Wild Camping - The Rules in Europe
Travel through Europe in complete freedom, spontaneity and flexibility with a motorhome or a caravan and always spend the night where you like it best: Exactly that is (unfortunately) more of an ideal than reality in most European countries due to the prohibition of wild camping. Furthermore country- or even region-specific regulation quickly turn the idea of travelling in freedom into a legal maze.
According to the motto "Other countries, other customs", we give an overview of the regulations on wild camping and reveal why you are not only on the safer, but perhaps also on the better side by booking a campsite.
- All About Wild Camping
- The Regulations in Europe
- Free-Standing vs. Camping: Pros and Cons
- Frequently Asked: Wild Camping
Wild Camping - that sounds like freedom, adventure and a proper dose of experiencing nature, doesn't it? But before you plunge headlong into the wilderness, we should clarify a few important questions: Who are the people who have been grabbed by the wild-camping-fever? How exactly does wild camping work? Where can you pitch your tent without getting in trouble with forest or park rangers? Und last but most definitely not least: What should you pay attention to so that you and nature get along harmoniously?
Who, How, Where, What: Wild Camping
Who likes to go wild camping?
How does wild camping work?
Where is wild camping allowed or prohibited?
What are the basic rules when wild camping?
That's Why Wild Camping is Prohibited
One of the most important points for wild camping prohibitions is the protection of nature. The pitching of tents or parking of vehicles in remote areas can be a substantial strain on the local flora and fauna. The heavy footsteps and the weight of vehicles can damage vulnerable ecosystems and destroy the habitats of plants and animals.
The presence of humans in natural spaces also leaves lasting marks. Loudness, bonfire smoke and other human activities can scare off wild animals and destroy their natural habitat. Rubbish and waste water, which are often left behind when wild camping, pollute nature and can cause long-term damages.
Apart from the environmental effects, wild camping also has an impact on the local population in countries and regions that are popular tourist destinations. Wild camping often collides with property rights and regulations on land use. Completely self-sufficient travel, where campers bring their own resources, also harms local tourism. If campers forgo the campsites and local gastronomy, they miss the opportunity to support the local economy and give something back to the holiday region.
Considering these factors, the picture is clear: Wild camping is often not allowed in order to protect nature, minimise environmental impacts and consider the interests of local communities. While the prohibition of wild camping may be seen as a restriction for some, it ultimately helps to preserve the beauty of nature and promote the sustainability of tourism. However, campers have the options to use campsites and local facilities in countries and regions where wild camping is not allowed, in order to respect and support the environment and local economy alike.
On camping.info you can find over 23,000 beautiful campsites - and many of them are especially close to nature. With the LIVE-availability-search you're able to find available campsites, book them online and directly bypass the risk of high fines when wild camping. Discover available campsites now
Maybe your Most Expensive Campsite: Fines
Wild camping - camping could hardly be cheaper, could it? On first glance it might seem that way, but for unknowing and reckless campers it can quickly lead to expensive fines.
In many countries and regions wild camping away from designated campsites or without an explicit permission is illegal. These regulations not only aim to protect the environment, but also the safety of the campers themselves. Fines for wild camping can vary from country to country or even between regions.
In general, however, you can quickly reach a considerable sum, such as in Austria or Italy with fines of up to 500€. Fines often vary, also depending on the severity of the offence. While fines in Germany typically range from 5 to 80€, they can climb up to 500€ in the event of serious damage or soiling of the camping site.
Typical offences, that can lead to the imposement of fines are camping in natural reserves, leaving behind rubbish, the ignition of open fires away from designated areas and camping near sensitive ecosystem or animal habitats.
You've already though about trying out wild camping? Then it's important to know that in Europe this outdoor passion is walking on thin ice - legally speaking. In most popular destinations there are clear regulations and laws against wild camping. But there are also exceptions, like in Scandinavia, where the Everyman's Right allows you to enjoy nature to the fullest, but of course without the comfort of a proper campsite. Let's take a look on the regulations for wild camping in Europe together.
Wild Camping in Popular Destinations
Wild camping is limited or forbidden in most European countries to prevent damages to the environment and to maintain public order. In most Eastern European countries such as Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic as well as in Western European countries such as Italy, Germany, Great Britain, France, Austria, Switzerland and the Netherlands, wild camping is illegal and punishable by fines.
But sometimes there are exceptions even in those countries, where the camper can get the explicit permission of the land owner beforehand or other exemptions apply. However, as this is rare, campers should always find out exactly what is allowed in terms of wild camping in their preferred camping regions. But since there are many official campsites close to nature in these countries, nature lovers are not denied a camping experience in the countryside. Yo can find availble campsites in Europe here
In Scotland, however, things are looking good for adventurers who want to settle down in the middle of nature completely without the amenities of a conventional campsite. Here it is permitted to camp in the great outdoors as long as the environment is respected.
The "Everyman's Right"
The "Everyman's Right" in Scandinavia - it's something like the Holy Grail for all wild camping fans, who want to explore the wild side of nature away from official campsites.
But wait a minute, before you rush off into the forest with your tent and sleeping bag, there are a few rules to follow. Everyman's right is not a free pass for chaos! You must always make sure that you respect nature, don't leave any rubbish behind and don't cause any damage. The idea is to enjoy nature, not to destroy it. Also, you are not allowed to camp on private land or agricultural land. **The idea is to experience the wild and untouched places without disturbing anyone.
In addition, when wild camping you can't expect the comfort you are used to at the campsite, of course. Running water, washrooms or even electricity? If you are not completely self-sufficient, you should be well prepared for the fact that these amenities will be missing. If you can't do without them, find great free campsites here.
Free-Standing vs. Camping: Pros and Cons
When camping there are different ways to experience nature and enjoy the freedom of outdoor living. Two common options are free-standing and camping on an official campsite. We have summarized the pros and cons with both of these options for you.
- Freedom and Remoteness: Free-standing often allows you to camp in remote locations, away from the hustle and bustle but also the comforts of everyday life.
- Cost Savings: Usually free-standing is more affordable than camping on a campsite as there are no charges. But it's important to note potential fines for prohibited wild camping
- Lack of Amenities: Free-standing often lacks basic amenities such as electricity, sanitation or water sources. So you have to be self-sufficient all the time.
- Legal Restrictions: In some regions, free-standing is restricted or prohibited by law, and you may face fines if you don't follow the rules.
- Potentially High Costs: If you go wild camping or free-standing in countries or regions where it is not allowed, you can expect hefty fines that can far exceed the cost of a campsite.
- Cost: Camping on a campsites can be expensive, especially in popular tourist regions.
- Booking Requirement: During the peak season, you have to book your stay in advance, which makes your travel planning less flexible. However, on camping.info, searching and booking free campsites is possible with just a few clicks.
- Amenities: Campsites often offer a variety of amenities such as electricity, sanitary facilities, water connections and sometimes even Wi-Fi and swimming pools.
- Security: Campsites often have safety measures that give you peace of mind on holiday, especially if you are travelling with family or friends.
- Social Interaction: Nowhere do campers feel as comfortable as among other campers - campsites are a place to meet new people and exchange ideas with other camping friends.
For you, the campsite is the winner here? Discover available and beautiful natural campsites across Europe and book the best site for you directly online.