The problem with wild camping in Portugal

in News · 07-08-2020 01:00:00 · 50 Comments


Portugal, and especially the Algarve, has always been a popular destination for backpackers, campers and road trippers from all over the world and although there are many campsites throughout the country, campers are increasingly being enticed by beaches and nature reserves as their go-to campsites.

Admittedly, designated camping areas are not as beautiful as the beaches, they certainly don’t have the same view or feel of being in the wild, however, spending the night in nature “wild camping” is illegal across Portugal.

Residents in the Algarve are becoming increasingly upset with the situation regarding wild camping, as they are watching their favourite spots, beaches and views not only ruined by big boxy caravans, but also littered, burnt and destroyed in some cases.

The Portugal News spoke to residents near Praia da Ingrina, a beach that is part of the Costa Vicentina Natural Park in the southwest of the Algarve, where the issue of wild camping is very apparent.

The residents, who prefer to remain anonymous, pointed out the repercussions that nature and the locals suffer caused by the illegal camping. According to them, during the height of the pandemic, when tourism experienced a massive slow down, no campers showed up at the beaches which resulted in wildlife returning to the area.

Apart from the loss of wildlife, these wild campers create a number of other issues, including the litter they leave behind, which varies from plastic that ends up in the ocean, to used toilet paper that can be found all over the natural park.

Cleaning out the waste tank, which most of these campervans have, is not a pleasant procedure and there is evidence of campers defecating in the wild and leaving behind all the used toilet paper and a noticeable odour.

Anyone visiting these areas is now not only met with the smell of faeces, but also has to watch their step and fight off the flies that come as a result of this behaviour.

Walking around these areas, it becomes apparent that, though unpleasant, this is not even the biggest problem. Wild camping is a romantic idea in theory, and what is camping in nature without a little campfire? All too often you can see self-built fire pits in the middle of the dry shrubs and bushes of the natural park.

The residents, increasingly worried for their safety and the safety of their homes, told The Portugal News that they have contacted the police and responsible authorities several times, but were mostly dismissed. They decided to take matters into their own hands and designed and printed flyers for the campers in Praia da Ingrina with information and guidelines about wild camping in Portugal as well as directions to the nearest legal campsite, which is less that a kilometre from the beach.

When distributing these flyers and asking the campers politely to leave the natural park, the residents told The Portugal News that the travellers often reacted aggressively and even went as far as physically attacking them and spitting on them in the middle of the pandemic.

Wild caravanning or camping in the Algarve is a punishable offence and can lead to the payment of fines ranging between €200 and €2,000 in the case of minor offences, or between €400 and €4,000 in the case of negligence or fraud.

In the eyes of the residents the police are being too lenient when it comes to the enforcement of these laws. They feel that all too often the authorities only tell the campers to leave the area and send fines to their addresses in foreign countries, which end up never being paid.

“From an economic point of view, these kinds of tourists spend very little money in the country and are therefore not as helpful or essential to Portuguese business owners as the regular tourist,” said the local resident. Owners of establishments on the beach or in areas where wild camping is a problem report that the campers come into their restaurant only to use the toilet during the day, but then go back to their caravan to cook the tinned food they brought from their country of origin in order to save money.

The Portugal News contacted the authorities to ask if they are aware of the situation and how they have been dealing with it.
Firstly, the GNR station in Vila do Bispo referred us to the GNR in Portimão in order to get a statement on this topic. When contacted, the Portimão authorities said that they “do not know anything concerning the reports” and transferred the call to the environmental department, who also were unable to provide further information.

Finally the Communication and Public Relations Officer for the Territorial Command of Faro told The Portugal News that the “GNR supervises the area but nothing more is being done by the authorities.” According to the same source, the authorities are aware of the reports that have been made by the residents and when the GNR goes out to the areas in question, the “people just leave and move to another place and camp in another area.”

The Civil Protection of Vila do Bispo is aware of the wild camping situation and added that, “it is a constant effort to fight against this” with the authorities attempting to control the situation since March. According to the same source, Praia da Ingrina is not the only area where this problem exists. Praia das Furnas is also a problematic area and Civil Protection has been jointly working with GNR and Maritime Authorities from Lagos. The source added that these people are not tourists that spend a week or two in the area but stay there for months, creating environmental problems such as the risk of forest fires caused by the use of gas devices to cook, for example.

When asked what the authorities are doing besides supervising the area and telling campers that they should not be there, Civil Protection told The Portugal News, that the authorities are putting signs in the area which inform that it is forbidden to park motorhomes in that area. Praia da Barriga and Praia do Zavial already have these signs. The source also admitted that even though both situations can be dangerous to the environment, the authorities prefer that the wild campers stay in the beach areas instead of forest areas due to the risk of a forest fire being lower next to beach areas when compared to forest areas.


This "reporting" is a series of contradicting speculation. The Portugal News appears to care more about generating controversy and clickbait rather than researching a story and gathering factual information before reporting.

I live in a town in the North of Portugal that has an Ecovia. I pick up litter on this path every week. Each weekend, an influx of Portuguese tourists (source of inductive reasoning: the language they are speaking, license plates, lockdown restrictions) come to enjoy the path and leave behind their feces with toilet paper directly on the edge of the path with no attempt to walk away from the river or dig a cat hole. They also throw their cigarette butts directly onto the path right next to the water (poisoning the soil and water). Of course they also leave food wrappers, plastic bottles, and cigarette packs. There appears to be a lack of knowledge about Leave No Trace principles. There is no signage on or near the trail about packing out toilet paper and trash or about the location of public toilets off-trail. There is no oversight at all.

