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Wild camping in Portugal

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Wild camping in Portugal

Hey guys

I would like to try to travel along the coastline of Mediterranean sea from Italy to France, Spain and Portugal and I will have very limited funds.

I was reading many posts about wild camping, but never found anything useful for me. I would like to ask you, if there is possible to overnight in some hidden places in nature (not talking about nature reservations). I'm not going to do campfires, loud noises and i wont let there a single piece of garbage. Its just about sleeping.

Are there any patrols? Does is worth it to camp like that?

Thank you for your answers,

Pavel M.

12 replies to this topic
Lisbon, Portugal
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for Azores, Lisbon
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1. Re: Wild camping in Portugal

Portugal is not in the Mediterranean sea, so if you come you'll be looking at the Atlantic sea.

if you're planning on doing this in the summer the probability of the maritime police be around is high.

Lisbon, Portugal
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2. Re: Wild camping in Portugal

To camp anywhere you like outside camping parks is prohibited and yes, as mentioned, above there are patrols. Outside these designated places, there is a strict requirement of license you have to request and have approved by the local authorities. You should not risk it. Especially in summer, with the very serious problem of forest fires in the country, you can be sure to have patrols everywhere! There are plenty of camping parks all over the country, and they are very cheap for just setting up a tent. Plenty of info online on that.

Edited: 10:11 am, March 10, 2017
1 post
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3. Re: Wild camping in Portugal

Getting less places to wild camp in spain and portugal put there are still a lot of places to camp you can park and sleep at the side of the road as long as there are no restictions and you don't put you step out or your chairs out and keep windowsand door closed put you can open your roof vents.

Portalegre, Portugal
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4. Re: Wild camping in Portugal

Yet another "legal" question where someone has pronounced (in his only post to date)that something is allowed - sigh.

A little searching on the internet will throw up a number of sites that say that wild camping in the Algarve is illegal - as in "prohibited by law". That would, to me anyway, preclude "...park and sleep at the side of the road as long as there are no restictions", save, of course, that it IS restricted by law!

My understanding (which may be wrong - I've only read some of the laws) is that the current laws ALLOW an individual Municipality to permit various forms of wild camping in their area if they so desire.

Here is the Municipality of Silves saying, I think, no ...


If would be great if someone very familiar with the whole set of laws could provide a definitive, REFERENCED, "this is the law" answer.

Caminha, Portugal
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31 reviews
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5. Re: Wild camping in Portugal

I am sorry not to have seen this earlier!

Those who will tell you that wild camping is illegal are often those who wish it were and have an interest in formal paid campsites. Wild camping in The UK is not illegal. In Scotland it is specifically legal. But let us look at Portugal...

Portugal is three distinct places.

The Algarve is not really Portugal at all - or at least the middle bit between Faro and Portimoa. This is holiday land. Here there are not so many free wild camp sites but they do exist. There are, however, quite a number of aires where you will pay €5 to €10 a night and they have some facilities.

Lisbon and its environs reflect the fact that it is a very busy capital city and not the best place for camping though, if you keep South of the river within reach of the ferry or public transport you can stay quite cheaply within easy reach of the center!

Then there is the rest of Portugal. Let us be quite clear about this - the Portuguese love their camping cars and the hate paying to park them overnight. Most villages have an area set aside for them. The government has said that all dams should be places for camping cars to stay. So wild or low cost camping for camping cars gives even France a run for their money.

As you might expect, given the relationship between Portugal and France, the place to find good up-to-date information about where to park other than in the overpriced campsites of the Algarve, is www.campingcar-infos.com

Portugal is, like France, very keen on camping cars. If you meet the police (GNR or local) there is a very good chance they will be campers themselves and will often tell you the best places to be if you ask them nicely. You would have to be doing something really silly to get moved on.

Sometimes, especially in the Algarve, a campsite owner will get upset that people are not parking in his/her campsite and ask the police to shift people off a popular spot. The police will then go and ask everyone to pack up and move. But 24 hours later, people are back and the police will not repeat the exercise. In the season, just look around or ask the locals and you will soon find where to go.

Caminha, Portugal
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6. Re: Wild camping in Portugal

Also look at www.campingcarportugal.com/areasServico…

Portalegre, Portugal
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7. Re: Wild camping in Portugal

With the greatest respect, I think you've misunderstood what "wild" camping actually IS!

"Most villages have an area set aside for them" - that's not wild camping.

"The government has said that all dams should be places for camping cars to stay" - when/IF they do this, it won't be wild camping.

