EUROPEAN CAMPSITES and AIRES
Places we have stayed in European countries in recent years
Note: We usually tour in low season (May and June) so sites and aires will be busier in mid summer. Also many campsites in France close or have reduced facilities from mid September
has over ten thousand
campsites both municipal and privately owned and ranging from basic to
luxury. There are also over 2000 aires: Aires de Parking where you can
park overnight, some free, or for a (mostly) small overnight fee, and
Aires de Service again free or with a small charge for use of the water
and waste supply points (bornes) and sometimes electric hookups. Some
of these are free, others have an entry barrier or a local official
collects the overnight fee. Others are within or just outside campsites
where a reduced or normal camping fee may apply. We have
occasionally found it cheaper to stay on the campsite especially if the
charge for electricity is included and you usually have more space
around you than in some aires.
some places you can stay for one night free in a town car park or
village square but beware you may find you are surrounded by market
stalls the next morning! .
NEW Feb 2020
IRELAND has campsites and aires but not in great numbers. In Northern Ireland we found a few official aires with service points and generally overnight parking is tolerated, unless signposts state it is banned. There are a few Caravan & Motorhome Club Certificated Locations and a Camping & Caravanning Club main site.
In southern Ireland we found it possible to stay overnight in rural car parks especially along the well signposted Wild Atlantic Way down the west coast, and in some town car parks, but there are often height barriers to deter travellers. There are quite a few privately run campsites of variable quality, many with mostly static caravans and a small area for tourers. They tend to be rather expensive for the amenities offered.
has many campsites and aires (Aree di Sosta). The campsites are mostly
large and developed usually with full amenities and many pitches
occupied by static caravans often with very permanent extensions. They
tend to be rather expensive especially in high season (but see ACSI below) The
aree di sosta vary from excellent with free water, waste and even free
electric hookups, to awful where we wouldn't park for an hour let alone
GERMANY has a few thousand campsites and stellplätz (aires) for motorhomes especially in the Rhine/Mosel area and Bavaria. We spent three weeks touring Germany in 2008 staying only at stellplatz in many areas including the Weser Valley, Harz Mountains, Thuringia, Bavaria and Black Forest. They were mostly well signposted and had good facilities some free others paying.
In 2012 we travelled all over Northern Germany to the Baltic coast then down to Dresden staying mainly at stellplätz.
travelled through southern Germany again in 2015 heading to Bodensee
(Lake Constance) and Bavaria and also visited the interesting Erwin
Hymer museum in Bad Waldsee although the weather was rather wet.
DENMARK has a few aires and many campsites which are mostly well developed with static vans and chalets and lodges. We only stayed at three campsites in 2012all using the ACSI low season discount scheme. Some campsites have overnight camperstops with restricted arrival and departure times which were sometimes more expensive than using the ACSI card.
SLOVENIA has about 30 listed campsites and only a handful of
THE NETHERLANDS has many campsites but only a few official aires. We stayed at three campsites in 2012 and two sites and an aire (since closed) in 2017. There are some small CL type sites for members of various camping clubs.
is expensive for touring with high site fees and fuel costs. We found
the campsites in the main tourist areas to be mostly large and crowded
with very small pitches.
has a mix of small and large campsites depending on the popularity of
the area as a tourist destination. Pitch sizes are usually similar to
in Switzerland but some sites have larger marked pitches. Many sites
have excellent facilities with luxury toilet blocks and services points
for each pitch. There are now more stellplatz
has very few official aires but wild camping is
tolerated unless there are too many crowded together in
hotspots. There are many campsites mostly fairly expensive
with full facilities but we only have personal experience of the North
and Pyrenees. The popular costas of the South can be packed with
motorhomes and caravan sites are often full during the winter months
although a few miles inland wild camping is apparently easier. We found
that the official aires often have a sign forbidding camping i.e. no
outside tables, chairs, awnings or even winding down of steadies are
visited in Spring 2011. We found a mix of large and small campsites, a
few municipal campsites and official aires, and many wildcamping places
mainly on the coast. It was generally cheaper than Spain. The Orbitur
chain of campsites are well equipped and reasonably cheap in low season
especially with the free Seniors Discount card obtainable in advance
from their website.
Czech Republic has many campsites mostly in the more popular
tourist areas and wild camping is not allowed. Site fees are reasonable
and site standards vary from fairly basic to a few luxury sites with
swimming pools or by lakes. There are several sites near Prague the one
we stayed at felt secure and was near a metro station for easy access
to the city centre
Also associations such as France Passion and similar schemes in Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands and Spain can provide free motorhome stopovers at vineyards and farms for an annual fee.
updated 03 Feb 2020