Wild Camping In Switzerland: All The Essential Info

wild camping switzerland

Switzerland is a stunning place to visit but it is also an expensive place to visit, and if you are like me, you are probably wondering if wild camping in Switzerland is possible.

Not only is it a very cost-effective way of staying in Switzerland but it is also a great way to see the most remote and beautiful areas in the Swiss Alps.

So, what is wild camping and is Switzerland wild camping even possible? Let’s take a look.

Wild camping, also known as free camping or dispersed camping, allows you to set up camp in non-designated camping areas and truly connect with nature. Switzerland wild camping is also allowed but only in designated areas and with the following of strict rules.

Join me as I run through everything you need to know about having a wild camping adventure in Switzerland. We will cover it all from the rules, to where to camp, what to pack, tips, and more.

Wild Camping Regulations in Switzerland

Swiss National Park
Swiss National Park

While wild camping is permitted in certain areas of Switzerland, there are strict regulations in place to preserve the natural environment and maintain the integrity of the land.

It is essential to adhere to these rules to avoid fines and respect the beauty of the Swiss wilderness. Fines are a minimum of 1000 CHF and if you are caught in the moment, can be a lot more.

While rangers are not in place on every peak in the Swiss Alps, if any locals see you wild camping in the wrong place they will report you to the police.

The wild camping rules also differ across the cantons of Switzerland, so be sure to check the specific rules of the canton you wish to wild camp in.

Permission and Restrictions

Wild camping is generally allowed in Switzerland, but only above the tree line and away from inhabited areas, private properties, and nature reserves.

National parks also have their own specific regulations, so it’s crucial to check the rules for each individual park before planning your trip.

You can not wild camp in the following areas:

  • Wild Rest Zones
  • The Swiss National Park
  • Valleys
  • Inhabited areas
  • Forests
  • Floodplains
  • Wetlands
  • Areas close to mountain huts
  • Any Swiss nature reserves
  • Hunting ban areas/hunting grounds

Basically, you can only camp above the tree line in the Alps but wild camping above the treeline in wild rest zones or in national parks is not allowed – especially in the Swiss National Park.

Also, different cantons of Switzerland have different rules about wild camping so you should check the specific regulations on where you intend to camp.

Related Reading

Best National & Nature Parks In Switzerland

Learn More

Stay Duration

You are only allowed to wild camp in the same spot for one night, and you might get away with two. This is to minimize the impact on the environment.

Also, wild camping in Switzerland is there so that people can accomplish multiple day hikes above the treeline, it is not designed for campers to pitch a tent for 5 nights for a vacation in one spot.

Campfire Restrictions

wild camping campfire
Campfire

Campfires are generally prohibited in most areas of Switzerland, especially during the summer months when the risk of wildfires is high. Always check local regulations and use a camping stove instead for cooking.

If there is a designated fireplace in the spot, you can use it but creating new fireplaces is very much illegal.

Waste Disposal

Proper waste disposal is crucial while wild camping. Pack out all your garbage and dispose of it responsibly in designated waste bins or recycling facilities. Leave the camping spot as pristine as you found it.

Wildlife

Switzerland is home to diverse wildlife, including protected species. It is important to maintain a safe distance from wildlife, avoid disturbing their habitats, and never feed them.

Related Reading

Wildlife In Switzerland: 9 Animals To See in the Swiss Alps

Learn More

Best Spots For Wild Camping in Switzerland

Now that we have been through the rules about wild camping in Switzerland, let’s look at some of the best wild camping spots where you can camp out on alpine pastures or on a mountain pass without any worries about being fined.

Camping Arolla

Camping Arolla
Camping Arolla

Nestled in the heart of the Valais Alps, Arolla might just be the most extreme wild camping spot you can find in the Swiss Alps.

At 1,950 meters above sea level, it is the highest campsite in Europe and wild camping is also allowed in the area. You will be surrounded by mountain peaks, meadows, and a glacier.

However, this spot is not for the faint-hearted, and wild campers must come prepared. It can get very cold, very quickly in this camping spot and if there are any storms on the forecast, it is best not to camp there.

There is also a campsite in Arolla if you do not want to set up your camping gear or want a more comfortable night’s sleep.

Camping Nufenenpass

Camping Nufenen
© Camping Nufenen

One of the best places to wild camp in Switzerland is the Nufenenpass. It is one of the highest mountain passes in Switzerland and you can get there using public transport making it very accessible.

At the top of the pass, there are two stunning alpine lakes you can camp next to, and the ground is relatively flat so you can have a better night’s sleep. The view across the mountains is also one you will never forget.

Be careful though as the winds at Nufenenpass can get very strong so be sure your tent is up for the challenge and you have enough warm gear to be comfortable.

There are also some facilities close to the bus station including a restaurant, a kiosk, car parking spots, and there is an official campsite nearby called Camping Nufenen if you need it.

