We are wandering around the Netherlands (on foot, hitchhiking, and by bicycle). We aren't sleeping in campsites, but just putting our tent anywhere "in the bush". We are used to travelling this way in southern Europe but in the Netherlands we have trouble finding water (public water tap, public WC / street fountain) so we could get water for showering / laundry / cooking. Until now we have only found water taps in cemeteries which are not the best place to shower (in a "remote" conservative conservation area!).

In southern Europe we find water to shower and wash our clothes near churches (often there is a tap), public fountains in parks, downtown areas, cemeteries, free WC (on streets or at train stations). Or as a last resort public WCs in libraries or bigger supermarkets.

We do know about Warm Showers and CouchSurfing websites, but we prefer to be independent and spontaneous, without having to plan in advance, which would require quite a lot of organization / time / battery (because finding a plug is also quite a challenge: we found one in a car park today!) We also know about the app "hoge nood" but it's not available on iOS6.

Until now we could get enough water to cook by asking bars or restaurants, but not enough for laundry and washing ourselves.

Do you know some trick to find those precious water taps (an alternative to laundry-bathing in smelly/polluted rivers, will be highly appreciated!)?

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    Putting tent "in the bush" is illegal in NL. However there are a lot of campings holland.cyclingaroundtheworld.nl/Wheretostay/… Commented Sep 14, 2014 at 16:31
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    @EugenMartynov In general yes, but not completely true, the department of forestry actually provides so called bivak zones where you can put your tent "in the bush".
    – user141
    Commented Sep 14, 2014 at 19:08
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    I think that if you ring a random doorbell and ask if you can fill your water bottles, many people will say yes. As for plugs, vending machines (at train stations etc) are often plugged in, and there's often a spare. Commented Sep 15, 2014 at 7:23
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    @andra: Assuming you mean paalkamperen those are zones where at most 3 tents are allowed to be set up (if you arrive late you have to leave) and they are generally not accessible by car (by design). Additionally they are marketed and focused for a local public and not for tourists, so all information is in Dutch. Point in case, just go to normal campings, do not 'put up a tent in the bush' as it will just get you fined or worse. Commented Sep 15, 2014 at 11:02
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    I need to disagree with @DavidMulder "paalkamperen" is allowed for "tourists" as well. The website is indeed dutch only, but so are many Dutch websites. Although most, if not all Dutch understand English well, many websites are still notoriously bad in providing information in English. This doesn't mean non-Dutch speakers are not welcome
    – user141
    Commented Sep 20, 2014 at 9:41

3 Answers 3


Since you seem to have an interest to camp "in the bush". You might be interested in what is called "paalkamperen". The foresty department provides designated places at remote places where you can camp in the wild. Each of these place come with a water pump. The water is not for consumption, but perfectly fine to wash.

A map on the website of the department of forestry contains a map showing where the free camp zones are located.

The same initiative exists in Belgium as well. Here each camp site also contains a water pump.

Since, both website cater a local audience, the websites are Dutch only. Hopefully you can manage with google translate.

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    Maybe worth to mention that "geen" in "Geen drinkwater" means that you cannot drink it :)
    – Bernhard
    Commented Sep 14, 2014 at 19:19
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    Hence, the "not for consumption"
    – user141
    Commented Sep 14, 2014 at 20:35
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    Of course, but my statement makes it a bit easier to recognise it as such in case of doubt
    – Bernhard
    Commented Sep 15, 2014 at 4:14
  • It's good to know about this "paalkamperen", it could have been a really good way to get enough water to take a shower... it's just a bite complicated to get there by hitchhiking! We ended up sleeping just outside cemeteries (easy to find in any villages where we were dropped and usually surrounded by bush), where we could get water.
    – MagTun
    Commented Oct 8, 2014 at 12:06
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    Paalkamperen has been discontinued during COVID 19 and is likely not going to come back after. Do double check if you read this in or after 2021.
    – Willeke
    Commented Oct 24, 2021 at 15:09

The Netherlands certainly doesn't have that many public taps as other countries. Maybe also because the regular tap water is of very good quality.

But the recent years more and more taps are placed. Mostly to advertise against bottled water, and help people who use own (recycled) bottles.

I know of two websites / apps which have a map of taps:

The last one also lists private people who make their home tap available to anyone coming by.

Another option might be to ask water at a farmer (they usually have outside taps) or at a camping site (and maybe pay a little). See for example the ANWB camperen app (iOS 6+ and Android 2.2+)

PS: Vitens is one of the companies placing taps, but they don't have a map available as far as I know.

PS 2: As Eugen said, note that camping is officially not allowed in public places.

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    Requiring an iPhone 6+ seems kind of harsh given it's not out yet. Did you mean iOS 6+ Commented Sep 15, 2014 at 17:01
  • Ha, good catch @BenjaminGruenbaum.
    – Lode
    Commented Sep 15, 2014 at 18:55
  • Thanks Lode! We've tried Dopper but it doesn't have a lot of reference for the Netherlands and it doesn't work offline. Also Kraanwatertappunten is not free
    – MagTun
    Commented Oct 8, 2014 at 11:56
  • The website for Kraanwatertappunten is certainly free, but of course not offline. You could print a list of all 174 addresses though: kraanwatertappunten.nl/overzicht-van-watertappunten
    – Berend
    Commented Nov 11, 2014 at 14:54

2021 update: There are now several websites and phone apps available, this is just one of them. Googling for 'water bottle filling' or 'waterflesje vullen' should find you more.
(I have no connection with the site, just the first I found on internet.)

2017 update answer.
In the last couple of years, a lot of 'get water' points have been added in the Netherlands.

Often you find points to fill your bottles in front of stations, outside restaurants and information centers in nature areas but also in the middle of villages.

I have not yet found a way to work out where to find the points, it seems that every region has its own system and own logic in where to place the water points.

Remember that wild camping is not allowed in the Netherlands and much of the country has very many people and very little nature so it is not just a case of law but also a case of common sense. The new water points are for daytime use, to re-fill the bottle you brought from home to keep you going for a while longer.
The water points are certainly no showers and no places to camp.

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