Portugal until recently it was #vanlife country par excellence. Because who doesn't know them: the beautiful photos of vans on expansive cliffs? But the Portuguese government has been putting on the brakes since January 2021. The large numbers of motor home owners (unfortunately) cause more and more nuisance and therefore wild camping is no longer allowed in Portugal.
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New traffic laws in Portugal
The new traffic legislation states that parking a motorhome or a vehicle with living space is prohibited between 21.00 p.m. and 7.00 a.m. in places not designated for this purpose. If you do, you risk a fine between 60 and 300 euros, which can even rise to 600 euros if you are in a Natura 2000 area. It was questionable for a while whether the Portuguese police would also enforce, recent media reports indicate that this is indeed being done (10 motorhome drivers inspected near Faro).
Wild camping banned in Portugal from 2021
Article 50A of the Portuguese Traffic Act (KIUk here for the original in Portuguese) is about wild camping. We have summarized it for you below and translated it into Dutch.
- The overnight stay and parking of motorhomes and the like is prohibited outside the expressly authorized places.
- If parking is considered if the vehicle has an occupancy of more than its circumference.
- “Motorhome or similar” means a vehicle that has a living space or that is adapted for the use of a living space, classified as a “motorhome”, “dedicated sleeping space” or “caravan”.
- Overnight stay: the permanence of a motorhome or similar in the parking lot, with passengers, between 21.00 p.m. one day and 7.00 a.m. the next day.
- Anyone who violates paragraph 1 will be punished with a fine of 60 to 300 euros, unless it concerns an overnight stay or parking in Natura 2000 areas or protected areas, in which case the fine is between 120 and 600 euros.
Motorhome options in Portugal
Is camping in Portugal no longer possible at all? Fortunately, there are still plenty of options! Portugal is bursting with motorhome parks and many municipalities even have designated facilities for free, so it's definitely worth getting out and about! Check the Park4Night or CamperContact apps for beautiful spots. The Eco camping in Budens (Southern Portugal), for example, is one of our favorites with its surf vibe.
Tip: Are you looking for more motorhome travel information? Then take a look at Camperlanden.eu.
Wild Camping in Spain
Would you rather go wild camping? Then Spain offers a solution. Wild camping is not allowed here, but parking is allowed and that offers good options. A camper is seen in Spain as a normal car and therefore the "normal" parking rules apply. And that offers results! Because: as long as you do not turn your parking space into a campsite and stay in designated parking spaces (i.e. do not park on a beach or in a protected nature reserve), staying overnight is allowed.
Many motor home owners have now moved – just like us – to southern Spain. With temperatures around 20 degrees in these winter months, that is certainly not a punishment!
The difference between camping and parking in Spain
Official PDF Instruction from the Spanish Government – Click here† For convenience, we have already translated the most important points and differences into Dutch for you below.
Parking applies if:
- For example, you are legally parked within the parking spaces or in a parking lot (not on the beach or in a protected nature reserve).
- You only have contact with the ground through the wheels/tyres. In some cases, such as a strong slope, you may use wheel chocks because then their use can be justified.
- You don't take up more space than a closed camper. This means that protruding parts are not allowed (such as a hinged window to the outside or a sunshade or opening rear doors). A pop-up roof or an opening skylight is allowed again, as long as the circumference of the vehicle is not exceeded.
- You do not discharge waste water or other liquids.
- You are not making noise (such as a generator, running engine or music/television).
Camping is considered if:
- You put chairs, tables and other "things" outside.
- You fold out the sunshade/awning or the side windows are opened, so that the circumference of the motorhome is exceeded.
- Place your stabilizer legs.
- You discharge water or other liquid.
- Your noise nuisance caused by, for example, a generator, loud music or television.
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