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Finnish everyman's rights – the right to roam & enjoy nature
3 minute read
a kid with Finnish flag enjoying nature

Credits:: Marjaana Tasala

The dos and don’ts of free-roaming in Finland

Finland’s beautiful nature is open to everyone to explore and enjoy! The Finns call this freedom “Jokamiehen oikeudet,” or “Everyman’s Rights.” But as always, rights come with responsibility. Here are the dos and don’ts of free-roaming in Finland.

In Finland, nature is both wild and free. The law allows anyone living in or visiting Finland the freedom to roam the countryside, forage, fish with a line and rod, and enjoy the recreational use of natural areas – respectfully, of course. This is known as “The Everyman’s Rights,” or Jokamiehen oikeudet.

Remember, though, that with this right comes responsibility. Finland’s arctic nature, particularly that of Lapland, is fragile. Please tread carefully, leave no trace, avoid private property and stay out of areas designed to protect vulnerable environments or wildlife. A few hard rules also apply, regardless of where you are within Finland. Hunting and fishing, aside from angling, are strictly prohibited without a permit. Otherwise, enjoy! Finland’s beautiful nature is accessible to all.

Landscape view of Finnish Lapland with a lake at the foot of the fell
Credits: Alexander Kuznetsov

Exploring national parks

Finland has over 40 national parks with clearly marked trails that are available to visitors. To protect the eco-system (and stay safe), plan to stay on marked trails and campsites. Most national parks also have rentable cottages and/or unlocked wilderness cabins that are open to anyone. Just respect the unwritten rules: clean up after yourself and replace anything you use (such as chopped firewood). Note that wilderness huts are not for commercial use, and the bed should always be offered to the last arrival. For more information, read the visitor guide to outdoor etiquette in Finnish national parks.

kayaking in Finnish national landscapes on a lake in the middle of a forest
Credits: : Marjaana Tasala
young hiking couple taking a break by the campfire
Please remember that making a campfire in Finland’s national parks is allowed only in designated spots and if no grass or forest fire warnings are in effect.
Credits:: Julia Kivelä

Foraging wild foods

Thanks to the Nordic climate, Finnish forests are brimming with nutrient-rich arctic superfoods in summer and early autumn. It’s a short but bountiful growing season, so go ahead and help yourself to things like wild blueberries, yellow chanterelles and even cloudberries in Lapland while you can. Visitors should remember, though, that while you can pick berries and mushrooms, you should never cut down trees or otherwise disturb flora and fauna. Steer clear of private homes and only pick what you can eat.

a table full of chanterelles and blackcurrants
Chanterelle mushrooms and berries, like bilberries and blackcurrants, are some of the most popular Finnish superfoods.
Credits: Harri Tarvainen

Encountering animals

Elk, wolf, lynx, fox, wolverine and bear are just some of the wild animals that live in Finnish forests. These animals aren’t usually dangerous unless they’re provoked. On the contrary, they tend to shy away from people. Should you wish to view or photograph animals at closer range, please stick to specific areas or excursions designated for wildlife-watching. And never feed or approach a wild animal! This is their home; you’re just visiting.

a squirrel eating seeds in the forest
Credits: : Harri Säynevirta
the bear cub and the mother sniffing the air in a Finnish forest
Credits:: Konsta Punkka
a young fox staring at the camera
Credits:: Antero Aaltonen

Making a campfire

Building a campfire is not included in Everyman’s Rights. In most national parks, for example, campfires are allowed only on campfire sites. Always check the rules of your destination and find out whether a grass or forest fire warning is in effect in the area. During fire warnings, campfires are strictly forbidden. If conditions are safe, you may light a fire in designated public areas or with permission from a landowner. When you light a campfire, make sure it is safely contained, away from wind and (ideally) close to water. Don’t light a fire on rocks, which could blacken and crack, and do not tear bark or cut wood from living trees.

Roaming private lands

When you’re on private land, remember that you’re not just a guest of nature but a guest of the landowner. You may wander freely and swim, cycle, canoe, go hook and line or ice fishing, or even pitch a tent in some places. But use your best judgement and respect the rights and privacy of others – don’t camp close to a private home or venture into someone’s garden.

couple hiking in the woods
Credits: Juho Kuva

Leaving no trace

Finns have zero tolerance when it comes to noise and littering. Always take your rubbish with you, avoid making excessive noise and take care not to disturb wildlife. Stay on paths when you can – this helps to keep you safe and preserve fragile eco-systems. Remember that low-growing vegetation including lichens, mosses and dwarf shrubs are easily damaged and rocky fells are sensitive to erosion. Ancient glacial rocks along the coast are similarly at risk. In short, leave nothing but footprints behind.

filling a drinking bottle from a forest stream
Finnish tap water is some of the best in the world. Bring your own bottle and use it everywhere you go to reduce plastic waste. If you’re hiking in Lapland and find a fresh stream coming down from the fells, don’t hesitate to take a sip!
Credits: Aleksi Koskinen

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