Wild Camping In Norway (Complete Guide To Camping In Nature)

Wild camping is one of the best ways to experience the incredible nature that Norway has to offer, and camping in the wild is a popular hobby for Norwegians as well as for tourists. Not only do you get a unique experience, but it’s also completely free of charge.

The principle of freedom to roam allows you to go in wild camping pretty much anywhere in Norway for free, so you can set up your tent at most places in nature without permission from anyone. This makes Norway a great country to go in wild camping in.

So let’s take a closer look at what you can expect when you go wild camping in Norway, what laws and guidelines you must follow, and how you find a good spot to set up a camp in the Norwegian wilderness.

Wild camping tent
Photo published with permission.

Freedom to roams allows for free wild camping

The Norwegian version of “freedom to roam” (allemannsretten in Norwegian) is very liberal for users of the nature, and it allows you to go for a walk or set up a tent pretty much anywhere in nature.

The main rule when it comes to setting up a tent in the wild is to always set the tent up at least 150 – 200 meters away from the nearest cabin or house where people stay.

You must also set up your tent in what is called utmark, which can be translated to “unfenced land”. So stay away from gardens, fields, farms or anywhere else where there’s some sort of activity, and rather stay in the wild.

Read more about utmark here.

Thirdly, you are only allowed to stay 2 nights in the same spot. So after two nights, you need to move your camp and tents. There is no set rule for how far you need to move, but the general acceptance is to move at least 50 meters away.

It is also generally accepted to stay for longer than two nights if you are far away from civilization (aka in the middle of nowhere). As long as you don’t inconvenience anyone, no one is going to care if you stay for a week or two.

Are you far enough away from people?

Even Norwegians can find it a bit difficult to determine what is utmark or not, and if they are far enough away from people. If you are unsure, it’s best to be on the safe side and move a bit further away. Alternatively you can always strike a conversation with the house or cabin owners to ask what they think of it, and if they are OK with you staying in that spot (if it’s close to the buildings).

If they’re not, just move a bit further away until they can’t see or hear you. And if you are at least 150 meters away, you have a right to camp there, so their opinion does not really matter.

Wild camping tent
Photo published with permission.

Some rules to follow when wild camping in Norway

There are both written and unwritten rules when it comes to wild camping in Norway, so let’s take a look at some of the things you are expected to do and don’t when you are wild camping in Norway:

  1. Follow the laws of freedom to roam (as mentioned above).
  2. Don’t leave any waste or trash. Leave the place looking like it was looking when you got there.
  3. If you need to use the toilet, go at least 50 – 100 meters away from any trail, and dig it down in the ground. Make sure there are no streams, rivers or other water sources close to where you do your business.
  4. Do not destroy nature. That said, you are generally allowed to harvest berries, mushrooms and other edible things in the wild in Norway.
  5. Don’t walk on cultivated land or fields.
  6. Keep any pets on a leash during båndtvang period (April 1 to August 20).
  7. Respect the limitations to making a campfire. The general rule is no campfires between April 15 and September 15, but this can be prolonged if the weather is dry.
  8. Do not walk on private property.

Getting to places where you can set up a wild camp

One of the great things about Norway is that nature is always close, even if you are staying in Oslo or another big city. You can typically catch a short bus drive to get to a forest trail, and just find a nice spot to leave the trail and set up your tent.

You will not have any problems finding a place to wild camp when in Norway, not matter where you stay. For example, if you are staying in Oslo, just take the metro to Sognsvann just north of the city, or catch a ferry to Langøyene to find a good wild camping place just 30 minutes away from Oslo city center.

If you have a car, finding a spot is even easier. There are thousands of different forest and hiking trails all over Norway, and you can just drive to any of these to find a place to go on a wild camp.

Most trails usually have a designated car parking spot where you can park your car, but if not, parking it at the side of the road so that it won’t obstruct any traffic is also OK.

Driving a car or a motor bike off-road is not allowed. Non-engine vehicles like regular bikes are fine to use on hiking and forest trails though.

Wild camping tent
Photo published with permission.

Make sure to bring proper equipment when going on a wild camping trip

When you are going on a wild camping trip, getting the equipment you need should be your main priority. You will need a good and waterproof tent, some good shoes if you plan on walking long, food, and some method of making the food.

When camping in Norway, always bring clothes that can handle a change of weather. It might be sunny when you leave, but it might also be pouring down the next morning, even if the weather report didn’t say so.

Some cheap stores to buy basic wild camping equipment are XXL, Biltema and Clas Ohlson. The first one is a cheap outdoor sporting goods store, while the latter two are a general equipment store that also has a lot of camping equipment.

All three of these can provide you with pretty cheap and decent options, but you will not get the best equipment if you don’t shell out. There are plenty of outdoor, wilderness and camping stores in Norway, so pop into any of them to pick up whatever you need.

Some things you should bring when wild camping

Below are some of the most commons things you should bring with you when going on wild camping. But the list is not complete, so make sure to adapt it to where you are hiking, the time of year etc. to make sure it fits your need.

