Freedom to roam

When moving around in nature, treat the surroundings with respect, understand and value biodiversity


The freedom to roam formulates the rights and responsibilities of people when moving in nature. In the Nordic countries, this freedom is based on historically established practices and is often not enshrined in legislation, but rather is based on respect and trust. In Estonia, the rights and obligations of movement in nature are listed in the General Part of the Environmental Code Act , but good practice should definitely be followed in Estonia as well. Having a right also means having a responsibility. The exercise of the freedom to roam must not involve any intentional or unintentional disturbance.


In the natural and cultural landscape, you can move on foot, by bicycle, on skis, by boat, or on horseback. You can pick wild berries, mushrooms, flowers, herbs, hazelnuts, and other natural resources that are not under nature protection. You can camp in nature for up to one day, but it is not wise to do so near residential buildings. A pet must be kept on a leash, with the exception of hunting dogs during a hunt.


You must ask permission from the land owner to stay and camp on marked private land. The owner must clearly and visibly indicate the ban on picking natural products (berries, mushrooms, etc.). A fire may be made only with the permission of the owner or in a place designated for that purpose. The use of a private road or trail on foot and by bicycle is permitted if it is based on established practice. It is not polite to venture into a private yard.


Around public water bodies, a shore path up to four metres wide must be free to use for everyone. If the shore path is flooded, it must be possible to use a temporary shore path up to two metres wide. Ponds located entirely on the land of one owner, as well as water bodies used as a source of drinking water, water bodies used for fish farming, and water bodies with a special use are not intended for public use.


On public water bodies, anyone can fish with a single simple hand line.


When moving in protected areas , the signs put up in nature and the protection rules of the protected area – which can be found in the Riigi Teataja – must be observed. In protected areas, camping is only allowed in places prepared for this purpose.



Text: Reet Kristian, Piret Eensoo

Editor: Reigo Roasto


Last modified: 17.01.2021