Wild Camping And Wild Car Camping In Europe: Complete Guide

If you want to do wild camping in Europe, you are taking on a big risk. It is illegal in many European countries. We want to show you where you have to be ready to pay fines or even prison sentences, and we are not joking. But on a lighter note, we also want to show you where you can easily pitch your tent without worrying. In Spain, Greece, Italy and France, there are horrendous penalties. In Switzerland, Sweden and Scotland, however, wild campers have more freedom.

Summer is the camping season. Especially now during the holiday season, many campsites are quickly overcrowded. There is a great temptation to simply pitch the tent somewhere in nature and go wild camping. Who wouldn’t want to park their caravan right on the beach and enjoy the sunset? Let’s see where you can and where you absolutely should not wild camp in Europe!

Depending on where you are, this can get pretty expensive. Because free camping is not allowed everywhere in Europe. The fines can get incredibly outrageous and expensive.

For example, countries that strictly prohibit camping also allow so-called “bivouacking”. In the alpinist sense, this means spending the night under the open sky or in a simple tarp covered accommodation.

Can you wild camp in Spain?

In Spain, there is a ban on wild camping, which is strictly monitored. There are no uniform penalties since different authorities such as municipalities, nature conservation authorities or the coastguards are responsible for this depending on the region.

The Guardia Civil, and the Spanish police, sometimes impose hefty fines and sometimes search the luggage of wild campers. In tourist regions and near the coast, the police sometimes even use helicopters to track down wild campers.

The penalties are the highest in nature parks and nature reserves. In addition, the larger the area claimed and the more people, the higher the penalty. Even if residents are disturbed or nearby campsites are deliberately deprived of income, you have to pay more.

The amount of the fine varies between 30 and 800 euros. The Spanish Tourist Office even reports fines of 5000 euros. While holidaymakers can apply for a wild camping permit from local authorities, this is rarely granted.

Can you wild camp in France?

In France, it could be problematic to enjoy a wild camping adventure. In France, campers are not allowed to pitch their tents just anywhere. Here, the ban applies primarily to beaches and tourist centers. The Coast Guard controls the coastal areas from the sea. In the worst case, fines of up to 1500 euros are possible.

However, bivouacking is tolerated in national parks between 7 p.m. and 9 a.m. But only if you are an hour’s walk from the borders of the national park. A list detailing where bivouacking is prohibited within French national parks is often posted at the park entrances.

If you want to sleep outside in nature, you should definitely look for places in undeveloped regions. The chances of this are higher in northern France than in the south.

In general, according to the ADAC, there are many regional restrictions. Tourists can apply to the local authorities for exemptions for free camping on public land.

Can you wild camp in Germany?

There are different regulations and regional restrictions on wild camping in the various federal states of Germany. According to the ADAC, overnight stays are usually permitted, but camping in public spaces is not. The borders of the federal states are fluid, so it is sometimes hard to determine in which region you are exactly. According to the ADAC, a camper is anyone who uses their camping equipment outside of the caravan or a car.

If you get caught, you usually get away with a warning and a request to move on quickly. However, hunters are not authorized to do this. Only police or forest officials are allowed to evict wild campers.

Fines for rubbish disposal and open fires range from 5 to 80 euros. However, up to 500 euros per person are possible. For example, for such a high fine you have to light a big campfire, make a lot of noise and leave garbage in the middle of a sensitive nature reserve.

There are some exceptional areas where wild camping is allowed. This includes, for example, the Palatinate Forest. However, you have to register there beforehand.

The Saxon Switzerland National Park also has 57 official free overnight accommodations. In Brandenburg, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, and Schleswig-Holstein, visitors can spend a night camping in the great outdoors. However, only if they are not in a nature reserve and do not have a motorized vehicle with them. This means, no car camping, sorry!

Can you wild camp in Italy?

Wild campers also have bad cards dealt in Italy. There are four authorities across the country who monitor that nobody camps in open spaces near the coast and in tourist areas.

Exception permits are issued by the local authorities. If you don’t have one, you have to expect a fine of 300 euros on average. Depending on whether you camp illegally with a caravan or a tent, the penalty varies. The fines range between 100 and 500 euros.

However, those who look too deeply into the wine glass will find mercy from the law enforcement officers. In order to restore their ability to drive, tourists are allowed to park their mobile homes or a car for one night in marked parking spaces to sleep off their intoxication.

Can you wild camp in Croatia?