Littering and destruction of natural habitats IS happening and its a serious issue, but it's not about being a foreign versus a local tourist. The problem is a lack of education and a lack of infrastructure. I find it laughable that this article points the blame at foreign tourists. Of course, the heart of this article is about money, specifically generating as much money as possible from international tourists through hotel stays and restaurant visits. If it were really about the environment, it would focus on the infrastructure needed to make ecotourism viable.

By Michele from Other on 31-05-2021 09:08

2/There are however bound to be some bad apples.

To some of the other points. Too many to cover them all.

I have not travelled all the way from the UK on one tank of fuel.
I do not stack my van full of tins, to not spend money in other countries. Where is your evidence to back up this ridiculous claim? Is the writer of the above article on drugs?
In fact; just in one establishment alone I spent over €400, over €100 in another; in Portugal on my last trip.
Then there is the money spent on dining; fuel; food; drink; local attractions; souvenirs, gifts. Etc

As a side note; I would particularly recommend dining out in Italy. (Agrityrismo Casa clelia, Near Sotto II Monto Giovanni XXIII .The food is grown / reared on site and you can stay free in your campervan, with stunning surroundings. Best meal my wife and I have ever had, and excellent chef, but I digress…

You make claims that would involve the residents stalking camper vans owners or access to GNR be true.
You claim that local establishment owners complain that campers come in to use the toilet during the day?
What do these camper van & motor owners do when they enter said premises? Do they walk in swinging their keys above their head shouting I own a camper van?
Do the establishment owners then leave their customers, to do an inventory of camper van cupboards to see the county of origin of claimed tins.

Oh, and if someone spat in my face or assaulted me, and they clearly had not left, then they would still be there when the GNR shows up to arrest them.

When camper vans and motorhomes are banned, and the problems still remain, who will you blame then?
Visitors from outer space?
I Feel embarrassed for Portugal News that this got past any editor.

By Enrol from UK on 17-02-2021 08:05

What a disgrace! Is this what you call journalism?
I have travelled in over 20 countries in a camper van, Portugal being one of them.
When not travelling, I’m one of those people who arrive when you dial 999 (Emergency Services for non Brits)
People are people. You have litter bugs and dirty inconsiderate lazy people in ALL walks of life.
This article is so full of holes and logic that anyone who is not hard of thinking will spot them a mile off.
It contradicts itself so many times it’s laughable. It’s aim is to demonise and set society against one particular group. Those who choose freedom.
Shame on you.
I sense that sad people resent others, and try to build a ficticious stereotype that they can hate and blame.
I have yet to witness any camper van or motorhome dumping rubbish or their toilet into anything other than a facillity.
In fact, if you have ever emptied a toilet cassette, you will not be able to recognise any toilet paper.
The whole lot becomes a mush.
If you can recognise toilet paper it was left by somebody who doesn’t have their own toilet facilities.
Just as most people when in their house, don’t take a crap in their garden.

You see, some campers, will spend a few days wilding, then head to an established campsite or Aire, Stellplatz; etc; spend a night or two, empty their toilet, empty their grey water and fill up with fresh drinking water. Others will stay on established campsites for their entire trip.

I have met people from all walks of life, from many countries. They respect their surroundings more than most. Occasionally I have witnessed other camper van owners; and have also myself picked up litter left by day trippers. Lest we get the blame. A lot of campers accommodate a bin.

By Enrol from UK on 17-02-2021 08:02

Having lived in the algarve in a van or staying at parents for the past 3 years and never EVER having littered I can safely and most assuredly say this is because the locals are completely unfriendly if you're not giving money to the economy and because they lump all of us nomads together. Yes some people come and leave poop and paper and bin bags and fire pits but that makes us ( the majority of campers) just as mad or even more so than the locals. I say this because the locals just visit the wild, but us nomads live in it. Nature is our home, and to see it disrespected by some yobs who think its OK to leave poo and the rest lying around is just plain horrible. I can say that I've spent many hours combing the nature and picking up trash. The other thing to note is the amount of trash left by locals. Fishermen who have a gathering leave enormous amounts of beercans and wrappings. So before you pick on others simply because they choose to live a free lifestyle outside the system and use the excuse of littering, check your own people first

By Harry from Algarve on 15-02-2021 01:33

oh wow... "The problem with this "news" article..."... where to start?

it's not generalizing at all, is it? All these campers are bad people, ruining nature, and leaving their sh*t behind right after spitting into the faces of poor local people.

Jesus, most of them are young families or elderly couples, respecting nature as much as others.

Why is this article on focusing on the really bad 5%?
I've seen this attitude way too many times and in way too many countries.

The real big problem with wild camping is, that it's for FREE. It's for everyone. And that hurts. It hurts much more than littering.

People living in these beautiful places are simple jealous that some "hippies" can just come, park their vans there, and enjoy the same views, for free. They don't need to be rich, they don't have to be privileged, just come and live there.

That's what causing the real pain here, let's be honest.

Australia, USA, Portugal.. you name it... it's the same story.

Jelousy is the biggest problem here, not the toilet paper left behind*.

*95% of the campers are not leaving trash behind I know this by experience. And I'm sure the issues caused by the 5 percenters could be fixed.
The article is not looking for problem solving, it's looking for a "ban" so they can get back "their" beach... Disgusting.

