Wild Camping Laws in Europe

We’ve been compiling a list of the countries in Europe with what information we could find about the legalities of wild camping in each. We’ve attempted to research each one but if you spot any errors please do let us know so we can update this resource.

Also, just because wild camping is “illegal” in some countries, it doesn’t mean that you absolutely can’t do it.  I know many travelers who have wild camped all over the place (including not-so-wild places like city parks).  If you are discreet and respectful, no one is likely to bother you.  Even if the police do come, they will mostly just tell you to leave.  I’m sure some people have gotten fined, but I don’t know of any.  So, it is up to you to decide whether the risk of getting a fine is going to stop you from trying wild camping.

Albania – Yes

Legal on public land, but sometimes restricted for environmental reasons, so ideally you should check first; having said that, Albanians have a tendency to ignore many laws, including traffic and smoking, so the liklyhood is that if there is a restriction in place, no one is paying attention to it. The country is full of wild spaces so finding a spot should be very easy, we read that the beaches may be harder to find a spot on in Summer.

Andorra – No

Wild camping is illegal in Andorra.  It is only allowed around a hut during the night when the hut is full.

Armenia – Yes

Wild camping is legal in Armenia.  Locals tend to be very hospitable and curious, so don’t be surprised if some locals come to check out your tent and invite you home for coffee.  There is plenty of wild land in remote areas, but beware of wolves and animals!  Stray dogs can also be a problem in the countryside.

Austria – Yes with restrictions

If you are in unprotected forest you may set up a “planned bivouac” for one night. If you are in a Schutzgebiet (protected area) it’s explicitly prohibited. You should use a safe camping stove to cook; open fire is prohibited in both Schutzgebiete and the forest.

Belarus – Yes

The country’s constitution states that all forest and farm land is publicly owned, so you are able to wild camp legally.  Something like 40% of the country is covered by forest, so you should have plenty of options for wild camping.

Belgium – No with exceptions

General wild camping isn’t legal, however, they do have ‘Bivakzones’ where pole camping is allowed. This website has a map of the zones.

Bosnia and Herzegovina – Yes but beware

Wild camping is legal but there’s one very important thing to watch out for: landmines – there are still a lot of them buried in Bosnia. Don’t camp on land which has obviously not been tended in a long time, and obviously never camp on land surrounded by “Beware of Mines” signs.

Bulgaria – No but kind of yes

Camping in the wild is technically prohibited but from what we can tell normally accepted if you’re discreet and, most importantly, do not build wood fires. We’ve read that locals are generally hospitable, even welcoming. Also, over the summer hundreds of hippy families relocate to the wild beaches of the Black Sea for weeks on end. Many of them visit annually to protest against the aggressive private land grab that has claimed 90% of the coastline.

Croatia – No

As far as legal issues are concerned, according to current regulations you are not allowed to camp outside designated camping sites and areas. While it is possible to discreetly find remote spots, Croatians live off of tourism (especially on the coast) so be prepared to find big “No Camping” signs in all kinds of places.

Cyprus – Unsure but generally yes

We couldn’t find the legal status for wild camping in Cyprus. It seems as though a lot of people do it with no problems. Apparently, the worst that can happen is that a forest ranger will ask you to leave. What Cyprus is really strict about is fires; if you light a fire, expect to get a 600 euro fine.What we’ve read from locals is that you can camp all around the island so long as it is not in a protected area. In peak months it is less likely to be tolerated. In the winter months (Oct.-April) it’s much easier and quieter but you may want to stick to the coastal regions because of the cold weather in the mountains.

Czech Republic – Yes with restrictions

Czech have the same wild camping laws as Austria.  It is permitted – but only in unrestricted areas for 1 night and without a tent.

Denmark – No with exceptions

Unlike Sweden and Norway, in Denmark generally wild camping in tents is not legal.  However there are exceptions:

  • You may stay overnight on publicly owned natural areas on the ground in a sleeping bag, in a hammock, in a tree, or similar. You can use a rain cover or similar, but your shelter must not resemble a tent or similar.
  • “Frie teltningsområder” (free camping) designated areas. You can put up your tent in many of the Nature Agency’s forest areas and stay overnight without prior permission.
  • Primitive camp sites are small designated areas where you may camp with a tent, provided you are not travelling by motorized means. The owner may choose to charge you up to DKK 30 per person per night, and in some cases you may need to call ahead. There are around 1,100 of these sites scattered throughout most of the country. A lot of the sites are owned by farmers who are offering the use of a corner of one of their fields to travellers. In other cases the sites are located in a publicly owned forest.

