Sweden is a great country for outdoor enthusiasts, boasting over 97,500 lakes and a whopping 27.9 million hectares of natural forest. For climbers, Sweden is often overshadowed by its more mountainous neighbour, Norway. However, Sweden has many superb crags of its own, as well as having the benefit of being much less touristy than Norway. As part of our road trip in Scandinavia, we spent 3 weeks in Sweden and thoroughly enjoyed it. Sweden and Norway have many similarities and differences, they are both wonderful countries that complement each other well.
Guidebooks for Climbing in Sweden
27 Crags was the most useful and versatile tool for topos in Sweden, the lack of a select climbing guide for the country means any alternatives could be cumbersome and expensive. For a trip to Bohuslän alone, it would be worth buying the definitive guide, but buying guides for all of the other areas as well would quickly be impractical. With access to the premium topos on 27 Crags you can get up to date information for tens of thousands of routes and boulders in Sweden, with the topos mostly being high quality.
As we first drove up Sweden to get to northern Norway, and then re-entered in the south later, our route through the country was not overly straightforward and the crags aren’t described in any particular order.
Weather and Climbing Season in Sweden
Our experience of Swedish weather was much better than in Norway. Perhaps we got lucky, but it certainly seems that Sweden has drier and more stable weather than its neighbour. It is also significant that the majority of climbing areas in Sweden are in the southern half of the country.
It would be possible to climb in Sweden throughout the summer, but it can get surprisingly hot, and areas like Bohuslän could be scorching. It follows that spring and autumn are the best times, and our experience of early autumn conditions was perfect. Always bear in mind this is Scandinavia, where wet and wild weather can never be ruled out!
Bohuslän is Sweden’s premier climbing area, with some of the country’s best routes spread across many beautiful crags. First and foremost, Bohuslän is a trad climbing area. Although there are sport routes and bouldering, a visit to Bohuslän would be incomplete without doing some trad! The routes are predominantly long single pitch climbs on very high quality granite. Crack climbing is a major feature and you’ll have a steep learning curve if you can’t jam! The crags are usually set in a meadow or forest and walk ins are mostly short and flat. Bohuslän is lovely part of Sweden to visit and the area has a great balance of climbing activity without crowds or polish.
Skälefjäll is a classic Bohuslän crag, famous for some of its very hard lines like Electric Avenue (N9-). You don’t have to climb that hard to make Skälefjäll worth a visit, there are some good quality easier routes. However, as with many Bohuslän crags, there is not much below about f6a+ (N6). The climbing here is very aesthetic, with some stunning crack lines, corners and arêtes.
Skälefjäll is the perfect crag for warm days, as it is in the shade until around 4pm. The downside is that things will take longer to dry and can sometimes feel a bit greasy. We thought the rock felt slightly coarser than other crags in Bohuslän, and the friction was very good. There are around 50 routes here, from 5 to 8a+. Most of the routes are trad, with the exception of one or two harder routes that have been bolted.
Häller is one of the best crags in Bohuslän, and the whole of Sweden. The place is amazing and some of the routes are jaw dropping. The only catch is the entry level, with very few routes below 6a+. For a sport crag many routes would seem to be easy, but climbing a steep 7a finger crack is quite a different proposition – especially if you don’t have many cams! Walking around Häller will get you psyched to improve your crack and trad skills, some of the lines are as good as they get. There are 59 routes, from 5 to 8b and all but a few harder routes are trad. Häller also surprised us with the quality and quantity of its bouldering. There are 157 problems, from 3 to 8B and many of the lines are striking and on superb rock. There is a climbers campsite and accommodation at the bottom, which would be the place to go to find partners in Bohuslän. It is worth going to Häller for at least a day, even if many of the routes are too hard, its an awesome place and it’ll give you something to train for!
Välseröd is another popular crag, particularly for lower grade climbers. The crag has several sectors spread out through the woods, in a peaceful setting and only a short walk from each other. Villskudd is the most popular sector and the eponymous route is the classic of the area. While Villskudd 6a (N6-) is a great route, and the wall is a great sector, make sure you visit some of the other walls too. They have equally good routes that get far less attention and definitely deserve to be mentioned. There are 88 routes, from 4 to 7b and the crags have a variety of aspects so it can work for hot or cold days.