By Adam from UK on 10-01-2021 07:44

Ok, lets get this issue in perspective here.
I first came to Portugal 32 years ago in my motorhome, travelling all over.There are a few points which seem to annoy people in the comments section as well as the article. One beach we went to - (we being wife and 2 small kids), called Ilya do Pesseguero in the Alentejo, just above the Algarve, was covered in toilet paper and human waste. also fire pits everyhere. This " environmental dammage" was from Portugese people, local, or down from Lisboa. The same on different beaches on the west coast of the Algarve AND this was 32 years ago!
Eveyone knows that the Portugese unload the barbie from the back of the car as soon as they park, still leaving litter and being a fire risk.
Motorhomers generally are clean livers, picking up rubbish and cleaning the beaches of tideline plastic. Yes we do cook outside but responsively.
As for not supporting the local economy - well the article just contradicts itself. How can someone "live there" for 3-4 months without buying food? Villa do Bishpo LIDL has a sign saying campervans welcome, and overnight stays are welcome, because they know people will come for hot bread and other items for breakfast in the morning. Also how do motorhomes or campers get to Portugal? They drive - buying fuel. We can now do our laundry at supermarkets also - this isnt a free service is it?
This is a classic example of good old British nimbyism and needs to be stamped out. Personally, we rarely visit the Algarve anymore because of persecution (Im actually disabled and have been evicted from an Algarve beach at midnight, despite showing my international blue badge.) Our area of choice in Portugal is now the Alentejo, where the scenery is better.

By ROBB CLAYDON from UK on 31-12-2020 04:03

Portugal is beautiful and the people welcoming. My child was born there whilst travelling, Provide and the people will abide. The general lack of provisions is what makes portugal a go to spot for self contained vehicle travelers. Persecute through self servint bickering is what brings about hatred. Whilst parking up for dinner in our "home", an old potuguese woman in her 70,s walked around to the front of the van and proceeded to crap in the road whilst leaning on the bumper. Of course she didnt see us at first. We just closed the curtain. Another time, whilst parked in a group, evening time had the lical skag heads driving to the same locations to jack up. Frankly i pick up litter nowadays . As far as the culpruts, i blame the parents of the some of the youth. Well done for pointing out a worldwide litter problem but Dont tar everybody as you know your biased and wrong, shame on this article

By from UK on 18-12-2020 06:25

Good article! i've been using new ways of accomodation when going camping around Portugal to avoid coming accross too many motorhomes. I'd advise you to use platforms like Homecamper to go camping at people's gardens directly, it will give nature some rest and you'll meet amazing people!

By Alex from Porto on 03-12-2020 11:45

Thank you for the article. When I read the comments the problem will be never solved because the humans are egoistic and are only looking for there own profit. The humans who live here spent a lot of time and money to live in this lovely area. And most of them were choosing the area between Burgau and Sines because of the Nature Park. But where is the nature park when you take a walk and you see only cars in the middle of nature. Ingrina is an good example!
During the lockdown it was a paradise !
It is understandable that more and more people like to VISIT Portugal. But the Tourist is a visitor, he enjoys the the nature and he leaves to an apartment or a camping where he lives during there holidays .
But there are more and more people who like to live near the beach .
In the nature park is not enough space for these amount of people.
It’s also unbelievable how many buildings are still in process near the beach. See Salema , Sagres and Burgau.
We live in an area in a very quiet village. The traffic to the beach is incredible.
And we don’t want forget the completely uncontrolled rising surf tourism.
Ericeira area is already suffering a lot. Do they like to do the same with the Algarve?

By Stephen from Algarve on 18-10-2020 12:18

@Billy Bisset: you're probably an ugly, uneducated and unpleasant sub-human anyway so who cares about your opinion? :)

By pamej from Other on 25-08-2020 09:51

Just a few points on the responses since my previous comment.
Locals are locals (expat or not) as they all pay in full for the local amenities.
How can you be "at one with nature" whilst living for days in a polluting metal box and blighting the location for others?
Expensive vehicles with luxury appointments and ability to stay "off the grid" do not make it legal to stay in just any location.
Usual slovenly arguments - calling anyone who disagrees with you a "fascist" or "racist".
If there are no suitable facilities then continue your campaign with the authorities but , in the meantime, do not inflict your undesirable stays on others.
If other countries have better facilities - then restrict your travels to those countries which cater for your needs.
Local problems are "news" so expect press interest.
Well done "The Portugal News".

By Anne Oyed from UK on 12-08-2020 05:04

Excellent journalism by The Portugal News as usual! What does fascism, or any political slant, have to do with being a litterbug? Either you care about how you treat nature, or you don't. Look at smokers...the world is their ashtray. Start over-drinking, and you care even less. They should take a lesson from their pet cat, if they have one. It at least buries it's business.

By William from Other on 11-08-2020 10:57

I was going to write a letter exactly to this effect! The road leading to Ponte da Piedade in Lagos is lined on both sides with used toilet paper (and the odd used sanitary towel). Likewise, all the pathways on the cliffs, particularly close to the car park. It is like walking through one huge outdoor toilet. It is disgusting. And to those people claiming that campers are not to blame, rubbish! Who else would relieve themselves next to a road that is so busy during the day? There is toilet paper everywhere! I hope the GNR clamp down on this. I never understood why camping on the roadside wasn’t allowed before but now I get it. Judging by the amount of detritus, it’s not only a small minority that is guilty of it. I don’t understand why people cannot take their rubbish with them (use a small plastic bag). You’d think that campers would appreciate nature but for a vast majority that is certainly not the case. I emailed Lagos town hall and included a video illustrating what I was complaining about but have not had a response.

