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This question is a spinoff of the question about wild camping in Europe since none of the answers cover the area where I am now with my tent and sleeping bag (-:

Do any of the following countries in the Balkans allow free camping in the countryside, or maybe limited to certain areas such as beaches or mountains?

  • Bulgaria
  • Serbia
  • Macedonia (FYROM)
  • Albania
  • Greece
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All the quotes are from my LonelyPlanet:

Bulgaria:

Camping in the wild (ie outside a camping ground) is technically prohibited but normally accepted if you’re discreet and, most impor tantly, do not build wood fires (which attract attention and damage the environment).

Greece:

Free (wild) camping is illegal, but the law is not always strictly enforced and some areas are more tolerant and renowned for it, espe cially along the south coast. It is wise to ask around.

For Macedonia and Albania I could only find a general Western Balkans quote:

Camping in the wild is usually illegal; ask locals about the situation before you pitch your tent on a beach or in an open field.

  • I think I'm learning one lesson about giving up travel guide books (-: Also I appear to have been too lazy to read the country overview for each in WikiTravel, which I shall now do and report back... – hippietrail Aug 31 '11 at 9:12
  • I'm not a big fan of travel guide books too, but for overview information about a country or region, I really like the Lonely Planets. – RoflcoptrException Aug 31 '11 at 9:15
  • So far WikiTravel has nothing about camping free or otherwise for any of these countries )-: – hippietrail Aug 31 '11 at 10:18
  • At least at the Bulgarian beach Irakli north of Burgas many people camp wild for the whole summer both in the woods behind the beach and directly on the sand. The only restriction is to be away from the "paid" end of the beach. Even campfires were very common. – hippietrail Jul 31 '12 at 12:02
  • As of now there is new law in Bulgaria, which explicitly prohibits camping outside of camping spots(mostly paid). – Phantomazi Mar 14 '16 at 15:28
6

I have camped in Montenegro in the mountains without any problems.

I have also heard a second-hand story of a group of tourists camping in the Durmitor National Park and being approached by rangers in the evening. They told them to move to another place a few hounded meters away to have a better view on the valley :)

6

we have been doing a bit of a eastern Europe camping, in our old merc camper,

  • Croatia its illegal, especially near the coast and the national parks, but if you get away from the touristy areas, and camp then its generally ok, met a couple from germany who got a fine and moved on, but they were not far from the national park, and the locals there want the money,
  • Montenegro is fine to camp, even the national parks allow you to camp and even light fires for a small fee,

  • Albania is also fine, technically illegal, but never inforced, if you see locals, ask them, and they will point to a good spot, may be a gift for the owner, chocolate etc

  • Serbia also good to camp freely

4

It's actually not easy at all to find actual official legal information about some of these countries.

In general, it seems that wild camping is mostly tolerated, however, technically illegal. As long as you are smart about it, you should not find yourself in any kind of trouble.

Make sure to pitch your tent out of sight, leave no trace, avoid touristic areas, etc...

You can find a complete overview of wild camping rules for every country in Europe in this article that I wrote recently: Wild camping in Europe: Complete overview. I will include the parts about the relevant countries below.

Wild camping in Bulgaria

Wild camping in Bulgaria is illegal, but mostly tolerated. That said, recently Bulgaria added a new law that explicitly forbids camping outside the camping spots. There are a couple of places on the Bulgarian Beaches where people wild camp the entire summer, I guess this was the reason that they included this new law.

I don't think they want to target hikers who only stay one night on the same place, as people still tell me it's tolerated, but legally it's not allowed. I would not advise against wild camping in Bulgaria, but make sure to stay discreet. Only make a fire if you absolutely have to and if you are completely out of sight, even then, keep it modest. Be extra careful when camping in the popular National Parks.

Wild camping in Serbia

Wild camping in Serbia is legally allowed, but not in the National Parks. But even in the National Parks, these rules are not strictly enforced. You shouldn't have any trouble with wild camping in this country.

Wild camping in Macedonia

Wild camping in Macedonia is legally not allowed, but tolerated. A lot of locals also do this. Macedonia is a very beautiful country, with a lot of places where you can wild camp without bothering anyone. I would not advise against wild camping in Macedonia, but I would encourage to be discreet.

Wild camping in Albania

Wild camping in Albania is very tolerated. I was unable to find any official restrictions, however, some individuals claimed that it is technically illegal. Even if there are restrictions, they are not strictly enforced at all.

