wild camping in europe

Ultimate guide to wild camping in europe

How about leaving the civilized world behind for a little time and go out into the wild and sleep under the stars?

That is wild camping. Fresh air, a feeling of total freedom and peace of mind.

Sadly, you cannot just head out with a tent and start camping anywhere; even in the deepest reaches of the wild, the wilderness, there are rules to adhere too, to keep you safe and respect the nature. 

With this article, we want to shine some light on the countries which are most suited for wild camping in Europe and plan how to do it in those countries with more restrictions, plus which countries you should just straight up skip for wild camping in Europe. 

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Top Destinations For Wild Camping In Europe

Our top wild camping destinations in Europe are not just great for wild camping. They are also home for some of the best hikes in Europe, we made sure that there are plenty of things to do while going on your big summer adventure.

Let’s not waste time and go straight to business! Here is our list of the top destinations in Europe for wild camping. 

Wild Camping in the Nordics

Wild camping in the Nordics is more or less the most hassle-free experience you can find. Wild camping is not only fully legal but even encouraged, with that said there are still rules and regulations.

Wild Camping in Sweden

In Sweden, you are allowed to camp anywhere in nature, even on privately owned land. This is thanks to the famous Allemansrätten; a law that exists to give everyone access to nature.

Just make sure to respect nature, plants, and wildlife. You are allowed to pick wildflowers for example, but not to remove bark from trees for your campfire. 

According to Allemansrätten you are as mentioned allowed to camp on private land, but you are not allowed to camp near any buildings and not in gardens or the plot surrounding buildings.

Also, make sure to read up on bans of campfires. In general, it is allowed, but some places may have a ban against it to protect wildlife or nature. During some periods in the summer months, there is sometimes a ban against any fire, if there is a big risk of forest fires.

Allemansrätten allows you to stay a few nights at the same place before moving on. If you are deep into the forest, you can stay for longer without worries if you would like to but in general, stay only one or a few nights before moving on. 

Allemansrätten only applies to smaller groups, if you would be in a big group with multiple tents you need to ask for permission.

Some national parks and nature reserves have specific rules about camping; read up on the specific rules for your area if you are thinking about wild camping in  either of the two. 

Wild Camping in Norway

Wild Camping in Norway is not that different from Sweden, they also have allemannsretten (spelt differently in Sweden and Norway).

The rules are pretty similar even though they differ slightly; The tourist board of Norway has made an easy to follow guide on how to legally do wild camping in Norway and it can be found at the bottom of this entry. In short, you need to be considerate and thoughtful and don’t damage nature or other surroundings.

You must keep a distance of 150 meters from the nearest inhabited house. If you want to stay for longer than two nights you must ask the landowner for permission, this does not apply if you are up in the mountains or in any other remote area.

Between the dates of 15 April to 15 September, campfires near or in forests are prohibited. With the exception of approved campfire sites, or in areas where fire hazard is highly unlikely, for example by the sea and away from trees.

Just like in Sweden, during extreme drought, fires are banned; this applies to grills, camp stoves and gas burners.

Wild Camping in Finland

Finland is also very similar to Sweden and Norway with Allemansrätten. Some local differences are found, but like they say in the Nordics; With a little bit of common sense, you will come a long way. That is pretty much the mentality when it comes to being out in nature. Things like don’t leave trash behind you, respect people’s properties and houses, and don’t harm nature or wildlife.

You are allowed to do wild-camping out in nature for a limited period of time at the same spot, as long as it is away from the nearest building.

You are not allowed to make a fire without asking for permission if not on a defined campfire spot but you are allowed to cook food on a camping stove or grill. There are some protected areas and military areas where the Allemansrätten does not apply.

Wild Camping in Estonia

Wild Camping in Estonia is almost as easy as in the Nordic countries above and Estonia also has the “right to roam” law, giving you the right to camp and hike freely in nature.

You are not allowed to camp on private land. So avoid marked private lands and stay away from civilization and you will be fine. The countryside of Estonia is not in any way dominated by farmlands or other private lands, which makes it easy to stay away from private land. 

However, land that is owned by the government, you are allowed to camp freely on for a limited time on the same spot, with the exception of national parks and military areas.

The Estonian government have a few simple rules for you to follow when out wild camping or just being out in nature. 

  • Leave no trace when camping. 
  • Don’t disturb the peace. 
  • Clean up and take trash with you. 
  • Wash yourself, your dishes and everything that needs washing on dry land away from water sources. 
  • Use hiking trails and don’t make your own paths.

Wild Camping in Scotland

Wild Camping in Scotland is hassle-free as the government provides clear and helpful information, on top of that, Scotland also offers some magical landscapes and views.

However, there are some areas in Scotland where you are not free to camp. 

Simply head over to Outdoor Access Scotland and read up on the current status. East Loch Lomond, for example, has some bylaws that you can read up on here.