By Sean from Algarve on 11-08-2020 08:48

There is a lot of confusion over the legality of parking motorhomes and/or camping. As far as I understand from asking GNR officials and government officials what they call 'camping' is illegal which includes having a tent, tables, chairs etc outside your vehicle. Parking and being inside your vehicle either asleep or awake is perfectly legal as long as you are parked legally in a legal vehicle. Please do correct me if I'm wrong but that is how I understand the law after 10 years living partly in Portugal. All the other issues raised seem to be picking on one group of people for something that a minority of ALL visitors to public places visit are guilty of. It's very sad to see this facist attitude rear it's ugly head here in Portugal where they got rid of facism in 1974, mainly it seems to me from expats. Some of the comments in favour of this article are particularly troubling as they seem to be rather hateful and stick of the prejudiced comments you often see about Gypsies, Travellers and Roma people. My personal opinion is golf complexes and housing estates built to serve mostly the expat community are far uglier than any campervan! Maybe here in Portugal which is a republic after all the expats should adopt a live and let live attitude like most of the Portuguese have.

By Sami from Algarve on 10-08-2020 05:42

This article lacks credibility as a journalistic piece. It appears to be based on comment from one angry individual, is one sided, inaccurate and the claims it makes are not referenced or sourced.

For example; it says that "...spending the night in nature “wild camping” is illegal across Portugal..."

My first question would be - says who? I have a document from a senior Portuguese police officer which states that it is in fact illegal for overnight parking to be outlawed anywhere in Portugal, and unlike your "article" (which rather seems to be a biased rant) this document quotes relevant decrees which back up what it says.

Perhaps you can provide the relevant decrees, (numbers and years they were enacted) which support your claims in this article?

Likewise your piece states that "...Wild caravanning or camping in the Algarve is a punishable offence and can lead to the payment of fines ranging between €200 and €2,000 in the case of minor offences, or between €400 and €4,000 in the case of negligence or fraud..."

Again, under what law? What is the decree number and year which states this to be fact, as I have never seen it, and have never been shown anything of this nature by any "official" when I have requested anything to this effect whenever I’ve been asked to move on.

If you do some proper research you will discover that in fact it is not illegal to park overnight anywhere in Portugal, even in a Natural Park, so long as one is parked 50m back from the high water mark at a beach parking and so long as one does not have camping equipment left outside the vehicle.

The only "law" referred to within Portugal relating to parking in a natural park area is in fact an EU regulation concerning environmental issues, NOT a local Portuguese regulation.

Of course there will always be a small minority among any segment of the public which act in a way which spoils things for the vast majority, but fair minded people will not tarnish all with the same brush based on one bad story here or there.

I find it interesting that the camper van/ travelling people commenting here are more than happy to share their names and go "on the record" whereas what appears to be one disgruntled local source of yours, who appears to have had a bad experience, very much in the minority, is not.

Like other campers commenting here I often spend time picking up litter and waste left by other people at some of the beautiful natural spots in this beautiful country. I have been to all the beaches mentioned in this article and have never emptied a waste tank on the ground (I mean who would do such a thing?!?) or dumped litter or anything else anywhere.

I find it incredible that local planning officials in natural park areas, whether it be in the Algarve or anywhere else, can give permission for whole apartment blocks, restaurants, cafes, toilets, rubbish bins, roads (with gutters for rain run off straight into the streams which run onto the beaches), concrete paving, housing, hotels, car parks etc etc to be built in an area of outstanding natural beauty, but don't seem to want campers in these areas, even though their impact would be negligible by comparison.

Could this perhaps be due to the financial gains which they receive from those planning these types of developments?

Such developments all have way more impact and cause significantly more damage to the environment than a few people (with a very small footprint) parking overnight here and there. And yet a minority of people who have possibly paid over the odds to live in such an area complain if they see a camper parked near "their" beach. This is plainly ridiculous, as any credible assessment of the relative environmental impacts of these two types of accommodation would no doubt show.

May I suggest "The Portuguese News" commissions such an Impact Assessment from an independent environmental consultant and publishes the results for all to see, rather than spreading what is in effect malicious gossip and hearsay such as we find in this trashy piece of gutter press style writing, none of which would ever stand in any legal proceedings should the matter ever be tried in a court of law.

Finally, for the record, "Freedom" is a "Liberty" and so is classed as a fundamental, inalienable, natural right under law. You will find it listed as a RIGHT in:
1. The UN's Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948, - link: - and see how this applies within the EU here:
2. In the EU European Convention on Human Rights - link:
3.In the Constitution of any Nation credibly claiming to be free and democratic, including Portugal - see for example Article 27 of the Portuguese Constitution here:

I recommend that every one studies what their inalienable human rights are and claims them whenever they are challenged.

This knowledge has helped me several times over the years on the rare occassions that I have been confronted by an intimidating, over zealous peace officer claiming I needed to “move on”. You might be surprised how their attitudes change when you ask them some basic questions about the law and our rights and get their name, badge number and registration of their vehicle. Most bullies rely on fear through ignorance to intimidate others, but some simple questions and claims of right can easily stop this type of behavour.

The declarations I refer to above have been made at international and national levels and are therefore superior in law to any local decree made within a nation state. And, National Constitutions take president over individual decrees. A study of basic law suggests that we are all free to go, park and do whatever we like so long as in doing so we do not cause injury or harm to others, damage or loss to their property or commit fraud against them. If we do commit such offenses then we deserve to be punished, and if any camper-vanning individual or any other individual for that matter, if they are a "citizen" from any walk of life, commits such offenses then they can have their associated citizen’s privileges taken away. But first there needs to be credible allegations made, a trial held, evidence submitted and reviewed, and a verdict arrived at by those with the proper authority following due process, rather than a smear piece quoting from the "angry mob" in a trashy on line paper.

