In Germany, wild camping is prohibited in most places, including all forests. The situation is less clear for sleeping in the wild without a tent, which is usually not explicitly prohibited on public land outside of protected areas. For a German language article discussing the topic in some detail, see bergfreunde.de: Schlafplatz gesucht.

A situation not covered in that article is sleeping in a basic shelter / lean-to such as:

Photo of lean-to
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Those who have hiked in the forest in Germany will probably have passed such shelters frequently. They're intended as a semi-weatherproof shelter for resting during the day, but if I just so happen to fall asleep and don't wake up until the following morning — is this forbidden like wild camping, or is it rather undefined like bivouac appears to be?

I'm interested in the situation anywhere in Germany, but primarily in Hessen, Baden-Württemberg, and Bayern.


At least along some of the popular long-distance trails like the Rennsteig it is explicitly allowed and common practice to use these as overnight shelters. Not sure if there are any strict rules around overnight use in other parts of Germany, but it's not likely you'd get in trouble if you tried ...

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