The list itself it made for when you want to stay 2 – 3 days or more in a pretty remote place where you have to rely on yourself, and you might not need everything if you are hiking with a big group or are pretty close to civilization.

Wild camping packing list:

  • A change of clothing that can handle rain.
  • Wool clothes to keep you warm in the early mornings and late evening.
  • A tent. Preferable waterproof.
  • A sleeping bag.
  • A first-aid kit.
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste.
  • A refillable drinking bottle.
  • Enough food.
  • A camping stove to heat your food.
  • Some snacks to to enjoy.
  • Plates to eat from, and utensils to use when eating.
  • Toilet paper.
  • Equipment to start a campfire (when it’s legal to do so).
  • Wet wipes. These are nice for cleaning yourself before eating.
  • A map and a compass.
  • A small knife.
  • A headlight or flashlight.

Learning to pack light, but also everything you need is a form of art that takes several camping trips to perfect. Most beginners tend to bring more clothes than they need, while at the same time forgetting very important stuff like the flashlight or something to start a fire.

A secluded lake in the forest
A secluded lake in the forest makes for a great wild camping spot. Photo: Nicklas Iversen / thenorwayguide.com.

Be very careful about wild camping in Norway during winter!

There are frequently tourists who attempt to wild camp in Norway during winter, but unless you are familiar with camping in freezing conditions, wild camping during winter in Norway is not recommended.

As a matter of fact, wild camping during winter often leads to hypothermia and frost-bites, and it’s actually pretty dangerous unless you know what you are doing.

That said, many Norwegians do go on wild camping in the winter, but only with proper equipment and the knowledge on how to handle this issues you will be facing. It can be a cool experience to go on a wild camp during winter, but it will be a lot more challenging than during summertime.

I do not advice tourists who are unfamiliar with camping to go in wild camping in the winter.

Tent on Hardangervidda
A tent on the Hardangervidda plateau during winter. Photo published with permission.

You could also stay at a Norwegian campsite

Are you more interested in camping while also having access to a toilet, shower, electricity and other amenities? What about staying at a Norwegian campsite instead of going on the wild camping?

There are hundreds of campsites all over Norway, and these all function in roughly the same way. You pay a fee of around 200 – 300 NOK per night (you might get a discount if you stay longer), and get a place to put your tent, car or RV.

This allows you to use the services of the campsite, which typically includes showers and toilets, but certain campsites also have lots of other services such as a small store, a public TV, children’s play rooms, washing machines, a place to hang out with your group, a beach or things like that.

Most campsites also have a few small cabins that you can rent, which is a very cheap option compared to booking a hotel room. Perfect for those rainy days!

Campsites can be pretty crowded during the summer (especially during the joint holiday), so you might need to book a spot in advance if you are in a popular tourism area at the peak of summer.

Bøflaten Camping
A typical Norwegian campsite, Bøflaten Camping in Valdres. Photo published with permission.

Common questions and answers about wild camping in Norway

Can I wild camp close to cities and town?

It is absolutely possible to be wild camping close to cities and towns in Norway. Most urban places will have wilderness very close by, and you are never far away from a decent camping spot.

Can I make a campfire when camping?

You are only allowed to make a campfire during certain times of the year, and the general rule is that you are allowed between September 15 and April 15, but only if you can 100 % confidently control the fire.

Can I drink water from nature when I’m camping?

Most Norwegians drink water straight from nature, and the risk of getting sick is low. Read more about how to drink water from nature safely.

Are you allowed to forage when wild camping?

You are allowed to forage berries, mushrooms and edible plants in Norway, as long as you are in utmark / unfenced land. So yes, you can pretty much harvest any edible things you like when camping in the wild. But be very careful when foraging in an unfamiliar country, because we might have some mushrooms here that can be confused with edible mushrooms that grow in other parts of the world.

How do I use the bathroom when wild camping?

To use the bathroom during a wild camping trip, always do your business at least 50 – 100 meters away from any water source and trail. If you need to do a number two, dig a small hole, squat down, and bury the evidence after you are done.

How do I prepare food when wild camping?

Most people who are wild camping prepare their food by using a camping stove. These run of gas, and can be connected to heating plates, allowing you to cook and heat your food while in nature.

Can I go fishing when wild camping?

You can fish in most water sources in Norway, but you need a permit from the person who owns the ground if it’s freshwater. These permits are called fishing cards (fiskekort), and you can usually buy them online at Inatur.no before you start your hike.

You are free to fish as much as you want along the coast or in saltwater, but there are regional limits to which fish you can harvest.

Can I go hunting when wild camping?

It’s possible to go hunting in Norway, but it’s a bit of a hassle to get set up if you want to do this. There are strict rules and regulations for hunting any animal in Norway, and this is typically not something you just do without a hunting party.

Do you need travel insurance when going on wild camping?

Wild camping is generally considered safe, but all foreigners who visit Norway are advised to have travel insurance. The public health system will help you out if you get in trouble, and they will even arrange search and rescue teams if you go missing or injure yourself on the camping trip, but this might get costly if you don’t have travel insurance or a European Health Insurance Card.

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