Wild camping in Portugal is one of the best ways to spend the night with your motorhome or camper van. There is nothing like falling asleep to the sound of the sea, waking up in the middle of the forest or having breakfast with beautiful views over the mountains.
Unfortunately, motorhomes also cause a lot of nuisance and junk, so many countries won’t allow wild camping. We’ve spent about two months in Portugal with our camper van and free camping was our way to go during most of our time there. Is wild camping in Portugal legal? Continue reading to learn more out about our free camping in Portugal experiences.
Is wild camping in Portugal legal?
In short: yes, free camping has been allowed (again) since the end of 2021.
Wild camping in Portugal has always been prohibited, but was tolerated for a long time as well. Since January 2021, action has been taken against illegal camping, as motorhomes and campervans caused too many troubles around the country, leaving a lot of junk and ruining natural areas. But that already changed a few months later, as a new law in late 2021 made wild camping in Portugal a legal activity, but only under certain conditions.
So about these conditions for free camping in Portugal. You are allowed to park your motorhome or camper van for a maximum of 48 hours within the same municipality, unless it is a nature reserve or if there is a prohibition sign. Before you get too excited, you should know that many great spots and parkings have this prohibition sign, especially around the beaches and the more popular areas like in the Algarve. But we found many amazing spots without any prohibition signs, so we stayed at the most beautiful wild camping sites when travelling around Portugal.
Tip: we haven’t found anyone traveling with a motorhome or camper van not using the Park4Night app to find the best camper spots. Make sure to use the paid version. It isn’t expensive and it will allow you to easily filter out the best (wild) camping spots.
Free camping without wild camping
If wild camping sounds a bit too adventurous for you, but you do like the idea of free camping, Portugal is the right place to go as well. There are many free camper spots around the country, some even with great free facilities like showers, toilets, water or even electricity to plug in your van. And even if there is a charge for those type of motorhome pitches, it is usually only between € 7 and € 12 a night.
So how did we find those great free camping spots? We used the Park4Night app and used their filters to find the best free pitches. Some of our favourites:
- Parque Urbano de Souselo with free water, electricity, toilets and even showers
- The motorhome parking at Celorico da Beira with free water, electricity, toilet and showers
- Motorhome parking Miranda do Corvo, near Coimbra, with free electricity and water
- The market area in Coruche, where you can use the free water and electricity except on market days
- The motorhome parking in Alcobaça with free electricity, water and toilets
- Quinta do Monte Travesso in the Douro Valley where you’re expected to buy some wine or olive oil (available from €8) and you get to use electricity, water and hot showers
- Quinta da Padrela in the Douro Valley with the same pricing, where you get to stay on a stunning winery with a toilet and hot shower
The best wild camping spots in Portugal
Wild camping in the Algarve
#1 Near the Faro Beach
Link Google Maps | While searching for a parking spot for our bus near the Ludo Trail in the stunning Ria Formosa nature reserve near Faro, we discovered a beautiful wild camping spot. The large parking area next to the reserve was filled with numerous campers. Rightly so! You’re within walking distance of Faro beach and adjacent to a gorgeous nature reserve where you can spot flamingos. We stayed for a night and returned later in our journey to enjoy this lovely camper spot again.
#2 At the Boca do Inferno in Cascais
Link Google Maps | The beach at Cascais is a delightful day trip from Lisbon for those wanting to break from city life for some relaxation. But if you’re traveling by camper, this is also a spot for one of Portugal’s most beautiful camper spots.
On the small parking lot at Boca do Inferno – do visit the viewpoint to see this sea chasm – you can beautifully park by the sea. You’ll be treated to a magnificent sunrise in the morning! From the parking lot, there’s a pleasant walk along the sea to Cascais itself. We walked there in the evening to enjoy a delicious vegetarian meal at House of Wonders, highly recommended!
#3 At the beach in Ferragudo
Link Park4Night (no longer available) | In the heart of the Algarve, you’ll find the picturesque coastal town of Ferragudo with one of Portugal’s most beautiful camper spots. You can wild camp here by the water, overlooking Ferragudo and the sea. An incredibly beautiful spot where you’ll find multiple campers, but fortunately, there’s enough space for everyone to enjoy. Take a walk through Ferragudo to explore the town, where you’ll find dining options, a viewpoint, and charming streets. Don’t forget to check out nearby Algarve’s most beautiful hikes, the Trail Of Headlands and the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail.
