UK campers are a lucky bunch, as we have plenty of spectacular spots to pitch a tent or park a camper van on our own turf. But with Europe on our doorstep, there’s a huge range of other beautiful destinations just waiting to be explored.
No matter what you love about a camping holiday, Europe has something for everyone. Whether you want to embark on a secluded nature retreat, gain easy access to vibrant cities, or stroll to a beach just minutes from your campsite, there are plenty of places to choose from.
With this in mind, we’ve pulled together a list of 12 incredible places to camp in Europe.
1. Lake Garda, Italy
If you’re looking for an idyllic escape, why not camp among the olive groves of Lake Garda? As Italy’s biggest lake, it offers plenty of variety. Hikers can explore the towering mountain peaks on the north side, and adrenaline seekers can glide through the aquamarine waters on windsurfing boards.
But there’s lots of culture to immerse yourself in too. You can take a stroll through one of the postcard-perfect towns of Riva del Garda and Limone sul Garda and try the region’s famous bigoli pasta, made with sardines caught fresh from the lake. Or, if you’re a history buff, why not head up to one of the regal Middle Ages strongholds in the hills?
2. Languedoc-Roussillon, France
Tucked between Provence and the towering Pyrenees, the Languedoc-Roussillon region is a popular camping destination that offers an Eden for nature lovers. You can investigate twisting coastal trails, drink in grand vistas at the gorges to the north, and visit The Camargue Regional Natural Park, home to herds of wild white horses and nesting flamingoes.
But there’s plenty more than just nature to unearth here. History enthusiasts can wander through the fortified city of Carcassonne, visit Nîmes’ well-preserved Roman amphitheatre, or explore the life of renowned artist Vincent van Gogh in Arles. Plus, with plenty of campsites in Languedoc, you’ll be spoilt for choice – whether you want to pitch your tent amongst the region’s famous vineyards or park your campervan by the beach.
3. Costa Dorada, Spain
A camping holiday in Costa Dorada offers plenty of chances for rejuvenation. There are various seaside sites to choose from, many nestled under the soothing shade of pine forests, with access to pristine beaches and calm crystal waters.
When you’re in the mood for activities, you can head to the nearby city of Tarragona to visit the famous Roman ruins or drive north to bustling Barcelona to marvel at the architecture of Antoni Gaudí. A bit closer to your pitch, you’ll also find quaint fishing villages dotting the coast and family-friendly activities like the Port Aventura theme park.
4. The Black Forest, Germany
Famous for inspiring Brothers Grimm fairy tales like Hansel and Gretel and Snow White, the Black Forest (Schwarzwald) is also a beloved camping destination. Tucked away in Germany’s southwest corner, this region of dense, evergreen forests, rolling mountain ridges, and sparkling lakes offer campers the perfect blend of tranquillity and outdoor adventure.
The high season here is generally July and August, which sees a comfortable average temperature of 20°C. However, nature lovers may want to consider visiting in late spring, when carpets of dandelions blossom in the fields, or early autumn, when the trees form a breathtaking mosaic of amber, ochre, and scarlet.
5. Istria, Croatia
The Istrian peninsula stands out from the rest of Croatia and perhaps the whole of Europe. It boasts a unique mix of lush rolling countryside, rugged coastlines, and glistening sapphire seas. Known as ‘Croatia’s pantry’, this is a perfect destination for nature enthusiasts with a love of food, as there are plenty of tangled wineries, olive farms, and truffle forests to wander through.
If you’re in the mood for a slice of town life, there’s plenty of that too. The pastel-coloured city of Pula is famous for its dazzling Roman amphitheatre, and medieval hilltop towns litter the landscape. For camping, try visiting in June and September, when temperatures are reasonably warm and there are fewer crowds.
6. Mullerthal, Luxembourg
If you enjoy mixing camping with long hikes, then Luxembourg could be your next escape. While often overlooked in favour of its larger neighbours – such as Germany, France, and Belgium – Luxembourg has plenty to offer adventurous campers, especially the Mullerthal region, also known as ‘Little Switzerland’.
Not only is the Mullerthal area covered in enchanted forests and crisscrossed with rambling trails (including the region’s famous 112km route), but it’s also well-known for its dazzling, otherworldly sandstone rock formations, which twist into towering stacks and arch over hikers’ heads. Or, if trekking isn’t your thing, why not try kayaking or canoeing on the meandering River Sûre or touring the ancient halls of the medieval Beaufort Castle?
