northern Europe.
But by far my favourite countries were Sweden, Norway and Finland.
Each one of them is true untapped wilderness, especially the further north you drive.
So that being said, if you have 2 weeks or more to spare, then I would recommend combining your road trip in Sweden with some adventures in these neighboring countries as well.
For help planning your trip, here are two other guides I put together:
If you have any other questions, then just let me know below and I will be happy to help!
Similarly if there are any other stops you would add to your own Sweden itinerary, then comment below so I can bookmark them for our own future travels!