Freedom with responsibility
Outdoor life is a wonderful part of Norwegian identity. We have had the right to travel in forests and fields, along rivers, on lakes, in the skerries and in the mountains since ancient times. As long as you show consideration and bring your trash with you, the freedom roam guarantees that you can move freely in nature.
The core principles of the freedom to roam were codified in the Outdoor Recreation Act of 1957. The fundamental rules are: Show concern for nature, private property and other hikers. Do not cause any damage, and leave nature the way you would like to find it yourself.
Gurgela. Photo: Oddrun Skjemstad
Pancakes on the mountains are luxury. Photo: Tine Marie Hagelin
The possibilities and rules of the freedom to roam:
You can put up a tent or sleep under the stars wherever you want in uncultivated land. Make sure you do not harm young forests when you put up your tent. In the high mountains and in uncultivated land far from residential areas, you can set up a tent no closer than 150 metres from the nearest inhabited house or cottage. You can stay in a tent in the same place for up to 2 full days. You can stay in a tent for longer than two full days if you are in the high mountains or far from a residential area. You can only set up a tent in cultivated land if you are given permission by the land owner or the user of the property.
Bonfires in forests and cultivated land are forbidden from 15 April to 15 September, but are permitted in places where a fire hazard is unlikely, such as by the water. If you make a fire by the ocean, avoid setting a fire right on a rocks, causing the mountain to crack. Be careful with trees when you are finding wood for the fire, use dry sticks. Never leave a bonfire until you are certain that it is completely extinguished. Remember to clean up after yourself before you leave.
In uncultivated land, you can travel freely on foot and on skis, or you can ride or cycle on paths and roads. You can also paddle, row and use sail boats. You can pick berries, mushrooms, flowers and the roots of wild herbs. Familiarise yourself with conservation rules if you are in a protected area, and do not pick endangered and protected plant species.
You can fish saltwater fish all year, from a boat or on land, as long as it is for your own use. If you are fishing salmon, sea trout and sea char in rivers and watercourses, you must pay a fishing fee to the government and usually buy a fishing license from the property owner.
Strupbreen. Photo: Tine Marie V. Hagelin
Hiking with the dogs to Blåisvatnet. Photo: Oddrun Skjemstad
In both uncultivated and cultivated land, you must always close gates behind yourself and show consideration for grazing animals. If you have a dog, you must respect the leash law between 1 April and 20 August. This period is extended in some municipalities in accordance with local regulations. In Lyngsalpan, the municipality of Lyngen has an extended leash law until after 15 October, while the municipality of Balsfjord has an extended leash law until the end of October.
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