Wild Camping in Europe - 2023
Updated: Feb 20
Wild camping in Europe is a great way for active travelers to save money and fully immerse themselves into the local culture, but it is important to be aware of where it is and isn't legal.
Wild camping, or camping in places not designated for camping, is often widely accepted in European countries, particularly in Scandinavia and Scotland. But laws regarding wild camping do vary by country and region.
Wild camping is generally allowed in countries like Austria, where campers are permitted to stay anywhere in the countryside as long as they are not disturbing the environment or private property. Campers must be sure to leave the area as they found it, which means taking all their garbage with them.
Those in Austria should also keep in mind that fires are generally not allowed outside designated camping areas.
In Norway, campers are allowed to camp for a maximum of two days in any one place, and must keep at least 150 meters away from private dwellings if possible. If not, it is polite to ask for the owner's permission first. Open fires are generally not allowed, however campstoves and barbecues are allowed under certain conditions.
In Sweden, wild camping is allowed, though it may be best to always keep an eye out for signs prohibiting wild camping. Campers should also remember that it is always better to ask permission, even if it is not explicitly required.
Scotland is another great country for wild campers, with impressive landscapes and generous laws when it comes to staying outdoors. Provided they respect the land, campers are allowed to stay anywhere they choose in Scotland, though they are also required to follow the Scottish Outdoor Access Code.
In France, wild camping is usually forbidden as camping areas in state parks require a permit and insurance policy for camping there. Fortunately, wild camping is tolerated in some rural areas, including the Pyrenees Mountains, Corsica, and some of the hilly regions in the south. However, campers should still be aware that wild camping without permission remains illegal in France, and is punishable with a fine.
Wild camping is generally not allowed in Germany, as owners of private land can legally prevent people from camping on their land without permission.
In Italy, wild camping is also banned as it is considered a form of trespass, and campers can expect to be fined if caught.
Wild camping is somewhat legal in Spain, though it is generally restricted to the country's national parks. Additionally, campers should always be sure to stay out of private property, and always take their garbage with them when they leave.
Across Europe, wild campers should be aware that while the laws on wild camping vary, there are a few general rules that everyone should follow to ensure a great and legal experience. Storing food and rubbish away from your tent is essential for protecting yourself and the environment from wild animals, while staying at least 150 meters away from private dwellings is essential for respecting the privacy of locals.
Wild camping in Europe can be a great experience and is often tolerated. However, it is important to be aware of the rules and regulations in the country one intends to camp in, as laws regarding wild camping in Europe will vary. Being mindful of the land and what type of permission is needed is essential in order to protect the environment and respect local laws.