Camping Lauterbrunnen

Lauterbrunnen
Lauterbrunnen

Situated in the Lauterbrunnen Valley, often referred to as the “Valley of 72 Waterfalls,” this camping spot is a nature lover’s paradise.

Surrounded by towering cliffs, cascading waterfalls, and lush green meadows, it provides an awe-inspiring backdrop for wild camping.

To find a wild camping spot that is within the rules, head south of Lauterbrunnen town to the canyon. You should be able to find a suitable place for tent camping there but be sure to stay away from inhabited areas and do not make a campfire.

Camping Vallorbe Caves

Camping Vallorbe Caves
© Sports and Leisure Vallorbe

For those seeking a unique camping experience, Camping Vallorbe Caves is an excellent choice.

Located in the Jura Mountains, it is a delightful place to camp as you can pretty much camp anywhere in the forest around the caves without any worries.

Simply grab a bus from Vallorbe down Rue des Grottes and then hike into the forest to find your camping spot. The area is stunning and you will find lovely mountain streams plus lots of wildlife can be seen too.

Camping Croy

Situated near Lake Geneva in the Vaud region, Croy offers a tranquil setting with stunning views of the lake and the surrounding vineyards.

It is also very easy to get to, just hop on the train to Eclepens and grab a bus to Pompaples where you will find a stunning forest. Hike into the forest along the hiking trails and you will find a good spot to pitch your tent.

What to Pack For Wild Camping in Switzerland

Packing the right gear is essential for a successful and comfortable wild camping experience in Switzerland. Here are some essential items to include in your packing list:

  • Tent: Choose a lightweight, durable tent suitable for the season and weather conditions. Ensure it provides adequate protection against rain and wind as the weather changes very quickly above the treeline.
  • Sleeping Bag and Mat: Invest in a high-quality sleeping bag that offers warmth and insulation. A sleeping mat or pad provides cushioning and insulation from the cold ground.
  • Cooking Equipment: Pack a portable camping stove, cooking utensils, and lightweight cookware. Remember to bring biodegradable soap for washing dishes.
  • Clothing: Pack appropriate clothing for the season and layering options for fluctuating temperatures. Include waterproof and breathable outerwear, warm layers, sturdy hiking boots, and a hat for sun protection.
  • Lighting: A headlamp or flashlight is essential for navigating in the dark, especially for trips to the restroom.
  • Backpack: A comfortable backpack that can store all your camping gear is a must too. All the wild camping spots in Switzerland require a hike to get to.

Tips for Wild Camping in Switzerland

  • Research and Plan Ahead: Familiarize yourself with the specific regulations and restrictions of the area you plan to visit. Check weather forecasts, and trail conditions, and do not take risks.
  • Leave No Trace: Respect the environment and practice Leave No Trace principles. Pack out all your garbage, minimize your impact on the surroundings, and avoid damaging vegetation.
  • Be Prepared for Weather Changes: Weather conditions in Switzerland can change rapidly, especially in mountainous areas. Pack appropriate clothing layers and be prepared for rain, wind, and temperature fluctuations.
  • Carry Drinking Water: While Switzerland has an abundance of freshwater sources, it is advisable to carry drinking water or have a reliable water bottle with a filter system to ensure a safe and clean water supply.
  • Respect Wildlife and Other Campers: Observe wild animals from a distance, do not feed them, and avoid disturbing their natural habitats. Respect the privacy of other campers by maintaining a reasonable distance and keeping noise levels low.
  • Tell Someone Your Plan: If you are wild camping, tell someone your intended route so that you can be rescued if needed.

Wild Camping in A Campervan or Motorhome

wild camping campervan
Campervan in Switzerland

If you prefer a more mobile and convenient camping experience, wild camping in a campervan or motorhome is a great option in Switzerland. However, it’s important to be aware of additional regulations and considerations specific to camping vehicles:

  • Parking Restrictions: Overnight parking or camping in a campervan or motorhome is generally not permitted outside of designated camping areas. Ensure you park in authorized locations to avoid fines and respect local regulations.
  • Waste Disposal: Dispose of waste and sewage responsibly in designated areas or at authorized campsites. Never dump waste in nature or water sources.
  • Water and Power Supply: Plan your trip to include stops at campsites or designated service areas where you can refill your water tank and recharge batteries if needed.
  • Size and Access Limitations: Consider the size and weight restrictions of your vehicle when planning your wild camping route. Narrow or steep mountain roads may not be suitable for larger campervans or motorhomes.

Written by Ashley Faulkes
As a twenty-year resident of Switzerland, I am passionate about exploring every nook and cranny of this beautiful country, I spend my days deep in the great Swiss outdoors, and love to share these experiences and insights with fellow travel enthusiasts.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *