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Wild Camping in Switzerland

Known for its breathtaking landscapes, Switzerland is perfect for a wild camping adventure. But is wild camping allowed in Switzerland at all? And what should you bear in mind on such an adventure? We have compiled an overview of the most important rules and tips on how to behave when wild camping in Switzerland.

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The most important facts in a nutshell

The applicable legal regulations on wild camping or free overnight camping outside official campsites in Switzerland are regulated on a cantonal basis. You can find out more about the guidelines of the individual cantons below. Ultimately, however, the sovereignty lies with the municipalities, which can lay down their own rules and regulations.

Recommendation: Be on the safe side and always check with the respective municipality or the local police station if you want to spend the night outside of official campsites.

"Wild" overnight stays in a motorhome, van or car

Single overnight stays in public places

The regulations of the municipality or property owner apply. Always check locally.

In public car parks

In public car parks, the signaling and parking time restrictions must be observed. Parking fees often have to be paid also at night. The parked vehicle must be in an official parking space and fit into the parking space. No camping behavior (e.g. do not set up tables or chairs).

At motorway service areas

Find out on site if a single overnight stay is allowed. Look out for parking time restrictions, blue zones and charges for overnight stays.

Rest areas

Rest areas are used for short-term rest for motorists. The parking spaces for these are marked in white and can therefore be used without time limits and free of charge. Rest areas are primarily intended for chauffeurs, but motorists and campers with motor homes or caravans may also rest there (without camping behavior, do not set up chairs/tables/awnings).

Is it allowed to spend the night in a car in a parking lot?

In Switzerland, the rules for camping in a car are not uniform. In some cantons or municipalities, spending the night in a car is considered wild camping and is therefore prohibited. In exceptional cases, it is often tolerated, especially if the need for sleep is cited as an argument.

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"Wild" overnight camping with tent or bivouac

Definition: Bivouacking - spending the night without a tent in the open air, in an igloo or in a snow cave. Camping - spending the night in a small tent outside official campsites.

In general the following rules apply:

Bivouacking and camping for one night above the timberline, on alpine meadows or rocky terrain, outside of protected areas is safe.

On private land, permission should always be obtained from the owner of the land.

Emergency bivouacking is generally always permitted. Emergency bivouac means being forced to bivouac spontaneously due to a predicament.

Do not bivouac near huts and alps, but if you do, contact the hut or the farmer in advance and propose compensation for the use of sanitary facilities and consume at the hut or buy products at the alp.

Find out in advance where the protected areas are located, free camping is expressly forbidden there.

Avoid ecologically sensitive sites and animal habitats (e.g. wetlands and forest borders).

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Wild camping is prohibited in the following areas in Switzerland

1. Camping in nature reserves

2. Camping in the Swiss National Park

3. Camping in federal hunting zones

4. Camping in wildlife sanctuaries

5. Camping where there is a general ban on entering the area

You can find all protected areas on Geo Admin.

The following must be taken into account as a matter of principle

No noise, no tracks

Respect other people's privacy and pay attention to the nighttime peace. Wildlife also has a right to a peaceful night's sleep. Avoid noise and disturbance and leave the place in a clean condition.

Washing up and showering

Do not do the dishes directly at water bodies and do not dispose of the remaining water in them. Use biodegradable detergent and toothpaste. Washing in a stream or river is allowed, but shower detergent should be environmentally friendly or omitted altogether.

The "big deal”

Do your big deal only when you have to and not near bodies of water. Fecal germs can harm the animals. Use a plastic bag to take your toilet paper back with you or burn it (not if there is a forest fire hazard) after you have buried your mess. True wild campers always carry a small garden shovel.

Fire

In some areas it is forbidden to build fires. Wild animals are driven away by this. Therefore, look for signs indicating so. In any case, be careful when building a fire. Use already existing places and pay attention to the current danger situation regarding forest fires. In Ticino and Italy we recommend never to make an open fire.

Regulations in the different cantons

All information without guarantee. Subject to change without notice. Please send your comments directly to hello@nomady.camp with the subject "Wildcamping".

The information on the cantons refers to TCS Switzerland.

Almost like wild camping

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At Nomady there are just as wild and yet absolutely legal alternatives for nights in a tent as well as for free overnight stays in a vehicle. The sites are mostly with private hosts and often in places that are otherwise inaccessible. Also with regard to the natural scenery, the offers are in no way inferior to the wild alternative.

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