If you are caught camping outside of a legal area, expect to pay fines. More info here. You can find a map here.

England and Wales – No with exceptions

Wild camping is England and Wales is illegal almost everywhere, unless you have a special permission.  The exception is Dartmoor where the camping rights are written into the National Parks & Access to the Countryside Act.  However, wild camping is tolerated in some areas of England.  More info here.

Estonia – Yes

Wild camping is permitted on government lands (called Riigimets), though some National Parks have restrictions.  There is a big culture of wild camping and you shouldn’t have any problems from locals.  Note that the National Forest Center (RMK) has many official campsites which even have latrines, so you don’t even have to camp wild to camp free. On private land getting permission from the landowner is advised.

The large island of Saaremaa, in the Baltic, is covered in thick forests and has a handful of campsites, but many locals pitch on the beaches in the north of the island, around Murika. In the north-east the Lahemaa national park is another beautiful area smothered in forest, where landowners are well-known for welcoming campers.

Finland – Yes

Finland has very liberal public access laws; you are allowed to wild camp as long as you are a suitable distance from homes or cabins. In the province of Aland, the right to wild camp is not necessarily recognized. There may also be some restrictions in protected areas. More info here.

France – No with loophole

Wild camping is illegal in France under Article R111-33 and R111-34.  However, you’ll find this at the end of the law:

“These prohibitions are enforceable only if they have been made public by posting in town halls and by placing signs at the usual access points to the areas covered by these prohibitions. A joint decree of the ministers responsible for urban planning and tourism determines the conditions under which such signage is established.”

You can download the law here.

A lot of people have said they had no problem wild camping in France (being respectful, of course). So, it seems to be well-tolerated even if the legality is a grey area.

Georgia – Yes

Wild camping is legal and you will find plenty of very remote places for camping.  However, avoid camping near flocks of sheep as they are known to be guarded by aggressive dogs.

Germany – No

Wild camping is illegal in Germany. You are allowed to sleep one night in a bivvy sack outside of private property and not on nature reserves or restricted areas.  You might be able to wild camp with a tarp tent.  However, whether that counts as a tent is up to the discretion of whoever found you. Be warned that anti-camping laws are actually enforced. Having said that. we’ve read that many people have done it without any issues (following sensible precautions of course).

Greece – No but tolerated

Wild camping is illegal in Greece.  However, this rule is rampantly ignored. There are many areas you shouldn’t have a problem, some we’ve heard of include the mountains (not in a National Park), the Cyclades islands which are virtually un-policed, particularly the north-western coast of Amorgos and the southern beaches of Anafi, and the east coast of the Peloponnese around Leonidi and Kyparissi.

Hungary – Yes but with restrictions

From what little we could find, wild camping is allowed but you may only stay in one place for 24 hours. We did find some general tips from those who’ve done it:

  • Dont wild camp in national parks, its illegal and they are frequently patrolled by foresters. Same goes for “tájvédelmi körzet” (nature preservation areas) but there are way fewer foresters and they dont really care.
  • Making campfires in the wild is illegal if it hasn’t rained for a while (you can check online, bans are issued 1-2 weeks in advance).
  • Don’t camp on private property without permission.
  • Hungary doesn’t have a lot of ‘wild’ areas, meaning that the furthest you can get from a village is around 15kms, so you can expect to meet people no matter where you go.
  • Conflicting advice about asking locals from the nearby village where wild campers go, they will know the good spots., but that also means that any undesirables will know where you are.
  • Another thing is drinking water: most villages have blue public taps that you can use for free.

Iceland – Yes with restrictions

Wild camping is legal if you find yourself away from registered campsites.  In residential areas, you are allowed to pitch up to three tents on uncultivated land for one night, unless the landowner has posted a notice to the contrary. In the highlands, you can pitch as many tents as you want and there are no listed restrictions for how long you can camp.  Camping in the wild is not allowed within nature reserves and not recommended in the surrounding area due to environmental reasons. These laws only apply to tents and not to RVs or caravans.

