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What are the rules for wild camping in Austria?

Mountains from a tent Photo by Kate Joie on Unsplash
Waking up in the mountains is a dream for many. (Photo by Kate Joie on Unsplash)
It’s the dream for many - wild camping in the mountains and waking up in the morning to an amazing view.

However, in many places in Austria it is forbidden to wild camp in the mountains or the forests.

Depending on where you are camping you could be either tolerated or given a hefty fine. Here’s what you need to know. 

Wild camping in the forest

Camping in the forest is prohibited everywhere in Austria by law (specifically Section 33 of the Forest Act). The only exception is when you have the consent of the landowner.

Wild camping above the tree line in the mountains

Camping above the tree line in the mountains has different rules, depending on which Austrian federal state you are in. Austria’s Alpenverien (Alpine club) also advises you to also get consent from any landowner concerned if you plan to wild camp. 

The exception to this rule is what is known as “Alpine bivouacking” or taking shelter in an emergency tent in the case of injury, bad weather or staying out later than planned and it becoming dark.

This is allowed. However, if you try to circumvent this by deliberately staying in a bivouac without any emergency reason, you could be fined up to €14,500 euros. 

The strictest rules apply in national parks, nature reserves and special protection areas across Austria, so check before you plan your camping trip that your spot is not located in one of these areas.  

Burgenland

It is forbidden to camp in Burgenland outside of officially approved camping or mobile home sites or to park caravans or mobile homes in the open countryside.

The only exceptions is if you are staying in a tent camp run by a youth organisation or as part of a public open-air event.

If this involves a group of more than ten people for more than three days, it must be reported to the district administrative authority at the latest one week before the camp.

Carinthia, Lower Austria and Tyrol

Carinthia, Lower Austria and Tyrol all prohibit camping in the open countryside outside of officially approved campsites. Lower Austria has also banned setting up or parking of mobile homes (including tents) in grassland outside of approved camping sites.

Upper Austria, Vorarlberg and Styria

In Upper Austria and Styria you are allowed to camp in the mountains above the tree line, as long as you are outside of pasture areas.

In Vorarlberg this is also permitted, although the mayor of a municipality can prohibit the setting up of tents outside approved campsites if the  interests of safety, health, agriculture or the protection of the natural balance as well as the landscape and townscape are “grossly violated”.

Salzburg

Although camping above the tree line in the Salzburg region is in theory permitted, the Alpine Association recommends groups wishing to camp should contact the nature conservation department of the responsible district administration before setting up, as campers are asked to show sensitivity in dealing with the natural surroundings.


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