Discover Europe’s Best Campervan Destinations

Table of Key Takeaways

Key PointDetails
Choosing Your CampervanConsider the size and features essential for your journey.
Packing EssentialsDon’t forget vital gear and preparations for a smooth trip.
Top DestinationsExplore the Mediterranean, Central Europe, and the Nordic countries.
Regulations and CampsitesUnderstand and respect local regulations; find the best sites.
Documenting Your JourneyKeep memories alive through photos and journaling.

Introduction: The Adventure Begins

Travelling through Europe in a campervan offers an unparalleled adventure, granting the freedom to roam and explore at your own pace. This flexibility allows each day to unfold with new discoveries, making every moment of the journey memorable, and let’s face facts – the moment you get behind the wheel is the moment the fun begins!


Section 1: Planning Your European Campervan Adventure

Selecting Your Ideal Campervan

If you’re considering a rental the first step in your adventure is choosing the right campervan. Consider the size and amenities you’ll need, based on your plans and the number of people travelling with you.

In essence you may be limited only by what’s on offer at your UK rental firm, or indeed the rental form that you are hiring from as you fly, or drive, to your first destination.


For more guidance on selecting the perfect campervan, check out:

Choosing a fixed rear bed camper
2019+ Mercedes Sprinter Camper Converters
VW Crafter / MAN TGE Professional Camper Converters


Essential Gear and Preparations

Packing for a campervan trip involves more than just your personal items. Don’t forget campervan-specific essentials like kitchen supplies and electric gadgets to ensure a comfortable and efficient journey. If you are renting this will all need to be detailed on a list that comes either with or ideally in advance of collecting your van. If you’re setting off in your own van, well then you know already what you need!

^^^This is me packing the mighty Westflaia Florida ahead of a trip

Here’s a handy concise checklist from the Camping & Caravanning Club to get you going:


Section 2: Top European Destinations for Campervan Travel

The Magic of the Mediterranean

The Mediterranean coasts of Italy, Spain, and Greece offer stunning drives and unforgettable experiences, from the azure waters to the rich cultural heritage.

There are so many great options but here are my top suggestions for Mediterranean campervan holidays:

1) Sête and the western Mediterranean
– catch the fireworks from the old city walls of Sête before following the coast down to Cathar country and doing an inland loop up into the Pyrenees to cool off from the heat and see the views. Come back down via Carcasonne.

Route link here.

Bastille day fireworks from the roof of the camper, Aigues Mortes

2) The Cote D’Azur and the Italian Riviera
– probably the least easy route to find convenient campervan locations there are in fact plenty of options if you book ahead for a fabulous camper trip along the Cote D’Azur of France and along into the Italian Riviera. And why not also dip inland to the amazing Gorges du Verdon, Grasse, Vence & Eze, which are all unmissable. Take in the high corniches to Monaco and pretend your home on wheels is actually James Bond’s Aston Martin for just a minute!

Route link here.


3) Porto Fino & Cinque Terre, and south to Pisa
– my best advice here is to drive between each of these destinations but to not drive into them! a) you will get stuck, and b) you’ll get fined! However they are still both essential Mediterranean destinations for your memory bank on your European campervan tour. Extend the tour south along the Italian riviera to classic Viareggio, and then why not take in Pisa while you are so near.

Route link here.


4) Sicily & the volcano
– Sicily is heaven. Always hot but always cooled by wonderful breezes as it site high and proud at the toe of Italy. It’s history is undeniable and it also lives with the threat of Etna’s on-going fresh eruptions. There’s a super drive up to the volcano from the south (don’t forget the cable car to the top), before diving back down to the beautiful beaches of the west coast at Taormina.

Route link here.


5) Cool Croatia
– the whole coastline and it’s many islands are just perfect for campervan touring. From Pula & Rijeka in the north, down to Hvar & Korcula in the south you can’t go wrong.

Did you know my father wrote a Yugoslavian travel guide in the 60s?! Read more here.

6) Monumental Montenegro
– still a relatively unexploited gem on this stretch of Adriatic Montenegro is a stunning blend of mountains and seas. Kotor bay is a highlight.

7) Gorgeous Greece
– warranting a whole article of it’s own anywhere in Greece is a treat for the campervanner! From the easily accessible beaches of northern Greece to the remote and barren finger of the Peloponnese Greece is a welcoming gem on any Mediterranean itinerary!

The author’s van & missus, 1994, Kakovatos beach, Peloponese
A now faded hand drawn map of a great route around the Peoloponese in 1994 (read my travlogue here)

The Charms of Central Europe

The scenic routes of France, Germany, and Switzerland are not to be missed, offering a diverse landscape of forests, mountains, and quaint villages.