Update: We’ve heard that as of January 23, 2022, “no camping” signs were placed at this camper spot, potentially making wild camping there prohibited. It wasn’t the case during our visit, and it would be a shame for such a gorgeous location.
#4 At the Castelejo Environmental Trail in the Algarve
Link Google Maps | In the western Algarve, wild camping is generally not allowed, and parking lots by the beaches have clear no camping signs. However, we chose spending two nights among the trees near the Casteljo nature reserve. You can enjoy a nice, short walk – the Castelejo Environmental Trail – and a few minutes’ drive will take you to one of the most beautiful beaches on the west coast.
#5 At the cliffs of Praia da Falésia
Link Park4Night | Praia da Falésia is undoubtedly one of our favorite beaches in the Algarve. It’s long and expansive, offering more space than many other picturesque coves. But the beach is especially stunning because of the dramatic cliffs! They are white and orange with dramatic shapes and points, creating an almost otherworldly landscape.
At the top of these cliffs, at the start of the Falésia Beach Trail, we spent two wonderful days. In the evenings, we watched a stunning sunset, at night we heard the sea’s roar, and in the morning, our coffee enthusiast Sebastiaan enjoyed a cup of espresso by the sea. A beautiful experience!
Wild camping in Central Portugal
#6 On an island in the Lago do Alqueva
Link Park4Night | One of the most beautiful spots in the Alentejo region is the Lago do Alqueva reservoir. Unlike many reservoirs, Lago do Alqueva is an idyllic mix of water, bridges, islands, greenery, and beaches. In the summer, it’s great for a refreshing swim, with many fine sandy beaches along the reservoir.
In the lake, there are islands accessible by sandy roads leading to idyllic beaches. We discovered one of our most beautiful overnight spots in Portugal there. We enjoyed waking up to a picturesque view of Monsaraz and the lake. This area is renowned for stargazing, with a nearby observatory offering night-time star explanations. It is an ideal location for this activity.
Wild camping in Northern Portugal
#7 Wild camping in Guimarães
Link Park4Night | Traveling by camper in Portugal? Guimarães is easily accessible with a camper van or larger camper. Near the old city, you can find a free camper spot by the cable car to Monte da Penha, where waste disposal is also available.
Link Park4Night | We believe the best location for overnight stay with your camper is not near the old center but on Monte da Penha. You can conveniently drive up there with your camper. There is an official camper parking lot. We parked at a slightly more pleasant nearby lot, where we were completely isolated. You will be surrounded by nature and can go for walks to the sanctuary or the viewpoint. Highly recommended! There is also a campsite on Monte da Penha, which is closed during the off-season.
#8 At the Ria de Aveiro nature reserve
Link Park4Night | After visiting Aveiro, we had a wonderful night in the nearby nature area, Ria de Aveiro. It is one of the few remaining coastal marshlands in Europe, spanning 45 kilometers. This lagoon area is a sanctuary for various bird species, including flamingos. The stunning freshwater marsh was a delightful surprise during our time in Aveiro. We spent the night there, camping amidst the marshes in our camper. The road leading to the area is a bit rough, with the final stretch being unpaved. However, our spacious alcove camper handled it with ease. We arrived at a point between two sections of passadicos, wooden boardwalks that guide you through this exceptional saltwater marsh. This bike and walking path commences just outside the city and meanders along the edge of this remarkable landscape.
We spent a night in this area, wild camping among the marshes with our camper. The road there is a bit bumpy, and the last stretch isn’t paved, but our large alcove camper handled it fine. We arrived between two sections of the passadicos, wooden boardwalks that lead you through this unique saltwater marsh. This bike and walking path starts just outside the city and winds along the edge of this impressive landscape.
#9 Wild camping in Braga
Link Park4Night | Traveling by camper in Northern Portugal and visiting Braga? Braga is easily accessible with a camper van. We spent a night in the parking lot at Parque da Ponte. In the low season, we were the only camper. It’s a spacious parking lot within a short walk from the center and surrounded by greenery.
Link Park4Night | Visiting Bom Jesus? Parking your camper is easy. There are ample parking spots for campers at the top by the church and at the bottom of the stairs. The upper parking lot is paid – normal cars pay €1 and campers €10. We stayed for free at the parking lot below the stairs and preferred to spend our money on a ride with the historic cable car to the top.