Galgeberget is probably the main area for lower grade routes in Bohuslän, and it has some of the best options for longer routes of 6b (N6+) and below in the region. The wall of easier routes gets the sun and is a lovely location to relax and enjoy Bohuslän. The crag also has a shaded wall, with steeper and harder routes, making Galgeberget a great option for teams of mixed abilities. Galgeberget has some slab routes with horizontal breaks, giving a bit of variation if your hands are chewed up from crack climbing! There are around 65 routes, from 4 to 8b and we found some of the routes here are a bit bolder than is typical in the area.
We were absolutely gutted to miss out on the chance to climb at Hallinden, one of Bohuslän’s premier crags. The whole time we were there, a sign near the start of the approach said that ongoing forestry work meant the crag was closed until further notice. We spoke to a local who said this had been the case for several weeks. This won’t be relevant to most people, but the reason it is worth mentioning is because of the access issues in the area. In many parts of Bohuslän, there is friction between climbers and locals. For now, no major crags have been banned. However, it is imperative that any signs or similar prohibitions are followed. Selfishly ignoring signs like this could quickly lead to crags being banned for everyone – don’t be that person! For when the work is finished, there are 93 routes, from 4 to 8a+ and based on the topos and reputation, they are very good.
Granitgrottan is the main sport climbing area in Bohuslän and is home to some of the hardest routes in Sweden. Granitgrottan is a nice crag, but certainly not why you would go to Bohuslän. However, it is well worth knowing about as it is one of the only crags where you can climb in torrential rain. After all, this is Scandinavia and week long periods of rain are far from unheard of! If you are blessed with wall-to-wall sunshine, Granitgrottan is probably best omitted in favour of the areas many beautiful trad crags. There are around 100 routes, from 4 to 8c+, and generally the harder the route the better it is, although routes stay dry at a reasonable spread of grades.
Utby is one of the biggest, best and most popular crags in the Gothenburg area. If you get recommendations from locals, read online or look at topos, Utby is the place you will end up for climbing close to the city. Utby refers to an enormous area, there are an endless amount of crags in the forest, spread out across the hillside. Using 27 crags app is one of the best ways to navigate the area, although finding specific routes can sometimes be tricky! For routes there are 461 trad & 67 sport, with grades from 3 to 8b. The area also has an enormous amount of bouldering, with 437 problems from 3 to 8B.
The rock in Utby is really nice, a well textured granite with lots of pebbles that make for perfect footholds. It is slightly reminiscent of gritstone pebbles, but here they are more frequent, quite big and incredibly well stuck. It is great fun to climb a perfect finger crack, but with many helpful pebbles for your feet. The crags, and routes, can be hit and miss – some routes are quite poor and others would be classics anywhere. Spend some time hunting around in the forest and there are some real gems.
Kullaberg is a nature reserve, situated on a peninsular in southwest Sweden. The area is quite popular for tourists who come to see the famous lighthouse, walking trails and Nimis, in the ‘Kingdom of Ladonia‘.
For climbers there is rather a lot here, with 493 trad routes, 98 sport routes, 84 boulder problems and a handful of deep water solos. The routes at Kullaberg range from 3 to 8a, and in general the area excels for lower grade trad climbing. For those wanting to improve their granite trad skills before Bohuslän, Kullaberg is a good place to start as the routes are much easier and less intimidating. We found that Kullaberg had a number of good quality routes, but they are spread out across the many small sectors. There isn’t really a ‘must visit’ crag, but instead lots of good routes in various locations on the peninsular. This is helpful for getting good conditions and a route with no one on it, but it does mean a lot of walking! Although the area is really nice, the climbing is inferior to Bohuslän, which is the ultimate trad climbing area in Sweden.