Come on TPN, you can do way better than this! Let's see some proper journalism on the subject, rather than this unsubstantiated piece, which to me appears to be just like the garbage, claimed here (without evidence), to be left by wild campers.

By Litmus from Other on 09-08-2020 06:05

The people that complain are probaly just bored and jealous of the freelife we live,i always clean around,when i walk on beach or nature,much respect for nature! So dont generalize us camperlivers,we are more in touch with life,than those appment/house people,with all ther chemicals, fancy cremes and polluting the environment,with zero awareness.

By Ma from Algarve on 09-08-2020 03:23

I wonder where car owners poop when on the day out at the beach then?
But hey you see one person walking around with toilet paper so they must be campers...
You crazy bunch are getting really sad!

By Cecile Gy from Alentejo on 09-08-2020 08:43

I've been both a full time van dweller and now land/property/business owner. I'd say about 90% of the van community (especially the "crusty hippies") love nature and respect it. Of course there's a bad element just as there are in every aspect of society. I hate to see the toilet paper and poo everywhere but making something illegal because of a few bad people is lazy justice. There are better alternatives. Look at Sweden's right to roam. Look at France's Great Aires network where almost every town has a camper parking spot (often free) with toilet emptying facilities etc.
There is only one campsite on the whole of the west Algarve and it's 4 minutes walk from my house. (Hundreds of people crammed into a fenced area, it looks like a prison camp.
In contrast in woolacombe (Devon UK) there are probable 30 small campsites around just one small town the size of Aljezur. In comparison there is almost zero facilities for what is a very popular and valisd form of holiday/lifestyle. They bring a lot of income to the area so why not invest a little in toilets, designated hard standing, bins and educational signs. Also fines for people caught doing something destructive NOT criminalising amyone who happens to stop for a couple of nights in a campervan to enjoy this beautiful country!

By Nathaniel from Algarve on 09-08-2020 07:26

There is an easy solution in the model of France or Spain. Provide decent aires. No caravans or campers without on board facilities allowed. Automated barrier systems. Supply of water. Average cost about 8 euros per night. Maximum length of stay. I am a motorhomer and do not condone in any way litter or using the environment as a toilet. BUT the facilities of Motorhomers - who provide much needed income to local villages and town particularly in winter - in the area are appalling. Just look at the mess of the municipal site in Lagos. We took one look at that and headed off to one of the few managed aires in the area at armacao de pera.

By Caroline Page from Algarve on 09-08-2020 06:05

Poor article. I'm a campervanman for 2 decades and never put rubish in the woods.
Problem is campervaning is on, and companies like Indie campers and others increase 500% their income with pandemic, renting vans to people who shouldnt leave their couches.
Dear authorities please regulate this shitty companies of vanrenting pleeeeaaaassseeee..

By Nandini from Porto on 08-08-2020 09:40

I dont own a camper but i do travel by car thru Portugal and Europe and most of the time i sleep in my car or tent due to lack of funds as i concider myself a civillized person i do not litter and always try to use public or gas station toilet facilities but sometimes i do choose to relieve in nature because the lack of hygiene in some facilities and try to minimise the damage as possible, the problem i see is not the campers but people with lack of respect and the mindset of people just because they dont live i a certain place they just dont care about their behavior, i am all for harsh penalties for that kind of behavior but it is ridiculous that this article puts everybody in the same group, i know a lot of people that have a rough look but they all respect nature and other people and they travel in old beated campers all over Europe, what i am saying is that looks dont matter. Stop the stereotype nonsense. Just because we are not swiming in rivers of money does not mean we do not have the right to enjoy life and travel the world.

By Paulo from Lisbon on 08-08-2020 05:48

One cannot generalize however we all see heaps of rusty rubbish called camping cars coming from certain north European countries which should have been broken up years ago. Their owners only bring a big negative to Portugal but then no official body seems to care.
Most of the camping caravaners respect the environment so those who don't should be sought out and exported back from where they came with heavy ,on the spot fines or vehicles confiscated .
All of these people would never dare to commit such offences in their own country but then permit themselves anything once abroad.,
The onus is on the government to take this seriously and give the message that Portugal is not a cheap tourist destination which means an efficient policing of the beautiful tourist areas.

By Jeremy from Algarve on 08-08-2020 04:58

Quite simply if anyone does something which is illegal they should be punished in accordance with the law. People should not disregard the law simply because they don't like it.

By Terry from Algarve on 08-08-2020 03:45

Yes it's TRUE caravans and motor homes are ugly ,but they do move on unlike the half built ticky tacky little boxes that blight the coast, I walk all over spain and portugal and have seen little rubbish associated with campers , negligible compared to the builders waste, TV sets ,toilets ,sofas . As for poop stained bog roll and wet wipes , it is always located in places known for assignation of a particular nature.