Croatia does not tolerate wild camping. Nowhere, it’s as simple as that. Pitching a tent in the great outdoors is strictly forbidden there. An illegal night of wild camping costs up to 3,000 Croatian kuna – the equivalent of around 400 euros.

Can you wild camp in Switzerland?

According to the experience of the ADAC, winter camping is becoming increasingly popular

Hymer In Switzerland, it’s less of a problem to simply stop somewhere – and stay.

In Switzerland, different rules apply depending on the canton or municipality, but generally, you are not allowed to camp in national parks, hunting areas, many nature reserves and wildlife sanctuaries.

Otherwise, Switzerland is open to nature lovers who are looking for freedom: if you pitch your tent in the mountains above the treeline, you won’t get into trouble. This also applies to bivouacking in emergency situations.

The Swiss right of public access also allows camping for a night or two on non-agricultural land that is clearly not in a protected area. This right grants all people some use of wilderness and also of private land property. In addition to camping, this also includes making a fire.

In most Swiss cantons, signs indicate whether camping is allowed or not. Despite the right of public access, the Swiss Alpine Club advises finding out about the legal situation on site. If in doubt, you should generally obtain the approval of the local authority.

Can you wild camp in Denmark?

Wild camping in Denmark is prohibited. You can only camp inside of designated camping grounds. Even though you might get away with wild camping in rural areas, we do not recommend wild camping on any of the beaches, they are strictly prohibited for camping.

Can you wild camp in England?

Wild camping in England is strictly prohibited with the exception of Dartmoor. Camping in Wales is also limited only to official campsites.

Can you wild camp in Romania?

There are no wild camping restrictions in Romania, although we would not advise wild camping in areas that you do not feel particularly safe in. When talking to friends who visited Romania mainly with 4×4 vehicles, they had no problems when overlanding and car camping in the mountains. Locals also welcomed them, especially if they bought some fresh produce from many small farms that you find in more rural Romania.

Can you wild camp in Poland?

Although wild camping is not allowed in Poland, we have not heard of any fines that were issued in recent times. The best way to go wild camping in Poland is by either ask for permission to camp on private land (Polish people are incredibly nice) or to stay completely unnoticed.

Can you wild camp in Greece?

This is a tricky one. I myself have been wild camping in Greece, even though it is prohibited by the law. Locals and official told me that, they do not bother wild campers if they stay away from tourist attractions, popular beaches and roads. I have seen many people camping on beaches of certain rural islands and so on. I would do it again, but do be careful if you choose this way of camping in Greece.

Can you wild camp in Hungary?

Wild camping in Hungary is prohibited in national parks. Outside of national parks you are generally allowed to pitch a tent for a 24 hour period. Avoid starting open fires as they are banned in most seasons. Wild camp at your own risk.

Can you wild camp in Ireland?

Wild camping in Ireland is not allowed, do not do it. Some people are doing it in extremely rural areas, but we would not advise it.

Can you wild camp in Iceland?

Most of the land in Iceland is privately owned, which means wild camping is only allowed with the owners permission. The law does not specifically prohibit wild camping, but there is almost no land to camp on without being bothered. Many people are still doing it while they drive around the arctic circle. We would not recommend doing this.

Can you wild camp in Kosovo?

The state laws have nothing particular to say about wild camping in Kosovo. Which means you can wild camp without much worries. We would try avoiding private land near villages to avoid angry land owners, or you can always ask them for permission and hope for the best.

Wild Camping in Latvia

open fire at a wild camp

Can you wild camp in Austria?

Austria has a strict no-wild camping policy. What they do allow is a one night survival style bivouac stay (no tents!) in forests outside of national parks and nature reserves. Not a good country if you plan no wild camping.

Can you wild camp in Albania?

Wild camping in Albania is possible, as no laws prohibit wild camping. As in most countries, you are not allowed camping in natural park, reserves and private properties where you do not have permissions.

Can you wild camp in Scotland?

Most parts of Scotland are free for wild camping if you adhere to the no-trace policy. Leave nothing behind and you are welcome to wild camp. They do advice to avoid open fires and overcrowding in a certain area. Certain areas of Scotland are also not welcoming to wild campers but they cover a minority of Scotland. You can check the guidelines for different areas here.

Can you wild camp in Estonia?

As long as you stay out of obvious private and military property, Estonia welcomes you to camp everywhere you want, just like in Sweden and Norway. Estonia does also have a strict leave-no-trace policy, you must also use existing hiking trails and keep your washing away from water sources. Simple and inviting would be the way to describe Estonia.