Ireland – No but tolerated in remote areas

Wild camping in Ireland is not legal.  Most land is privately owned and you can expect a lot of fences, walls, and locked gates.  In remote places, however, wild camping is tolerated – such as for cyclists going long distances.

Italy – No

Wild camping is illegal in Italy.  It isn’t very well tolerated, in fact most sources seem to say it’s explicitly banned in many places, other sources imply this may be a little harsher than reality.

Kosovo – Yes

Legal and very well tolerated.  Locals are hospitable and the nature is stunning.

Latvia – Yes

You are allowed to wild camp, so long as you are outside of designated protected areas.

Liechtenstein – No?

We were unable to find any information about Liechtenstein except one person saying it is illegal.

Lithuania – Yes

As with the other Baltic countries, wild camping is legal and even encouraged.

Luxembourg – No

Wild camping is illegal and strictly enforced.

Macedonia – No but tolerated?

We’ve heard that wild camping is illegal in Macedonia but not from an official source.  Even if it is illegal, wild camping is well tolerated and you won’t have a hard time finding remote areas.  Like elsewhere in the Balkans, locals are also very hospitable. We’ve read that getting a visit from park rangers is likely but they are friendly and don’t necessarily move you on, but rather want to know that you are not causing damage or danger. One thing to note however, due to recent animosity towards refugees, you might want to be careful about wild camping near the border, especially if you have dark skin and might be mistaken for a refugee.  Yes, racism sucks. 🙁

Malta – No but with exceptions

Not only is wild camping illegal, but camping in general is not encouraged; there are only a couple official campsites on the island. However, according to this article from Air Malta, you can get special permission from the local council where you want to go to wild camp. This article from Living in Malta also has more info. It basically says that wild camping is illegal, but you can still do it.

Moldova – Unsure but tolerated

We couldn’t find anything official about whether wild camping is legal or not, but people do say that it is tolerated.

Montenegro – Unsure but tolerated

Some say it’s ok to wild camp in Montenegro, if you’re not in a national park. Other’s say it’s technically illegal but you won’t have any problems.

Netherlands – No with exceptions

Wild camping is illegal in the Netherlands. However, the Forestry Commission has set up a concept called Paalkamperen (pole camping). There are several poles around the country and in the area around the pole it is legal to wild camp. These are very primitive spots in natural surroundings with at its best at tap and a dustbin. You can also ask a farmer, many are interested and willing hosts. Or check out Natuurkampeerterreinen with a choice of 138 Natural Campsites which you can use free for a registration fee of €14,95 per year.

Norway – Yes

Wild camping in Norway isn’t just legal,itis enshrined in the Allemannsretten – every man or woman’s right of public access- and very much encouraged.  The country has one of the most liberal public-access laws and a culture which believes in man’s right to nature.  Under the law, you are allowed to wild camp for up to two nights on uncultivated land no closer than 150 meters from a house or a cabin.  In mountainous areas, you are allowed to wild camp legally for longer.

An easy way to find a wild pitch is to travel to Oslo and take a commuter ferry across the inner fjord to Langøyene island, whose grassy shores are fair game for campers. The wooded area around Sognsvann lake, north of the city, is also a popular spot. A more adventurous summer destination is the dramatic Lofoten islands, inside the Arctic Circle, where camping comes with the added perk of midnight sun.

Poland – No

Wild camping in Poland is illegal. You are probably thinking of the Tatra and Karkonosze Mountains if you want to wild camp in Poland, unfortunately they are very crowded and there is a good chance you will get caught if you wild camp there.  You aren’t even allowed off the paths in those mountains.  Some suggest you might be able to find secluded places in other parts of Poland (outside of National Parks) where you could get away with it.

Portugal – No but sometimes tolerated

For those hoping to wild camp, the official position of the Portuguese government is something of a grey area. While it’s generally accepted that authorities will turn a blind eye, especially during the low season, and that camping in rural areas is typically without risk, wild camping is actually forbidden throughout the country without the proper permits or permission from all relevant land owners. Beaches are especially monitored and camping not tolerated.

Romania – No but widely tolerated

While wild camping is illegal in Romania, it is widely tolerated and most report that you shouldn’t have any problems – especially outside of reserves.  Apparently, the worst that is going to happen is that some forest rangers might ask you to move or pay a small fee (like 2-3 euros) for camping.  Campfires are illegal, but also barely enforced.

