Upon our arrival in Portugal we had no idea about the laws concerning wild camping and as we would be spending a lot of time doing so we figured we’d have to look into it.
In Spain and France, for instance, wild camping is widely accepted, especially in France where they have dedicated areas for people to park overnight, even offering additional facilities like cooking areas and toilets.
The first information we found about Portugal’s laws indicated that it is absolutely not acceptable to wild camp. This caused us some concern but when we looked into it more closely the book we had was alluding to the pitching of tents and mainly on beaches which is not allowed.
So what about campervans?
From what we’ve read since it seems the Portuguese authorities are quite happy for people to park up overnight as long as they don’t leave a mess or cause a nuisance of any form.
We have found some excellent wild camping spots in Portugal and have so far had no trouble at all, even in cities where GNR patrol. We have seen plenty of places where campers of all nations have huddled together but we prefer to avoid those most of the time in favour of more secluded spots, away from the throng.
The simple rules to follow when wild camping are as follows:
- Be courteous – always respect the place you stay and the people living nearby
- Clean up after yourself
- Don’t put up awnings or place seats and tables outside – be discreet
- Always park facing the direction you intend to leave in case you need to make a quick getaway
- Respect the environment – don’t dump waste from chemical toilets or drainage units into drains or in fields
- Carry plenty of supplies if you’re heading into rural areas (that includes a spare can of fuel and plenty of clean water)
Wild camping is a privilege and should be seen as such. Portugal is struggling financially at the moment and you can help them a little with your tourist euros; it’s the least we visitors can do in return for some free nights parking.
Take a look at our wild camping section for ideas on where to stay.
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