I'll be honest: I don't like campsites very much. People put together on a small field, loud noises in the evening of a party, or loud noises of children in the morning. In my opinion, there are more pleasant ways to spend a vacation.
Still, we always camp out. I think campsite out in nature is great. But because campsite in the wild is not permitted in most European countries, you have no choice but to go to a camping. Only if there's no campsite in the area, we take refuge to an B&B, a Danish Kro, A French Gîte or a Germin 'Zimmer frei'... Because we only use the campsites to cook our meal and spend the night, we are not that picky on the quality or size of the camping. If we have a choice, we choose a small simple campsite or a campsite of a farmer. But sometimes a large park is the first and only option you can have – if any – after cycling 100 kilometers and then we take it as it is.
But in Denmark, it's different all together! There we make use of Overnatning i det fri, a kind of regulated camping in the wild.
“Overnatning i det fri” (Sleeping in nature)
For us, this makes Denmark very attractive for cycling holidays: camping in nature where you can light a fire in most cases. Armed with Overnatning i det fri we cycle around Denmark where we love to get surprised by these remarkable camping spots (update 19-03-27: the booklet is no longer published, check this website: Naturstyrelsen).
The booklet helps us to find over a thousand primitive places to stay for the night in Denmark. The initiative for the booklet comes from Frilufsrådet,an organisation of various recreational, environmental and nature organisations.
In fact, there are three kinds of kampingspots in Denmark:
- in the middle of nature
- with a private person, like in someones garden of at a farmer
- on a piece of land of an organisation, for example a church, cafe, school a harbor….
All these places are only accessable for unmotorised travelers. You can only arrive by foot, bicycle, horse, kayak, kanoo or rowing boat. You recognize the camping spot by a white sign with a black tent (see picture).
The camping spot in the middle of nature are very compact in most cases, and the facities are limited. In the most luxurioes case you have running water, a toilet and (cold) shower. But there are places whre you have nothing. You can sleep in you own tent or there is a wooden shelter you can use. Usualy there's room for two small tents, and there is in most cases a place for a campfire.
We find the shelters a great way to stay for the night in the open air. If the shelter is large enough, we can put our tent in it, to ward off musquitos.
These camping spots in the middle of nature can be compared to the dutch 'paalcampings' (pole compings) or the begian 'bivakzones'.
Besides, the booklet provides remarks on the facilities for each camping spot. So you can search for your type of camping spot.
The camping spots at private people or organisations are just as good. Often they have more facilities. You can use the toilet and the shower of the owner. Sometimes they request to write something in the guestbook and sometimes they offer a cup of coffee or tea.
All camping spots in the booklet are cheap. Often for free. Sometimes a small contribution is requested to cover the costs. (Kr 30,- max.).
If you want to use these camp sites, than the booklet is a must-have. Despite it is written in Danish – with a short summary in English – you can know what to expect.
In the booklet, there is a map where all the places are marked with a number. At the numbers in the booklet there is a description of the camping spot, how to find it and the symbols for the facities you can expect there.
Keep the following aspects in mind when using the booklet:
- The description begins with an address. This is NOT the address of the camping spot, but the address of the owner of the camping spot.
- If it says ring i forvejen, then it is appreciated you call first. Sometimes the time is indicated.
GPS owners have it easy here. The GPS coordinates are given. In case you have a smartphone with internet in Denmark, you can use the handy app “Shelter”. For more info, go to http://shelterapp.dk or download the app through Google play or the Apple App Store (unfortunately only in the Danish App Store).
Note: Check before you leave for mutations like new places or places that are no longer available. Go to Naturstyrelsen for more information.
If you want some more luxury, there are 'normal' campsites in Denmark and according to the Danish camping-council, it is not more the twenty kilometers to the next campsites. In most cases the campsits are very luxurious. This goes for all scandinavian campsites: there are apart from very nice sanitation facitities, cooking end eating facities and bad-weather-facilities like a livingroom of sorts.
Danish campsites are generaly expensive, and to be able to stay there, you sometimes need a camping card as well. The Camping Key Europe card costs 110 DKK. You can buy it at the first campsite or at the local tourist office. This card is valid on all European campsites.
If you stay for only one night on a campsite, you could ask for a transit-card. It costs 35 DKK and is only valid in Denmark (I have no experience with this card).
A lot af those campsites are very large. Sometimes it could be called a resort. If you look for smaller campsites, then you could try the internet or your local autoclub for a guide.