100% Canoe, 100% Outdoor: Experience Summer in Sweden!

It’s canoe summer at doyoudare travel blog!

It’s summer in Sweden! Read all about one of the most beautiful canoe areas of Scandinavia and plan your next canoe trip around the remote lakes of Dalsland-Nordmarken in Sweden’s South, close to the Norwegian border.

DSC01031One of these summers I set out to discover one of the most beautiful canoe areas of Scandinavia. About three hours north of Gotheburg an awesome group of eleven people and one dog to explore the vast lakes and rivers around Årjäng via Canoe. In eight days we paddled the whole Lake of Lelång, shared campfire meals and the most stunning sunsets.

Basic Facts about the Canoe-Area Dalsland-Nordmarken (Southern Sweden)

Several huge lakes in Västra Götaland County, worth at least four weeks of canoeing. You can even paddle as far as the ocean in Norway!

Suggested route: The whole Lake of Lelång in nine days of paddling (intermediate intensity)
Canoe Experience Level: Beginner to Intermediate.
No rivers or currents. May become demanding with stronger winds and bad weather.
Outdoor Experience Level: Intermediate.
– no infrastructure or amenities. (some campsites with outhouse and shelters)
– Restacking of provisions possible about every third day: Lennartsfors, Bengtsfors, Gustavsfors
– For emergencies: cell reception in most areas, roads close by.

How to get there by Car:

– About 200k North and a three-hour drive from Goetheburg
– About 400k West and a four-and-a-half-hour drive from Stockholm
– About 850k north and a ten-hour drive from Hamburg, Germany. Watch out for ferry and bridge tolls: about 130 Euros for one vehicle and two persons one-way

How and where to get your Canoe:

You’ll find several canoe rentals in the area which offer aluminum canoes for two for about the same price. (about 160 Euros per week, 10 Euros for each additional day). You may also bring your own canoe, but be aware that you still pay about 12 Euros per day for the park entrance anyway, a fee which is included in the canoe rental right now. Don’t bother to rent or bring any other canoes than aluminum, the island’s beaches are all pretty rocky, some of them steep. You don’t want to risk a damaged boat and ruin your trip.

Canoe rentals for the suggested trip on Lelång Lake:

Skandiatrail in Årjäng
Alkatraz in Gustavsfors
Bootshaus in Bengtsfors

The great thing about this tour on Lelång is that you can start the trip from any of these rentals and make the whole nine days or just a chunk of three or six day, depending on your time.

Dalsland-Nordmarken Sweden
Dalsland-Nordmarken Lake Area

Amenities and Preparation:

Canoeing and Kayaking on Dalsland-Nordmarken means that you will be outdoors for nine days straight: No power, no running water, no shower. But you really don’t need it. In the summer time you can wash in the lake with a biodegradable body wash and cook on the open fire, as there is plenty of free wood. The water quality is really great and you can refill your water supply right on the lake (The water has drinking quality but make sure that you don’t take water from the shores where people might wash their dishes, etc.) You will have to plan your food thoroughly. Even though there are little supermarkets in the three towns you pass by at the sluices they don’t have a great selection and are even more expensive than the Swedish average. But the best thing about all the islands and awesome camping spots in this area that you can stay almost wherever you want for free!

(bird sanctuaries and private properties excluded!)

In case you don’t have any experience with the necessary equipment for such a trip, have a look at my outdoor packing list for canoe trips: What to bring for your ultimate Canoe Trip

Maps for your trip:

Map 1: Årjäng to Gustavsfors

Map 2: Gustavsfors to Lennartsfors

Map 3: Gustavsfors to Bengtsfors

Sweden Canoe-Tour Lake of Lelång (nine days)

Day #1 from Risviken/ to Årjäng to Fågelskydds Island (Lake of Västra Silen)

From northern Germany it was a 1000-k-drive to Årjäng, including an awesome ferry ride from Puttgarden to Rodby. (I simply love ferry rides. That’s probably why I never fly into Victoria, but rather book a flight to Vancouver to be able to go onto the ferry). With a canoe on the roof we left in the late afternoon on a Friday and arrived at our meeting point at Risviken close to Årjäng around noon on Saturday. With three drivers it was no problem to do the trip in one stretch, with only two drivers or by yourself you might want to consider one stopover when driving from Germany.

Public Beach close to Risviken

Close to Risviken there is a public bathing spot where you can start the tour with your own canoe or Kayak. Don’t forget to purchase your pass for the reserve from a ranger or canoe rental! (We got ours from Nordmarkens Kanot Center right there. The rest of us rented their canoes right there. However, we weren’t too happy with the service and would not recommend to get your canoe and equipment there).


Fågelskydds Island
Fågelskydds Island

That day we headed south and started with your first 8k on the water. In case you have the wind in your back you might even want to add a little more distance or simply set up camp early to enjoy the sunset with a hearty campfire meal on Fågelskydds Island (campsite No.105, room for about ten tents)

Day #2 from Fågelskydds Island (Lake of Västra Silen) to Gummenåson Island on Lake of Lelång

You’ll paddle about 10k south-west today, including your first sluice at Gustavsfors which is 30 Swedish Kronen per Boat (about 3,50 Euros). On Gummenåson you’ll find an official campsite in the north (campground No.67), or simply set up camp somewhere on the southern tip, too. (room for about ten tents)

Day #3 from Gummenåson Island (Lake of Lelång) to “Paradise” Island south of Södra Viker

Landing on Gummenåson Island

After about 14k of paddling north towards Lennartsfors we found a really unique island south the town of Södra Viker, about 1k south of campground No.71. (room for about ten tents) It has a beautiful sandy landing bay for the canoes where you can hop into the water before dinner and finish the day drying in the evening sun on the stones warmed up from the day. Watch out for a secret little rock close to the shore where you literally can walk on water!

