More openings are on the horizon and it's time to plan the first outdoor excursions. If you want to spend a night camping in beautiful surroundings in Germany without being woken up by slamming car doors or motorhome generators, only to find that the first thing you see is a wall of caravans, it's not that easy. Campsites more and more resemble grassy parking zones, wild camping is prohibited almost everywhere, even non-motorised, and bivouacking is a grey area that requires a good dose of courage and self-confidence.
Most fresh-air-loving and nature-loving people will understand that in a densely populated country like Germany, natural areas need special protection. Animals and plants urgently need the little space we still allow them. Nature reserves and national parks are therefore absolutely taboo for any overnight adventure.
About Wild Camping in Germany
Wild camping is relatively confusing in Germany. Laws and guidelines differ depending on the federal state. Section 59 of the Federal Nature Conservation Act states that "entering the open countryside on roads and paths and on unused land for the purpose of recreation" is permitted to everyone. This includes private paths, field margins, heathland, wasteland and fallow land, as well as agricultural land outside the use period. Useful season is the time between sowing and tilling the crop. The right of access also includes the use of wheelchairs or bicycles on paths.
Forest access, on the other hand, is governed by the Federal Forest Act. It is uniformly regulated that according to paragraph 14 "entering the forest for the purpose of recreation" is permitted - the federal states regulate the details. This also includes camping and spending the night outside designated campsites.
Nature reserves, nature reservoirs, national parks and landscape conservation areas take an exceptional position. As a rule, wild camping is strictly prohibited in these zones. If this is violated, and in particular if other offenses are committed such as littering, high fines may be imposed. In general: Respect the local laws and treat nature with respect. Asking the owner for permission before spending the night on his property is also recommended - a friendly inquiry is usually well received!
If you want to be on the safe side in Germany and still want to spend the night as close to nature as possible, you can head for a campsite or ask the local forestry authority, but also the respective property owner. An emergency bivouac is usually allowed everywhere and planned bivouacking (spending the night without a tent in the open air) is generally tolerated for one night - with the exception of protected areas, where overnight camping is expressly prohibited.
As we want to encourage people to travel in a climate-friendly way, we have put together a selection for all those who travel by bike, on foot, canoe or kayak. Some require registration or application. Some are free, others require a membership fee. What they all have in common is that you are invited and welcome to pitch your tent car-free!
popupcamps.de offers exceptional camping experiences on temporary sites. A PUC should be a feel-good place for you, where you can really relax. And that legally and without fear of being caught "wild camping". In addition, they attach importance to cleanliness and the avoidance of waste.
coolcamping.com: camping is all about finding those extra-special places to camp. The team has spent years searching the very best campsites. In addition, you will find here for each campsite reviews of the guests.
trekkingtrails.de is a great service: Thomas Weingärtner from TrekkingTrails has marked all trekking sites in Germany on a map. Different rules apply to the trekking sites: Some have a composting toilet, are subject to a fee and must be reserved in advance, elsewhere there is only a meadow available free of charge.
1nitetent.com works like Couchsurfing - only outside. Someone gives you their garden or land for free to camp on for a night.
dachgeber.de offers sleeping places by cyclists for cyclists! Dachgeber is based on the principle of reciprocity: You sleep with me and I sleep with you. Sympathetically old-fashioned: Every year, either a printed booklet or a pdf file is published with a directory of over 3,000 places to stay in your house or as a campsite in your garden. Not a cool app, but a great, non-commercial and ADFC-affiliated project. Membership costs 15 euros a year, 10 euros for ADFC members. Those arriving on foot or by train are also welcome by prior arrangement.
warmshowers.org works similarly to Dachgeber, but is aimed exclusively at cyclists and gathers sleeping places all over the world. 160,000 cycling enthusiasts are now using this platform based in Colorado, USA. Warmshowers is non-commercial and financed by donations and a one-time admission fee of 30 dollars.
campspace.com a unique outdoor adventure. Discover beautiful and sustainable places in a tent, tree house or cabin. A breath of fresh air, feeling small among giant trees, or a conversation around a warm campfire. Being outdoors reconnects you with yourself, with nature, and with the people around you.
hinterland.camp is the Airbnb for campers and adventurers. The platform, which was only launched in 2020, is currently still focused on Germany and runs under the motto "We have tamed wild camping". The goal is to bring private owners and campers together.
trekking-eifel.de can be used for a fee of 10 euros. You get a little more than just a place to pitch a tent - seating areas, sanitary facilities and platforms made of wood invite you to enjoy the fresh air, even with one foot in the comfort zone.
wildes-sh.de In Schleswig-Holstein there are also designated nature campsites, which are not only provided by the state, but also partly by private individuals. The Wildes Schleswig-Holstein page provides location, coordinates and brief info on the sites for all cyclists and trekkers.
zeltzuhause.de and mycabin.eu offer tent sites on private land at reasonable prices. Not exclusively for car-free travellers, but especially with Campspace and MyCabin I like the fact that sustainable travel is also a topic there in the blog and that low-carbon travel is promoted.