By John Kilburn from Lisbon on 08-08-2020 12:09

Damm I didnt know Portugal was this racist against tourist.
As a North European living in this country that I like and where I camp in a lot I would like to share my thoughts and feelings about this issue. We just came back from our 3 day trip in the Arrabida park. The first night we where about to go camp on a campsite wich was not advised by any one we met on the way. After seeing pictures of the facilities we decided to not walk 3 more hours but put our tent in a field. We do prefer to release or feicies between bush and sheep over a toilet with the ones of someone else. So the onlything you will find there is one little shit from my girlfriend which will be decomposed in less then 2 weeks. For all the wildlife and plants to feed on.
Our second day we travelled to a camping site which was nice, good hygene and a nice spot near the river. There was a nice cafe wich luckaly served pizza and panini becaise otherwise we would be craving for anything.( yes campers do spend money on locals bars and restaurants)
Thank you for the amazing stay eco camping Outao! Then for bringing food, as a person with Dutch natinality I can say it is cheaper to buy food here then bring anything from a country more northern then Portugal. Also discovering local food is a habit of most campers because we are out for an adventure so if any camping owners read this please start cooking for your guests what you would at home and I promise you your camping will trive because Portugal is loosing its identity to attract to many tourists by putting a stand near Sagres ' last bratwurst fur America'. ( please go there and sell your bifanas or pastas de nata cause that is what your tourists would prefer!).
About trash, everytime when we walk I will have my garbage back tied to my belt so I can pick up all the trash we make which is most definantly less then what other people trow out of their cars on a simple daily bases. We witness more and more plastic in nature but every time I come across a parking lot with campers it is more clean then the road to it where we see people trow their garbage out of their cars.
I think this article is very one sided and the writer clearly has her mind set. If you want to investigate behavior of the people who are trying to enjoy ( and definatly our goal to make your country more clean and safe) I advice to let this be looked at by someone who has at least a neutral perspective on owners of a vehicle.
I cant say all but most campers clearly live closer to nature then the writer of this article. I as a nature lover entrust myself with the scaresety of natural surroundings but will do all in my power to leave it clean and without useage of any fire.

I do agree that a parking area should be used mostly for parking and not to create a specific campsite. But I think GNR or as in Sintra where the army is patrolling are very capable of seeing if harm is done or not.

For any type of violence please contact your local authorities as it is clearly not done for any tourist to start a hostile situation in a country where we are guests to. Violence is never an answer.

At the end, I believe some campers dont respect local authority or nature but as some tourists who are staying in complexes and hotels near the cities who are getting drunk all their stay peeing and shitting in the street, naked, attacking locals or worse.
To think that making a stereotype of people who in general enjoy life in a different way then you is almost like racism. In the Netherlands we habe a saying that goes ' Je moet niet alles over een kamp scheren.' Which means not everyone is the same so dont accuse everyone who applies to a group of the same issue you have with some.
So please inform if this is only an economical issue because otherwise this article is pretty offensive.

By Sander from Lisbon on 08-08-2020 10:49

There are laws in place that prohibit motorhomes or motorhome-like vehicles to even park on beaches this year due to covid-19. So this is an enforcement issue, not lack of laws.
It is important to differentiate between motorhomes, campers and vans. Motorhomes are small apartments with all the amenities and can stay off-grid for a few days (until they run out of water or fill up their grey water tanks.. or.. toilet? Many have multiple toilets.. toss one in storage and you can stay for another few days off the grid). Campers typically have a potty and some kind of running water, gas is mostly through gas cans or bottles. Portable toilets cost around 100eur, but admittedly you wouldn't be defecating in front of someone else in a small van, so it is more or less a given that those VW Transporter-sized commercial vans do not have toilets. Without toilets where can they do their necessities? These commercial vans do not qualify as motorhomes, hence they are outside of the scope of the laws that try to limit savage camping behaviour.. yet they are the main vehicles of choice for #vanlife

Furthermore, in Portugal It IS illegal to "camp" outside of designated camping areas. This means anyone that puts their tables, chairs or so much as even opens their awning, is technically camping thus infringing the law and can be fined. Like someone posted above, 3 or 4 motorhomes in a circle is an easy way to get fined. You can't do that anywhere... if you want to camp find a deserted place or go to a campsite. However, it is NOT illegal to sleep in your car/van/motorhome provided it is in an authorised place (even beach parkings were authorised places before covid19, and will return to being authorised once the bathing season ends).

Government needs to address the shortage of motorhome/campervan service areas for the more than 100K motorhomes that come into Portugal every year. Without these, not even motorhomes can stay off the grid for long. Typical example is that between Aljezur and Sagres, the only area you have to empty waters and toilet is in the Intermarché gas pump in Sagres. So if you are, lets say, near Amado (which has been turned into a huge camp site), you need to drive 30m each way to fill up water and empty waste. What do most end up doing?

We also have a camping site lobby in Portugal that is trying to ban all motorhomes and camper vans from sleeping outside of their sites (that couldn't possibly handle 100K motorhomes/year), but as usual in this society, the lobbies are winning and when the time comes to enforce the laws, it is the local motorhome owners that are being fined by the police. Read that again, LOCAL Motorhome owners. Not the most obvious infractor which are commercial vans without any basic living conditions.

A natural reserve is not an authorised place and I agree with some of the above that
serious fines and confiscations need to start happening to the repetitive offenders. There is no point in sending a fine to someone without a permanent address is there?

Also find it hilarious how some posters immediately associate motorhome travel with people being skint. How many poor people do you know that can afford 30k€+ second vehicles? Some of them even over 300,000€ (the french Concordes) when new? New camper vans (not motorhomes) cost north of 50K+ and also have similar amenities to motorhomes, some of these campers cost over 100K+. Travelling this way is an option and not a necessity and frankly find it mind boggling that you would associate this type of traveller with someone that litters nature. Isn't one of the main purposes of buying a motorhome the fact that you can be one with nature, anywhere?

