I have a friend who likes to walk, bike, camp and exercise the freedom to be wherever she is as long as it's not disruptive of others. For her it's a spiritual need and a philosophical/political attitude. But she's well-educated, a confident conversationalist, and tends to be cooperative and genuinely understanding if she's caught doing something that breaks the local expectations.

I've personally heard many stories about North Americans visiting 'this or that' part of Europe (although not Netherlands in particular) and being shocked by how much more welcoming/sympathetic rural or suburban people are of travelers walking across or even camping on "their land" compared to North America where a strict "no trespassing" is the norm and 'unknown' people anywhere will likely get rudely unwelcomed by the police.

Is it socially acceptable or tolerated for someone to camp on someone's property in Netherlands?

Also, is she likely to find like-minded people "on the road" there?

  • 3
    Are you talking about squatting on someone's property?
    – Karlson
    Commented Feb 3, 2014 at 19:43

1 Answer 1


There is no such thing as a 'right to roam' (as you might find in Scandinavia) in the Netherlands and camping outside campsites on public ground is not allowed. Having said that, if you get permission from the landowner anything goes. Just ring the bell on the nearest house and ask, they might send you away, they might offer you their guest room or anything in between (directing you to the nearest campsite being the most likely outcome). But you won't get into trouble for asking.

You are not allowed to be in public woodlands after sundown, but the chances of getting caught when you're just staying overnight are slim, but setting up a camp is very likely to attract attention. The fine is €140,- so make sure you can afford that.

The main thing to be aware of though, it's a small crowded country. Most of the space is actively used, so in a lot of areas you simply won't find a suitable place to camp, outside of the campsites. Woodlands are generally owned either by the state, local councils or nature preservation NGO's. If you're going of into the woods you won't have to deal with nasty owners.

Long distance walking is a fairly common thing, so nobody is going to be surprised about that. Trails exist to be used, private areas are generally marked or fenced. It's hard to go wrong by mistake.

  • 3
    Indeed. And nobody will point or fire a gun at you if by accident you trespass ... Commented Feb 3, 2014 at 21:11
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    The Dutch are smart enough to tell the difference between wild animals and tourists ;-) Commented Feb 3, 2014 at 21:46
  • 4
    Camping outside campsites... is not allowed. While true 90% of the time, there's a thing called paalkampeerplek (which roughly translates to pole campingground) which are places throughout the woods were you are allowed to camp "in the wild". There are no facilities, just a sign saying you're allowed to stay there. Here's more info on it (in Dutch). Commented Feb 4, 2014 at 10:55
  • 2
    Addendum: If the woodlands are owned by Natuurmonumenten, you're likely not even allowed to enter after sundown.
    – gerrit
    Commented Feb 4, 2014 at 13:03
  • 5
    And please take that "stay out of forests after sundown" seriously. It's unlikely you'd get caught or anything, but our nature is stressed enough as it is, that rule exists for a reason. Asking people for a place to put up a tent for one night is a much better idea (we did that in the boy scouts, lots of stories). Commented Feb 6, 2014 at 15:50

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