Wild Camping in Norway
(Author = Boff)
1. Wild Camping in General:
1.a) Q: Is wild camping in Norway illegal?
A: No, unlike many other European countries there is no general ban on wild camping in Norway. There is however a strict ban against driving with any kind of motor vehicle into the wilderness.
1.b) Q: By the way, what is "Wild Camping"?
A: In the English language the term "Wild Camping" usually means spending a night outside of official camp sites.
However, in most European countries a clear distinction is made between "Wild Camping" and "Overnight Parking".
1.c) Q: And what is this difference?
A: As long as you simply pull up onto a car park where it is legal to park your van and spend one night there this is Overnight Parking. If you have a drink or dinner before bedtime and take a shower and have breakfast before leaving next morning this is still fully OK.
If you put anything outside of your van (like camping furniture), roll out an awning, run a generator, fire up a barbeque or do anything else like that then this is considered as Wild Camping. Usually it is also considered as Wild Camping if you stay on the same spot for more than 24 hours. As a rule of thumb one can say that as long as you could drive off at any time without leaving the vehicle or leaving anything behind, then you are parking
1.d) Q: What else should I consider?
You should always keep a low profile and avoid too large gatherings of motorhomes. The maximum number of motorhomes depends of course on the size of the car park, the proximity of inhabited houses (anyway, "Wild Camping" close to houses is a contradiction in terms, isn't it?) and the "sensitivity" of the surroundings. Especially if you are travelling in a group of motorhomes you should seriously consider to only use camp sites and official motorhome sites.
2. The "Allemannsrett":
2.a) Q: What is the "Allemannsrett" or "Everybody's right"?
A: The "Allemannsrett" allows you to pitch up your tent
on non-cultivated ground under certain conditions. Some of these conditions are: Max. stay 48 hours, no garbage left behind, if closer than 150 metres to a house or cabin you have to ask the owner for permission. There are also other parts of the Allemansrett about collecting wild berries and mushrooms etc., but they are not discussed here.
2.b) Q: So what does this Allemansrett mean for me with a motorhome?
A: Basically nothing, as it only applies for non-motorized tourists with tents. However it is considered as polite to also ask the owner if you intend to stay within sight of an inhabited house.
3. Road Lay-bys and Motorway Service Stations:
3.a) Q: Am I allowed to spend a night on a road lay-by?
A: According to information from the Norwegian Road Traffic Authority
: Yes! However overnight parking restrictions as mentioned in 4.b-c) could apply. In addition road lay-bys are not always the most pleasant places to stay, because of traffic noise, exhaust fumes etc. And especially some lay-bys along major tourist routes and close to urban areas seem to attract certain unpleasant, if not illegal, nocturnal activities.
3.b) Q: And what about Motorway service stations?
A: Norway has only very few motorways, and most of them in the densely populated area around Oslo. If you nevertheless happen to find a service station there, then the same as in 3.a) applies.
4. Car Parks and Signposts:
4.a) Q: I have found a nice picknick/swimming/sight-seeing place and parked my motorhome on its car park. Am I allowed to spend the night there?
A: Yes, as long as this is public ground and unless local signposts say otherwise. And even if there are signposts their legal status is in some cases questionable, so the decision is up to you whether you "take the risk" or not. In the following answers some of the more frequent "flavours" of these signs are discussed:
4.b) Q: The official "Stopping Restriction" sign with an additional motorhome symbol?
A: Motorhomes may not park here at all, other vehicles may. This is an official traffic sign and should be observed. Otherwise you may be fined.
4.c) Q: Like 4.b), but with an additional time definition (e.g: 22:00-06:00)?
A: Motorhomes may not park here during the specified time. Again this is official and should be observed.
4.d) Q: Crossed-out caravan symbol or "Ej bovagn"?
A: You may not place a caravan
here. Has no meaning for motorhomes.
4.e) Q: Crossed-out tent?
A: You may not pitch a tent here. Has no meaning for motorhomes.
4.f) Q: "No Camping" or "Camping førbjudet"?
This is a difficult one. You find it usually in the vicinity of camp sites, which already gives you an indication who has placed it... Many of these signs are hand-painted and do not look very official. And as long as you are simply overnight parking
, you are strictly speaking not camping!
However many of these signs seem to deliberately aim at nightly motorhome stopovers. So it is again up to you to decide whether you stay nonetheless. Legally
you are on the safe side, however there have been reports about raging camp site owners trying to chase away motorhomes in the middle of the night.
4.g) "Privat" (also in combination with any of the above):
This is private ground, so you should not park there even at daylight, unless you have the owner's permission.
5. In Towns and Cities:
5.a) Q: I want to spend a night in a town. Where can I do that?
A: Quite some Norwegian towns meanwhile provide dedicated motorhome stopover sites similar to the German "Stellplatz" or French "Aire". Examples are Oslo, Bergen, Ålesund, Trondheim. While some of them charge a fee, they are usually very conveniently located and provide all services needed for motorhomes (with the unfortunate exception of Trondheim). Ask at the tourist office or look into this site's database.
If there is no official stopover site you could check at local sports grounds. Follow signs to "Idrettsplass". Usually they are located in a little distance to inhabited houses, provide large car parks and are quiet at night, except if there is an event taking place.
5.b) Q: What about car parks at churches or graveyards?
A: Strictly speaking it is not illegal to spend the night there, however it is considered as very rude to stay at such sacred places.
5.c) Q: And what about museums, restaurants, marinas etc?
A: No problem, as long as you have the owner's permission. Some places, especially marinas, meanwhile provide dedicated motorhome stopover sites, but then usually charge a fee.
5.d) Q: May I simply stay in a residential area?
A: As you will not be able to keep the required 150 metres distance to inhabited houses, you need to ask your "temporary neighbours" for permission.
5.e) Q: And in an industrial area?
A: Again this is not illegal, but especially in Norway you will always find more pleasant surroundings for an overnight stopover.
6. Rubbish, Fresh and Waste Water:
6.a) Q: When I am not going on camp sites, where can I dump my waste water?
A: There are numerous sanitary stations for motorhomes all over Norway. They are marked in the official road atlas "Veiatlas Norge" and also locally signposted. Mostly located at petrol stations. Many of them are even free of charge.
6.b) Q: Where do I get fresh water?
A: Also at these service stations. Or at petrol stations. Look for "Vann".
6.c) Q: And where do I get rid of my garbage?
A: You will find dust bins on practically all car parks, pick-nick sites etc. Keep in mind that for bottles and drink cans a refund system is in place, so do not throw them in the dust bins but bring them back to the shops and collect the deposit.