Is it possible to do wild camping in Germany? Are there specific zones for that? If yes, can someone recommend a few, preferably with nice trails to walk. The idea is to go into nature.
Check out Freagle. Freagle is like couchsurfing, instead of your couch you can offer your backyard, barn...
It's not wild camping per se but it is trying to fill the gap between the illegal wild camping and the normal camp site. And indeed, not so many hosts available. Still worth a try.
My own experience with wild camping in Germany is positive if you keep simple rules in mind.
- Don't camp in a bigger group
- Don't campfire
- Don't litter
- Keep yourself out of sight
- Don't stay more than one night
- Don't camp in a natural reserve (from comments: thanks @amon)
Even if you get "caught" by a ranger or police they will ask you to move or make you pay a little fine. It is more or less a trivial offence in my opinion.
In general wild camping is illegal in Germany.
However I could find where you can do it, but not for free. Trekiking-pfalz.de offers 10 camping places for up to 6 tents, the price for one tent is 10 EUR / night. You're allowed to stay on one place only for a night and then you have to move along. On their website there are some recommended routes, and there are also iOS and Android Apps.
According to this page wild camping is illegal in Germany, but what is allowed is "overnight parking".
The distinction is that overnight parking just means you are parking in a regular parking lot and not setting up a table outside your vehicle or anything similar.
AFAIK almost every forest/unoccupied land in Germany is private property and therefore legally off-limits.
But I have often camped wild as resident with tent in Germany and never ever experienced problems. Conditions:
- You are camping in a forest which is really big enough. Noone likes uninvited campers in direct vicinity. An option is to ask a farmer if you may use the lawn for your tent.
- You are not seen. So go inside the forest on a place which is well concealed. I use a green tent which is practically invisible.
- Do NOT camp on roads. It is dangerous because even dead ends may used by forest vehicles which are big and have poor visibility. You would not the first one killed because the driver did not expect you and could not see you.
- Much higher risk is camping in a national park where some are heavily patrolled. In Rügen (island before the eastern coast of Germany) I did not camp.
It is possible, but not legal.
Other questions have already addressed the illegality of wild camping in Germany, and offer some alternatives if you don't want to violate the law. However, if you're in a remote place, high up in the mountains, or otherwise in a place where people do not pass by, and you are very well-behaved, the chances of being caught may be very low indeed. Of course, whether you are willing to violate the law is up to you. I have some experience with illegal wild camping in Belgium, with a nature organisation, and in Spain on my own (due to unplanned delays I camped in a nature reserve where I should not have). I don't know what would happen if you would get caught, but probably not much more than being told to leave.
I've camped 'wild' (for a single night) on a BMW1200GS in 30 countries in Europe and never been questioned. A German police officer told me not to use motorway rest areas because of the danger (to me) of being robbed. "Two kilometres off the main roads and no one will take any notice" he said. I had a police officer in Belgium take me to a good spot to wild camp on - in full view of the Police station, and in Sweden I put my tent up on the grass outside the Customs Office in a port! I only use official sites when close to towns. They're noisy and cost me valuable petrol money! You can wash your clothes though, but no better than in a mountain stream. (The ranger checked my washing liquid to make sure it was bio-safe.
I HAVE been given Hungarian goulash and a carafe of red wine for supper in Hungary, a lady brought me still-warm bread for breakfast on her way home in Germany, I've slept on a couch in a forest lodge in Poland and in a city apartment in France. (The guy said as he left early in the morning, 'Help yourself to anything you need. Just close the door when you leave" though he probably didn't mean the cannabis on the table and the magic mushrooms on the cupboard!)
People love being kind. I've been shown village greens to camp on, front lawns, hay fields - the German farmer came over with drinks for the evening - and a Norwegian invited me into his lounge to sleep after leaving a ferry at midnight. I camped in a secure beef-production farm in Portugal - that was a bit smelly though.
There's only one rule that covers all the others: Leave it as you find it - well, the grass might be a bit flatter, but I try to camp on short grass, and I'm generally round the corner out of sight. If not all the truck drivers sound their horns (for fun) as they are off to work in the morning! I smile and give a gentle wave at anyone around - including them! - just to let them know I'm friend not foe and I know what I'm doing. They just wave and smile back. Or come and chat.
I never light fires - even if you cover them up they destroy the soil's growing potential under the surface and will leave a bare patch for a couple of years. Human waste is no different from animal waste, and even the right sort of toilet paper kicked under some soil will be gone after the next rain. (By the end of the day in Norway and Scotland then!)
Oh, and I have a 4m long RED Hilleberg Tarra tent and a big motorbike. You can't miss it. But that's good. No one thinks I'm trying to hide, do they! It gives everyone something to chat to their neighbour about over coffee the next day. I'm a farmer's son, and most farmers are happy about it. Just don't light any fires!
Go on - adventure. It's great. Just make sure you're a good ambassador for humanity.