Canoeing in Dalsland's Lake District

Canoeing in Dalsland's Lake District

Photos: 1:Göran Assner; 2,3,6,7:Nature Travels; 4:C.Emmanuelsson

Canoeing in Dalsland's Lake District (Sweden)

A flexible lakeland canoe adventure in West Sweden with designated camping spots and firewood provided

Canoeing holidays in Sweden: Dalsland



  • Required: Swimming ability for adults, good health, reasonable fitness/strength. Suitable for active families.
  • Duration: 4 days/3 nights to 8 days/7 nights.
  • Accommodation: Wild camping at designated camping locations.
  • Photos and comments »

Dalsland, known as Sweden's Lake District, with its interconnected system of lakes and well-maintained network of overnight shelters, is justly famous for its wonderful paddling opportunities. The area provides the perfect environment for a canoeing holiday which combines flexibility and accessibility with scenic beauty, with a stunning landscape of lakes and thick forest with pretty villages providing an opportunity to re-supply along the way.

With many of the lakes connected by locks and small canals, reducing the need for extensive land transports, Canoeing in Dalsland's Lake District is suitable for both adult participants and active families who enjoy the outdoors. Depending on the route taken, a minimum of two lifts of 150m and 400m are normally required (a canoe trolley is provided). Bear in mind of course that windy connections can increase the level of challenge on larger lakes, so you should always be prepared to adapt your plans accordingly.

The distance covered and route taken for your canoe tour is very flexible and can be varied depending on time available and your own energy levels/experience. The Dalsland lake system covers a wide area and includes both rural landscapes and more remote areas that can be accessed on longer tours.

There are four options for start/end point combinations. The minimum distance that must be covered for the standard circular route in Option 1 and 2 below is around 70km, while the recommended route for Option 3 and Option 4 is a 30km section of the circular route. These distances can be extended as much as you wish by planning your own detours. The area offers almost endless possibilities to vary and extend your route depending on weather and wind conditions and to adapt the level of challenge, the distance you wish to paddle and the particular areas you would like to explore.

  • Option 1 - Start/end Bengtsfors (6-8 days): Bengtsfors is conveniently reached by public transport from Gothenburg and you can choose to add additional night(s) before and/or after your tour at hostel or hotel accommodation there as optional extras. From here, you can follow the recommended circular route or, if you prefer, create your own route to explore other parts of the lake system.
  • Option 2 - Start/end Canoe Camp* (4-8 days): Begin/end at the canoe camp 15km north of Bengtsfors. For tours of 6-8 days, you can choose the recommended circular route as for Option 1 (simply beginning at a different point on the circle). Alternatively, for any tour duration 4-8 days, you can choose to explore other parts of the lake system. Public transport connections to the camp are more limited than to Bengtsfors, but if no suitable bus connections are available, transfer from Bengtsfors is also possible as an optional extra. Option 2 is a suitable choice if you wish to stay at a campsite (rather than hostel/hotel) for an extra night before and/or after your tour, as the campsite is located here.
  • Option 3 - Start Bengtsfors end Canoe Camp* (4-5 days): You will normally do a subsection of the longer circular route. Starting in Bengtsfors is convenient as public transport connections are easier. Here you can overnight in hostel or hotel before your tour if you wish. Your tour ends at the canoe camp 15km north of Bengtsfors. At the end of your tour you can camp there for an extra night or return once more to Bengtsfors (by local bus or optional transfer depending on connnections) for onward travel or additional overnight(s) in hostel or hotel.
  • Option 4 - Start Canoe Camp end Bengtsfors (4-5 days): As Option 3 above, but beginning at the canoe camp and ending in Bengtsfors. This is normally less convenient as you need to travel to the canoe camp on your arrival day (when time may be more limited than on departure), but will suit guests who particularly wish spend a night at the campsite before the tour.

*For a unique way to end your canoeing holiday, if your tour ends at the Canoe Camp, you can choose to travel the 15km back to Bengtsfors by "railway cycle trolley". Your luggage will be transported to Bengtsfors. See under "Dates and Prices > Optional extras" for details.

As for all our canoe tours, Canoeing in Dalsland's Lake District features wild camping. In Dalsland, to preserve the local environment there is a comprehensive network of wind shelters and fire places, where wood is provided for your use, located throughout the region. These are the only locations at which camping is permitted. Participants purchase a "nature card" for camping, proceeds from which are used for management and conservation of the area.

West Sweden is real "canoe country", and Canoeing in Dalsland's Lake District is ideal for those seeking a moderate level of challenge and the flexibility to create their own canoe adventure.

