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I'm planning a trip for this fall which would include two- or three-day hikes through some of the national parks in Finnish Lapland; in particular, I'm looking at Urho Kekkosen national park.

The idea would be that the camping would be "in the wild" rather than at specific campgrounds.

Is this allowed, and if so, is there a permit requirement ahead of time?

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No, permits are not required. Under Finland's "everyman's rights" (jokamiehenoikeudet, allemansrätten), you can legally camp anywhere -- even private property -- that's not a built-up area, too close to somebody's house or otherwise legally prohibited (military or border zones, some nature reserves, etc): https://www.visitfinland.com/article/everymans-rights/

The one major catch is that lighting a campfire does require permission from the land owner. Specifically, in the case of national parks, lighting open fires is strictly forbidden outside designated areas, and this is why most people camp at designated campgrounds. (Camp stoves are OK.) Some national parks also ban all camping outside designated spots, so check before you go.

Also, Finland's national parks have an extensive network of cabins. Some are first come, first served, but the more popular ones do require you to book ahead.

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  • To clarify, does "lighting fires" only apply to open fires or are gas stoves permitted? – Crazymoomin Feb 22 at 1:19
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    @Crazymoomin Per ymparisto.fi/fi-FI/Luonto/… (sorry, Finnish only), camp stoves are not considered open fires. – lambshaanxy Feb 22 at 1:27
  • Back in the 80s when I did more hiking in Lappland, many of the cabins (that didn't require you to book in advance) operated under FIFO = first in, first out. The logic was that those who came in first had had the most time to rest, and would have more energy to erect a tent or whatnot. It was very rare that the policy would need to be implemented, and the busiest routes have probably moved towards booking by now. Yet, younger pals confirmed that the "rule" is still known. – Jyrki Lahtonen May 21 at 8:42

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