Russia – Yes

Wild camping is legal, except on: church lands, private lands, and near water reservoirs.

Scotland – Yes with exceptions

Legal pretty much anywhere under the Land Reform Act of 2003. However, there are some exceptions, for example it is not permitted to wild camp on the island of Tiree in the Inner Hebrides and East Loch Lomond.

Serbia – Yes as far as we can tell

There aren’t any laws about wild camping that we could find.  If there are, it seems like they are not being enforced. The only times you might encounter an issue is if you are in a National Park or Reserve as camping is usually forbidden in those areas. Serbian locals are very hospitable.  If they see you wild camping or if you ask to camp on their land, they will probably invite you inside.

Slovakia – Yes with exceptions

Legal, except in areas with a level 3 protection and above (meaning you can’t wild camp in the High Tatras or national parks).  You also aren’t allowed to wild camp in forests – but “forests” is defined by the map, not presence of trees.  We have heard that wild camping in forests (even ones marked on the maps) is tolerated, but be careful about making a fire, which is generally prohibited.

Slovenia – No but tolerated

Technically forbidden, but widely practiced and tolerated. However, don’t try to wild camp in popular places (such as Lake Bled, Bohinj, and Triglav park) as you could end up with a fine.

Spain – No with exceptions

Wild camping in Spain is complicated.  There is a “mother law” Article 46.1 of the order for July 28th which states that:

“Apart from tourist camp sites no more than three tents of caravans may be placed at the same location, nor should there be more then 10 campers, nor may the camp be in place for more than three days. Tents and (caravans) within 500 meters of each other are considered to be part of the same group.”

The law also states that it is prohibited to free camp within 200 meters of the sea, within a few kilometers of military installations, within a few kilometers of a regular camp site, and in protected areas like national parks, natural parks, bird sanctuaries called ‘ZEPA’s, etc. However, there is the new law under the Spanish Constitution of 1978, which created seventeen ‘autonomous regions’ each with considerable, though varying, powers to make their own legal codes with their own territory. Under these new laws, wild camping in Spain is:

  • These areas completely prohibit wild camping: Andalucía, Aragón, Asturias, Extremadura, Galicia, Navarra, Valencia.
  • These areas have their own laws/permit requirements for wild camping: Cantabria, Murcia, La Rioja.
  • These areas fall under national rules and wild camping is permitted: Basque Country, Cataluña, Madrid, Castilla y León, Castilla la Mancha.  But you still can’t camp near the beach, in national parks, protected areas, etc.  Also, a lot of the land is privately owned, so you’d have a hard time finding anywhere that would even fall into the permitted wild camping areas.

In all situations it is suggested to avoid making a fire while wild camping.  The locals might turn a blind eye to wild campers in some areas, but the risk of forest fire is very real and a fire will likely attract police very quickly.

We read that the fine for illegal camping is 30 euros per square meter of space used, per day, however, other sources state that the fine is up to 5000 euros! If you are just looking for a place to camp for free but not necessarily wild, this article has some recommendations.

Sweden – Yes

Wild camping is Legal pretty much anywhere under Outdoor Access Rights.  You are allowed to leave your tent up for 2 days.  Campfires are permitted, but only if there isn’t a fire prohibition in place, and the fire is “under control” and “suitable equipment” is used. To see if there is a fire prohibition in place, you’ll need to check with Länsstyrelsen. There is also an app “Brandrisk Ute” that you can use to check if fire restrictions are in place – just use the map feature to see.

Switzerland – No but tolerated in remote areas

While it is technically forbidden, it is tolerated in remote, wide-open places.  In some places though, the police are stricter – especially about camping along rivers, lakes, and reservoirs.  Apparently the best practice is to ask the local police first if it is okay for you to wild camp.

Turkey – Yes

Wild camping in Turkey is allowed, in fact, their tourism webpage on camping even reminds you to bring a trowel for burying your poo.

Ukraine – Yes

Legal, though some national parks only allow camping in designated areas.  Even these rules don’t seem to be strictly enforced. Just note that you might need special permission to camp near border areas  if you don’t want to be mistaken as a smuggler by border patrol.

United Kingdom

 

See separate entries for England and Wales, Ireland, and Scotland

 

 

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