Canoeing for odd-numbered groups

Canoes used are 2-person Canadian canoes but can also accommodate three persons. Odd numbers will normally travel three persons in one canoe (at reduced price). As an alternative, the additional person can travel in single kayak (available as optional extra).


Detailed information you will need for your experience, including a description of the route, is sent out once full payment has been received.

Start Day

No transfers are required at the beginning and end of this tour. The Dalsland lakes offer almost endless possibilities to vary and extend your route, depending on your energy levels/experience, how quickly you cover the distance and on wind and weather conditions.

6-day, 7-day or 8-day tour

The suggested option is to take a circular route through a network of lakes (though the area offers considerable scope to plan your own variations) to finish your tour back at the start point.

The standard start/end point for the tour is in Bengtsfors (Option 1). If you wish to stay in Bengtsfors before or after your tour, hotel and hostel accommodation is available (see under "Optional Extras").

As an alternative, it is also possible to start/end your tour at the canoe camp approx. 15km north of Bengtsfors (Option 2). You should choose this option if you wish to camp for one or more nights before or after your tour (see under "Optional Extras").

The recommended route taken will be the same for either option - you simply start/end at a different point on the circuit.

4-day or 5-day tour

The suggested tour follows a subsection of the 7-day route, and normally begins in Bengtsfors and ends at the canoe camp (Option 3), though if you wish to camp at the canoe camp before your tour, you can also choose to do the route in the other direction (Option 4). For 5-day tours especially, you will have ample time to extend the standard route if you wish.

The Rest of the Tour

6-day, 7-day or 8-day tour

The recommended tour route takes you through a series of locks to Laxsjön ("Salmon Lake"), with a land transport of approx. 400m followed by marvellous paddling up the long narrow lake of Svärdlång. After approx. 15km, a 150m land transport takes you into Västra Silen.

From here a 3km canal takes you to the village of Gustavsfors, which has restaurants and stores to re-supply provisions if required.

Once through the locks and the scenic paddle out from Gustavfors, you enter the lake of Lelång, turning south to paddle around 20km down the lake to end your tour back in the small country town of Bengtsfors.

4-day or 5-day tour

From Bengtsfors, you head south to Billingfors then up the long narrow lake of Svärdlång ending at the canoe camp. If you prefer (or during the season when the locks are closed) you can also paddle up the other side, up through Lelång lake to Gustavsfors before ending at the canoe camp.

End Day

Your tour ends either in Bengstsfors (Option 1 or Option 3) or at the canoe camp 15km north of Bengtsfors (Option 2 or Option 4). At the end point you will return your equipment and collect any left baggage (if you have left any baggage in Bengtsfors, you can collect this as you pass through for onward travel). We recommend you stay an extra night (either in Bengtsfors or at the canoe camp) before departure - please see "Optional Extras".

Dalsland Lake System

Dates & Prices

Dates 2016

Season dates 1st May-30th September 2016 (later tours also possible until 15th October by request). Start any day/time by arrangement between 09.00 and 18.00.

NB: The locks in the area are open from early-mid June to end August. For tours before or after these dates, the locks are closed and canoes need to be carried (using the canoe trolley provided) at these points.

The Price

Prices are in British Pounds. If you wish, you are also welcome to make your payment by bank transfer in Euros or Swedish Kronor. If this would be of interest, please let us know and we will be happy to provide prices.

Please specify your chosen tour option (Option 1, Option 2, Option 3 or Option 4 - see under "Overview" and "Itinerary" for more information) and the duration of your tour. Prices include full camping and kitchen equipment.

4-day tour

  • Even-numbered group (2 persons per canoe): £125/adult, £113/child aged 12 and under
  • Additional person for odd-numbered groups:
    • As third person in canoe: £50/adult, £38/child aged 12 and under
    • Using single kayak: £152/person (adult only)

5-day tour

  • Even-numbered group (2 persons per canoe): £143/adult, £127/child aged 12 and under
  • Additional person for odd-numbered groups:
    • As third person in canoe: £62/adult, £46/child aged 12 and under
    • Using single kayak: £183/person (adult only)

6-day tour

  • Even-numbered group (2 persons per canoe): £147/adult, £127/child aged 12 and under
  • Additional person for odd-numbered groups:
    • As third person in canoe: £66/adult, £46/child aged 12 and under
    • Using single kayak: £187/person (adult only)

7-day tour

  • Even-numbered group (2 persons per canoe): £151/adult, £127/child aged 12 and under
  • Additional person for odd-numbered groups:
    • As third person in canoe: £70/adult, £46/child aged 12 and under
    • Using single kayak: £191/person (adult only)

8-day tour

  • Even-numbered group (2 persons per canoe): £163/adult, £127/child aged 12 and under
  • Additional person for odd-numbered groups:
    • As third person in canoe: £74/adult, £46/child aged 12 and under
    • Using single kayak: £208/person (adult only)

What The Price Includes

Additional person in odd-numbered group will share tent and kitchen equipment.

