We often picture camping as simply pitching a tent in the middle of the woods somewhere, but many of today’s European campsites offer a whole lot more.
Whether you do indeed enjoy roughing it a bit in the wild or are looking for more of a glamping type experience possibly along the Mediterranean with no lack of amenities, there’s a campsite to suit any personality.
From camping on a nearly deserted English island or high in the Swiss Alps to not even having to camp in the great outdoors at all, Europe offers the chance to enjoy some pretty crazy campsites. Here’s a look at some of the most notably beautiful and rather unique campsites worth a visit.
Most Beautiful and Unique Campsites in Europe
Piel Island Camping, England
Fancy camping on a small 50-acre island off the coast of North West England?
For just £5 per tent, whether it be one person tents for solo travelers or family sized tents for those traveling with kids, you can camp almost anywhere on Piel Island. You will be accompanied by little more than the remains of a 14th century castle, a small pub, and maybe a chicken or two on the island.
Piel Island is accessed by a £5 return ferry that leaves daily from Roa Island in the peak spring and summer months. The island has its very own king who acts as the caretaker of the island. He also runs the Ship Inn pub which offers up local beers and spirits alongside locally caught fresh fish.
While there may not be a great deal of entertainment on the small island for campers, it’s more about taking a relaxing break from the chaotic city life.
Hike the picturesque coastal walk for the chance to spot seals or take one of the offered fishing trips that are available.
Image credit: Pranavian (CC BY 2.0) via Flickr
Camping Arolla, Switzerland
If you prefer mountain camping, you can’t do much better or get much higher than Camping Arolla in southwestern Switzerland. Situated at nearly 2,000 meters above sea level, this campsite is said to be Europe’s highest.
The lovely grass terraced pitches are nestled at the foot of the Swiss Alps, with sites offering either views of the Valley below or the towering peaks of Mont Collon and Pigne d’Arolla for which the campsite is named for.
A number of alpine hiking trails are accessible from the campsite, along with half a dozen trail hut shelters, making Camping Arolla the perfect base for trekking in the Swiss Pennine Alps.
The campsite is open from June through September and provides a large number of amenities including hot showers, free washing machines, toilets, a grocery store filled with local artisan products, and even free Wi-Fi that reaches most sites within the camp.
Reykjavik Eco Campsite, Iceland
Iceland can prove difficult to do on a budget, but there are camping options. One of the easiest and economical campsites in terms of overall costs is the Reykjavik Eco Campsite which is situated quite close to the city centre.
It’s a very communal campsite, offering upwards of 300 grass pitches which can accommodate upwards of 600 visitors. There’s easy access to buses or you can simply choose to walk into the city, saving costs on transport.
Guests will have free access to a kitchen, hot showers, toilets, BBQ area, Wi-Fi, guest computers, and complimentary booking/pick-up service for various excursions whether it be touring the Golden Circle or joining an adventurous quad bike tour.
The eco camp does not rent any camping equipment, so you’ll need to travel with your own tent and camping chairs. They do, however, hire mountain bikes if you want to explore the surrounding area in an environmentally-friendly way.
If you’re after a more natural setting with far less people, I would recommend the Slyppugil Campsite in South Iceland’s Valley of Thor (Thorsmork) as an alternative.
Camping Fusina, Venice
While there’s no place you can camp on Venice itself, Camping Fusina allows travelers to set up their tents just across the lagoon with pretty nice distant views of St. Mark’s Square and the main island of Venice.
Better yet is the fact regular ferry boats can take campers to Venice in roughly 20 minutes.
The year-round campsite features an onsite Italian restaurant, pizzeria, beer garden with large flat screen TV, and large pool. The campsite’s so-called Infobus can provide you with all the Venice guided tours and excursions that are available.
You can also access other islands of the lagoon or Alberoni Beach from the campsite, and an airport shuttle bus is available.
Sundal Camping, Norway
If you like your campsite to be remote, head to the western fjords of Norway to check out Sundal Camping. It doesn’t get much more picturesque than this!
Situated in Mauranger, the campsite overlooks the Bondhus Valley and offers incredible hikes like the one that leads to Bondhusbreen Glacier which itself is an offshoot of the spectacular Folgefonna glacier for which Folgefonna National Park is named for.
There are 60 different tent pitching sites all surrounded by towering lush green hillsides and mountains, with kayaks and boats available for rent.
Fish for trout and salmon or take the kids to the nearby farm filled with all kinds of friendly animals. The campsite features showers, BBQ areas, and a playground for kids.
Domaine Riva Bella Naturiste, Corsica France
While camping often involves getting in touch with nature and getting back to the bare essentials, why not take your camping experience to the next level by baring your own natural side.
The Domaine Riva Bella Naturiste campsite on Corsica is a nudist campsite, meaning you’ll be able to flash all the skin you wish. Set on 80 acres of nature with exceptional Mediterranean views, the luxury campsite’s main beach is exclusively naturist for all adults for much of the year.
You definitely want to shy away from this campsite if you’re shy yourself!
There are a number of bungalows and villas in addition to the many naturist campsites that can accommodate tents, caravans, and camping cars. The campsite resort is surprisingly very family friendly, with weekly scheduled activities for both adults and children.
Choose from pitch sites located on the gorgeous seafront, along the Terrenzana saltwater lagoon, or in the Corsican wilderness. The campsite’s washrooms are immaculate and luxurious, while the Thalasso & Spa Resort and Wellness Centre that’s located right on the beach offers up a range of water-based therapies and soothing treatments.
When it comes to activities, guests can partake in a range of water sports, scuba diving, volleyball, pilates, archery, visiting the onsite llama farm, or mountain biking.
There is a secure children’s activity area that has been set up for their safety, with a range of both physical and artistic activities on offer. Families can also enjoy live music and dance evenings during the summer months at the resort.
If you’re one who likes the concept of camping but have always avoided it out of fear of getting wet, dirty, and cold, Berlin’s Huttenpalast may be a way to get your feet wet without getting your feet wet.
This very unique camping experience will see you choose from a selection of old mid-1900s caravans that have been refurbished and parked inside a factory courtyard in the middle of the city.
Being indoors, you need not fear rain nor getting too cold or hot since they keep things at a comfortable temperature all year round. Each caravan is unique and you can choose one that suits your personality on their website, assuming it hasn’t already been book by other cosmopolitan campers.
The caravans, along with a few small wooden cabins if you’d prefer, share a common space, but your caravan will be strictly yours of course and lockable. You also get your very own little indoor porch setting outside your caravan. Some even have trees placed around them to make you feel more in the woods.
The caravans are fully accessible and communal bathrooms (segregated by sex) are available. All your bed linens, towels, and basic toiletries are provided for you, making this one of the easiest “camping” experiences possible.
Enjoy a morning buffet breakfast you can take to the outdoor garden which offers up a number of seating areas. There are bike rentals available for exploring the city and you can even bring along your dog for the stay if you wish.
These are just a few of the more peculiar and outstanding campsites Europe offers.
Wherever you decide to pitch your tent or park your caravan, be sure to check out my guide to the basic gear you’ll need for camping as well as my comprehensive cold weather camping essentials checklist.