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Is there any resource (website, book, etc) that lists all European countries, and the state of free camping?

Specifically, I want to see in which European countries I'm not fined when I place my tent somewhere outside of an official camping ground.

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I don't know of such a list - what I do know however which may give you a head start is it's legal in Scotland, and in England the only such legal place is Dartmoor. –  berry120 Jan 24 '12 at 22:16
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@berry120 - there are lots of open access areas in the UK - I've wild-camped in the Peaks and the Lakes. These areas are clearly marked on OS maps. –  HorusKol Jan 24 '12 at 23:12
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Open access does not mean that wild-camping is allowed. –  StephenPaulger Jan 25 '12 at 10:21
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This has also come up on the travel site travel.stackexchange.com/q/1340/1820 –  Phil Feb 10 '12 at 17:48
    
"Wild Camping" seems to have many meanings depending on country and activity. For some, it means parking your motorhome overnight by the side of a main road, but for many others (myself included) it means wilderness camping in mountains, miles from the nearest road, house or other person. And sheep don't issue fines! –  Roddy May 7 '12 at 20:41

14 Answers 14

After a bit of digging I found this, which covers some in Europe (not extensively as I first thought!)

It's worth pointing out that while for some (and probably most people here) wild camping means free-camping wandering around with a tent and supplies on foot, for many others it can mean driving around and parking up somewhere in a motor home. I refer to the first variety here, and this is the sort that is much less likely to give you problems (especially in countries where it's borderline.)

In any country, but especially those where it's more of a grey area, if you know where you're going beforehand then a quick call to the landowner (if any) to check that it's ok won't do you any harm. While it may not always be necessary, it may help to put your mind at rest so you're not worried about being approached or asked to leave during your stay.

Anyway, a general summary of countries in that link and elsewhere:

  • France (See above link) 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.
  • England and Wales (See above link) Generally not allowed without prior permission, though there are some exceptions (Dartmoor being the biggest one.)
  • Scotland (See above link) Legal pretty much anywhere.
  • Ireland It's tolerated in the more rural places, though it may be wise to obtain permission beforehand if you can.
  • Spain and Portugal I believe it's tolerated but only in certain locations. Best to check with the landowner first to be sure.
  • Germany Most of the links I can find suggest that it's not strictly speaking legal, but that many people have done it without any issues (providing you follow sensible precautions of course.)
  • Italy (See above link) It doesn't seem to be tolerated, in fact most sources I can find seem to say it's explicitly banned in many places. Having said that, the same link also says there's lots of good campsites in a lot of nice locations around, so that may be your alternative.
  • Greece (See above link) Illegal, but the rule is apparently rampantly ignored, with many unpoliced areas. The risk is on you if you try it here.
  • Norway and Sweden Legal pretty much anywhere!
  • Finland Legal pretty much anywhere.
  • Bulgaria (See above link) An interesting one - I can't find any sources saying whether it's legal or not, but in the summer apparently hundreds of hippy families relocate to the beaches, wild camp there and often strip nude for good measure.
  • Estonia (See above link) A legal grey area, widely tolerated but best to obtain permission from the land owner beforehand.
  • Iceland Camping with no more than three tents is allowed on uncultivated ground for a single night, unless the landowner has posted a notice to the contrary.
  • Albania Legal here on public land, but sometimes restricted for environmental reasons. Check first.
  • Austria Can't find any authoritative sources. General consensus is that it seems to be discouraged, but as long as you're sensible then there shouldn't be an issue.
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That looks great but unfortunately it covers only 6 countries out of approximately 45. –  RoflcoptrException Jan 24 '12 at 22:42
    
@roflcoptr Sorry, not quite sure what led me to believe that was extensive... still, I guess it's a start! –  berry120 Jan 24 '12 at 22:43
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"hundreds of hippy families ... strip nude for good measure" blahahahaha. This is true, but not so widespread and not on the topic of "pitch my tent". In Bulgaria you can pitch your tent anywhere - except reserves. There are lots of fireplaces in the wilderness around cities and towns, also. –  Vorac Jul 12 '13 at 13:55

don't wild camp in Italy. In most cities it is illegal, and more important it is highly dangerous. Depending on the area, you may be mugged, raped, stabbed, or flash flooded by a torrent of mud.

