What is wild camping or free camping?
Wild Camping in your Motorhome
Wild camping, or free camping is where you park your vehicle in an acceptable place, such as a beach car park, and camp for free. Camping is perhaps a misleading term.
In most countries equipment outside your motorhome when wild camping is not accepted, and you should ensure that all of your things remain in your motorhome. Sitting outside with a table and chairs is fine in most places. The key thing is to make no noise and mess, leave the spot as you found it.
Some countries forbid any type of wild camping in motorhomes and insist that tradition campsites are used. However in most countries in Europe it is not against the law for you to sleep in a public place in your motorhome. Off site parking, often called wild camping, free camping, or free parking, refers to mobile homes overnight parking away from official stopping places such as a campsite or a council provided motorhome stopover. Wild free camping in a motorhome is legal in some countries in Europe. In other countries overnight motorhome parking is neither legal nor illegal and in many countries wild camping is forbidden. There is a misconception that because motor caravans are getting away with wild camping in an area it is ‘Tolerated’; just because the police haven’t knocked on your door does not mean they won’t. Large numbers of wild camping motorhomes do upset local people, and leads to police moving campers on and local authorities putting up ‘No Motorhoming’ restrictions. If you do choose to wild park do not join a large group of wild camping motorhomes and only free camp overnight then move on in the morning.
Free camping is accepted in many areas as the local people accept that the visiting travelers will spend their money on supplies, fuel and restaurants in local establishments. It is important to not upset the local people, police and authorities. If you do upset people you, and everyone else there, will almost certainly be moved on. This may also jeopardise the future of the free camping location. If you follow the simply rules and use your common sense you can enjoy free camping in lots of lovely areas, meet lots of nice people and save money.
Wild camping etiquette and advice
1.Never leave any rubbish or waste behind.
2.Never make excessive noise. If you are playing music ensure only you can hear it.
3.Park sensible, so that people can use the parking bays around your vehicle.
4.If you have to run your engine to charge your leisure batteries, do so during the day, and not at night or early morning.
5.Think Security- Don’t park in an area that might be frequented by low-life, conversely a remote location brings it’s own problems.
6.Always try to avoid camp in-sight of a houses, its not always possible but where it is, it’s best done. These home owners are normally the first to call the police.
7.Don’t make a camp of it. Deck-chairs, awnings and windbreaks should not be used unless you are extremely remote and not overlooked.
Wild Camping in Europe
Albania: Legal here on public land.
Austria: a maximum of one night with a caravan / motorhome on a serviced area is permitted
Belgium: strictly illegal
Bosnia & Herzegovina: legal
Croatia: illegal, fines from 150 to 1000 €
Denmark: Camping is permitted in at least 40 approved forests. Tourist beaches, there are penalties of up to 75 euros to incur, if you let yourself get caught wild camping
Estonia: Tolerated but best to obtain permission from the land owner beforehand.
England and Wales: Generally not allowed without prior permission, though there are some exceptions (Dartmoor being the biggest one.)
France: A legal grey area, but is generally tolerated with the permission of landowners, or if you’re well away from tourist sites. Don’t light any fires.
Finland: Legal pretty much anywhere.
Germany: Not strictly legal, but that many people have done it without any issues
Italy: Not tolerated
Ireland It’s tolerated in the more rural places, though it may be wise to obtain permission beforehand if you can.
Lithuania: legal except in natural parks
Luxembourg: strictly illegal
Norway and Sweden: Legal pretty much anywhere!
Netherlands: strictly illegal, except in some special places (“Paalkamperen”)
Poland: legal except in protected area
Scotland: Legal pretty much anywhere.
Spain and Portugal: Tolerated but only in certain locations. Best to check with the landowner first to be sure.
Switzerland: a maximum of one night with a caravan / motorhome on a serviced area is permitted.