"The police will then go and ask everyone to pack up and move. But 24 hours later, people are back and the police will not repeat the exercise"

It seems to me that, if the police had the legal right to move these people on, what they were doing must have been breaking some law or other - ie, it was ILLEGAL. The fact that people return again doesn't change that fact.

"Those who will tell you that wild camping is illegal are often those who wish it were..."

And, on the contrary, those who wish it were legal tell stories of not having being caught.....

As is so very often the case on a TA forum, we lack a definitive, authoritative, properly referenced answer.

Caminha, Portugal
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4 posts
31 reviews
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8. Re: Wild camping in Portugal

I agree that we may not be talking about the same thing when we use the label "wild camping". As my 25 year old son when we were talking about "wild camping along the north shore of Galicia in our 7.5m £110,000 (when new) motorhome with covered trailer containing a smart car and spare satellite internet equipment, "Just what about your camping do you consider wild?"

I confess that my thoughts when I answered were mostly about the OP who clearly wanted to stay for little, if any, cost. Not really the a satisfactory definition of the term!

What do we mean? Lets have a go at it.

I suggest that overnight stays which are less than 24 hours and do not involve "camping behaviour" such as deployment of tables (allow chairs whilst in use) etc. is overnight parking and not camping at all.

Parking for more than 24 hours or the use of table and chairs awaiting use, deployment of water collection containers etc. but where there are no support facilities - this is wild camping.

The same behaviour where there are facilities as in most aires - I don't have a term for this but I might suggest "casual camping".

Going up the scale I get even more vague!

There are the places where ther are no pitches but there are sanitary facilities such as lavatories, water and often showers. Some are free; some are low cost.

Then there are the fully fledged campsites with hot water, showers and electric hook-up as well as motorhome service points and specifically indicated pitches. Municipal sites are often in this category.

One step up to the ACSI and Camping Card type sites which are usually clearly aimed at family holiday tourists. They are normally based on the idea that campers will be out and about most of the day.

Finally, there are the sites which try and emulate the 5-star hotels. They hope that their guests will find everything they could want without leaving the site. Amusements, shops, recreational activities etc. Usually hated and set apart from the locals who neither see much of the guests nor their money!

As for the legality of the various camping behaviours, I agree we lack a definitive source of information.

The only times that I have ever known the Portuguese police to move people on from an informal camp was when there was a hefty storm forecast and they moved people off the beach at Quarteira. Some were asked to move from a well established site at Montinhos da Lux because one of the campsite owners had complained. They were actually told by the police that it would not happen again and that they could return in 24 hours time. As for the dams, I find it difficult to see how camping where there are no facilities can be anything but wild camping - and some are there all Summer.

One of my favourite places is Santa Suzana, Setubal where there is nothing but the beach of a lake but a mile away there is a small village with a cafe and grocery store. In the village is a sanitary block complete with showers specifically to encourage people to stay by the lake and shop/eat in the village. Is that wild camping?

I am not looking for an argument about this matter. I have been staying in Northern Portugal near Vila Nova de Ceveira for the last four Winters and am very conscious of the attitudes of the Portuguese towards their beloved recreational camping...

They have seen what happened in Spain when the government effectively forbade the police from moving camping cars on unless they were causing obstructions and the locals in some areas didn't like it so bullied the police into moving people on. This lead to the government in Madrid leveling fines of some local police forces - unfortunately a lot of the offenders were in the Basque region so quite sensitive!

new york
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9. Re: Wild camping in Portugal

I think she is talking about tent camping- no car.

Caminha, Portugal
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10. Re: Wild camping in Portugal

Ah! In that case most of what I have posted is irrelevant...

In that situation there is some interesting Portuguese legislation which may well apply.

It says, in effect that the police cannot enter onto private land unless they can see before they do that an offence is being committed.

You will often see fences covered in green geomatting. Even whole campsites are surrounded with the stuff. This is to stop the police from seeing what the land is being used for and thus stops them from taking action. They may well be able to see quite easily that there is a campsite there and they may know full well that there is no permission for it to be there. They can probably easily see through the entrance gate... As far as everyone is concerned the activities are obscured in principle if not in practice and so the police will not interfere.

In effect, the presence of green geomatting boundaries tells you that what is going on there almost certainly lacks authority!

But it also means that the police don't spend much time worrying about people camping - certainly not on a short term basis so the legality of wild camping is not really the issue. It is much more about upsetting the land owner or causing a nuisance. If you don't do either of those two, campers have a lot of freedom.

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