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that doesn't really covers with my experience. do you have any references? –  RoflcoptrException Jan 24 '12 at 23:50
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@Roflcoptr: The reference is that I know my country. Most communes forbid wild camping because they want to have a legal reason to prevent unregulated gypsies camping and/or more in general Camping Cars (which are a huge pain for cities). When it comes to dangers, it is not uncommon to hear of people wild camping that are assaulted and robbed. Flash floods may occur in some areas, especially in the North. We had people die (mostly boy scouts) a few years ago, in a place where I camped myself (like an idiot). It's difficult for me to find references to news happened years ago, but that's it. –  Stefano Borini Jan 24 '12 at 23:51
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"don't wild camp in Italy. In most cities it is illegal", on earth, who would ever camp in cities? We speak about outdoor. –  Tomas Jan 27 '12 at 16:16
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@Tomas: cities includes all the territory of the commune, which extends also to the countryside. –  Stefano Borini Jan 27 '12 at 17:09
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@StefanoBorini, OK. In English, AFAIK, city does mean only the city itself, so one should probably use commune or municipality. Probably question for English Language and Usage :-) –  Tomas Jan 27 '12 at 19:43

It's allowed in Sweden. It's called Allemansrätten.

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The same law applies in Norway –  Thomas Rawyler Jan 25 '12 at 16:42
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The same law also exists in Finland (jokamiehenoikeus). Translated literally to English it is "every man's rights". –  glenneroo Feb 1 '12 at 14:05

It is allowed, with conditions, in Scotland.

http://walking.visitscotland.com/usefulinfo/wild-camping

One restriction that I know of is that camping is not allowed on the eastern shore of Loch Lomond. There are likely to be restrictions during the hunting season as well, there are phone lines where you can find out about hunting activities.

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Can you expand your answer? Include some conditions and maybe a link to more information? –  studiohack Jan 25 '12 at 20:26

Generally in England and Wales it is illegal to wild camp anywhere without prior permission from the land owner. Although some UK national parks are more tolerant than others!! In my experience certainly in the English and Welsh national parks it is tolerated as long as you are not seen and you leave no trace including not starting any fires.

For more information check out the national parks website: http://www.nationalparks.gov.uk/visiting/camping.htm

As @StephenPaulger says it is different in Scotland (thankfully) under certain conditions. Please check this link out:

http://www.outdooraccess-scotland.com/out-and-about/recreation-activities/wild-camping/

Being on holiday in France, some places get very iffy about wild camping!! So as in the UK its probably best to check with the land owner first.

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Your information regarding England & Wales is misleading. It has nothing to do with the tolerance of the National Parks as they don't own much land at all. The land they do own will be car parks, buildings etc. All land in the England and Wales is owned by somebody. Technically, you must seek permission from the landowner to camp. It is unlikely that the landowner would be the National Park. –  Jim Jun 24 at 10:53
    
Just to add my experience to what Aim Kai and @Jim are saying here. Much of Snowdonia and the Lake district are owned by a combination of either hill farmers or the National trust. But the National Park authority manages much of the land (footpaths, etc.) the farmer may or may not conduct work on behalf of the park authority so ownership is complicated in National Parks. Enclosed spaces will generally be exlusivly owned by a single party. Higher on the hill and in moorland several parties will have a say on access, etc. and one of these will be the National Park Authourity –  Liam Jun 30 at 15:12
    
@Liam The question about permission to wild camp. The issue of enclosed space is irrelevant. National Parks maintain many footpaths, as do the National Trust (not relevant to the OP). If you choose to follow the letter of the law then permission to camp must be sought from the landowner. This may be a farmer, or a body such as the National Trust - but it will almost always never be the National Park, as they own very little land per se. Within the Lake District NP the biggest landowner is the National Trust. In that case permission from the National Trust or tenant farmer would be sought. –  Jim Jul 1 at 9:57

This is a pure theory, if you're asking about permission... you have to understand that the rules and laws are set up for people that park 3 cars, make 5 big tents, lot of noise and leave a lot of rubish. Practically, when you are a good outdoor person, quiet and never leaving any rubish behind you, and you need just sleep for one night somewhere with just a sleeping bag or maybe small tent when it rains / it's cold, then I think this is not a real "camping" and it's not a problem almost anywhere. I'm normally doing this without any problems even in countries like Austria (once we slept under the sign "Kampieren verboten" :-))

So, just don't provoke the land owners too much, build your tent somewhere hidden and after it gets dark, and leave the place soon in the morning. The less people know about you, the better, also for your safety. Sometimes the land owners notice you and are very friendly, especially in countries like Spain and even in Austria :) I didn't have any problems after years of this practice.