There is a lot of wild places that are perfect for camping, you shouldn't expect any trouble. In this country, hospitality is still a thing, highlander culture is very strict about taking care of their guests. You might want to keep this in the back of your mind if you want a break from sleeping in a tent for a night.

Wild camping in Greece

Wild camping in Greece is legally not allowed, but tolerated in certain parts of the country. Make sure to stay away from the touristic places if you want to go wild camping. Sadly this includes almost all of the Greek beaches. Additionally, you should probably avoid wild camping in the National Parks.

If you find yourself in a very remote area in the middle of the mountains, you shouldn't run into any trouble.

  • 1
    Welcome to the site, Jasper. Could you expand your answer to quote the information on the five countries noted in the question (links get broken). That would add value, especially as it was first asked 7 years ago. If you need help with the format, ping me and I can show you or do it for you. – Giorgio Dec 2 '18 at 12:49
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I've been wild camping a couple of times in Macedonia and Kosovo and I've never had any problems.

Your only real concerns are the small packs of Sharpinina dogs that roam the forests/mountains at night.

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I'm from bulgaria.I don't know is the free camping permitted,but it's verrrrryyyyy popular in Bulgaria.Most of the young people do it at all the time when the weather is good.We also live on some beaches on Black sea like Irakli,Karadere and many others it's full of people who live there on tents for 3-4-5 months!!!We also did it in the mountains during the autumn.You can make campfire there is no problem just be sure that it is safe .So come in Bulgaria and camp where you want,there is really lots of beautiful places here. :))

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Some friends and I road-tripped from Ljubljana to Athens in 2011 and we wild-camped the entire way. Albania you can really camp anywhere, Croatia you should be a little more careful, and I'd say Slovenia is in between. We didn't camp in Montenegro but I think it seemed pretty relaxed, similar to Albania.

In Croatia it was probably the hardest, cos we were often staying close to national parks, but if you pick a secluded enough spot or even just somewhere that is fairly well obscured from view you should be sweet.

In one case in Croatia we camped only 20 minutes drive from the carpark for Plitvice lakes national park, in a tiny clearing in the trees between the main road and someone's farm. When we came out in the morning we realized we'd only just been out of sight of both, and had probably been lucky to get away with it, especially since we lit a fire and cooked.

In another case in the south of Croatia where it was less built up we stayed on the edge of a field, and woke up to the farmer plowing with a tractor not 50 meters from us - he seemed unfazed.

Albania was the most relaxed, and you can wild camp pretty much anywhere. We camped in a farmer's field one night, and were lucky enough to be able to camp less than 100 meters from Siri Kalter springs another night despite there being no camping there. The caretaker who we thought was coming to kick us out, and who spoke only Albanian, was only concerned with whether we had a tent to put up somewhere!

  • "despite there being no camping there" - do you mean there was a sign saying "co camping" or just that nobody else was camping there? Or is it just EuroEnglish for there being no official campground there? (-: – hippietrail Jul 29 '14 at 7:28
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    There was no official campground there, and technically the park was closed - we drove in just before closing time but stayed. We were sposed to pay an entry fee but the boom gate was up and the guards were just playing cards or something near the booth and didn't signal us to stop so we just cruised in. We were trying to be subtle but then the caretaker approached us, so we thought we were busted, but as it turned out he was looking out for us and suggested the loveliest camp spot! – imoatama Aug 11 '14 at 2:16
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We live in a VW T3, that means we are wild camper full time, we have been in Bulgaria for at least two weeks now. We had the police come to us one night, I had a huge fire, they simply drove to me turn on the light inside their car so I’d know it was them, wave me good bye and left, I felt like they were just trying to make sure I felt save, it was the most professional behavior I have ever received from police in terms of wild camping, they also came by a few more times at night but from much far away, I felt really safe and relax. I guess this is the job of the police to make us feel safe. Two thumbs Up to the Bulgarian police Belogradchick. Want to know more visit this link: http://www.livin4wheel.com/where-to-sleep-in-your-van/

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    Any experience with the other countries mentioned ? Do you have any references on whether this is actually permitted or just tolerated ? – blackbird Nov 30 '15 at 19:42
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Firstly let clarify we live in a camper so we are not talking about setting tents.

About the legality I honestly don't know. But we have experience a few countries. Now of the ones mentioned: Bulgaria, Serbia and Greece.

None of those presented us any Problems. The only country in the balkans we know for sure to be illegal, is Croatia. However we still managed to sleep in our car no problems, for more details please visit this link. http://www.livin4wheel.com/wild-camping-in-croatia/

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