Austria is a popular destination for camping enthusiasts. But what are the rules for sleeping outside the campsites? And are the rules the same for the whole country? We've found out everything you'll need to know before you set out on your Austrian adventure.
Austria is a beautiful country, full of majestic mountains and breathtaking lakes. It’s one of the most popular countries for motorhomes and campervans. Even if you’ve visited Austria several times, there is undoubtedly still more to discover. Wild camping isn’t the easiest here, but there are definitely places where it’s possible.
Where should I go camping in Austria?
If you love mountains then we can highly recommend the Tyrolean Alps. More than 500 mountains await you here. In this picturesque landscape you can look forward to wonderful glaciers, green pastures and fairytale valleys, fragrant alpine meadows, old mountain huts… The Tyrolean Alps have a total of five areas, but if you want the best experience, try the Alpbachtal area. If you’re with kids, they’ll absolutely love the Lauserland adventure playground. You can park in many places in this area too. You can choose from a number of luxury campsites, or you can sleep at a stellplatz. However, in this area it’s not possible to spend the night outside of a designated spot. If you want to avoid inconveniences, try to avoid sleeping in the car parks there too.
Another beautiful place is Hochkönig in Salzburg. Enjoy rolling hills and beautiful cycling routes with unique views. Children will appreciate the organised activities in the forest, cooking lovers will love exploring for natural herbs, and others will be intrigued by the local mining museum. The biggest bonus though: wild camping in Salzburg is easier than in Tyrol. That means it’s possible to sleep outside the campsites and stellplatz (in some places), but you need to observe all the rules with the utmost care! Always keep an eye out for any prohibition signs before staying overnight, as some cities and municipalities have their own bans.
You can wild camp in Styria, but not in Vienna
If you want to spend the night in nature and enjoy the local landscape to the fullest, then visit Styria, where there’s no law or rule that explicitly bans wild camping. Again, however, local bans (and nature!) must be respected. This part of Austria is popular in both summer and winter, so you may come across others wild camping too.
If you love winter sports, you can’t miss the local ski resort Schladming - Dachstein (and maybe take the opportunity to go skiing in a campervan!). If you want to park your vehicle near the slopes, again, just heed the signs. Although parking outside campsites shouldn’t be an issue here, there are still places where it’s banned. If you prefer cities and history to nature, then of course, Vienna will be your top choice. It’s beautiful during the winter when the Christmas markets pop up, but it’s great to visit all year-round. There are a lot of options for things to do - shopping, history and thermal baths just to name a few. You’ll have to sleep in campsites or stellplatz though. Overnight stays outside of these spots are totally banned here.
General rules of sleeping in a campervan in Austria
Austria is a funny one as it’s often not entirely clear whether sleeping outside campsites and caravan parks is allowed or not. Some places have explicitly banned it, while others have no issue with it. In short, each federal state in Austria sets its own rules for sleeping in vehicles and caravans. Here’s something to remember: camping is totally banned in the forests... but the exception is if the forest owner allows you to camp yourself. In many cases, you can park overnight in the car parks by the local lakes for a higher fee, but this doesn’t actually include sleeping in the car park... but as always, there are exceptions to the rule!
If you're unsure, just ask. People are generally helpful and happy to answer. Where parking outside the stellplatz and campsites is allowed, the emphasis is on being nice to the environment. It goes without saying, then, that you won’t be throwing rubbish into nature. Hopefully, the place where you’ll sleep will look the same as before you arrived, or even better - if you find rubbish, try and take it, even if it’s not yours. Austria emphasises maximum sustainability.
The rules for sleeping in vehicles and caravans are determined by the individual states.
Where can’t I wild camp in Austria?
If you want to sleep in the wild, don't go to Vienna, Tyrol, Lower Austria or Burgenland. In these states, sleeping outside the marked caravan parks and campsites is prohibited. Carinthia is a slightly safer bet. Wild camping may still be banned in the open countryside, but at least you can agree with the owners of farms, orchards or meadows here. You can also park temporarily in the car parks without too much hassle…
However, there is another slight hurdle to get over in Carinthia… there is a ban on motor vehicles in certain spots! Once you leave the villages and towns, it’s forbidden to drive or park any motor vehicles outside the areas designated for "public transport". In practice, this means you aren’t allowed on dirt roads, forest roads, mountain roads, and so on.
Where can I wild camp in Austria?
As we’ve already mentioned, wild camping in Salzburg is likely to cause you the least trouble. Camping outside the campsites isn’t banned by the nation, but may still be banned by the local city council. Therefore, and at risk of sounding like a broken record… keep an eye out for the signs! They’re most accommodating to campers in Upper Austria, Styria and Vorarlberg. However, it’s always necessary to know the local rules for camping outside the camps, and things like how to handle your rubbish too. As long as these rules of the local community and surrounding landscape are followed, you’ll be fine.
Are there any apps I can use to go wild camping in Austria?
When it comes to finding a parking space, we recommend two apps: Campercontact and Park4Night. These apps are very helpful as they won’t only help you with parking in Austria, but throughout all of Europe. If you want to get information about Austrian campsites specifically, we recommend Topcaming.at, where you’ll find some of the best campsites in Austria.
Hopefully you found this useful! And don’t forget that if you’re already itching to get a campervan and go, Campiri has a huge selection of vehicles ready and waiting for you.
See you on the road!