Can you stay overnight anywhere you like with a camper in Spain? Strictly speaking, the answer to that question is yes. The Spanish road traffic law (Instrucción 08 / V-74) says in broad terms: you can park (and spend the night) in your car (camper) but you are not allowed to camp on public roads. The distinction between parking and camping is therefore important:
- Aparcar – To park: You may eat and sleep in your vehicle and secure your vehicle on a slope using fenders or against the curb. You may open roof hatches as long as you do not go outside the perimeter of the vehicle. Please make sure you are allowed to park at all of course. None of this applies to nature reserves where a different law applies, and you are usually not allowed to stay overnight.
- Acampar – To camp: putting chairs and tables outside; open awnings; open windows that open outwards; turning out legs; dump water and liquids; making excessive noise. In other words, showing camping behavior.
However, we must conclude that the different competences (national, autonomous regions and provinces) do not always agree with each other about that answer or, in particular, who is actually above whom in the legal hierarchy. Add to this the fact that sometimes residents and especially camping owners put pressure on the local politicians based on their own interests, and all kinds of artificial local regulations and self-designed signs quickly arise. All of this leads to a lack of clarity, false warnings, and sometimes apparently unjustified fines from misinformed enforcers.
Correct sign but pay attention to “acampar” or camp is not “parcar” or park. So, you can just park and sleep here.
Illegal sign, it is a legal vehicle and taxed. As long as you park correctly, they should not discriminate on type of vehicle.
Nature reserve sign
Local ordinances and RVs
The camper is therefore a bit of a victim of its own success and of a few motorhome owners who take these restrictions rather lightly. As a result, some places now have local ordinances banning RVs from areas and parkings. Campers are sometimes unjustly sent away, especially in the coastal areas in high season. Although you are in your right, we recommend that you do not argue and leave. The discussion is likely to take longer than to leave for an assigned parking area.
It hardly ever happens that fines are given
You may take note of all of the above and then quickly forget it, because in more than 5 years of renting out RV´s , no customer as far as we know, has been fined. The police in Spain is almost always well informed, very nice and extremely helpful.
Although it sometimes feels like an injustice having to leave, at OrsonRent we believe that there is room for everyone, but not everywhere and always. We also understand that a quiet village with a beautiful view of the sea is not waiting for 50 campers that will ruin the view in battle line-up from May to September. In addition, not all campers are as young, quiet, and clean as our fleet in OrsonRent and not all our fellow campers are equally tidy. If you want to visit that area or village during a campervan holiday, go to the local motorhome or camping site or go outside the high season. You will see that you are more than welcome everywhere.
Even though the law is clear, in some cases the situation is not always black and white for everyone and we therefore have to work it out together. Spain is a large country and those places where it is a bit difficult are just dots on the map. Just drive around it or as said, go directly to the motorhome or camping site nearby. Always stay correct and polite, after all, you are visiting.