Alsace & The Wine Route
– a north to south run that takes you all the way down from the Moselle towards Switzerland, flanking Germany to your left and the Vosges mountains of France to your right. Castles dot the skyline and lure you off to explore this unique part of northern Europe.

The Champagne Route
– driving through endless vineyards of grapes that you know are going to make the most delectable drink on the planet is intoxicating enough. Camping in Reims and having a cave tour is just the icing on the cake. Stick to organic to keep a clear head for the drive ahead!

Cotes du Rhone
– driving the whole length of the Rhone is a real temptation! From Beaujolais in the north to Chateauneuf in the south, every day there’s another great reason to stop and explore! Vacqueras is a must stop!

The author enjoying both Beaujolais and the first rain after a heatwave in a France Passion vineyard, Chinon, 2015

Galicia
– another great wine region (did you spot the trend?!) this northern region of Spain is another great campervan itinerary. Easily accessible from France or by boat from the UK it’s easy to get immersed in the fascinating history of this rugged part of Europe. Take in the Picos and dip down into the Rias Baixas for a very different part of Galicia. NB Pulpo is obligatory

Tuscany
– nothing is more romantic than Florence, Siena, Montepluciano & Colle di Val D’Elsa. The rolling hills, the cypresses… you’ll feel like Maximus returning home in Gladiator!

The Nordic Wonders

For those seeking the allure of the north, the breathtaking landscapes of Norway, Sweden, and Finland offer a unique adventure amidst the natural beauty of the Nordic countries.

Arctic Circle
– to collect that moose sticker for the back of your campervan you have to complete this pilgrimage to the arctic circle! It’s a well trodden path, and how many seem to now decide to do it mid-winter? Nuts! Take in Norway, Sweden & Finland if you have time on this extraordinary expedition.

Lofoten
– up that way too is probably one of the most photographed (and drone filmed) destinations of this part of the world. It’s magical


JJ the Hanomag Henschel, Las Alpujarras, Sierra Nevada, Spain

Magic Mountains

Austria’s Mountains & Passes
– the Dolomites are a great destination for a European road trip. You can see them coming and as your cirumnavigate them they are a foreboding presence just longing to be climbed and explored. Drive over the Grossglockner pass to expereince the immense size of Austria’s share of the Alps.

Pyrenees
– the Pyrenees are the best of European mountain ranges. Far enough south to maintain a warm southerly aspect but often covered in enough snow to ski, and – the icing on the cake – with the rough surfer-strewn beaches of the Atlantic on one side and the sparkling clear Mediterranean on the other. Does it ge better than this? Take time to explore the excellent GR walking routes.

Picos de Europa
– these rural mountains on the north coast of Spain have a beauty and charm not found elsewhere. Crystal clear skies and water they are great to explore by campervan and on foot. Take the cable car to Fuente De for the most amazing views.

Sierra Nevada
– these most southerly European mountains hosted the winter olympics but are also home to the highest settlements in Europe, where, on the southern slopes you will find the most welcoming remote villages and stunning views, great mountain biking trails and a fantastic up-and-over walking opportunity. You can even glimpse the north African coast from the heights of the Sierra de la Contraviesa. Yes, it’s 100 miles away!

Corsica & Sardinia
– effectively 2 different countries both of these mountainous islands have superb circular itineraries that treat you to both stunning beaches and superb hills at the same time. A must-visit!

For more inspiration, check out our travel book reviews: Travel Book Reviews: Nordic Countries.


Section 3: Navigating Europe’s Campervan Sites and Regulations

Understanding the regulations in different European countries is essential for a smooth journey. This section provides tips for finding the best campsites and respecting local laws.

When embarking on a campervan journey across Europe, it’s crucial to familiarize yourself with the diverse regulations that vary from country to country. Understanding these rules will help ensure a smooth and trouble-free adventure. Here’s an overview of campervan regulations for some of the top European destinations:

France

France is a campervan enthusiast’s dream, offering an extensive network of “aires” specifically designed for campervan parking and overnight stays. These areas are often free or very low cost, providing basic amenities like water and waste disposal. It’s important to adhere to the restrictions of each aire, as they can vary widely. Additionally, wild camping is generally prohibited, so it’s best to use designated areas or campsites.

Germany

Germany welcomes campervans with numerous Stellplatz (dedicated parking areas for motorhomes). Like France, Germany has strict rules against wild camping, but the Stellplatz system offers a great alternative, ranging from free spots with no facilities to fully equipped sites with a fee. Autobahn rest stops are an option for overnight stays, though they lack the charm and amenities of more scenic locations.

