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The right to roam: joys and responsibilities in Norway

Guidelines to roaming where you want
Norway gives you free access to the countryside – as long as you tread lightly.
Two persons sitting next to their tents whilst enjoying the view
Camping in Kåfjord.
Photo: Magnus Ström/ www.nordnorge.com / Kåfjord

In Norway, you can walk nearly anywhere you want. Outdoor recreation has become a major part of national identity, and is established by law. You are free to enjoy the great outdoors and breathe in as much of the fresh air as you want – as long as you pick up your rubbish and show respect for nature.

The few rules and regulations are there to keep the unique right of access enjoyable when many people go to the same places.

The main rules are easy: Be considerate and thoughtful. Don't damage nature and other surroundings. Leave the landscape as you would want to find it.

The right to roam, also called the right of access(“allemannsretten”) is a traditional right from ancient times, and from 1957 it has also been part of the Outdoor Recreation Act. It ensures that everybody get to experience nature, even on larger privately owned areas.

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If you want to stay for more than two nights in the same place, you must ask the landowner's permission, except in the mountains or very remote areas.

Places for emptying toilets are signposted. Doing so elsewhere is strictly prohibited.

In case of forest fire hazard – campfires and camping stoves

Campfires in or near forests are prohibited from 15 April to 15 September. They can nevertheless be allowed in places where fire hazard is unlikely, like by the sea or on an approved campfire site. Note that in extreme drought, even grills, gas burners, and camping stoves are prohibited. If you light a campfire or barbecue, you are legally responsible for ensuring that it is safe, does not escape, and is completely extinguished before you leave. Check the forest fire risk on yr.no.

Some simple campfire rules:

  • Make sure you are at a site that allows campfires.
  • Make sure there are no fire bans and that it isn’t too windy.
  • Place extra wood upwind and away from the fire.
  • After lighting the fire, throw the match into the flames.
  • Never leave a campfire unattended.
  • Keep water and a shovel nearby.
  • When leaving your fire, ensure that it is fully extinguished. Use water and stir it with a shovel. Make sure the fire site is cold before you leave the campsite. If it’s too hot to touch, it’s too hot to leave.

In case of fire: Call the fire department on emergency number 110, then try to extinguish the fire yourself. Don’t put yourself in harm’s way, though.

Foraging

In general, you may pick berries, mushrooms, and wildflowers, but special rules apply to cloudberries in much of Northern Norway.

You may fish for saltwater species without a license, as long as it is for your own use.

Respect for nature, animals and local inhabitants will make both your short and your longer expeditions even more pleasant for everybody. Enjoy your trip!

See it for yourself

Tips before venturing into nature

Explore the great outdoors

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