With that said, you are free to do wild-camping in most parts of Scotland and you pretty much just have to follow the leave no trace policy.

Some other guidelines are to keep moving and find another spot if the one you had in mind is crowded, this prevents overcrowding.
Use a stove rather than cooking food over an open fire when possible and never light a fire during dry periods in sensitive areas.

Wild Camping in France

Wild-camping in France is legal but it is more complicated than the above countries and different rules apply for different scenarios.
It is best to check up with the local tourist office to be sure what rules apply to the area that you are in.

In short: Do not set up a tent by the sea, make sure that you are more than 200 meters away from water that is used for consumption and stay away from any historical monuments or sites.

Private land and by the side of a road is also prohibited. If you stay away from the above and pack up your camp in the morning you will be fine in most scenarios.
France has a lot to offer when it comes to wild camping. Just read up a little bit before you go.

Wild Camping in Spain

Wild Camping in Spain can be a bit complicated, the rules are local and not national. The police or “guardia civil” force in Spain do not hesitate to give you a fine if you have been camping in the wrong area.

The national law states that you are allowed to do wild camping if you follow some rules; you are not allowed to camp closer than 100 meter from the sea, national and natural parks are off limits, 
private property is prohibited, this includes historic monuments, 
military zones and urban areas are illegal.

According to article 46.1 the following zones apply the national rules for wild camping. 

The Basque Country, Catalonia, Madrid, Castilla y León and Castilla la Mancha. 

(El artículo 46.1 de la orden del 28 de julio )

You can not be a group greater than 10 people and three tents. Tents that are closer than 500 meters are considered to belong to the same group.

All other zones in Spain have some local rules that in some way prohibits wild camping.

Wild Camping in Poland

Wild Camping in Poland is not legal, but widely accepted.

You should not camp on the beach or in any national parks, popular hiking destinations like Tatra National Park are especially strict about this and the park rangers are controlling this. In pretty much any national park, you are most likely to end up with a fine.

Strange enough, you are actually not legally allowed to camp in a forest but from what we have read up on, that pretty much only complies if you are planning to make a fire.

If not, you are all good to go, even the official forestry office of Poland have a map with forests and sites that are good for camping. 

The legalities of wild camping in Europe

The countries stated above are the countries in Europe that we can recommend fully or partly for wild camping. As you will read, in some of the countries it is not only legal, but encouraged to do wild camping, some others have more restrictions whilst it is still legal.

In the rest of Europe, it is more or less illegal to wild camp, some countries enforce this more than others.

It is of course still possible, and you can be lucky and not get fined. I have personally done this quite a lot, and I have only ended up with one fine in total, just 60 euros for sleeping in the car in Slovenia.

If you are still interested in wild camping in the rest of Europe, here is a list of laws per country. 

Wild Camping in Europe
(Laws per country)

Albania

Wild Camping in Albania is allowed and widely accepted in Albania. You should just avoid national parks and natural reserves. Don’t pitch up near state buildings or on private properties.

Austria

You are not allowed to wild camp in Austria. But you are allowed to do a planned bivouac for one night if you are in a unprotected forest.

So technically, if you have a bivouac sack and not a tent, you could do wild camping legally in Austria if you stay out of prohibited areas. No national parks or reserves.

Belgium

Wild camping in Belgium is a no go. It is illegal, and on top of that there are not really that much nature in Belgium.

There are some campsites in Belgium where you are allowed to pitch a tent.

Bosnia & Herzegovina

Wild camping in Bosnia and Herzegovina is legal and there are no strict regulations about it either just be mindful of landmines. If you see warning signs for landmines, obviously don’t pitch a tent in that area.

Bulgaria

Wild camping in Bulgaria is not officially allowed, but widely tolerated and practised. Especially if you only stay in the same spot for a limited time. If you stay for months, you might have a problem.

Even though it is a common thing for Bulgarian people to wild camp for a long period of time at the same spot.

When I did this around the black sea coast of Bulgaria and met a lot of people that pitched their tents in the caves around the coast and stayed all summer. Most of them were younger people who came there for rock climbing above the sea.

Croatia

In Croatia you are not allowed to do wild camping. In touristic areas, national parks and close to beaches this is quite strictly enforced.

However, far away from the places mentioned above, it is not as strictly enforced but you would still risk getting a fine for doing it.

The times I have done wild camping in Croatia I have skipped the tent and put my hammock up in between trees or just slept straight on the ground in my sleeping bag.

And I have had some great experiences from sleeping outside in Croatia.

Czech Republic

Wild camping here is very similar to the rules in Austria. Tents are not allowed but bivouac is allowed for one night.
Even pitching a tent on private land with the landowners permission is not allowed.

Even though in these cases, police might look the other way if you clearly got the landowners permission.

