Top Five Camp Rules
- Camp in authorized locations
- Follow hut rules
- Wash up dirty dishes and bathe away from sources of drinking water
- Do not pour dishwater into rivers or lakes
- Respect other hikers
Shelters and day trip huts: Many outdoor recreation areas in Finland have cooking shelters and day trip huts which are primarily meant for day use only.
Wilderness huts: There are different kinds of wilderness huts in Finland, ones that are open for anyone to use for one night for free, and reservable ones which are locked and require a small reservation fee.
Most huts are in remote parts of the country in national parks and designated wilderness areas especially in Lapland and the northern and eastern parts of Finland. They are usually located some distance from the nearest road and require hiking or skiing at least a few kilometres.
They are normally rustic log cabins which include only the essentials, a fireplace or wood stove, a table with benches, and bunks for sleeping. Some include a gas cooker. The reservable huts usually have a stove, a gas cooker with some pots and cooking utensils, blankets and mattresses, and some have a sauna. These huts can be reserved online and require a code to obtain a key from a lockbox or collecting the key from the local visitor centre or service partner.
In every hut there is a guest book in which visitors can sign their names, make comments about their journeys and destinations, and comment on the condition of the hut. Also, visitors should read carefully the included instructions and rules on how to operate the equipment at the hut and the proper etiquette during their visit.
Since many days can pass between visits from maintenance personnel, it’s up to the visitors to ensure the hut is in proper order for the newcomers. This is a Finnish tradition and it’s considered common courtesy among visitors to leave the hut in as good if not better condition than they found it. This includes normal cleaning but also shovelling snow, emptying and drying water buckets, cleaning out the ashes from the fireplace, and filling firewood boxes. Proper Finnish etiquette also includes chopping some kindling so that the next visitors can quickly start a fire. A thoughtful habit especially during the cold winter months.
The open huts can get busy during peak times, so it’s recommended that bigger groups reserve a hut for themselves or bring tents to pitch nearby. A fundamental rule is that the last one to arrive always has the right to stay in the open hut. Those already there must make room.
Camping: Perhaps the best accommodation for a true nature experience is to pitch a tent or hang a hammock between two trees. Thanks to the “Everyman’s Rights” law in Finland everyone has the freedom to roam and camp overnight anywhere in the country. It is not permitted however to go near private residences or onto cultivated land and nursery plantations, and it’s strictly prohibited to damage or disturb the natural environment and wildlife in any way.
In the national parks and some of the other protected areas there are designated camping sites and in general camping is not allowed elsewhere in protected areas. The campsites are free to use and include picnic tables, campfire rings, dry toilets, and well-stocked woodsheds. Campfires are possible as long as there are no grass or forest fire warnings in effect. Be sure to check at visitor centres or Nationalparks.fi before starting a campfire and always use caution with fire. It’s a great idea to carry a portable camp stove with you.
A fresh water source, river or lake, is usually nearby the campsite, and while Finland has some of the purest water in the world, it’s recommended to treat, filter, or boil drinking water especially in heavy-use areas. Always follow the “leave no trace” outdoor mottos “carry in, carry out” and “take only pictures, leave only footprints”.
Other options: There’s a constantly growing list of private cottages, farmhouses, holiday villages, and wilderness guides that offer services, safaris, and accommodation nearby national parks and wilderness areas. They can vary from rustic, simple, and reasonably priced to luxurious, plush, and more expensive. It’s possible to venture into the wilderness and choose the level of comfort you desire.