Don't sleep this way in big cities, it's dangerous. You may get robbed. The more abandoned / outdoor site it is, the safer for you.

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I think this is also called "Freedom to roam". Here is a list of countries with detailed information of what is allowed and not allowed around Europe: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freedom_to_roam

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It's not the same thing unfortunately - freedom to roam doesn't necessarily imply freedom to wild camp. In the UK for instance freedom to roam applies over most countryside, but there are very few areas where wild camping is allowed. –  berry120 Feb 1 '12 at 17:14

I can only answer Switzerland. It's illegal to "wildcamp" but however most ground belongs to Farmers which can be asked anytime, and most of them will let you.

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In Serbia it is legal and everywhere is free.

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In Serbia do you wait in line for camping? –  MaskedPlant May 2 '13 at 14:39

Camping by sml van or large estate car mpv, overnight without problems in spain, beach parking areas and beach! especially castel de ferro area almeria coast line, you come across a few camper vans and also local rod fishermen night fishing forming tents with umbrellas and the like.

France - parked all over BUT discreet!! Places in villages as in centre parking ,back lane, or grassed parking areas, some have designated areas in small towns, there's also lay-byes that are well off road in places, on the main route's lay-byes are used by many and some have toilets, I am always aware to park either where others are or completely out of vision for safety, I have only been moved once, there was a big boules tournament following day, I should have noticed adverts, so always check!!! Could end up in middle of a car boot sale in morning, thats neen done!!

So really just use common-sense and respect.

Happy days to all, Col

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In Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Poland You can camp almost anywhere in forest and near public waters. Latvia is forest country, and You can camp almost anywhere. There are no restrictions. If the land owner doesn't want to allow it, he must place a sign. There are restrictions on national parks only. In national parks it's allowed in specific places only, but it's free anyway.

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Hi ugis and welcome to The Great Outdoors! Thank you for adding your helpful answer. If you want to improve it, it would be great to include some sources. –  Paul Paulsen Jun 14 at 22:21
    
@ugis: I have suggested a few edits that according to me would improve the answer. –  WedaPashi Jun 30 at 8:43

It's legal to camp almost everywhere in the Czech and Slovak Republics except national parks. You are not allowed to make a campfire closer than 50 m from the forest. Although there is a little possibility to be fined.

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Romania: I have some experiences here, and I can say that wild camping is permitted, unless it is someone's land surrounded by a fence, however loose or abandoned it may seem (although in Romania you can never know who owns which patch of land, but mostly it is safe and fine). There are plenty of good places for wild camping, especially if you get a bit away from the main tourist tracks, which tend to have some trash here and there, as a result of the irresponsible city people.

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Hi Akabelle and welcome to The Great Outdoors! Thanks for your helpful answer - you could improve it by adding some official sources to it, if available. –  Paul Paulsen Jul 1 at 12:06
    
Sorry, @Paul , unfortunately I couldn't find any official sources so far, although I've been looking. Camping is not really regulated in Romania, just in a few places where it is certainly forbidden (for example by the administration of a given national park). Here camping is still somewhat instinctual, not fully regulated. –  Akabelle Jul 1 at 12:29

In Greece wild camping is illegal in general. The more famous/well known is the place where you camp, the more probable is to have a visit from the police. Checks more often take place during summer in islands and in general near tourist sites. On the other hand there are certain places where wild camping is silently permitted since it is a boost to their economy and other places that it is encouraged (eg Tilos) but these are the exceptions to the rule. Camping is also not allowed in mountains but you will not find much trouble there, specially if you decide to camp near a refuge. Of course you are not allowed to make any campfire in the forest and specially in national parks.

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