  • Canoe equipment: 2 or 3-person Canadian canoe, paddles (wooden), buoyancy aids, 2 x pack barrels, canoe trolley.
  • Kitchen equipment: Trangia-style hurricane stove* with one litre methylated spirit (additional fuel can be purchased along the route if required).
  • Camping equipment: Tent (suitable for up to 3 persons, normally dome tents), sleeping bag package (2-season sleeping bag, liner and foam mat).
  • Other: Set of two maps; book of 10 lock tickets for lock transports (additional tickets can be purchased at individual locks if required, cost 30 SEK/canoe, approx. £3); "Nature Card", required for overnight camping at the designated camping spots (firewood is provided at these locations, but you should bring a camping saw/small axe for preparing the wood).

*Exact contents may differ from example shown

Please be careful with the canoe and the rest of your equipment! If some part of the equipment should break as a result of misuse or carelessness, you may be charged for the damage caused.

What The Price Does Not Include

Please see "Optional Extras" below.

  • Food: You should purchase supplies for your tour in Bengtsfors before departure. There are also opportunities to re-supply along the route.

Optional Extras

  • Railway cycle trolley: If the end point of your tour is the canoe camp, you can choose to return to Bengtsfors by "railway cycle trolley" (see picture below). Your luggage will be transported to Bengtsfors. Distance is around 15km. The trip takes approx. two hours and passes through an attractive landscape of forest and lakes. Price £26/person including luggage transfer.
  • Transfer: If you have chosen to begin/end your tour at the canoe camp rather than in Bengtsfors, and no suitable local bus connection is available for travel between Bengtsfors and the canoe centre, transfer can be arranged between 09.00 and 18.00, price £8/person/one-way.
  • Fishing licence: If you wish to fish during your tour, fishing licence can be purchased locally on arrival at the canoe centre in Bengtsfors or at the canoe camp. Price 50 SEK (about £5)/day. Please bring own fishing equipment.
Railway cycle trolley

Railway cycle trolley

Accommodation before/after tour:

Depending on travel arrangements and where you have chosen to begin your tour (at the canoe camp or in Bengtsfors), we recommend that you camp at the canoe centre campsite or stay in Bengtsfors before and/or after your tour.

In Bengtsfors (hotel): Rooms for 1-4 persons including breakfast. Shared shower and toilet facilities. Single room £41/room/night, 2-person room £55/room/night, extra bed(s) in room £17/person/night. Upgrade to room with en-suite shower and WC £7/room/night. Bedding and towels are included.

Hotel accommodation in Bengtsfors

In Bengtsfors (hostel): Rooms for 1-4 persons (no bunk beds). Self-catering facilties available. Shared shower and toilet facilities. Single room £25/room/night, 2-person room £37/room/night, 3-person room £44/room/night, 4-person room £52/room/night. Bedding and towels £5/person/stay.

Hostel accommodation in Bengtsfors

At Canoe Camp: The Canoe Camp is located approx. 15km north of Bengtsfors, accessible by public bus or transfer from Bengtsfors - if you wish to camp here before and/or after your stay, alternative arrangements can be made to start and end your canoe tour here rather than in Bengtsfors. You are welcome to keep your kitchen and camping equipment for one additional night before and/or after the tour at no extra charge. Price £5/person/night.

Campsite at the canoe centre

Practical Info

Health requirements/experience

Swimming ability required by adults. Minimum 2 adults. You should be in good health with a good general level of fitness and strength and enjoy the outdoors.

The canoe tour runs through a series of lakes. Transports between lakes is by locks and/or lifts. Note that paddling on lakes can be challenging in windy conditions and you should consider carefully the best side of a lake to paddle on and be prepared to adjust your itinerary depending on weather conditions.

Equipment/clothes needed

A detailed recommended equipment list will be sent with your booking confirmation.

NB: We advise you not to buy equipment or clothes for your trip or to incur other non-refundable expenses such as flights until you have received confirmation of your booking from us in writing.


This experience is ideal for groups. Please contact us to discuss your requirements.


Detailed information on travel options will be sent with your booking documentation. We are happy to advise on suitable connections and assist you with any aspect of planning your journey.

By Air

Gothenburg airports are most convenient. From Gothenburg, you travel by public transport to Bengtsfors by train and bus (2-3 hours depending on connections). From Bengtsfors, it is around 15 mins by local bus or transfer to the canoe camp.

Without Flying

Ferry Dover-Dunkirk or Newcastle-Amsterdam for onward connections to Bengtsfors.

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Map of Sweden

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