In America, we’re accustomed to certain amenities in a campground. Space to lay out a tent, a spot to park our car, a pre-established fire pit. If we’re feeling fancy, we’ll ensure there’s an outhouse nearby. A step up from that might also offer a wooden picnic table in our site and perhaps – gasp! – real plumbing-connected toilets. Now, that’s almost no longer camping at that point.
But what about showers? Rarely. A community kitchen? Haha, no. Wifi? Are you serious?
We were quite surprised to find out what was considered standard in Norwegian camping.
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There are two different base types of camping in Norway. The first is wild camping. This is your run-of-the-mill, pitch-your-tent-at-the-side-of-the-road camping. In Norway, it’s perfectly legal to camp just about anywhere unless posted otherwise, a privilege granted by the “right to roam” (Allemannsretten). Here’s the shocking bit: even on private property.
This comes with the caveat that one must be at least 500 ft. away from the nearest residence, and all garbage and waste must be packed out. Fires are an obvious no-no. Also, permission is required for stays longer than two nights. But that’s a pretty cool setup, and it has led to camping being widely popular across the country.
We saved a lot of money by camping throughout our stay. We wild-camped a couple of times.
The first was a little spot just off the side of the road near Edland. It was late and pretty much dark (in the summertime, that’s saying a lot). It appeared to be a construction (or pre-construction) site, with wires and random pipes sticking out of the ground. We half expected someone to show up and kick us out. We also got the car stuck in the loose gravel (but we managed to get it un-stuck with some clever placements of large rocks behind the drive wheels). Fun times!
In the end, we had a beautiful view of the water and mountains in the distance. The full moon made the scene simply magical. Who could beat those views waking up under a fly-free tent open to the stars? And no one kicked us out.
Our other wild camping spot was near the end of our trip, just outside of Dombas. No, that word isn’t misspelled. There’s no second S. I promise.
This was a little less wild, as it came with a picnic table (and countless mosquitos), but it still lacked a bathroom of any sort, so it was wild enough. It was right on the river, and we had one neighbor, so it was plenty quiet and plenty scenic.
Most of our stay, however, was spent in what we soon came to call “luxury camping.” Each of these spots required payment per car/tent, but for a reasonable ~$45 per night for our entire group of 5 people, 2 cars, and 3 tents, we were able to “camp” in comfort.
These sites offer a wide lawn where visitors can park their cars and pitch their tents. Unfortunately, campfires aren’t really a thing in these establishments. But most offer other perks that will make you redefine the word “camping.”
Our sites, ranked
One of our later sites in Jostedal had all the amenities we had come to expect out of a Norwegian campground. The facilities were superb. Bathrooms were clean, and they have a massive kitchen/dining area – the best of all the sites we visited. This was also one of the rare locations we took advantage of a 4-minute token-operated shower. By this point, we needed it.
But the site wasn’t much to write home about beyond that. It was far more crowded than other campgrounds we visited, and we were assailed by cigarette smoke, so that made it less than pleasant. It also lacks a view (though the dining area is right off the river), which had become a base requirement by this point. It was still a great site, even though it’s our lowest-ranked. We were just spoiled by this point in the trip. We preferred other sites.
One night, we simply browsed the local campgrounds for the best views. They were all rather comparable, and the one we settled on in Sjotun is nestled at the end of a beautiful fjord. It also has a sizable kitchen equipped with toasters, a stovetop, and toaster ovens.
We were quite tired when we reached this one, so perhaps my lower opinion of it is due to this; we were mostly just looking for a place to crash. But at least this one has a view.
We opted for camping for our last night in Norway, too, given our early flight the next morning. We camped in the Ekeberg Campground overlooking the city of Oslo, and we enjoyed exploring the adjacent park for some very bizarre art installations. We also witnessed both sunset and sunrise there (which is also saying something). Golden hour lasted forever!
This one has a lot more going on, though it’s a huge campground, mostly populated with RVs (some were enjoying a late-night party). We spent the entire evening there, opting for a quiet last night in Norway, so we were able to thoroughly enjoy the area.
Our Vinje campsite was amazing. Not only does it come with a full outdoor patio to enjoy our meals, we could camp in the mist of a waterfall! It also has a trampoline on-site, where I could make Aaron jump for some photos. This site overlooks the Geiranger Fjord, and it put us in the ideal spot for a beautiful fjord hike (with goats!) the next day.
Kyrping was our first experience with Norwegian campgrounds, so it’ll always have a special place in our hearts. When we arrived, we discovered they have public wifi. Haha… were we still camping? Later, it came as an expectation, and we resented sites that had weaker signals
It also has token-operated showers. I originally drew the line there – I could survive a few days camping without a shower. And we found out too late that they have a small kitchen area we could have used. We were well prepared for the next campground, though!
Kyrping also caters to RVs, and they have cabins available for rent. If we were so inclined, we could have also hired a boat to go out on the water for a bit. I was having too much fun wandering the grounds and getting attacked by seagulls, though.
By far, our favorite was the tiny Dyrdal Gard. This site can only house a few tents, and the facilities – both the bathrooms and kitchen – are quite small. However, the site is right on the water, there was hardly anyone there (certainly no RVs), and the showers were free! Hey, I wasn’t going to let that opportunity pass me by.
The location is pretty remote. In fact, we drove the wrong way through two blasted tunnels (one 11km long) – twice – before we located the correct turn. But a friendly yak and some very curious goats greeted us along the way, so it was worth it.
This site is the perfect mix between established, posh camping and the quiet seclusion of wild camping, and we’d return in a heartbeat.
Camping is definitely the way to go in an expensive country like Norway. Especially with pleasant summer weather like we had, we loved the flexibility and the more intimate connection with the beautiful landscapes.
Have you camped on your travels? What are your must-haves in camping amenities? Tell us in the comments below!
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