7. The Algarve, Portugal
While we might associate Portugal with city breaks and beach-side resorts, it’s an excellent destination for campers, too, with plenty of great sites to choose from. However, for a dose of sun, sea, and sand, there’s nowhere better than the Algarve. Home to charming coastal towns, unrivalled dolphin spotting opportunities, and immaculate beaches tucked under impressive red cliffs, the Algarve has plenty to offer everyone.
For campers looking to escape the crowds and sultry summer heat, why not consider visiting in late September and early October? The area is not only less touristy, but the days are still quite warm, with average temperatures sitting at over 20°C. Plus, in early autumn, the famously brisk seas of the Algarve are relatively balmy after being heated by the summer sun.
8. Salzburgerland, Austria
In Salzburgerland, campers will find an astonishing amount of variety. As well as the dazzling alpine scenery – which includes rolling wildflower fields, shimmering glacial lakes, and lofty, snow-capped peaks – you can also immerse yourself in one of Austria’s cultural capitals, Salzburg City.
Architecture enthusiasts can enjoy a day trip to the city, exploring landmarks like the Salzburg Cathedral and the Mirabell Palace and Gardens, made famous in the 1965 film The Sound of Music. Or, for jaw-dropping spectacles, consider taking the scenic cable car ride to the Untersberg peak or hiking to the thundering Krimml Waterfalls. Salzburgerland is ideal for campers looking to combine natural beauty with cultural exploration.
9. South Holland, The Netherlands
For a slightly more unconventional camping destination, why not try the South Holland province of The Netherlands? Here, you’ll find tranquil countryside pitches and seaside campsites nestled among sweeping dunes. With its flat terrain and extensive cycle paths, South Holland is also ideal for peddlers, and its lengthy coastline offers a string of beaches and bays for water sports like surfing. Plus, it’s just a seven-hour drive from London.
However, South Holland is well populated, so there aren’t as many untouched natural spaces as other areas on this list. But the province more than makes up for this with its opportunities for cultural discovery – including two of the country’s biggest cities, Rotterdam and The Hague. South Holland also has a climate similar to the UK, so it’s a good choice if you’re looking for a serene summer camping getaway but don’t want to be sweating in your tent.
10. Bernese Oberland, Switzerland
Bernese Oberland in the Swiss Alps offers the ultimate camping experience. A place like no other, it’s full of exciting and strangely harmonious contradictions. In the Lauterbrunnen Valley, the thunderous din of waterfalls mixes with the soft notes of cowbells, and chocolate box villages sit happily between colossal cliffs.
Home to iconic peaks such as the Jungfrau, the Eiger, and the Schilthorn, visitors will almost certainly want to head up into the clouds and admire the panoramic views. Luckily, exploring Bernese Oberland’s famous mountains is easier than you might think, with plenty of trains, cable cars, and funiculars. Between dizzying ascents, why not head to Interlaken for a chocolate-making workshop or kick back on a cruise of Lake Thun?
11. Brittany, France
For something a little closer to home, you could consider Brittany for your next camping retreat. Known for its wild, rugged, and windswept coastline, Brittany is reminiscent of some parts of the UK, but the culture is entirely unique. This is another excellent choice for campers looking for a cooler climate, with average temperatures reaching around 18°C.
Foodies will enjoy sampling Brittany’s culinary delights, where sweet treats like crêpes and kouign-amann (a cross between a sticky bun and a croissant) are popular. And history buffs will relish investigating coastal castles and discovering the Carnac Stones, an eerie and mysterious arrangement of rocks that predates Stonehenge. Or, for something more adventurous, you might want to set off on a boat and explore the 800 islands and islets that dot the coast.
12. Tuscany, Italy
Tuscany is one of Italy’s most diverse areas. On the coast, you’ll find campsites tucked away in cool pine forests, not far from delicate sandy beaches and enchanting coves. Your pitch will undoubtedly make a great base to go forth and explore some of the region’s iconic seaside towns, such as the picturesque Portoferraio and lively Livorno.
Head into Tuscany’s interior, and you can make your camp in the scenery the area has become famous for: grassy hills, swishing cypress trees, and rows of olives and grape vines. As well as a good spot for outdoor activities like cycling and hiking, you can set off on various cultural excursions. Discover Renaissance treasures in Florence, admire the famous architecture in Pisa, and enjoy perfect pasta in Siena.
European camping opportunities are astonishingly diverse – from the alpine peaks of Switzerland to the sun-drenched coves of the Algarve.
Whether you want to submerge yourself in natural beauty, unearth authentic culture, or spend some time with your family at the beach, there are plenty of places to choose from. We hope these ideas have given you some inspiration for your next camping getaway.
What’s your favourite camping destination in Europe? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.