Italy

Italy’s approach to campervan travel is a bit more relaxed, with less formalized networks for campervans compared to France and Germany. However, wild camping is officially illegal, and it’s advised to use campsites or agriturismo locations, which often provide a more authentic and rural setting. Many Italian towns also offer sosta camper areas for overnight parking and services.

Spain

Spain is a popular destination for campervan travelers, particularly in the warmer months. While wild camping is not permitted, Spain offers numerous campsites and camper areas. Local laws can vary significantly, so it’s important to research the specific area you plan to visit. Many beaches and natural parks have strict rules to protect the environment, limiting overnight stays in these areas.

Norway

Norway stands out for its “Allemannsretten” or “everyman’s right,” which allows for wild camping in uncultivated land for up to two nights in the same spot. Despite this freedom, campervan travelers must remain respectful of nature, private property, and local regulations. Designated campervan sites are available throughout the country, offering facilities and a base to explore Norway’s stunning natural landscapes.

The Netherlands

The Netherlands offers a network of camperplaats, similar to the German Stellplatz, providing designated spots for campervans. While the country is relatively small, it boasts a variety of scenic locations ideal for campervan stays. Note that wild camping is not allowed, and most cities have specific regulations against overnight parking in public spaces.

Regulations Summary

Navigating the regulations in each country can be daunting, but with proper planning and respect for local laws, campervan travel in Europe can be an incredibly rewarding experience. Always check the latest guidelines before setting out, as rules can change. Utilising official campervan sites not only supports local communities but also ensures that the beauty and integrity of these destinations are preserved for future travellers.


Need a handy guide to LPG adapters in Europe? Here you go!


Section 4: Capturing Memories: Documenting Your Journey

Documenting your campervan journey across Europe is not just about keeping a record; it’s about capturing the essence of your adventure, the landscapes you traverse, and the unique experiences you encounter along the way. Here are some ways to enrich your documentation process:

Photography

Photography is perhaps the most immediate way to capture the sights and experiences of your journey. Consider these tips:

  • Golden Hour: Make the most of the golden hour, the first hour after sunrise and the last hour before sunset, for stunning landscape shots.
  • Composition: Experiment with different compositions by incorporating the rule of thirds, leading lines, and framing to create more engaging photos.
  • Storytelling: Capture not just landscapes, but also small details, local life, and candid moments that tell a story about your journey.

Journaling

Keeping a travel journal allows you to reflect on your experiences and emotions throughout the trip. Here are some journaling ideas:

  • Daily Reflections: Write about the places you visited, the people you met, and how these experiences made you feel.
  • Sketches and Doodles: If you enjoy drawing, sketching landmarks or scenes can add a personal touch to your journal.
  • Stickers and Tickets: Collect stickers, tickets, and other memorabilia to paste into your journal as tangible reminders of your travels.

Video Diaries

Creating video diaries can capture the dynamics of your adventure in a way that photos and writing cannot:

  • Regular Updates: Consider making short video updates at the end of each day or after visiting a significant location.
  • Narration: Adding narration can provide context to the footage, sharing your thoughts and insights in real-time.
  • Editing: Simple video editing tools can help you compile your footage into a cohesive travelogue, adding music and transitions to enhance the storytelling.

Social Media

Sharing your journey on social media can not only document your travels but also connect you with other travelers and provide inspiration to those planning their adventures:

  • Hashtags and Geotags: Use relevant hashtags and geotags to categorize your posts, making it easier for others to find and engage with your content.
  • Live Updates: Platforms like Instagram Stories or Facebook Live allow you to share live updates, bringing your followers along for the ride.
  • Engagement: Respond to comments and messages to build a community around your journey, exchanging tips and stories with fellow campervan enthusiasts.

Capturing the Essence

Remember, documenting your journey is about capturing the essence of your experiences. Whether through photography, journaling, video, or social media, find the medium that best allows you to express and remember the adventure. These memories will become invaluable treasures, reminders of the time you spent exploring the diverse landscapes and cultures of Europe in your campervan.

Pro tip: Polar Steps allows you to not only track your trip on a map and upload journal entries but will also print a glossy book of your journey.


Brand Image: Destination Earth – A Philosophy of Travel

Destination Earth Book Cover

Conclusion: The Return Journey

Reflect on the adventures and experiences gained during your travels. This journey is just the beginning, with many more roads to explore and stories to create.

Start Planning Your European Campervan Adventure

Ready to explore Europe in a campervan? Begin your adventure today and discover the freedom and joy of campervan travel. Start planning with us: Planning a DIY Conversion.

Embark on a journey to explore, experience, and enjoy Europe at your own pace with our comprehensive guide. From selecting the ideal campervan to discovering the continent’s best destinations, we’re here to support you every step of the way.

Tim Aldiss

Sharing my passion for campervans, road trips and dreaming of the next escape

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