Exploring the Swedish Dalsland by Canoe


When I tell you that I spent the holidays with my family, canoeing and camping in the Swedish Dalsland is pobably not the first thing that comes to your mind. I visited Sweden many times with my family during my childhood but we never went beyond using a rowboat for small field trips on the lakes. Since my father always wanted to take us on a canoe trip, my brother and I decided to undertake this trip as a family reunion many years after we stopped spending holidays together.

canoe and gear at the lakesweden map

Dalsland is a province situated in the southwest of Sweden, close to the border of Norway. The flat landscape is mostly known for its countless lakes and river systems that traverse the endless green of the Swedish forrests. The area attracts many canoeists during the summer season because of its beautiful lakes that are easily accessible and ideal for circular tours.

We started our tour in Bengtsfors where we rented a second canoe and left in northern direction. Our route led us clockwise through four different lakes that were either directly connected or accessible by short canoe transfers or watergates.
After one week on the lakes, we moved on to Gällsbyn, a tiny village nearby, that consists of only a few houses and farms along the road. We had rented a typical Swedish cabin in the woods where we spent another week.

view on lelang from bengtsfors

The view from our entry point couldn’t have been more promising

map and dry bagtent and camp in the woods

Our days had roughly the same routine: We woke up early to have breakfast and stow the whole camp away in pack barrels. Afterwards we spent most of the day canoeing with small breaks inbetween. As soon as it was afternoon we started looking for suitable locations to set up camp. This was easier said than done since we ignored public campsites and had to find a flat surface for two tents that was easily accessible by water. But after a few days every step became second nature to us and we became quite accustomed with our new life.

canoe on lake and islandtree and lake
oneglass cabernet sauvignon

When you’re in the wilderness but you don’t want to do without a glass of wine in the evening

lone canoe on a lake during sunsetswedish landscape

My favourite part of the day was sitting at the lake in the evening and watching the sun go down. As soon as the sun was setting, the lake became increasingly quiet and we had nothing else to do but watch the sun disappear in spectacular fashion. Our clocks and smartphones became meaningless because the sun dictated our routine.

canoes on a lakesunset dalsland swedencamping cooker stove lake swedenwashing the dishes at the lake camping swedencamp canoe sweden dalslandcabin sweden woods

On one of the lakes we stumbled upon a cute little cabin on a tiny island while looking for a campsite. The cabin looked abandoned but was probably used as a shelter for birdwatchers. I really fell in love with the interior that offered two bunkbeds, a stove and lovely decorations on the tiniest space imaginable. We set up camp right next to the cabin and were happy to use some real chairs and a table for a change.

view from tent

A typical view from the tent in the morning. Next steps: jumping into the lake for a quick bath and warming up with a hot cup of coffee freshly brewed on the gas cooker

campfire sweden dalsland

It was forbidden to make fires in the woods due to the draught in the weeks before our trip. Luckily on our last day we found a camping spot right on a beach where it was safe to light a campfire. I think the next morning was the first day that my canoe shoes were actually dry when I put them back on.

dalsland sweden canal bengtsforshiking at torrskogsleden

Once we arrived at the cabin we spent the days hiking in the woods, picking berries and fishing. Although the next supermarket was never far away it felt good to have a partly self-sustaining life in the woods.

sweden fishing pikedalsland torrskogsledendalsland hiking torrskogsledendalsland lake