We dare to write these lines because we think that our experience of European campsites can be useful to someone. As an introduction, we tell you that we are Flor and Seba, an Argentine couple who in 2014 travelled through Europe through 23 countries (we do not count the Vatican at the personal request of the Pope (?)), Half of the year as backpackers and the other half cycling, and we thought it was cool to do something similar with the campsites that we saw on our journey through the old continent.
To start this short article, it is necessary to warn our dear readers, presumably South Americans, that the campsites in Europe, for the most part, have little and nothing to do with what we are used to. The idiosyncrasy of these lies in their orientation towards a “retired” audience that travels in motorhomes, or mostly motorhomes (I put “idiosyncrasy” and “lies” in a sentence, I am a champion). That is, the campsites are in beautiful places, in the middle of nature many times, but they have ALL the chiches in terms of comfort, a lot of preparation for the farm vehicles, and some small and hidden place for the tents. Few grills, of course (except for Greece, but we’ll get there). As a colour fact, we tell you that it is very common there that older people (retired) go to “live” temporarily, for several months or years in campsites, where they settle down and enjoy their years of rest. When they get tired of the place, they lift everything and go to live in another campsite. It is quite common for them.
Our mode of travel in the bicycle stage (and with which we fell in love) is called “cycle-camping”. It is similar to the already known Cycling, but instead of pedalling during the day and sleeping in a hotel/hostel at night, we put the tent somewhere nice. For cheap travellers (mice?) Like us, there is the possibility of doing “free camping” quietly in much of Europe (we understand that in Spain and Portugal they put on their caps but we do not check it for our route), as long as when the tent is not put near the house of anybody who comes to throw the anger at us. Despite our love of free camping and cyclocamping, we collected enough information to describe a bit about European camping:
We are not going to take a “tour” of ALL the countries we visit because it would be boring, but we are going to tell you about the ones that stayed the longest and that gave us the best feelings.
In the aunt homeland (?) We were lucky to put the tent in some places, and we used organized camping (a campeggio!) In Trieste, a small town in the northeast of the country, on the border with Slovenia. It was the first country where we found what would later become “normal”: Campings prepared for motorhomes, where they charge you for the plug if you want to use it, there is no light in the camping pitches… but hey, we were in Trieste, a beautiful port city. The hot shower was included in the price.
What yes … it was the coldest place of all that we camped because the camping was at the tip of the mountain !! Dressed inside the sleeping bag, with jumpsuits and winter pants haha and well, it was the cheapest camping by far.
Prices in Italy range from 5 euros per person per day and 10 per tent onwards (the tent is paid once only, it is still expensive), in “cheap” cities like Trieste, while in tourist spots like Rome and Florence Everything goes up: between 8-10 per person per day.
This country was a discovery for us. It combines the beach excellently, with ruins of the ancient Roman Empire and exceptional natural jewels, especially in its national parks (Plitvice, Krka, etc). Free camping is very easy to achieve and the prices of organized campsites are much lower than in neighboring Italy. It is very favorable that the country does not have the tourism culture instilled SO (for political-historical reasons it is only now becoming accidental, I mean strongly westernizing), which leads to much less packaging, and therefore (at least for us) more enjoyable.
Prices range from 3-4 euros per day per person. In some places, they charge the tent, in others they do not. It depends on how touristy it is.
We did “organized camping” once alone in over a month that we pedaled in Germany. We found it expensive at a time when silver was already scarce, and added to the ease of free camping that exists in the German states, everything led us to little use of campsites. However, that was no reason for us to stop at the entrance of each one that passed and look at the prices and the comforts that they had.
In general, they were full of motorhomes (the “motor homes” were no longer visible here), with access to electricity in each plot, space for washing clothes / dishes, restaurant, wifi (in some the signal even reached the tent sectors) , and in others, only in the restaurants inside the camping), etc. Despite all the luxuries they had, in this country it was the first in which we saw that they charged for using the shower. A separate, timed fee (something like a euro every 3 minutes of showering). The same modus operandi can be found in many of the campsites in the “world’s first” countries.
In the northern country there are Shelters, which are like cabins or free camping areas in natural areas that the State grants to travelers (nationals or foreigners, interchangeably). You can not stay more than two days in a row in the shelters, but what more do you want. Cabins or camping spaces generally have a place to make a fire nearby and grass cut around. They do not have showers but it is common to find public toilets in very good condition along the Danish routes.
Despite this, there are campsites in many of the tourist cities. These are cheaper than hotels and hostels (let’s take into account that it is one of the most expensive countries in the world. Yes, the world, whole) but they were out of our reach. The night per person was around 10-12 euros and the tent about 10 euros added, also if you wanted to bathe you had to pay separately. In conclusion the account gave approximately 28-30 euros per night per couple. Outside of our budget. Out. Fuori from the cup.
They were full of motorhomes and since, by the ones we saw, they were always close to the tourist cities, there was a lot of old man walking around.
If you are interested in knowing a little more about Denmark and its shelters, we leave you the link (it has a Danish and English version, and well thanks) with info and regulations.
Below all, it clearly says that “one can put his tent in any natural area of the State Dependency without asking for permission in advance”, and in case it is a private field, ask the owner for permission 😛 They say so from the State.
Let’s be honest, we don’t set foot in a single organized camping in Switzerland either. The cheapest, per night per couple, was 40 euros. We were in the watchmaking country for 23 days and we did not pay any accommodation. How did we do? Camp free everywhere and sleep in the house of people who invited us to sleep in their armchairs, free rooms, etc. The Swiss have a lot of culture of life with nature and if you are respectful with the environment, and with people, they have no problem in setting up the tent (and setting it up in the morning).
The organized campsites, depending on the city and its amount of tourism, hovered between 30 and 50 euros per night per couple, including showers. Out of range for us, but perhaps it will work for some because it is still cheaper than hostels and hotels.
There are countries or cities that some people love and others, because of A or X, do not like. We went with great enthusiasm to Greece and we were disappointed, above all, by its people. We will surely give him a rematch and the next one will dazzle us, like most of us.
In Greece we found grills for the first time in the campsites, there is not one per plot, but there are and they do not charge (at least to us) to use them. We spent some great, spectacular days in Meteora, a place where there are some ancient monasteries that rest on gigantic rocks (similar to mountains), with a story of survival to world wars, Turkish invasions and others, which is super interesting. As it is not a total tourist area, camping was an excellent option for contact with nature. The low season helped us since we were the only ones at the campsite, haha For two nights they charged us 12 euros in total (all-inclusive). Very well.
Although we travel through Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, when it comes to “Eastern” Europe or the Iron Curtain (in part) we camp little in these regions because prices, in general, They are much more comfortable than in the West, so we “rest” from taking care of our pockets, being able to sleep in a hostel or rented room without suffering our pockets. Likewise, we could see that the campsites are not very frequent, except in the tourist cities (which are not very common), at the same time that it seemed quite easy to be able to make free camping outside the big cities. The tranquillity of most of these countries is great. We fall in love with Eastern Europe, it is a journey through time.
As always we invite that if someone fell into this post and was left with doubts/questions, to contact us. We always try to answer all messages, be it on the blog