Norway is known for its beautiful nature with fjords, tall mountains, long summer nights with midnight sun and mystical winter nights in the north with the northern lights. It’s the perfect vacation destination for the active tourist, seeking unique experiences. However, Norway is known to be expensive to travel. If you want to travel on the cheap in Norway, camping is a great alternative to cut your expenses remarkably, as well as Couchsurfing. This post is a locals guide to camping in Norway.
Norway has what you can call “the right to roam”, meaning that nature should be accessible for use for everyone. The nature in Norway belongs to everyone and should, therefore, be free. The state and different organizations are maintaining and protecting nature in Norway all year round so that everyone can continue to enjoy it.
Camping rules in Norway
Even though you have the right to roam in Norwegian nature, that means free camping in Norway is easy to come by, there are still Norway’s camping rules to take into consideration.
Camping is allowed up to 2 days in the same place in and around Norway. You also have to be more than 150 meters(500 feet) away from buildings and private property. As long as you follow these rules and are not creating inconvenience for the people in the area, you’re free to tent.
Exceptions to the rule often count in and around city mountains and uncultivated areas close to or in the city centers. Its also not allowed to camp close to drinking waters, or their catchment area.
You can swim in lakes and rivers in the wild in and around cities as long as it’s not drinking water or in the catchment area of drinking waters. An example is the drinking water, Svartediket, on the foot of Ulriken in Bergen. There are various hiking trails in the area, but camping and swimming in the are is not allowed.
Private campsites in Norway
Norway also has private camping sites, many with kitchen, showers, toilets, and access to electricity and water for vans. The camping prices for private campsites are definitely cheaper than hotels, but a lot of times, they are not as central as free camping options are. Be sure to check before heading off!
Camping in Bergen
Bergen is known for being the city surrounded by seven mountains. One of the things you should do while there are hiking Bergen’s mountains or at least get to the top of one of them. There are plenty of camping sites in close proximity to Bergen city center. Keep in mind the communal guidelines and respect the nature and you’ll get the best of both worlds; The second biggest city of Norway, in combination with beautiful mountain nature.
Free camping in Bergen
It’s allowed to camp on and around the city mountains of Bergen. The exceptions to that are on and around the city mountain Fløyen, as well as on Fløysletten and Skomakerdiket. Its also not allowed to camp close to drinking waters, like the drinking water Svartediket on the foot of Ulriken. You can check the maps on Bergens municipality page for maps of the areas affected. The official map of the water catchment areas in the mountains around Bergen is handy when looking for a place to tent.
Paid camping in Bergen
Bergenshallen is a big ice rink about 15 minutes outside the city center with the city tram. There are no tenting facilities here, but it’s perfect for campervans as there is a big parking lot. Bergenshallen caravan parking charges 200 kr per night and you can pay at an automat at the parking lot.
Midttun hotel and camping is further away from the city centre. It takes a bit more effort to visit Bergen city centre from here. By car, it’s just about 15 minutes but by public transportation, its a bit harder and I as a local wouldn’t recommend it. You’ll have to take a bus and then change for the city tram, Bybanen. The buses aren’t too frequent and it would be a lot of work to get back late at night.
Views from Mount Ulriken in Bergen
Camping in Oslo
The capital of Norway, Oslo has the same rules for the outdoors as around Norway. Though Oslo is the biggest city in Norway, there are places relatively close to the very city center, where you can camp.
Free Camping in Oslo
In the inner Oslo fjord, Langøyene island is the only island close to Oslo, where it is still allowed to tent. And that even for free. It can be reached by ferry all summer long. The ferry to Langøyene leaves from the City Hall Pier 4, look for the ferry line no. B4. The ferry prices in Oslo can be traveled with the normal public transportation tickets!
Nordmarka is just 15 minutes outside the center with the metro and covers a big area. You can reach different parts of Nordmarka with different metro lines. Some of the closest points to start looking for a camping space are Holmenkollen, Frognerseteren, Sørkedalen, and Sognsvann. I actually used to live at Sognsvann as there is a big student village there, so the camping options are definitely not too far from the center. If you decide to tent somewhere in Nordmarka you’ll be able to to do your Oslo sightseeing without problems.
Paid Camping in Oslo
Other paid campingsites around Oslo are Bogstad camping, Ekeberg Camping and Sjølyst Marina Camper Van Parking. Tent prices in Oslo start at about 200 kr, and the price for van and caravan camping in Oslo starts at about 300 kr per night.
Bonfire rules in Norway
Norway has strict bonfire rules to protect nature and buildings in and around camping areas. These rules include certain fixed periods of a ban on fires in the country. It’s prohibited to light fires in the Norwegian forests and uncultivated land between the 15th of April and the 15th of September. By uncultivated land, the law about outdoor life also includes forest, heather, grass, bare mountains, islets and beach areas. The ban also includes barbecues and the single-use barbeques you can buy in Norwegian supermarkets.
