Hut-to-hut hiking and Freedom Camping is the way to go in Norway if you love the outdoors and want stay on a budget. Last summer my partner and I hiked above deep fjords, slept in comfy huts, drove scenic remote roads, soaked in panoramic views of sheer mountain faces and camped, under the never setting midnight sun.
What’s that you say about hut-to-hut hiking?! Thanks to the oil money that Norway stumbled upon in 1969, they have built hundreds of public cabins across the country for outdoor recreational use
To get access to more than 500 huts across Norway, you must become a member of The Norwegian Trekking Association (also known as the DNT). For $100 a year, you gain access to all the huts sprinkled across the country and access to a single key that opens them all.
- You pick up a key in any major city you fly into, and if you return it on your way out you get a $10 deposit back.
- The DNT employees at offices in every major Norwegian city will help you plan out a trek that fits your needs, anywhere from 1 night to 3 months.
- Any DNT cabin that you come across while hiking must sleep you, regardless of open beds. They will pull out extra mattresses from under the bunk beds and sleep you in the kitchen. You are guaranteed a bed.
- DNT cabins range from self serviced huts with only a provision closet that you can sign food out of on an honor system, to staff lodges that feel more like a 4 star hotel with three course meals and saunas to soak in.
- All DNT cabins have a provisions closet with food and resupply materials one may need while out backpacking, so even if you don’t plan on sleeping in a DNT cabin, you can stop in and sign out food from the provisions closet to resupply your load.
- You fill out a paper receipt that details how long you spent at the cabin, how much food you took, and your email address. The bill is sent to your email after your stay, all based on an honor system of reporting the correct information.
- At fully staffed huts, the food is served at long wooden tables where you sit with your neighbors and enjoy a 3 course traditional Norwegian meal. This is the best way to try traditional Norwegian food and eat with local Norwegians! Don’t forget your manners though as Norwegians are very proper people!
- DNT cabins range in prices from $25/night in the self-serviced huts, to $100/night for the fully staffed huts with 3 course meals and breakfast.
is Freedom Camping? You may put up a tent, or sleep under the stars for the night anywhere in the countryside, or in forests or mountains, as long as you stay at least 500 feet away from the nearest inhabited house or cabin. The 500 feet distance also applies to camping cars and caravans. So, being the thrifty travelers we are, we didn’t book any accommodations assuming we would pull over to the side of the road and freedom camp when we weren’t hiking from hut to hut. But it wasn’t that easy.
Tips about freedom camping:
- It is harder than expected to find land that is not fenced, and therefore freedom camping mostly applies to mountainsides and backpacking.
- Camping sites and RV sites have a less-than-quaint reputation in the States, but in Norway, RV parks and drive-up camping sites were cute, family friendly and full of amenities. They were often home to giggling children with amusement park vibes that dawned faire candy stands, bumper cars, mini-golf and one even had water slides for the kids.
- You can drive up to most RV parks or campsites and request a campsite for under $20.
- Outside of major cities, most towns are inhabited with less than a few hundred people because of the rugged mountains. Therefore, restaurants close early and may leave you high and dry for a meal anytime after 8 pm. Most RV parks and drive up campsites have a snack shack serving homemade pizza or burgers, which are generally very tasty!
- Because the sun never sets during the summer months, make sure you bring an eye mask to help regulate your sleep cycles, it’s quite a trip to never see darkness! We were going to bed every night at midnight without even trying. When daylight is extended, you just want to keep enjoying it!
For now, I’ll leave you to dream about the magical mountains and grandeur of Norway. I hope to see you there someday; it’s a place I know I’ll go back to. Until then, your gutsy traveling friend,