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From a club for academics to a popular movement

Svenska Turistföreningen (STF) was founded in Uppsala in 1885 by a group of geology students with an interest in outdoor activities. Right from the start, the goal was to promote tourism and make Sweden more accessible for everyone. The association initially targeted its activities on the Swedish mountain world, but the field of operation rapidly spread to the rest of the country.

Accessibility of the mountains
One of the primary tasks of the association was to make the Swedish mountain world accessible to tourists. The first hiking trails started to be marked out in 1887, and ambitious plans for Kungsleden between Abisko and Kvikkjokk were started two years later.

The first mountain cabin was built in 1888 – a cabin by Varvekälven on the trail between between Kvikkjokk and Sulitelma. STF has subsequently developed a network of mountain facilities along the trails that cover large parts of the mountain chain.

Today, the ten STF mountain stations act as hubs where you can find accommodation, courses, guided tours, restaurants and shops. STF’s mountain facilities allow us to keep the mountain world open for all.

The first hostels
STF was initially active primarily in the Swedish mountains, but a desire arose during the 1930s from members who wanted to be able to travel and stay in comfortable accommodation in the rest of Sweden. STF coined the name “vandrarhem” or “hostel” for the new form of accommodation – it gave a resonance of mountain hiking and the cosiness of one’s own home. The association opened its first hostel in May 1933, in Gränna. Development was rapid, and only two years later as many as 187 hostels were operating under the auspices of STF. Many different types of hostel were available, and guests could choose to sleep in barns, school halls, mediaeval houses or castles.

We now have more than 320 hostels throughout Sweden offering not only reasonably priced accommodation but also memorable experiences.

STF today
What started as a small club for academics has grown to become one of Sweden’s largest popular movements, with more than 200,000 members. We arrange several thousand courses and activities at the accommodation facilities and in our many district associations. Our guiding principle, however, remains the same as it was 130 years ago: to enable more people to discover Sweden.

Dag Hammarskjöld’s Backåkra
The second general secretary of the United Nations, Dag Hammarskjöld, was a committed champion of environmental protection, and was a member of the board of STF. Backåkra lies far out in the heathland of Skåne, surrounded by three beautiful nature reserves, and was intended to be Hammarskjöld’s fixed point in Sweden. Unfortunately, he did not, however, live at the farm for any significant time. He died in an air accident on a UN operation in 1961. He donated the farm to STF in his will, with instructions that it should be a place for meetings about care for the natural and cultural heritage.