There are no rules against staying overnight in a car to restore driving ability. So you are allowed to sleep in your car. Even though that is not wild camping.

Cyprus

Wild camping in Cyprus is legal except for some protected areas.

Just be mindful about campfires, and read up on the current regulations, having a fire going on in the hottest months can cause a lot of harm. 

Denmark

Unlike any of the other northern European countries, wild camping is not legal in Denmark. You are only allowed to camp on designated campsites.

Chances are not super high for you to get caught if pitch up outside any of the designated campsites. With the exception of beaches which are strictly forbidden.

England

Wild camping in England and Wales is not allowed, with the exception of Dartmoor. 

Germany

Wild camping in Germany is pretty similar to Austria, well, almost all of central Europe have similar rules against wild camping. You are allowed to do a one night bivouac. 

However, in Germany they have started to recognize that not everyone wants to do camping at a “all inclusive”  campsite.

And there are now actually some designated areas where you are allowed to wild camp”ish”.

Ranging from free to around 10 euros, you can find big trekking areas where you are allowed to do wild camping within the areas.

Camping in the Eifel

The Eifel is a beautiful trekking area in Germany. Where you for a fee of 10 euros are allowed to camp overnight. You are not completely free to camp wherever here though. There are designated sites within the area, which all comes with a wooden platform, a table and a composite toilet.

Camping in Schleswig-Holstein

This area of Germany has a lot of different sites to choose from.

From what we could research, there are specific places within the different trekking areas where you are allowed to pitch your tent.

So again, this is not wild camping. But it is not camping on a campsite with other people around either. 

Camping in the Pfalz forest

You can for a fee of 10 euros pitch your tent in one of the designated places within the trekking area.

Camping in the Black Forest

In the black forest there is a lot of outdoor activities going on. And you are allowed to hike and pitch a tent here. But there are designated spots for this in the forest and you can not choose freely.

To sum up, this is far from wild camping. But if you want to get away from the crowds or comforts of regular camping sites, there are options in Germany.

However they are regulated options. So we would not recommend going on a wild camping trip to Germany. But if you already are in Germany and want to try it, these could be a good legal option.

Greece

Wild camping in Greece is not allowed by law. But tolerated in some areas. 

However when researching this, it seems like people agree upon that wild camping is quite tolerated both by residents and officials, as long as you stay far away from tourist areas, roads and popular beaches.

Hungary

Wild camping in Hungary is most restricted, and prohibited in any of the national parks.

But apart from that, you are technically allowed to pitch a tent in unprotected nature areas for a maximum of 24 hours. Also note that fire bans a a common thing in Hungary.

Iceland

Wild camping in Iceland may not be illegal, but not recommended. You are not allowed to camp on any private land or land developed for a specific purpose, and in Iceland, most land is private.

There is a lot of additional rules as well making wild camping hard in Iceland, but if you really want to become an expert in defining which areas are exception zones or getting written permissions from the landowners, you can do it.

I have personally tried wild camping in Iceland. Traveling around by car and tent. We slept five nights outside designated camp areas. And two nights we were woken up by landowners or police. So the odds are not the best. No fines were handed out, we just needed to leave for another spot. Which is not really what you want to do in the middle of the night.

Ireland

You are not allowed to wild camp in Ireland. However you might be able to find some areas in remote places where it is tolerated.

Italy

Wild camping in Italy is, not super clear. The rules and laws are on local level and not national. So it differs between regions.

In general from what I have found out when researching, you are not likely to have any problems with a single night out in the nature.Staying multiple nights at the same spot might get you into some sort of trouble. The rules are usually strictly enforced in those areas.

Kosovo

Wild camping in Kosovo is not officially forbidden and not officially legal either. Which more or less makes it legal, right?

There are more or less no restrictions about wild camping in Kosovo and there are a lot of beautiful places to do wild camping in Kosovo.

Latvia

Wild Camping in Latvia is actually more or less legal. If you choose the correct spot. In some areas, wild camping is not legal. But it is a widely accepted activity in Latvia.

Stay away from national parks, private property and sand dunes with vegetation. If you on top of that stay respectful against nature and your surroundings, not making loud noises or playing loud music etc, you are not going to have any problems and you are free to enjoy wild camping in Latvia.

Just keep an eye for signs that forbid wild camping, some local rules can apply in different regions of Latvia.

Lithuania

Wild camping in Lithuania or very similar to the rules of wild camping in Latvia. Its legal in many places with some restrictions. Local rules can apply as well, so keep an eye out for signs against wild camping.

Luxembourg

Wild camping is illegal in Luxemburg, and the law is heavily enforced. We do not advise to try wild camping in Luxembourg.

Malta

Wild camping in Malta is not legal and not widely tolerated either. I do have some friends that have done this without any problems though. Apparently you can also ask a local council for permission.

