Wild camping can be an enjoyable experience, but making sure you’re aware of the rules, so you can do it in a safe and legal way, is crucial.

If you’re thinking of heading to Europe, you may find the regulations differ too.

Getting caught wild camping somewhere that doesn’t permit it could lead to a fine, for instance, subsequently making the trip more expensive than you were anticipating.

To help you tour safely this year, Pitchup has taken a look at the different wild camping rules that you need to be aware of. Alternatively, if you’d like to find out about campsites you could stay at, take a look at our guide to the best motorhome sites, where we share the UK’s top parks to head to.

Wild camping in the United Kingdom

The UK’s picturesque countryside makes a wonderful setting to explore. However, you will need to take care with where you choose to stay, as you will be prohibited from pitching up in most parts of the country.

As it stands, wild camping is only permitted in England if you get the landowner’s permission first – this is because most of England is privately owned. There is one exception to this, however – wild camping is allowed in Dartmoor National Park, although even then, there are restrictions in place for exactly where camp can be set up.

The rules are similar in Wales too – you would need to get the landowner’s permission first.

If you’re thinking of heading to Scotland, there are right-to-roam laws in place. This means wild camping is legal, and you can set up and camp in parts of Scotland – you just have to make sure you adhere to the Scottish Outdoor Access Code.

If you’re thinking of heading to places like Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park, a camping permit will be required between March and September. This will only come to about £4 a night, although these permits can sell out during the peak season, so it’s worth planning a trip up to four months in advance to make sure you get one.

Wild camping in Germany

The rules of wild camping in Germany are simple – it’s prohibited, and doing so will lead to a fine. Instead, you can head to ‘nearly wild’ campsites, which provide you with space and nature, along with the comfort of knowing you have amenities nearby.

Wild camping in Portugal

Wild camping was declared a legal activity in late 2021 – although only under particular conditions.

Up until then, it may have been tolerated, but wild camping was still prohibited. In January 2021, action was taken, with natural areas being ruined with rubbish left lying around.

However, after the new law came into effect towards the end of 2021, wild camping was declared a legal activity under certain circumstances.

This saw overnight stays being permitted outside protected areas for “a maximum period of 48 hours in the same municipality”, with the approved bill meaning “the overnight stay and parking of motorhomes or similar are prohibited in areas of the Natura 2000 Network, protected areas and areas covered by the Coastal Waterfront Plans, except in places expressly authorised for this purpose”.

Anyone found to break these rules will face a fine of between €60 and €300.

Wild camping in Italy

Free and wild camping is not permitted in Italy, without securing the landowner’s permission. A failure to do so will cost between €100 to €500.

This is enforced by the authorities who patrol the more touristy areas.

Wild camping in Croatia

Wild camping is also prohibited in Croatia, where it is punishable by law – you also face a fine of around €400 euros (3000kn) if caught.

This is particularly enforced in tourist areas, national parks and along the coast. Instead, tourists and locals are only allowed to camp inside registered campsites or alternatively, on parking lots that have been designated for campervans and caravans.

Wild camping in France

Legally speaking, wild camping is something of a grey area in France, although it’s generally tolerated with the permission of landowners, or if tourist sites are far away.

To the northeast, the Morvan Peaks are generally a popular place to head to, while to the south, several wild camping spots can be found around Saintes Maries-de-la-Mer in the Camargue.

Something worth bearing in mind is that you are advised to leave by 9am the following day, and lighting campfires is not liked.

Wild camping in Spain

Wild camping is typically not permitted in Spain, but before heading there, it’s important to make sure you know the difference between parking and camping.

For instance, it’s illegal to park in a wild, non-camping place and take out any of an awning, table or chairs, as this would be classed as camping. The same applies to opening windows, unless they are sliding.

The rules apply on beaches, with beach camping and sleeping on the beach also forbidden. If you were to do this, you could face a fine of up to €1000 in certain municipalities.

Wild camping in Slovenia

The beautiful destination of Slovenia is a place many want to visit, with The Julian Alps just one of the picturesque sights to see. However wild camping is not allowed.

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Image courtesy of Getty

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