Free camping areas in Spain

Wild camping in Spain would be one of the easiest ways to enjoy nature, if it were allowed as such. However, the rigidity of the current regulations limits this practice, so finding a legal free camping area is not an easy task.

Free camping is one that allows us to locate a camping tent and our sleeping bags in any space that is not a campsite or similar. It is obvious that, in order to prevent the deterioration of the natural environment, it is necessary to regulate this type of practice. However, due to the transfer of powers between administrations and the excessive protectionism of forests and designed environments, to see them from the outside and little else, the truth is that getting a fine for camping in the forest is easy.

To try to shed some light on this case, we are going to analyze the current regulations and offer you some guidelines, so that you do not have problems when enjoying a night in the forest safely.

The mess of the administrations

The first thing we have to know is who the competitions related to free camping in Spain depend on. If we take a look at the current legislation, we will see how the powers are transferred to the autonomous communities, so the free camping legislation in Valencia differs from the free camping regulations in Galicia. This would leave us, in theory, 17 different regulations, which are not few.

But the reality is even worse. And it is common for these autonomous communities to delegate this power to the town councils. Therefore, there are no longer 17, but more than 8,000 entities responsible for establishing the corresponding regulations on free camping. 

The good news, relative, is that many of these municipalities generally adhere to the regulations issued by the corresponding autonomous communities. This is common in smaller municipalities located in remote areas, where you could camp because there are forests or suitable spaces.

As an example, when it comes to free camping in Andalusia, many municipalities use the legislation established by the Junta, so there is not much variation in this regard. Where there is uniformity is in the common prohibitions. Among them, we have the one that establishes that you cannot camp on the beach, due to the public domain nature of these lands. However, this standard is national, so it applies throughout the country.

Camping and overnight

Another issue to assess when considering this camping has to do with the concepts of camping and overnight. According to the different legislations, camping is understood as the establishment of tents and other similar elements intended to remain in a certain area of ​​the forest for two or more nights.

For its part, the overnight stay is understood as the establishment of those same structures, although destined only to spend the night, as an intermediate step before continuing on our way. This difference leads us to ask ourselves if it is legal to spend the night in a tent. The answer, again, depends on where we are. It is true that the night is less persecuted, but again we can have problems, even if we only spend the night in a natural environment as a break from a longer route.

where can you camp

Faced with such a complex environment, you are probably thinking of keeping your tent or looking for a campsite in the north of Spain or anywhere else, in order to be able to live this experience. But before you despair, there are some solutions.

The main one is controlled camping areas. As its name indicates, these areas are not free camping, but their occupation is subject to obtaining the corresponding camping permits. These are requested before the town hall of the municipality where the camping area that we have chosen is located.

This council can establish all the limitations it wants, such as those related to the duration of the stay, the type of people who can access (there are areas that are only for school groups, for example), or even establish daily rates for camping, as if it were a private campsite.

This issue leaves us with another problem, which is finding these camping areas. Fortunately, the Internet is a good ally to carry out a first search and locate these areas comfortably. It is enough to search in Google free camping Catalonia, camping areas in Tenerife or any other similar term in the region that interests us to instantly find a website that informs us of what we have at our disposal. 

Sometimes they are the pages of the municipalities that manage these areas where we can see the information. Once again, it is the environmental councils of each community that, in the best cases, collect all the existing camping areas. In any case, first of all, it is essential to contact the town council responsible for the area, both for the management of permits and to verify the availability of the area for camping.

By the way, although they are not camping areas as such, if high mountains are your thing, you will surely be interested in knowing what free refuges exist on your route. These constructions allow you to spend the night in these high mountain areas safely, being easy to find their locations on the network. In this case, you do not need permissions or authorization to access them.

Free camping areas for caravans

As an extra, we have not wanted to forget about those who camp in caravans, regarding the areas where they can do so. A practice whose limitations are similar to those we have mentioned before. In fact, almost all municipalities prohibit sleeping in the car, except in gas station service areas and the like. Something that supposes a considerable limitation for these users.

Therefore, it is recommended to take a look at the network to find an area where this parking is authorized. However, we anticipate that they are rather scarce in our country. So it is likely that you will have to find a conventional campsite or risk a fine, which prevents you from buying a new banjo to play during your camping days.

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