Macedonia

Wild camping in Macedonia is not allowed, but tolerated in most areas and also a lot of locals go wild camping. Just be mindful about where you pitch up and you will not have any problems.

Montenegro

It is not allowed to do wild camping in Montenegro, but tolerated in many areas. Just stay away from national parks and beaches. Tourist areas in general is good to stay away from if doing wild camping in Montenegro.

Netherlands

Wild camping in the Netherlands is not legal and there is not that much wild nature you could do it in either. There are some camping sites where you are legally allowed to pitch a tent.

Portugal

Wild camping in Portugal is illegal. You might get away with it during low season if you stay a bit under the radar and stay away from beaches.

Slovakia

You are allowed to do wild camping in Slovakia. But you must stay away from National parks or any protected areas. You should also avoid open fires.

Slovenia

Wild camping in Slovenia is not allowed. However, if you would end up doing it, and doing so outside any national parks or protected areas. You are probably not going to have any issues while doing so. But it is not allowed.

But I have personally done wild camping in some of the beautiful mountains Slovenia has to offer. And I have never had any problems.

Switzerland

Wild camping is not allowed in the valleys, inhabited areas and forests. But you might find local exceptions for this as well. If you would do wild camping in Switzerland and stay away from inhabited areas, be discreet and respectful. Chances are pretty slim that you would experience any issues, even if any authorities would spot you.

You might be asked to leave but it is highly unlikely that they will give you a fine if you have been mindful when choosing your spot and not made a mess.

Turkey

Wild camping in Turkey is completely legal and there are pretty much no restrictions. The tourism board of Turkey has a lot of information for wild camping as well.

A personal recommendation is to be mindful of where you pitch your tent. I needed to pitch a tent in Turkey once while traveling through, we did not have too much time to choose location and ended up close to a urban area and where woken up the next morning by a man who wanted money from us, claiming he managed the land.

Wild Camping in Eastern Europe

Most countries in eastern Europe don’t really have any laws or regulations at all regarding wild camping.

Armenia, Georgia, Ukraine, Belarus and Moldova are countries that do not really have any laws against wild camping, So you are free to camp pretty much anywhere you want to; with the exception of some national parks in Ukraine.

Some of these countries do not really have that much nature to offer but I could really recommend Georgia. I have spent a few days driving through Georgia, sleeping in the mountains under the craziest night skies I have ever seen.

Just be mindful in all of the above countries when making campfires. There might be local or seasonal rules against wildfires.

Romania

Wild camping in Romania is not allowed, but totally tolerated. I have personally done this in Romania. There is a lot of beautiful nature to explore. And even though wild camping is technically not allowed, it is not being enforced.

Russia

Wild camping in Russia is legal with the following exceptions, church land, private land, and near reservoirs.

But apart from that you are free to do wild camping and even have a campfire going on. Just have a second look about the campfire, during some dry summer months a fire might be prohibited. Make sure to stay no more than one night at the same spot.

The actual visa and registration process is actually more complicated than the rules of wild camping. If you come to Russia as a tourist, you need to register where you are staying, and if you would get checked by authorities while wild camping and you are far away from the province or city you registered in you could end up having some problems. That whole process vary depending on which country you are from, so if you need Russian visa guidance, head to your governments visa website. 

I have personally been driving through parts of Russia and sleeping in the car. We did register in the town closest to our end destination so we could at least say that we were going to that town if checked.

How wild camping is different than regular camping

Wild camping is pretty straightforward what it sounds like, camping outside of a designated campsite-Out in the wild.

When wild camping you are usually hiking further into the wilderness for every day, just pitching your tent for the night before hiking further into nature.

Whilst for regular camping, you usually leave your tent at the campsite for a few days.

What should I take wild camping?

If you are sold on wild camping and just want to get out into the wild, here are the stuff you should bring.

Tent/bivvy bag

This is your shelter and home out in the nature, make sure to learn how to set it up and get familiar with it before you head out into the wilderness.

Sleeping bag

This is what keeps you warm at night, make sure to get a sleeping bag that is suitable for the climate and temperature of your environment. 

Sleeping mat 

Your sleeping mat makes sleeping more comfortable and warmer by adding a layer between you and the ground.

Stove & food

Make sure to bring something that enables you to cook food, and also food to cook. Being able to enjoy a warm meal with a majestic view is hard to beat.

Torch

A torch is always a good idea and will make your life after dark a lot easier.

Towel or bags for burying/removing toilet waste.

You should either bring bags so you can throw your toilet waste in a trash bin when available or a trowel so you can bury it. 

Be aware of fire safety

Make sure to look up the local and current fire regulations for the area you are out wild camping in, and if you are free to make a fire, make sure to learn how to do it safely. You don’t want to be the cause of a forest fire.

More Reading?

How about some more related reading? Here are two articles that might spark your interest. Or check out the Travel Section, happy reading! 

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