The Ultimate Guide for the Best Camping Experience
If you’re a nature lover, there’s simply no better type of trip than camping. Lying amongst the stars, eating food cooked over an open fire and enjoying the sights and sounds of wildlife - making for a relaxing holiday in the wilderness.
If you’re planning on taking your camping international from the UK, you’re probably wondering which countries are best to visit. Let’s dive in and find out. But first - an overview of how to plan an international camping trip.
How to Plan Your Trip
Decide whether you intend to wild camp or stay on a campsite. Almost all countries in Europe are home to campsites that you can pay to stay on, but only some allow wild camping. European countries that allow wild camping include Sweden, Scotland, Norway, Romania, and Ireland, but it’s worth checking the rules before you go.
Pick your route. If you plan on moving between different sites across a continent, choose your route wisely. Grab a map and find the natural route between all your destinations to avoid having to drive unnecessarily far on any given journey.
Choose the best time of year. While summer is naturally the most pleasant time for outdoor activities, it’s also the busiest, and it can get unbearably hot staying in tents. If you’re looking to avoid the crowds, aim for a month in a shoulder season that’s still likely to be warm, such as September or May.
What to Pack
Here are things you'll want to add to your camping checklist:
- Layers, such as jumpers and jackets, for cool evenings.
- Sun cream.
- Insect repellant.
- Sleeping bag and pillows.
- Hiking boots and trekking poles (if applicable).
- Flashlights (and extra batteries).
- Spare tent pegs.
- Camping chairs.
- Toilet roll.
- Camping stove and lighter.
- Dishware and cutlery.
- First Aid kit.
- Bin bags.
The Best Camping Destinations
Naturally, there are tons of countries with excellent campsites and opportunities for wild camping, but here are some of the easiest to access from the UK.
Brits flock in their drove to campsites in France, which are easily accessible via ferry if you take your car. You’ll find campsites in picturesque sites up and down the country, including areas such as Brittany and Provence.
France isn’t just known for its breathtaking green countryside - it has impressive mountain areas, too, which are perfect for hiking. Depending on where in France you stay, you’ll enjoy access to mountains, lakes, volcanoes and even vineyards, where you can sample some of the local produce.
Plus, with so many picturesque cities and medieval towns and villages to explore, you won’t run out of things to do if you decide to venture out of the campsite. Note that, in general, wild camping isn’t allowed in France, so if you’re headed here as one of your destinations, find a campsite instead.
Wild camping is generally banned in Italy, but don’t let that put you off. This unbelievably picturesque country is home to some of the best campsites in Europe. Italy is well known for its famous lakes, such as Lake Garda and Lake Como, and there are plenty of opportunities to camp in these places boasting unrivaled beauty.
If you’re in the market for an activity-based holiday, Italy is home to many mountainous regions that promise plenty of opportunities for hiking, such as the Alps and the Dolomites. Other campsites are sprinkled around stunning areas of the country, like Tuscany and Emilia Romagna. With access to Italy’s natural beauty (and even its famously delicious food at some on-site cafes), you’ll adore a camping trip in this beautiful country.
If you’re looking for sunny weather and proximity to a huge range of landscapes - from mountains to coastline - look no further than Spain. Campsites are dotted all around the country, with some closer to the more tourist parts of the coast, and some offering a more authentic Spain experience in the countryside.
Hikers will enjoy camping near the mountains surrounding Barcelona and Madrid, with these destinations even offering a potential day trip to Spain’s famous cities.
While The Netherlands isn’t necessarily the first place that comes to mind when you think of picturesque natural landscapes in Europe, it’s a real hidden gem. With the primarily flat landscape providing opportunities for those with mobility issues or poor fitness to still enjoy the outdoors, it’s well worth checking out campsites in The Netherlands.
North-Holland offers great opportunities for camping, and if you want to be near a body of water, consider looking for sites along the waters of Veerse Bos in Zeeland.
Croatia is a beautiful country with a varied landscape that includes beaches with turquoise water, lush countryside and mountainous regions. With more than 100 days of sunshine every year, if you head to Croatia from May-September, you’ll likely have warm, sunny weather that allows you to make the most of the great outdoors.
Look for campsites around areas such as Split, Dubrovnik and Zagreb, which are incredibly picturesque and offer great amenities for tourists. While it’s a little further away from the UK than some other countries on the list, it’s worth the extra mileage. It was voted the best country for van life.
Wherever you decide to visit on your international camping trip, if you come well-prepared and open to trying new things, you’re sure to have a great time.