Wild camping in the Balkan countries

Since we are getting a lot of questions about where to sleep while road-tripping, we decided to post a short clarification  about camping outside campsites. While wild camping in most countries isn’t allowed, it is widely practiced and tolerated. Bear in mind that wild camping calls for spontaneity and that most of the time you will not be able to open the roof tent but will have to sleep in the van. By other words: wild camping means sleeping at different places every day – if that is something you don’t mind then you will definitely find your way around it.

How to find a good spot?

  • move away from the popular touristic spots or national parks (that usually close at night and are circulated by rangers);
  • check google earth to see where you are and where the roads are going. Olive groves are pretty nice, pull-in/picnic areas on passes always have stunning view. Ruins, old churches and castles are a good choice as well;
  • if there’re locals around, ask them, if it would be ok to stay for the night. It is not seldom to get invited to locals’ homes and get offered to park in their yards;
  • if you are eating in a restaurant, don’t hesitate to ask the staff if you can sleep over on the parking lot, especially if you have been drinking.

DO’S AND DONT’S

–  Never sleep in national parks

–  Set up camp late and leave camp early

–  Fires are generally a no-no. Please cook on your cooking stoves.

–  Leave no trace. Your site should not be an obvious campsite the next day.

Countries where wild camping is tolerated: Albania, Macedonia, Montenegro, Kosovo, Serbia, Turkey

Countries where you should be more careful:  Croatia and Slovenia

Countries where wild camping is not tolerated at all: Italy

So, to conclude – just because wild camping is “illegal” in some countries, it doesn’t mean that it is not doable. We have all slept all over the place (including not-so-wild places like city parkings or streets). If you are discreet and respectful, no one is likely to bother you. Even if the police do come, they will probably just tell you to leave. However, keep in mind that you are risking a fine – so it is up to you to decide whether it is worth it or not!

 

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