The issue is the savages, and they exist in every class, from rich to poor.

By Trish from Other on 08-08-2020 10:23

We're experiencing the same abuse of the countryside here in Scotland. It's truly disgusting the things these people are leaving behind for those of us that live here to clean up. Terribly 'entitled' attitudes from many, too.

By Gary Sutherland from UK on 08-08-2020 10:08

Brilliant article - thanks to the Portugal News for bringing this problem to everyone’s attention. I know some campers are very respectful of the land but for the few who are not - they have ruined it for everyone else. The fact is: it is illegal to wild camp, it has gone to Parliament and the Portuguese authorities have banned illegal camping. End of.
If you are not paying to spend the night somewhere - you are illegally camping. Nine times out of ten, you are on private land - would you would like campers in your garden, shitting in front of you, lighting fires and making a racket, you cannot in good conscience think it’s ok to do this.
To the French couple with 2 children, you need to get to social services asap - look after your children properly. You shouldn’t be holidaying in the’s very irresponsible.
If you carry on like this campers, you will ruin it forever because eventually enough will be enough and the authorities will find a way to stop it completely - starting with ‘on the spot’ fines as they do in Spain, they are already considering clamping vehicles and if you can’t pay, your vehicle will be crushed or they will stop you at the border and if you haven’t booked into a campsite you won’t be allowed in. Simple as that.

By Lesley from Algarve on 08-08-2020 09:52

We have been coming to the Algarve for years and always use official sites and Motorhome stops....and theres no reason not to as they are extremely cheap in many cases...but do not confuse proper responsible Motorhomers with the population of New Age travellers....Hippies.....Drop Outs....that are so prevalent in the region and expect everything for nothing and dont care about what people think....... Fred Hodges complained of folk in their"luxurious expensive Motorhomes"....well yes i have one and it comes with toilets and tanks for keeping waste until it can be disposed of correctly..

By Garry Walden from UK on 08-08-2020 07:39

This awful piece is front page news? This should be marked as an opinion piece and not be portrayed as a piece of factual journalism as it is full of biased opinion and fake news. Portugal is a republic where everyone has the freedom to live their lives free from prejudices. I would go so far as saying the piece is inciting hatred towards campervanners, motorhomers, new travellers and vanlifers. The majority of issues with litter, particularly toilet paper and human waste is made by people in cars, shouldn't we really be asking why there are no public toilets in these publicly funded places? Biased reporting leads to people creating false stereotypes.

By Sam from Algarve on 07-08-2020 11:29

When you refer to 'locals' in your article are these Portuguese locals or expat locals, just a thought. We have wilded camp quite a few times all over Portugal and never had a problem with the Portuguese locals.

By John Welton from Algarve on 07-08-2020 06:47

It's everywhere, just like a cold often opens up for parasite infection Covid-19 left the door open for a group of parasite opportunists.

By Fernando from Algarve on 07-08-2020 06:32

I would like to write Perhaps a more worded article in Response to this ‘news’
An Article would be helpful.??
With a little less emotional response. Not Based on people seeing other people with toliet paper:)
And A very angry big British man (in villa do Bispo)putting stickers on the windscreen of an exhausted French family threatening to burn them and there two under 4yold children alive for having the audacity to sleep when they needed to in a safe and quiet environment.
No Doubt the billy bissets of this world will be saying the same thing in Mauritania In 70yrs in once the campervaning Surfers and pioneers make it safe for him to get fat drink by the pool and watch the grotesque overdevelopment of what once a beautiful place quiet place to park up amongst like minded very respectful interesting individuals..

By Luc from Other on 07-08-2020 04:15

Marvelous article and so true in every respect - particularly regarding the attitudes of the campers. This has been going on for years and will only be solved by drastic action. I complained many times during my residency but the problem persists. Bottom line as stated in the article :- "Wild caravanning or camping in the Algarve is a punishable offence....". Keep campaigning. A luta continua!

By Anne Oyed from UK on 07-08-2020 03:49

Reportagem Tendenciosa, como se todos caravanistas comessem enlatados e não utilizassem o comércio local , como se todos defecassem em lugares públicos, estar em meio a natureza é muito diferente a estar em um parque de campismo projectado, cimentado e sem a real experiência de envolvimento junto ao natural, criem regras, disponibilizem pontos de descarga das aguas servidas, etc...

By Eduardo from Lisbon on 07-08-2020 02:53

Billy Bissett makes the most sense of all the comments....

By William from Other on 07-08-2020 01:46

Poor article! Too many small-minded fascists living in the Algarve these days with very little going on in their own lives so they spend their time on social media complaining about other people who are enjoying life. Portugal used to be an open-minded accepting society which was part of the attraction of coming here. The people in campers have far more respect for the environment than any of the people complaining about them. What a sad reflection of the fractious society we now live in.

By Johnny Jon Jon from Algarve on 07-08-2020 01:33

Hey campers and members of Portuguese government and local authorities; as so often, the persons designing the rules and actions to ensure realistic control of using the National Park's space by all of us, are not regularly in the area, in all seasons. That creates impossible-to-control rules.
Look to how USA and UK succeeds to protect it's nature by for instance the "thread lightly'rule and greenlaning concept for people wanting to cross nature areas in campers and off-road vehicles: a way to let people use NP space while making all aware that is only allowed if meeting the rules of those concepts, which can be read on signs, in governments publications.

