How to wild camp for free and legal in The Netherlands

How to wild camp for free and legal in The Netherlands

Looking for something fun to do in the summer or even winter? In these times it’s difficult to really cross borders, but feeling wild and free is can also happen close-by. I have been doing it myself for years with great pleasure and I can only recommend it to others and that is..

..camping free and legal throughout the country!

In the Netherlands there are several ways to spend the night for free. I share some tips and tricks on how you can spend the night anywhere with a tent, sleeping mat and sleeping bag on a low budget or for free. Without an unsafe feeling or risk of a fine.

Illegal wild camping is also an option, but then it is useful to take a number of things into account. I do it now and then, with pleasure and for a number of years without having experienced anything unpleasant.
In this article I share my experiences and a few tips.

You often think you already know your own country well, so you quickly look out to go somewhere else, where it might be more tropical. Still, the Netherlands is the right country to discover in a completely different way. We have beautiful nature, beaches, forests and dunes.

In this article I will take you into the possibilities of a night under the stars.

Breakfast during wildcamping

Campsites

Campsites are great for both safity and comfort. You get flushing toilets, hot showers and sometimes even a shop to buy food en drinks. In the Netherlands there are plenty of campsites open in all four seasons. In winter I experienced some difficulties because most of them were closed around that time.

It’s legal and often in company with other travelers.

Advantage: safe and comfortable
Disadvantage: it costs money
Price: between €10,- and €20,-

Legal wildcamping

UPDATE: unfortunately due to a lot of nuisance State Forest Management had to close all Dutch pole camping sides.

Wildcamping is forbidden in the Netherlands for anyone. That’s because of the protection of the little nature we still have. But no need for worry! The Forestry Commission has set up a concept called pole camping. There are several poles around the country and in the area around the pole it is legal to wild camp. A disadvantage is that more people are camping at these places and you can encounter traces from others.

Check out the pole camping locations on google maps here.

Advantage: free and completely legal
Disadvantage: because more people camp here, toilet paper can be found
Price: €0,-

Short bike ride and camp

Ask the farmer

Do you still want to wild camp legal? Ask the farmer! He has great land with maybe a forest. If you don’t look like a smelly gipsy they maybe offer you some food and drinks as well. People are always interested in travels so you can have a nice chat. Don’t take it personally if the farmer rejects you.

Advantage: free and not illegal
Disadvantage: you often camp in a meadow and do not go into the wild
Price: a nice thanks to the farmer

Night at the sea

Illegal in the woods

It is very excisting to do something that isn’t allowed right? That’s why I personally am favoured by wildcamping in the dark lonely scary forests. Because this nights can be such an adventure! A couple things I want to give to you from my experience on the road. Five quick tips for camping in the wild:

  1. Prepare yourself by looking up green fields in advance on a map, the maps.me app is useful for this;
  2. Try to prepare as best as you can with knowledge / gear, because wild camping along a river can be very cold and in nature you can be annoyed from wild insects or animals;
  3. If there is a chance that people will discover you and makes you uncomfortable, put up your tent just before dark;
  4. Respect nature, especially in the Netherlands, nature is scarce. Be careful with open fire (I rarely do it and then dig a hole that I close again), if you do use dead wood and don’t destroy trees;
  5. If there is strong wind, watch out for falling trees. Trees that want to fall are generally dead and can be spotted;
  6. Do not be afraid of anything and everything that has not yet happened will most likely not happen.

Know what you are doing, respect the nature and do not leave any human traces behind.

Advantage: free and adventurous
Disadvantage: you risk a fine
Price: €0,-

More info and links

Any ideas or experiences with wild camping in The Netherlands? Share your thoughts below in the comment section!