Camping in Spain

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Camping in Spain

Posted by algrif

Tagged: camping and fire hazard, spanish tourism, coto de caza, spanish campsites, camping in spain

This article talks about some basic considerations when looking for camp sites in Spain, and about camping in Spain generally.

This lovely Spring weather always reminds me of how much I loved to go camping with my friends when I was a young lad. We used to get all the basic gear together, and off we would go to some farmer’s field we knew of, of perhaps walking up into the fells or dales, to pitch our tent and have a whale of a time with no-one to tell us what to do. It didn’t matter what the weather tried,.. sun .. wind .. rain .. snow .. we would think it just great. And it was. And it stayed good as I grew older.

In fact it still is great. But now I’m in Spain, and adjustments have to be made. Not many though. So, for those of you who enjoy camping, let’s take a look at what is involved. I intend to check out three main areas:-

  1. Free Camping
  2. Camp Sites
  3. Fixed camp sites (Caravans)

Free Camping

This is not as easy as it is in UK. Although in some ways it can be easier. In UK you go find the farmer and ask permission to use one of their fields. Most English farmers were ok with this. In Spain, it can be really difficult to find the farm house, let alone the farmer. And when you do, they are not usually very happy about the idea of some foreigner pitching his tent on his land. But it can be done.

Another possibility is to simply camp where it looks good, and wait for the farmer to find you, and sort it out with him in a diplomatic manner when he does, being prepared to move to another site, or simply move on, without arguing. (You are trespassing, after all).

Word of warning. Do NOT plonk yourselves down within a defined COTO DE CAZA. You could get yourself shot – at the least! - especially if you remotely resemble a hare.

Up the mountains, there are areas which belong to nobody in particular, and you can camp in these places. If you find other people camping, check out with them what the situation is.

Also, most local Councils have bits of land where they allow people to camp. These are often sign-posted, and you will normally have to show your documents when using these places. The good thing about them is they are often well situated for access to tourist sites, or beaches, etc, etc. Visit the Council web site and see if they give you a map. (The Valencia province has a really great interactive one)

Of course, one of the biggest worries in all these places is Fire Hazard. This is a real, genuine, concern. This isn't England, where sitting round the camp fire is a part of the culture. In Spain, open fires are as a rule prohibited. And you have to take careful precautions with a camping gas cooker, too. I once saw a couple frying on a stove, which toppled over (because it was not properly settled in place) You should have seen the fire spread! You must remember that the land in Spain is like a tinder box at all times. Anyway, the fire was eventually controlled, but a big chunk of the land got burned, and we all got a fright. And ... the Guardia Civil were called out. The couple were fined on the spot for being careless with fire in a countryside location. As I say, Fire is a real, genuine, concern.

Camp Sites

These are sites where you can take your tent and stuff in a car, rent a plot, and pitch your tent there for the contracted period. These places vary in levels of convenience. They all provide fresh water, and toilets, and a phone. From there, depends where you go, you can find cooking facilities, eateries (from simple cafeterias right up to full blown restaurants), activities facilities (ping pong, internet room, tennis courts, swimming pool, etc.) The prices vary accordingly. These campsites are easy to find on the internet, and any tourist map will have most of them marked. If you've ever been to one in any European country, well, you already know what to expect. The Spanish versions are no different.

Fixed camp sites (Caravans)

Now we are getting away from what I call real “Camping”. Nevertheless, in Spain they still show on tourist guides as “Camping”. These are sites where you can find little cabins, and huts, and caravan trailers, all set up and ready to rent. These camp sites can be quite interesting, and good value for money, especially if you are visiting a particular area as a typical tourist. We stayed at a great one near Port Aventura. Much better than a hotel, to my mind. But then, I find hotels a bit stifling anyway, particularly with the kids needing to expend their boundless energy. It pays to look around and compare before settling into one of them. Not only prices, but also the amenities offered, and the state of repair. It's all very well if they offer plenty of indoor activities for rainy days, but then it turns out that the roof leaks and the equipment is about a century old and full of termites.

We would love to hear of some experiences, good or bad, that any of you might have had while camping in Spain.

Last updated 14 04 2015

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