Everyone have the right to travel and camp outdoors in Norway. "The right to roam" or Allemannsretten is a free common good and part of the Scandinavian cultural heritage. It gives you the right to use uncultivated land, independent of who the owner is for hiking, camping and foraging. Nice or what? At Arctic Moments we are dependent on this way of using nature - that is also why it is also very important for us to care for nature and make sure that out guest give the areas and wildlife where we travel the respect they deserve, preserving the common good that this is.
There are plenty of articles and websites covering the right to roam, we give you a short summary right here. If you still have questions, please feel free to ask them at the bottom.
In Norway, you can walk nearly anywhere you want. Outdoor recreation has become a major part of our 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, act with common sense 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 - which is the case these days with more and more tourists reaching the north.
How close you can go to houses and gardens is regulated, but quite easy to follow using common sense.
The main rule is easy: be considerate and thoughtful. Do not damage nature and other surroundings. Leave the landscape as you would want to find it, don't litter, and do not make a new fireplace when there is already one that you can use. The right to roam is a traditional right from ancient times, and since 1957 it has also been part of the Outdoor Recreation Act in Norway. It ensures that everybody gets to experience nature, even in privately owned areas. How close you can go to houses and gardens is regulated, but quite easy to follow using common sense.
HIKING, CAMPING & FORAGING
The general rule is that you can hike (and ski) wherever you want, as long as the owners are not using the land to make a living/commercial use. The right basically applies to open country, sometimes also referred to as "unfenced land", which is an area that is not cultivated. In Norway, the term "unfenced" covers most shores, bogs, forests and mountains.
Small islands of uncultivated land within cultivated land are not regarded as open country.
It does not apply to “fenced land”, which is private, and includes cultivated land, such as plowed fields with or without crops, meadows, pastures, and gardens, as well as young plantations, building plots, and industrial areas. However, you have access to fields and meadows from the 15th of October to the 30th of April, when the ground is frozen or covered with snow. Note that “fenced land” does not need to actually be fenced.
When hiking, and especially in popular areas, it is important that you use the trails that are made for that purpose. This is to preserve the area, and aesthetically it does not look good when there are several trails right next to each other, and some are as wide as the main road taking you from the airport. Facilitating areas with a lot of pressure from hikers, sherpas from Nepal have been building stairs in some areas, as part of the preservation idea. In Tromsø, there are stairs leading up to the mountain Storsteinen, a nice 45 min. hike.
You may camp where ever you want with some limitations. The general rule is 150 meters from the nearest house where people are living. If you plan to stay for more than a day you need to move the tent out of the area or get consent from the person owning the land. This does not apply if you are in the high mountains far away from people, where you can stay in an area for as long as you want.
In general, you may pick berries, mushrooms, and wildflowers, but special rules apply to cloudberries (multe) in much of Northern Norway where the locals often gather cloudberries as part of their income.
You may also fish for saltwater species without a license, as long as it is for your own use. The limit is 160 kilos of fish to bring back home. This is a "rule" that is being looked at, as a lot of tourists tend to stretch the rules a bit too far. Fishing for freshwater fish usually requires a license - unless you are under the age of 16, and fishing for salmon in rivers always requires a license.
As long as you show reasonable consideration for other people you are more or less able to do whatever you want. Hunting is however regulated.
NORDIC SLOW ADVENTURE & THE RIGHT TO ROAM
At Arctic Moments we are working through the Nordic Slow Adventure philosophy. The concept was first mentioned in an article by Varley & Semple (2015) as a way of rethinking the Scandinavian friluftsliv tradition building on the slow - movement seen in among other places in some restaurants witch has embraced the slow-food concept where food takes time to prepare.
Being able to move around freely with small groups and camp almost wherever we want is, of course, a big advantage when bringing along the Norwegian friluftsliv tradition - Nordic Slow Adventure.
For us, the right to roam is very important since we are using nature as an arena where our guests get to move through the landscape at a slower pace and immerse in the destination, traditions, and local way of life. Being able to move around freely with small groups and camp almost wherever we want is part of the product when bringing along the Norwegian friluftsliv tradition - Nordic Slow Adventure.
Recent research even suggests that deeper, immersive, and more meaningful experiences during journeys outdoors has the potential to improve people´s general health and well being - and that short nature breaks have the power to "fix" the body, spirit, and mind to offer compensation for people´s alienated, fast-paced modern lives.
Want to know more?
Farkic, J. & Taylor, S. (2019) Rethinking Tourist Wellbeing through the Concept of Slow Adventure. Sports 2019,7,190:doi10.3390/sports7080190.
Norsk Friluftsliv (2019) Hva er allemannsretten? https://www.norskfriluftsliv.no/hva-er-allemannsretten/
Varley, P.; Semple, T. (2015) Nordic slow adventure: Explorations in time and nature. Scand. J. Hosp. Tour. 2015, 15, 73–90.
Visit Norway (2019) Allemannsrettens gleder og plikter. https://www.visitnorway.no/planlegg-reisen/reisetips/allemannsretten/