If you want to sleep under the stars and explore the great outdoors, then there’s no better place to visit than Spain. The Iberian country’s year-round favourable climate makes it perfect for camping no matter what the time of year, and there is so many to see and do in Spain, from countryside to beaches. In fact, Spain is famed for boasting some of the best beaches in the world, and there are 579 Blue Flag rated beaches in the country. But can you combine your love of Spain’s beaches with your love of camping? Can you sleep on the beach in Spain? Here’s everything you need to know:
Is Beach Camping Legal in Spain?
The short answer to this question is no. Wild camping, which is camping with a tent in any area that is not a licensed campsite, is not legal in Spain. This means that, if you are a regular tourist hoping to camp on the beach in Spain, then this will simply not be possible. Very rarely, the Spanish authorities will give permission to certain people to allow them to camp on the beach in Spain, but these circumstances apply to individuals carrying out environmental studies or other vital research, rather than tourists looking for somewhere pretty to sleep! Instead, you are advised to look for a registered campsite with beach views, or that is otherwise as close to the beach as possible.
Why is Beach Camping Illegal in Spain?
There are many reasons why the Spanish authorities do not allow tourists to sleep on the beaches in the country. Firstly, the presence of humans and any external elements they bring with them (ranging from barbeques to soap and shampoo) can negatively impact the delicate ecosystem of the beaches and the wildlife who live there. Spanish residents cherish their beaches and work hard to keep them clean: this is why people are not allowed to stay there overnight. Other things that are not permitted on Spanish beaches include dropping cigarette butts and drinking alcoholic beverages.
There are also health and safety concerns surrounding sleeping on the beach: your belongings could be stolen, you could be assaulted or worse, and because tides can often be unpredictable there is also a significant drowning risk associated with sleeping on the beach. More than 400 people a year drown on Spanish beaches: this number would grow considerably if campers were permitted to remain on the beach overnight, at a time when lifeguards are not present and the sea is not clearly visible. Those flouting the laws can be fined heavily. For example, in the Valencia region, you can be fined up to €1,500 for pitching up a tent, or otherwise camping, on one of the region’s beaches.
Could I Sleep on the Beach in a Campervan or Caravan?
The rules around where you can sleep in Spain are slightly more flexible if you’re using a campervan or caravan rather than a tent. Camper tours of Spain are incredibly popular for both tourists and citizens alike. Even in a camper or caravan, you are not permitted to park or drive on the beach. But if you can demonstrate that you are stopping overnight, rather than camping, you can park in a designated beach parking space and stay overnight. To demonstrate that you are taking a break rather than camping, you won’t be able to put up awnings, tables and chairs or other camping equipment on the beach. You have to be parked in a designated space next to the beach and be sleeping in the campervan/caravan. If your possessions leave the campervan, or you attempt to sleep outside of the campervan/caravan then you will be in breach of the law and could face the same find as is outlined above.
If you’re thinking of taking any kind of camping holiday in Spain (whether in a tent or in a campervan/caravan) then the best advice is to find a registered campsite. There are 527 registered campsites in Spain, meaning they are widely available, no matter what route you are taking, and there are many campsites located close to the beach. This means that you can wake up to the sound of the sea and the feeling of a sea breeze in your hair, without breaching any legal rules.
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