Day #4 from “Paradise” Island to Lennartsfors and back to a Fjord northwest of Toverud on Lelång Lake

In the morning we headed out to finish the northern part of Lelång Lake and had a look at Lennartsfors. From here you may pass the sluice at Lennartsfors (about 12 Euros per canoe one way!) and keep going west to Stora Le Lake and even cross the Norwegian Border (about two more days including return). As it was our goal to paddle all of Lelång Lake we turned around and paddled all the way to a little Fjord, our only overnight camp site on the mainland which was totally worth it, including a really beautiful fireplace with a 180-degree view of the Fjord. (room for about three tents) Also, this a prefect camping spot to sleep in your hammock and enjoy the stunning view on the water with millions of stars above.

All in all we did about 16k that day, including several stretches where we had to cross open water. This might become really challenging for you, depending on the wind. As an alternative to the fjord, you can set up camp earlier on the Peninsula south of the little village of Gyltenäs (room for about five tents) and safe the other five k for the next day.

Day #5 from our Fjord northwest of Toverud to Island of Hallön

With about 14k that day we made our way back over the northern arm of Lelång Lake and set up camp on the really beautiful island of Hallön (campsite 63 and 64, room for about eight to ten tents). As it is really close to Gustavsfors (only about 20minutes by canoe) a mission party can set out and pick up provisions now in case you’re missing something. Especially on the weekends make sure you’ll arrive early at this spot (before 5pm), as it’s close to the huge canoe rental “Alcatraz” which may occupy the whole island with a youth summer camp group.

Sunset on Hallön Island
Sunset on Hallön Island


Day #6 from Hallön Island to Storön Island

Today we’re headed southeast to explore the southern arm of Lelång Lake which looks pretty different from the north: Here, you’ll look at steep cliffs towering over the lake and you’ll have the feeling to be somewhere completely different. In this area the most beautiful camp spot is Storön Island (1k south of campsite 58). It offers about six tent spots on its northern tip (and about four more in the middle where it’s pretty shady. You just don’t want to set up camp there if possible). This beautiful island has great landing spots for canoes right on the rocks on the right hand side and boasts the best party fireplace you can imagine, including a 180-degree view above the meters above the open water.

Steep cliffs in Lelang's South
Steep cliffs in Lelang’s South


Day #7 from Storön Island to Bengstfors and back to the small and wild Island of Grevenäset

With about 18 to 20k this is quite a long stretch today, but you can have a nice little break at Bengtsfors to get supplies or simply have some ice cream in case you missed it. But be prepared to be overwhelmed by the busy streets of the “huge” town of Bengtsfors (3600 inhabitants) after your week of solitude and quietness. That night we stayed on the rather wild Island of Grevenäset. It is almost completely surrounded by reed, so you’ll need any anti-mosquito stuff and clothing you brought round dusk and dawn. That night in late August we could feel autumn coming for the first time and in the early morning the whole island seemed to hover above the water in a veil of mist. Time for camp fire stories of gnomes and fairies!

Meet the Fairies on the wild Island of Grevenäset

Day #8 from the Island of Grevenäset to “Sun Island” West of Fågelskydds Island on the Lake of Västra Silen

Day #8 was the first day I really felt the return trip. You’re passing the sluice at Gustavsfors one last time and the last day on the water is coming up. The small island west of our first campsite on Fågelskydds Island is the perfect spot to enjoy one last night surrounded by water. The island offers two little very private camp spots for one two tents each where you can enjoy both, sunset and sunrise right from your tent.

Enjoy both, sunset and sunrise on "Sun Island"
Enjoy both, sunset and sunrise on “Sun Island”


Day #9 from “Sun Island” back to Risviken and reality

Like with every route we did twice by going there and back again, we traveled on the other side of the lake on this last leg of our journey and enjoyed new impressions on the way. The last stretch back to Risviken simply felt sad and too short, so we took about three hours for the 8k back to our cars. Nine days simply are too short for paradise!

Maps for your trip:

Map 1: Årjäng to Gustavsfors

Map 2: Gustavsfors to Lennartsfors

Map 3: Gustavsfors to Bengtsfors


Read more about my Canoe-Trip on Lake Lelång and my tips for your first Canoe adventure, soon! Until then: Have a look at a great beginners trip on Clearwater Lake, Canada BC: “B(e)ar View” at Clearwater Lake – Find new Friends Outdoors

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2 thoughts on “100% Canoe, 100% Outdoor: Experience Summer in Sweden!”

  1. Hej Miriam!
    Du scheinst eine tolle Zeit gehabt zu haben. Danke fürs Teilen deiner Schwedenerfahrungen “zu Kanu”!
    Wunderschöne Fotos hast du gemacht! Du hattest definitiv besseres Wetter als ich beim Segeln in Russland 😉
    Auf bald, viele Grüße aus Nordschweden,

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