Kjugekull is one of Sweden’s largest and most famous bouldering areas, with an impressive 1,433 problems, from 3 to 8B. Kjugekull is set in a nice forested area, with lots of freestanding boulders in a relatively dense area, mostly with good landings. If you only boulder, then this is one of the best places to be in Sweden, but ultimately it isn’t as good as the trad or sport available in the country. The rock quality is quite good, but sometimes the holds can be hollow and occasionally reinforced. That isn’t to say Kjugekull isn’t good, it is a very nice area, but for anyone on a trip with a limited schedule it probably shouldn’t be a priority stop. We think the area is best enjoyed for a day or two, doing some circuits and enjoying the forest.
Ågelsjön is a lovely climbing area, about 160km from Stockholm and not far from the small city of Norrköping. There are numerous crags here, spread throughout the forest and along the shore of a beautiful lake. The climbing can vary a lot in style between the different sectors, and we found the rock to be of a high quality – often much better than it looks. There are 87 sport routes and 169 trad routes, from 3 to 8b, as well as numerous boulders and deep water solos. The deep water solos are quite impressive for a lake, the water is much deeper than you’d expect and some the walls are easy to access. Ågelsjön is popular with weekend climbers and the routes at the main sectors seem to get done quite frequently, which keeps them nice and clean.
As cities go, Stockholm is quite well set up for climbing. There are literally hundreds of small crags and boulders spread throughout the metropolitan area. One of the difficulties is actually deciding which of the crags to go to, as they are of varying quality. Below are a few different areas we visited, some are more recommended than others.
Finnsvedsberget is a short, steep crag set in a beautiful location by the sea. There are 48 fully bolted routes here, with a grade range from 5 to 8a+. Generally, the routes here will improve with quality as the grade goes up. Even some of the routes around 7a are quite short and not particularly great lines. We noticed that outside of a few popular routes, many of the others didn’t seem to have been climbed for a while and weren’t very clean. For climbers in the mid grades, Finnsvedsberget is a very nice place with good views and a post climb swim on the doorstep, but there are better routes to be found in the area.
Skevik is only a few kilometres away from Finnsvedsberget, but the routes are much better quality. The rock has a nice texture, the routes are a good length (over 25m) and access is very straightforward. Of the 4 different crags we visited in the Stockholm area, Skevik was the best by a long way and the crag would hold its own if it were in most climbing areas.
There are 64 sport routes and 26 trad routes, ranging from 4 to 8a and Skevik hits the sweet spot for 6s and 7s. The crag is set in the forest, a short walk from the car, and is surrounded by large mossy boulders that give it a natural sheltered feeling. At one point it rained while we were climbing, the routes all stayed dry, as did the base of the steepest wall. It wouldn’t be great for climbing in a downpour, but the crag will be a good option after rain. We genuinely enjoyed the climbing here and would recommend Skevik over all the other crags we visited in Stockholm.
Ekoberget is a popular climbing area, with a very distinct and unusual climbing style. The routes look blocky and from the ground they all seem really easy…in reality the rock is extremely smooth and mostly devoid of good holds! There are 46 sport routes and 16 trad routes, ranging from 4 to 7c. The harder routes are mostly on a shorter wall on the right, which isn’t as good. The best routes here are in the 6c range and are roughly 20 meters long. The crag is in a nice location by the water, but unfortunately you can see and hear the highway which spoils the ambience.
Ryssgraven is a cool little crag on the sea, with many of the routes being accessed by a wooden boardwalk. The rock here is similar to Ekoberget, but with more lower grade climbs. There are 46 sport routes and 35 trad routes, ranging from 3 to 7b+. The boardwalks make the crag feel a bit unique, but it is also close to the highway. Ryssgraven is best compared to Ekoberget, and while Ryssgraven has more routes and a nicer location, Ekoberget is a slightly better crag due to the length and independence of the routes.
Less than 20km from the city of Örebro is Rosendal, a large climbing area in the forest with a surprising amount of routes. There are around 30 sport routes, 45 trad routes and 170 boulder problems. The crags and boulders are spread throughout the forest and some of them can be a bit tricky to find. The rock is of varying quality, the boulders are mostly all good but the routes tend to be better quality in the higher grades. Although there are lots of bolts here, don’t expect conventional sport routes, sometimes you will need gear to plug the gaps or a bouldering pad for the starts. There are a big spread of grades here, from the 4s and 5s up to the low 8s – both for boulders and routes. Rosendal is a nice area, and the best in its area of Sweden. However, it isn’t somewhere to visit as a ‘destination’ in it own right and is best enjoyed as part of a journey through the country.
