Camping behind the dunes in solitude or completely legal above the tree line in the Alps: these camping spots are the right place for you and won't be overcrowded!
It's clear: camping sites and real outdoor experiences are a combination that is rare, at least in the high season. And yet they can be found: The campsites where you can pitch your tent close to nature without running the risk of being escorted to a children's disco by a campsite animator. The best part is that some of them are located in the most exciting outdoor landscapes on our continent - from very remote on the Norwegian fjord coast to so close to the Central European metropolises that a trip is also worthwhile for a short weekend.
Gjaid Alm, Austria
Camping not cows: The Gjaid-Alm at an altitude of 1738 metres is one of the few places in the Northern Alps where you can legally camp outdoors above the tree line and in the middle of nature. Only those who hike (or, shame on you, take a shortcut with the Krippensteinbahn) can get up. The Alm is situated in the middle of a UNESCO World Heritage Area. The area is said to have been used by the Romans for livestock farming. Grab your tent, sleeping bag, sleeping mat and tunic - and camp like the Romans. Breakfast and dinner in the chalet is included in the camping price.
Opening hours: June to mid September
Camping Charbonnières, France
Camping Charbonnières is situated in the heart of the Gorges du Tarn, one of the best climbing areas in southern France. Around 700 partly overhanging routes lead through high limestone walls of the beautiful gorge: Easy 4-metre routes up to 120-metre tours with multi-rope lengths. The campsite is only a group of trees away from the river. Since the Gorges du Tarn in summer is anything but an insider tip: only come in low season.
Opening hours: Mid-April to mid-October
Erviksanden Camping, Norway
On the Norwegian fjord coast between a sandy beach and a small river, which is called - yes, really: - salmon river lies Erviksanden Camping. The campground consists of a wooden sign with a telephone number and a large meadow behind the beach. But it is one of the most beautiful sandy beaches in Norway. In autumn and spring there are even regular good swells for surfing.
Camping de la Semois, Belgium
Yes, Belgium can also be wild and romantic: Located on the foothills of the Ardennes, this hippiesque family campsite on the banks of the Semois River offers easy access to the water. Make sure to reserve in time, the place is popular. In late summer, relatively many aquatic plants grow in the Semois - paddlers prefer to come in early summer.
Opening hours: Closed from Easter to August; Closed in September; Winter opening hours vary
Camping Arolla, Switzerland
The Arolla campsite is situated at 1,950 metres and is therefore officially the highest campsite in Europe. The Val d' Hérens is a quiet side valley of the Rhone and in the lower section an ideal starting point for easy mountain hikes. Further up: Hut hikes and alpine mountain tours on the main ridge of the Alps, for example to the summit pyramid of the 4357-metre-high Dent Blanche. A refreshing bonus: the campsite has its own fresh water source. The opposite to overcrowded beach camping: air, water, pitches clean and fresh - and no dust and sand anywhere.
Opening hours: Mid-June to mid-September
Camping Seeblick at the Masurian Lake District, Poland
In the middle of the Masurian Lake District lies this simple but wonderfully quiet campsite. The campsite belongs to the house Seeblick, a guesthouse. It's led by Czesława Krakowiak and his wife, they prepare fresh pike-perch for their guests in the evening. An ideal starting point for endless kayak and canoe tours on the more than 2700 lakes in the region.
Opening hours: April to October
Camping Porto Sosàlinos, Sardinia
Camping Porto Sosàlinos is situated on the banks of the river Sosàlinos, about twenty paddl strokes away from the beach. If you camp here, you can pitch your tent in a shady pine forest. The campsite is not in the wildest part of the island, but you can canoe to one of the most beautiful beaches in Sardinia. This combination is quite unbeatable, but only recommended in low season!
Opening hours: April-November
Camping am Fischteich, Austria
The camping site at the Bregenzer Ach near Andelsbuch is a real insider tip - and cannot be found in any camping guide. The campsite belongs to the Tanna guest garden (fresh trout and delicious homemade cakes!), where you can also register for camping. The special charm: The site has only a dozen spots and is situated directly at a gravel bathing place in the mountain river - ideal for cooling down and fly fishing. Paragliders land right next to the camp site on the farmer's meadow.
Opening hours: May to end of September
Photos - Robert Pupeter (lead), Sneakycampers (Eirviksanden)