From park homes to port towns, from caravan park to canal walks. The Nordic nations of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden all offer exactly the right combinations of lush landscapes, luxurious lifestyle, great facilities, and an amenable attitude to camping to make them an ideal set of destinations for the wild camping, caravanning or camper-vanning tourist.
Or… do they? The truth is although all five of these countries are in either the European Union or the Nordic Council, they have varying attitudes when it comes to the legal provisions around camping and caravanning, so special care could well need to be taken. With the information here, you can make sure that once you’ve properly packed and gotten everything ready in just the way you need, you won’t be caught falling fowl of the boys in Scandinavia’s various shades of blue.
Arguably the most caravanning, camper-vanning, and wild camping friendly country from among the Nordic nations, it’s easy to see why so many people want to come to this sub-arctic paradise and experience the majesty and wonder of the landscape in their own time, and on their own terms.
The fjords and rivers are plentiful, the cities are clean, historic, and gorgeous, and like several other countries on this list, if you come at the right time of year you have a good chance of seeing the Northern Lights.
What Norway also has is a set of laws and legal practices known as “allemannsretten” which translates into English approximately as “right to roam”. As long as you are staying on an uncultivated piece of land for no more than two nights and leave no trace of your stay, the law cannot and will not touch you. So travel freely and enjoy the views!
Sometimes known as the land of fire and ice, because of its dramatic newly formed landscapes, its sub-polar temperatures, and its regular volcanic activity, Iceland is a very popular place for caravanners, camper vans and wild campers alike.
Pay particular attention to the vistas, the waterfalls, and the eldritch seeming black sand beaches. All of which make dramatic photos, but can sometimes be even better if you just stop and take them in without a digital lens getting in the way.
The greatest thing about Iceland is the locals are very aware of just how desirable this country is for this kind of tourism, and so they have set up over 150 dedicated camp sites dotted across the majestically sublime landscapes. That gives Iceland far more campsites per capita than not just any nation among the Nordics, but very possibly any other country in Europe!
Finland & Sweden
The land of the Finns and the country of Abba, Dynamite, and SAAB might not have many people between them, but both are very thick on the ground with the kinds of things self-directed travellers in caravans and camper vans love. Specifically, forests, lakes, rivers, and the kind of picturesque places that would make even the world’s most seasoned postcard photographer weep with wonder.
Very much like Norway, Finland and Sweden also have a set of laws that make caravanning and camping a much easier and much less regulated affair. The Finns refer to these as “jokamiehenoikeus”, while the Swedish term is “Allemansrätt” and both are aptly translated as “The Everyman’s Right”.
You can walk, ski, horse ride, and cycle freely across approximately 90% of each country’s surface area, with the only restricted places being the ones specifically designated by the governments. When it comes to setting up camp, as long as you are a reasonable distance from other people’s static homes, and you do not stay in the same place for more than two nights, the law cannot touch you.
There are some more specific restrictions about living off the land and what kinds of fruit you can and cannot pick, but as long as you leave your site in the same condition you find it, everything will be fine.
The home of the Little Mermaid, the Tivoli Gardens, castles and palaces galore, and that isn’t even getting to all the natural wonders of the countryside, Denmark is a very popular destination for tourists of all kinds, not least of which are campers and caravanners.
Being the smallest in land area, and most densely populated of the five Nordic nations, it isn’t entirely surprising that this nation is the odd man out when it comes to permissive camping and caravanning laws. Camping or setting up your caravan on an unregulated site or otherwise seemingly unowned plot of land can result in some serious fines of up to seventy-five Euros per infraction.
Denmark is however not intrinsically unfriendly to self-directed tourists, and with 40 dedicated forest camping sites spread throughout the country, there is always something great to find in the nation that flies arguably the world’s oldest flag.
Caravanning and camper van travelling is a wonderful way to see so many different parts of the world. Keep these rules in mind, and you can easily add the Nordic nations to that list. Enjoy!