Wild Camping in Europe | Essential Guide
Where in Europe is wild camping legal? Which countries tolerate wild camping?
So, you've done some wild camping in the UK and now you've got a taste for it. You've got so much of a taste for this type of camping, in fact, that you're now looking to do some wild camping adventures in mainland Europe. But hold on one minute mate, is wild camping in mainland Europe even allowed? The answer, we're afraid to say, is far from simple ("yes", "no","maybe" - depending on the country).
In a bid to ensure you all know the most basic rules of wild camping in Europe, we've broken parts of the continent down a bit so that you don't have to. For those wanting to go wild camping in Europe then, here's some information that you definitely/maybe/probably should read before buying your flights/train ticket/ferry toll.
FYI. Give Switzerland a swerve on the wild camping front, or face a potential fine of 10,000 Euros.
France is a funny one when it comes to wild camping. It's not technically allowed but, like an irritating child, you'll generally be tolerated if you play by the rules. If you can, try and seek permission of the landowners first or hide yourself well out the way of the main tourist sites.
Places to consider, according to various online forums, are the Ardennes, the Morvan peaks, and spots around Saintes Maries-de-la-Mer. If you're doing it in the French Alps, set up after 7pm in the evening as anything before then could result you in getting in trouble. A few things to note before you hop on the Eurostar; you definitely can't start a fire (not even a small one), and don't stay later than 9am in the morning.
Wild camping in Norway is wrapped in something called 'Allemannsretten'; which basically translates as "everyman's right" or "freedom to roam." God bless you, Norway. God bless you. One important thing to remember about 'Allemannsretten' though, before we get far too carried away, is that it does have some limits.
The law in Norway makes a notable distinction between cultivated lands (innmark) and uncultivated lands (utmark). Cutting right to the chase, you're allowed to wild camp on uncultivated lands but not on cultivated lands. Cultivated lands include farmyards, tilled fields, and plots around houses/cabins.
Travellers making the most of their wild camping freedom here should know that the law states how those who use 'allemannsretten' must behave themselves at all times. That means leaving the place as you found it, and being aware that property owners have the right to eject any campers or hikers who are stirring up mischief, causing damage, and generally being turds.
If you fancy getting a bit of midnight sun in Norway, find yourself a summer camping spot inside the Arctic Circle on the stunning Lofoten islands. An adventure to these northerly parts will no doubt cause some chaos with your sleeping patterns, but we think you'll love it all the same. Another place worth thinking about is the woodland area around Sognsvann Lake, north of Oslo.
Strictly speaking. Wild camping in Greece is illegal, and should never be done because it's not allowed by law. It's a crime, guys. Simple as. That said, and definitely do not take this next bit as a reason to do it, the law is so vigorously ignored that if the law was some sort of potted houseplant it would have died ages ago from lack of watering.
So, look. While these definitely aren't recommendations (because, remember, wild camping in Greece is illegal), we have heard really good things about Samothraki; lots of trees to hide amongst and river ponds to utilise. Our friends over at Cooler, on the other hand, recently had an excellent time stand up paddle boarding/wild camping round Corfu.
We've also heard good things about Anafi's southern beaches and the east coast of the Peloponnese. But, of course, this is all irrelevant because wild camping in Greece is definitely illegal and there's no way you're going to do it. *wink, wink, nudge, nudge*
Wild camping in Iceland. Sounds epic, right? Well you're in luck, because wild camping in Iceland is allowed so long as there's less than three tents, you stay on the spot for a single night, and there's no clearly visible signs telling you not to. The usual rules of cleaning up your mess and leaving the environment as you found it apply. Alternatively, use one of the country's many magnificent campsites.
We've written previously on Mpora about how Iceland's ring road is one of the most spectacular road trips on Earth. With that in mind, why not sort yourself out a set of wheels in Reykjavik, pack your camping gear, and head out on the adventure of a lifetime? Explore. Discover. Travel.
In a nutshell, wild camping in Estonia is allowed and in many parts of the country welcomed. As is so often the case, it is recommended you seek permission of the landowner first but so long as you behave yourself and don't leave a big fat mess...you'll probably be fine.
The island of Saaremaa has more trees than you can shake a stick at, and plenty of spots to wild camp. The beaches near Murika, up on the north of the island, are a firm favourite with campers. There's also campsites dotted about the island, if you prefer to be legit.
Another area of Estonia that wild campers might want to consider is the Lahemaa National Park. It's heavily forested, extremely beautiful, and popular with outdoorsy types.
The consensus of various forums is that wild camping in Spain is mostly tolerated, with one exception: do not, under any circumstances, start a fire. Forest fires have known to be a big problem in Spain and, because of this, the authorities have a zero tolerance policy to anyone starting fires in wooded areas (even if the fire is a relatively controlled one).
Secluded beaches on the coastline away from tourist areas, military areas, paid campsites are widely considered to be fine so long as you don't make a mess and overstay your welcome. Wild camping in the Sierra Nevada National Park is mostly allowed so long as you stick to these key rules. Tents can only be set up within one hour of sunset, and must be taken down within one hour of sunrise. You're not allowed to camp below 1,600 metres, within 500 metres of a staffed refuge and 1,000 metres of an asphalted road. Written permission should also be sought out where possible.