The right to roam
Enjoying Norway, responsibly
Norway gives you almost unhindered access to the countryside...
...as long as you tread lightly and leave no traces!
Here are some guidelines about roaming in Norway.
In Norway, you can hike nearly anywhere you want. Outdoor recreation is a major part of the national identity, and access to nature is protected by law. You are free to enjoy the great outdoors – as long as you pick up your rubbish and show respect for nature.
The Norwegian right to roam
The right to roam applies to open country, sometimes also known as "unfenced land", which is land that is not cultivated. In Norway, the term covers most shores, bogs, forests, and mountains. Small islands of uncultivated land within cultivated land are not regarded as open country.
The right does not apply to “fenced land”, which is private, and includes cultivated land, such as ploughed fields with or without crops, meadows, pastures and gardens, as well as young plantations, building plots and industrial areas.
However, you can access fields and meadows from 15 October to 30 April when the ground is frozen or covered with snow. Note that “fenced land” does not need to actually be fenced.
A few rules and regulations are in place to protect nature when many people go to the same places.
The main rules are easy: Be considerate and thoughtful. Don't damage nature and the surroundings. Leave the landscape as you would want to find it.
The video below shows how NOT to treat nature!
The right to roam, also called the right of access (allemannsretten) is a traditional right from ancient times. Since 1957, it has also been enshrined in the Outdoor Recreation Act. The right ensures that everyone can experience nature, even in big, privately owned areas.
The antlered fellows below know how to treat nature!
You may put up a tent, or sleep under the stars, anywhere in the countryside, forests or mountains, as long as you stay at least 150 metres away from the nearest inhabited house or cabin. This rule also applies to vans, mobile homes, and caravans.
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 in very remote areas.
Places for emptying toilets are signposted. Doing so elsewhere is strictly prohibited.
Norway has almost endless possibilities when it comes to exploring wild nature. It's nevertheless a good idea to follow marked trails if you aren't familiar with the area. If not, it's easy to get lost. At the same time, you also avoid leaving too many footprints in nature.
The perfect campsite doesn't exi-
...Yes, it actually does! If you want easy access to sanitary facilities, kitchen and so on – a campsite has everything you need! There are more than a thousand campsites all across Norway, often situated in idyllic areas, close to mountains, fjords and lakes.
You can find a spot for your tent, caravan or motorhome, as well as campsite cabins of varying standards and prices. Many of the campsites also offer lots of fun activities for the whole family.
Be aware that in some popular tourist areas, there are restrictions on free camping, mainly during summer, which means you must pitch your tent at a campsite. This applies in particular to some areas in Lofoten in Northern Norway and Fjord Norway. Always ask a local if you are not sure, and always respect the "NO CAMPING" signs!
Find an idyllic campsite
Leave nature as you found it
Norway is a country of outstanding natural beauty, with dramatic waterfalls, crystal clear fjords, majestic mountains, and spectacular glaciers. Preserving this landscape, and its communities and way of life, is essential for locals and visitors alike.
Leave as light a footprint as possible. Leave nature as you would like to find it — take only pictures, keep only memories.
Campfires are prohibited
Be aware that campfires in nature are prohibited from 15 April to 15 September. They can nevertheless be allowed in places where the fire hazard is low, such as by the sea or at an approved campfire site. However, you should always check that there is no danger. Note that in extreme drought, even barbecues, gas burners, and camping stoves are prohibited. If you want to make a campfire, bring firewood from home or a shop or use twigs that are already on the ground. Do not saw or break fresh branches.
Last but not least, always remember: If you light a campfire or barbecue, you are legally responsible for ensuring that it is safe, that the fire does not spread, and that it is completely extinguished before you leave. Check the forest fire risk on yr.no.
Some basic 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 the coals 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.
Watch the video below and learn how to not burn down the forest!
Foraging and fishing
Norway has some of the best fishing areas in the world, and you may fish for saltwater species without a licence, as long as it is for your own use, but there are rules on how many kilos you may bring home, if you are crossing the border.
A lot more rules apply if you want to fish in inland waters. Almost all waters require a fishing licence, but there are also special rules for different landowners. Always check the local rules where you are heading.
NOTE: Always disinfect your fishing equipment between use in one water and another, to prevent the spread of fish diseases!
Respect for nature, animals and local inhabitants will make your visit even more pleasant for everybody. Enjoy your trip!
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