The right of public access (allemansrätten) is a unique right that we have in Sweden (there are similar systems in Norway and Finland). It is alike for Swedes and for from visitors from abroad. In short it means that everyone has the right to be out in the countryside. You can use and enjoy all natural spaces in Sweden, whether it is privately owned or by the government.
But the right of public access is a freedom for all. The main rule is that you don't damage the landscape or animal life, and you must show consideration for both landowners and for everyone else that is out and about in the countryside.
In short: Do not disturb, do not destroy.
So this is the right of public access in general, but what does it mean for you? I'll try to explain a little bit more about in the rest of this page.
You can read about the rules in more detail on this website: http://www.allemansratten.se/ (available in Swedish, English and German)
The right of public access is great for backpackers and people travelling on a budget. The rules for camping are simple: It is allowed to camp in the countryside for one or two nights in the same place. But there are some restrictions. It is only allowed if you are not disturbing the landowner, or the local people. You are not allowed to put up your tent near homes, farm building or on farmland. These rules do not apply for groups; they need special permission. Other exceptions to the general rule are also national parks and nature reserves. Camping with a caravan also has extra restrictions to these general rules.
As you can see we didn't have any buildings close to us, no people being disturbed, it wasn't any farmland, the perfect spot to put up our tent for the night :-)
Åke is expertly demonstrating a totally different type of right: "the right of public laziness". The rules are simple, hahaha, the sun must be shining and the tent must be set up before you get this right. After that you can be lazy as much as you want :-))
Let me give you another example of the right of public access (allemanrätten). You are allowed to pick berries or mushrooms in the countryside. But do remember that in areas protected by law, like national parks, nature reserves and historical sites, special rules apply.
But in general this rule gives you a great opportunity to taste some of those delicious wild berries such as blue-, lingon- and cloudberries that you can see so much in the Swedish countryside.
You are allowed to pick wildflowers under the right of public access, but only the ones that don't have a protected status. Now here is where things might get very complicated. Some flowers are protected in one area, but not in another. Like this flower for instance, the Gullviva. In the part of Sweden where I live (S?dermanlands L?n) the flower is not protected as it is so common in this area. But in huge parts of Sweden this flower is protected.
One flower is easy though: the orchid. All species of orchid are protected throughout Sweden, so you are not allowed to pick those. It is also not permitted to gather mosses and lichens in large quantities.
If you are not sure about whether a flower or plant is protected or not, you can ask at the local tourist information. They will be able to help you out with some more info.
These tips have only been a few examples of what the 'allemansrätten' or 'right of public access' in practise means. On the website mentioned below, you can read much more about it, like rules for hiking, boating, fishing, making a fire, dogs, etc, etc.