Can you wild camp in Slovenia?

Being Slovenian myself, let me tell you, I have seen numerous occasions of police giving out tickets for wild camping. The fine ranges from 50-100 euros and law enforcement personnel have no problems giving out those tickets in Slovenia. Wild camping is not allowed here.

Can you wild camp in Slovakia?

Wild camping is allowed in Slovakia. They do not allow open fires and camping in national parks and other protected areas.

Can you wild camp in Montenegro?

I have wild camped in Montenegro before, however, the law states that it is not allowed. Stay out of populated touristy areas and you should be fine.

Can you wild camp in Turkey?

Wild camping is allowed and even promoted in Turkey. Choose areas with little to no population to avoid being bothered.

Can you wild camp in Finland?

Just like in other Nordic countries, all land is available to any man. Wild camping is allowed. Leave no trace and avoid the nearest buildings and you should be worry free.

Can you wild camp in Russia?

Wild camping and even open campfires are allowed in Russia. You may camp in all land except for church land, land near reservoirs and on private land. Avoid burning open fires during the dry months. Your Visa will have to contain the address of your stay so wild camping can be a bit risky for outsiders (avoid encounters with the authorities).

Can you wild camp in Cyprus?

Wild camping is allowed in Cyprus. Open fires, however, are a big hazard in Cyprus as the country tends to have dry weather. Avoid protected areas such as military objects, national parks and urban areas.

Can you wild camp in Czech Republic?

Wild camping is strictly forbidden in the Czech Republic. Just like in Austria, you are allowed to do an overnight bivouac outside of protected areas. You are not even allowed to camp in private land with the owner’s permission. 

Some travelers do take advantage of the fact that you can sleep in your car in order to regain driving ability which is a neat excuse if you plan on sleeping in your car. Car campers rejoice!

Can you wild camp in Bulgaria?

Rock climbers love Bulgaria, and they also love wild camping which is somewhat tolerated in Bulgaria, despite being against the national law.

Can you wild camp in Bosnia and Herzegovina?

Wild camping in Bosnia is still dangerous due to the fact that the not-so-long ago war in the Balkans left behind a number of landmines which are still underground in certain areas. Most of the areas with mines are well marked but extra caution is recommended. Wild camping in Bosnia and Herzegovina is allowed and you are welcome to do so!

Can you wild camp in Macedonia?

Wild camping is not allowed in Macedonia, but it is somewhat tolerated in rural areas. Do not bother anyone and you should be good.

Can you wild camp in Sweden?

Wild Camping is not only allowed, it is encouraged by the law! That law is called “Allemansratten” (something like that) and it means that all land, even private, is accessible to all people. Anyone can camp anywhere, as long as you stay at least 150m away from the nearest building, gardens and so on. 

Wild camping in Sweden is based upon respect towards nature, plants and animals. As long as you do not disturb anyone, nobody will disturb you. If you are on private land, keep your camping adventures short, but if you roam deeper into the woods or mountains, you can stay there as long as you can. Wild fires are allowed, but only in certain times of the year when there are no droughts. There are also some limitations on certain National parks and reserves. You also need to have appropriate permission if you plan on camping bigger groups (multiple tents).

waking up in a wild camp setting

Can you wild camp in Norway?

Wild camping in Norway is based upon the same law as in Sweden. You can camp wherever you want, but keep in mind that respect towards nature is a top priority, leave nothing behind. You can enjoy short stays anywhere you like, but you can enjoy longer stays if you are deep in the forest or mountains. To see additional restrictions about open fires and other things, visit the visitnorway.com website.

Can you wild camp in Lithuania?

Wild camping in Lithuania is allowed with the exceptions of national parks, private property and other areas with clear wild camping prohibitions. The country demands that campers leave no trace, make no unnecessary noise and leave calmly.

Can you wild camp in Luxembourg?

Wild camping in Luxembourg is not allowed and you do not want to experience the fines that get handed out, do not do it.

Can you wild camp in Malta?

Wild camping is not allowed and not tolerated in Malta. 

Can you wild camp in Portugal?

Wild camping is not allowed in Portugal, however there are people doing it by avoiding touristy areas and the high season.

Can you wild camp in the Netherlands?

Wild camping is not allowed in the Netherlands, you can pick one of the available camp sites. There is not much land to hide on and wild camp either.

Interested in more camping content? Head to our car camping and van life category!

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