What you will see that the visitors themselves become the ambassadors of keeping the parks as they are: clean (or were...).
These parks are simply too big to close them off for peopit's done over therele or control them by GNR teams of who ever, look to how its done over there.

By Robert from Other on 07-08-2020 01:24

So true. Visited Praia das Furnas a month ago and was disgusted with the state. Saw several people go behind the bushes with toilet paper - obviously not caring about the environment. The beach was filthy from the bbq's etc from the evening before, adult men were walking around naked on the parking lot in front of my kids.
Generally an aggressive atmosphere trying to intimidate "normal"people to leave "their"beach.

If they just move to another place when GNR tells them to leave, obviously the fines have to be increased and the campervans confiscated.

By Fernando from Algarve on 07-08-2020 12:57

This problem is not confined to the Algarve. Up here in Ericeira, the problem is rife and their appears to be no interest from the authorities. Campers and mobile home dwellers infest the protected areas around our beaches and use the pathways as latrines.
As a major surfing resort, we attract crowds of young people who sleep in their cars, toss their litter into the undergrowth and contribute nothing positive to the area. They're all on tight budgets, so tend to self-cater rather than use the local restaurants.
Overall, Portugal should welcome all tourists, providing they know how to behave like civilized people. Controls and boundaries are essential.

By Chris Marrington from Lisbon on 07-08-2020 12:57

What a complete load of garbage..the article not the campervans!!
Why would a 65yold with indoor plumbing poo in the woods?
What would a 30yold with two children throw rubbish around a place they have bought them to for the natural beauty and they have a bin?!
Where do people in campervans by fuel??? Where do people in campervans by food?? Where do people in campervans go for a meal out. What places do they visit?..France.???
Just because some of us don’t like being hearded like sheep in a pen to a campsite (or massive appartment complex’s) dosnt make us anything like the image portrayed.!!!
If your reporter dosnt like campervans which is very obvious perhaps you should have chosen someone to wright something that isn’t a one sided tirade without any basis in fact..
But then again brits abroad are just as narrow minded bigots as when at home..

By Luc from Other on 07-08-2020 12:56

Unfortunately Portugal attracts a growing number of weirdos, hippy-has been types, people typically from northern European countries who think they can come and live in the woods like Neanderthals, with no work or income, and using compost toilets. Typically these people are rejects from their home countries, people who reject capitalism and society, and are often hideously disfigured by tattoos and piercings. You see them in the supermarkets with their dreadlocks, torn clothes and "Lindisfarne 1979" T-shirts!

By Billy Bissett from Porto on 07-08-2020 12:18

This is not journalism.

By Chris from Algarve on 07-08-2020 12:12

Well, perhapsome of you are responsible, but most of you? Hmmmph. At the height of the season last year I went to my favorite beach and 90%of the parking area had been turned into a campground. Campers had even established "terraces" for themselves with chairs, tables etc. One German group, occupying enough space for 6-7 cars had 3 great Danes with them and the entire area smelled like dogshit. I've seen French camping cars empty their chemical WCs in the area right on the ground. You say "most of you are responsible" Prove it. Don't allow your fellow campers to despoil the woods and beaches.

By White David from Algarve on 07-08-2020 11:26

It's just that the Portuguese campsites are mostly really bad and have nothing common with nature. Open several campings on google map in Thailand and see which they supposed to be to attract people.

By SS from Porto on 07-08-2020 11:25

Been coming to Algarve for over ten years in a caravan before making a permanent move to Lagos. Official camp sites should always be used and parasites wild camping should be stopped. Local taxpayers pay to clear the rubbish, pay the water and waste bills while the parasites in their luxurious expensive motor homes get away scot free.

By Fred Hodges from Algarve on 07-08-2020 11:23

What a biased, total bullshit article. I'm on a beach parking with my motorhome, and I'm the only motorhome. The amount of litter the Portuguese beachgoers leave behind is just insane! But hey, easier to blame the motorhomes, right?!

By Fred Doe from Algarve on 07-08-2020 10:26

A totally one sided biased report. The vast majority of us are very aware, and very protective of the environment, who ensure we leave anywhere as we found it, and regularly clean up after others when we find rubbish left by day tourists in cars. Most very rarely stay anywhere more than two nights, buy locally ,and in our case usually utilise a local cafe at least once a day either for lunch or dinner. It's all part of the experience. We live here in Portugal and use our camper as a getaway on a regular basis, but face more and more restrictions and unwelcome abuse. Of course there are the very small minority who abuse the system, but is that not the same in any walk of life - do not judge us all by the same stick!

By Carry on Camping from Algarve on 07-08-2020 09:50

The GNR or whoever is policing this need to issue on the spot fines and clamp the vehicles. More Signs need To be put up with the fines and a curfew when the camper vans need to be gone by during the day. Fires are the biggest danger but also during Covid to have these people moving about and toilet paper is a dangerous situation.

By Dunx from Algarve on 07-08-2020 09:31

"Firstly, the GNR station in Vila do Bispo referred us to the GNR in Portimão in order to get a statement on this topic. When contacted, the Portimão authorities said that they “do not know anything concerning the reports” and transferred the call to the environmental department, who also were unable to provide further information."

This is a recurring theme in Portugal.Complain about music noise to the Camara,They will tell you to complain to the GNR.
Everybody passes the buck and nobody takes responsibility.

The smell of faeces and litter left by campervans is a disgrace.There must be much higher on the spot penalties introduced,including seizure of the vehicles,in order to prevent this epidemic,

By James from Algarve on 07-08-2020 07:43
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