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The right to roam

Joys and responsibilities in Norway

Oppdal in Trøndelag .
Photo: Marius Rua
Oppdal in Trøndelag .
Photo: Marius Rua

Norway give you almost free access to the countryside...

Camping at Hardangervidda in Hordaland .
Photo: Anders Gjengedal- Visitnorway.com
Camping at Hardangervidda in Hordaland .
Photo: Anders Gjengedal- Visitnorway.com

...as long as you tread lightly and leave no traces!

Here are some guidelines about roaming in Norway.

Nordmarka forest in Oslo .
Photo: Marius Dalseg Sætre / Den Norske Turistforening
Nordmarka forest in Oslo .
Photo: Marius Dalseg Sætre / Den Norske Turistforening

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 – 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.

These know how to treat nature!

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.

Useful guidelines to the right to roam

You may put up a tent, or sleep under the stars, for the night anywhere in the countryside, forests or mountains, as long as you keep at least 150 metres away from the nearest inhabited house or cabin. This rule of a 150 metres distance also applies to camping cars 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 very remote areas.

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

The perfect campsite doesn't exi...

...Yes, it actually does! If you want easy access to sanitary facilities, kitchen and so on – a campsite is everything you need! There are more than a thousand campsites all across Norway, often situated in idyllic areas, close to mountains, fjords and lakes.

At these sites 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, here are restrictions on free camping, mainly during summer, which mean you must pitch your tent on a camping site. 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 camping site

Åndalsnes Camping .
Photo: Åndalsnes Camping
Åndalsnes Camping .
Photo: Åndalsnes Camping

Campfires are prohibited

Be aware that 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.

Harvesting and fishing

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

You may fish for saltwater species without a license, as long as it is for your own use, but there are rules on how many kilos you may bring with you home, if you are crossing the border.

A lot more rules apply if you want to fish in the inland waters. Almost all waters require a fishing license, but there are also special rules for different landowners. Always check out the local rules where you are heading.

NB: Even more important is it that you disinfect the fishing equipment between uses in one water to another, to prevent the spread of fish diseases!

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

Looking for an active holiday?
Check out these tips!

Kayaking on the fjord .
Photo: Edit: Marit Dale Aal Clip: fra Snake-Oil/Trigger, fra Happy Place-kampanje
Kayaking on the fjord .
Photo: Edit: Marit Dale Aal Clip: fra Snake-Oil/Trigger, fra Happy Place-kampanje

Tips before venturing into nature

Things to do

Sustainability first

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