Rest Day Activities
As well as the endless number of lakes, Sweden also has some under appreciated coastline, with loads of great places for swimming. It’s common to see signposts for swimming areas, often they will have the best quality water, a jetty or diving board and occasionally picnic benches and toilets. One thing to bear in mind with the sea is the amount of jellyfish around, particularly in the Bohuslän area, we saw a huge amount of Lion’s Mane jellyfish, and bumping into one of those will really spoil your day. Otherwise, there are loads of great spots for a dip – so remember to pack your towel!
In Scandinavia, spending time in ‘The Nature’ is an important part of daily life. Throughout Sweden there are many beautiful trails that have a special quality all of their own. Hiking in other countries is usually popular due to eye catching summits and photogenic views, but in Sweden things are different. It was common for people to suggest that hiking in Sweden would be boring as its “just trees and lakes”, but this is entirely missing the point. The reason Swedish nature is so special is down to the quality of it all. In the forest there are lots of beautiful and interesting plants, mushrooms and wildlife. You can keep your eye out for moose or capercaillie, follow their tracks or spot their stool. In the north of the country the quality of the nature is amazing, and we enjoyed several days of good weather on our way to northern Norway. Watch out for the mosquitos!
Sitting conspicuously on the floor of the forest, there are many tasty treats to find and they are in abundance. If you are lucky enough to be in the right season, you could fill a wheelie bin with bilberries or lingon. The late summer/ early autumn season is the perfect time for picking berries and mushrooms and also has good climbing conditions.
We found the experience of being in the forest, collecting food and cooking things fresh was one of the most satisfying and relaxing things to do after a day climbing. It is legal and completely normal for people to have a fire in the designated fire pits, and it is the best way to enjoy an evening in Scandinavia (in dry periods there may be a temporary ban on fires).
Learn About Sámi Culture
The Sámi live throughout northern Scandinavia and are most known for nomadic reindeer herding which is their traditional way of life. Historically the Sámi have been subject to a lot of abuse and had their land taken from them. Thankfully, in modern Sweden the Sámi have got minority status which helps to protect their culture and heritage. There are different rules for Sámi people that allow them to practice reindeer herding without the restrictions that would harm their traditions. Today it is estimated that around 10% of Sámi people earn their living from the reindeer industry. The Sámi are also famous for their craft work, and to see their creations in person is very special. The quality of the craftsmanship is astounding and something that must be preserved. In various parts of northern Sweden, there are museums where you can learn about the culture of the Sami and see examples of their buildings, techniques and crafts.
We had a great time climbing in Sweden, and we were very impressed by the quality of some of the crags. As countries in Northern Europe go, Sweden is not hyped as a climbing destination and doesn’t appear on the radar of many climbers. In general the rock is good, the settings are beautiful and Sweden is just a lovely place to be.
Bohuslän is the best climbing area, and many of the crags there would be quality venues anywhere. The fact that the climbing in Bohuslän is almost all trad seems to keep the area relatively quiet. If you climb sport but not trad, and you want to visit, it is a good place to learn as the routes are well protected and follow strong lines. Beg a friend to borrow their rack and pay them back in beers! There are loads of other areas we missed, Sweden has a lot more rock than people think and it is full of hidden gems. When much of Europe is too hot, no doubt there are good conditions and nice rock waiting for you in Sweden.
You can read about the other half of our Scandinavian road trip in Norway here.
Relevant information and resources
Guidebooks for climbing in Sweden
Bohuslän climbing guidebook
General topos for climbing throughout Sweden
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Brilliant. Great review thank you. I seriously enjoyed my few days there and plan on spending longer on the return trip.
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Thanks Mike, and thank you for recommending Ågelsjön. Hope you have a great time on your way back!