Everyman's Rights

The right to roam & enjoy nature

This information is taken from 'Visit Finland'

Finland’s 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 so 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, since Finland’s arctic nature in particular, 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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!