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Norwegian word of the day: Allemannsretten

Frazer Norwell
Frazer Norwell - [email protected]
Norwegian word of the day: Allemannsretten
Today's Norwegian word of the day is all about the right to enjoy the great outdoors. Norwegian word of the day: Syden. Caption Photo by Francesco Ungaro on Unsplash / Nicolas Raymond/FlickR

Today’s word covers a concept which facilitates Norwegians’ deep love for the great outdoors.

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What does allemannsretten mean? 

Allemannsretten, when broken down, translates to “everyone’s rights” in English. While it means everyone’s rights, it actually applies to a specific set of rights that apply to everyone rather than a universal set of rights that apply to everyone – like a constitution, for example. 

Perhaps the best way to translate it would be the right to public access or the right to roam. These roams are outlined and protected by the Outdoors Act. 

Essentially, they govern the rules for enjoying the great Norwegian outdoors. Allemannsretten outlines how people can enjoy unrestricted access to the Norwegian public. The right of access applies to the right to hike, walk and ski as well as swimming, camping and foraging. 

This right is why you can camp, hike or swim wherever you want in Norway. It allows people to use open land regardless of the landowner. It applies to uncultivated areas. In Norway, this covers most of the coast, marshlands, forests and mountains. Unused smaller areas in cultivated land are not considered open land. 

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There are some exceptions, though, such as camping in the same place for too long or too close to somebody’s property. 

It also comes with the obligation to respect nature and to act with consideration and caution for your surroundings. 

Why do I need to know this? 

Allemannsretten is considered as much a part of the country’s cultural heritage as a part of its rules and regulations. This is because it facilitates the outdoor lifestyle that is so popular more or less all year round. 

It also helps to explain why, when you are out and about, you will see people pitching tents and hammocks. It's also handy to know as Norway's forests, fields and mountains are teeming with plenty of tasty food to forage and eat. In the later parts of summer and early autumn, many people head out on trips to harvest berries and mushrooms. The best spots are typically closely guarded family secrets. 

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