Use your head when lighting firepits in nature
The law is still open for common sense interpretation due to the differences in climate across Norway. This means that you will be allowed to use your head and consider the situation and place for a fire. This means that you will be able to light a fire after plenty of rain, on snow, or on beaches in safe distance to forest and vegetation.
Some places have areas dedicated to bonfires, barbeque, and campsites. Most of these places can be used all year round. Check regarding and use of these areas as it can also be banned during extremely dry seasons. You can check if the area you are camping in is under risk of wildfire on the Norwegian weather forecast page yr.no.
Remember to be thorough when putting out fires and barbecues.
Primus and camping stoves are allowed to use out in Norwegian nature, most of the time, even in areas with fire bans.
When making up fires you should follow the same guidelines as while camping in general. Aim to not leave a trace and leave the camping site, preferable, cleaner than when you got there. You can by example make use of an old bonfire pit instead of making a new one, or return the stones after putting out your fire.
Read the Norwegian Directorate for Civil Protections guidelines for lightning campfires before heading out on your first Norwegian Camping adventure!
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What to pack for camping in Norway
Camping Norway is, as you’ve hopefully realized, a great way to experience the country. If you’re choosing to tent while visiting Norway, however, you do have to be better prepared then you would normally have to be for a visit. I’ve prepared a list of things that would be necessary to bring for your wild camping experience in Norway. Be it for hiking, saving some extra bucks, or both.
This list is made, speaking from experience. I am, after all, born and raised in Bergen hehe. Read more about me and my story here if you want to. If you’re just here for the good intel, by all means, keep on reading!
The weather in Norway can be amazing, but also unpredictable. Definitely bring a dry bag to keep all your electronics and important documents dry while camping or hiking.
Definitely, a must when sleeping outside! I grew up using sleeping bags pretty frequently in Norway; from camping and tenting outside, to bringing a sleeping bag for sleepovers or weekend trips away at a cabin. Make sure you bring a sleeping bag made for the temperatures. It’s definitely not pleasant sleeping in a sleeping bag made for temperatures down to 10 degrees if the temperatures go below 0 degrees Celsius at night.
Even if you’re sure you’ll be camping on soft moss or grass, a sleeping mat is essential for a good night of sleep outdoor. Remember that the ground becomes cold at night and the sleeping mat helps to keep the cold away from your body. You can find really lightweight mats like this camping mat, that doesn’t take up too much space.
Primus, outdoor cooking gear
If you plan on visiting Norway, camping or not, my number one budget tip for you is to cook yourself. Norwegians don’t usually go out to eat more than one to a few times a month and the restaurant prices are thereafter.
When tenting in Norway, bring some outdoor cooking gear and get cooking. The easiest thing to bring for cooking when you’re traveling internationally will definitely be something like this Alcohol Burner and foldable camping stove. You can buy alcohol to burn in every supermarket and gas station(white spirit). Gas for a primus is a little harder to get a hold of, and definitely not possible to fly with. If you still want to go for a gas burner, check out this super simple and affordable primus cooker for gas.
I’ve already mentioned this multi-tool before. I’ve had a few during my travels though Latin America and I find them so handy. This gadget is a wine-opener, cutlery and beer opener in one. You don’t need much more than this! Best of all is that it actually works, it’s not one of those tools that you think will work, but are actually not functioning at all.
I want to put a couple of exclamation marks behind the word wool because it’s such a must in my backpack. Even if I go somewhere warm, I usually bring at least a few pieces of wool with me.
I love these thin wool tops that I can use underneath my normal outfits to keep warm without looking like I’m off to the mountains. In this case, though, you might very well be off to the mountains, so stock up on some more wool garments. Thin wool socks, wool long sleeve, and wool tights are perfect for the Norwegian nature.
Wind and waterproof jacket
I love my Helly Hansen jacket that is wind and waterproof and folds into one of its pockets. It takes up so little space and is great to throw over any kind of outfit, be it layers of wool and fleece or just a summer dress. Helly Hansen also has the same jacket for men, and my boyfriend actually has it.
Don’t camp in Norway without a mosquito repellent! Especially if you’re camping close to lakes, rivers or the ocean. This mosquito spray is eco-friendly and perfect for those with sensitive skin.
An insect permethrin spray can also be a good investment. Spray clothes and camping gear with the spray before you leave for your trip you’ll be good for about 6 washes.
Check out my absolute backpacking must-haves to get more ideas of what to bring to Norway.
I hope this post gave you some inspiration to explore Norway on a budget be it for nature, city experience, or both.