Outdoor recreation

Published by Norwegian Environment Agency

Nine out of ten Norwegians take part in some form of outdoor recreation, but the emphasis has shifted over the years from practical activities such as hunting and fishing to purely leisure pursuits such as walking, cycling and swimming.

Cold weather with little snow gives good skating conditions, and people make the most of such opportunities to take to the ice. Photo: Kim Abel, Naturarkivet.no

Rivers and lakes attract water birds, which makes them popular destinations for walks in built-up areas. Children always enjoy feeding the ducks and swans. Photo: Bård Bredesen, Naturarkivet.no

Outdoor swimming is a very popular activity in Norway. Swimming goggles allow children to explore more of the underwater world. Photo: Kim Abel, Naturarkivet.no

Norwegians enjoy generous access rights to the countryside. Cloudberries are highly prized, and people also pick more familiar berries such as raspberries and bilberries. Photo: Bård Bredesen, Naturarkivet.no

Access to attractive areas for outdoor recreation is important, especially in towns and built-up areas. Municipalities safeguard outdoor recreation areas through their planning activities. In some cases, the Norwegian government provides financial support to secure areas for public outdoor recreation. Photo: Arild Sørensen.

Outdoor recreation for all

The most striking feature of outdoor recreation in Norway is its variety, people enjoy everything from a quiet stroll near home, to fishing, mountaineering and downhill skiing in winter. Such outdoor experiences may become memories of a lifetime.

Nine out of ten Norwegians go for a walk or take part in other forms of outdoor recreation about twice a week. Studies show that people first and foremost seek peace and quiet, and fresh air.

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Improves people's physical and mental health

Outdoor recreation improves people's physical and mental health. Recent research shows that even a moderate level of activity has a positive effect. In Norway, access rights ensure free access to and passage across all uncultivated land througout the year. In addition, the authorities secure areas they buy for outdoor recreation.

It is a national target to safeguard and manage areas of value for outdoor recreation in a way that maintains the natural environment for future generations.

Fewer opportunities for varied outdoor recreation

Despite the legal right of access to uncultivated land, there is pressure to restrict access in many areas. Many outdoor recreation areas are being lost, especially in and near towns and built-up areas, and access to the coastline is becoming more restricted. Pollution, litter and noise on land and water also reduce people’s enjoyment of areas that are used for outdoor recreation.

Voluntary organisations play an important role

In Norway, voluntary organisations play an important part in providing opportunities for outdoor recreation for example by maintaining footpaths and ski trails and in encouraging people to join in different activities. Outdoor activities are also part of the curriculum for day care centres and schools.

Local authorities safeguard outdoor recreation areas through their planning activities. The authorities can maintain access to the coastline and beaches by designating areas they own as outdoor recreation areas or drawing up agreements with landowners.