Plan ahead and make reservations
Switzerland is full of pretty spots with great views: it's very tempting to just put up your tent or park your camper there. Spending the night in your camper outside of designated spots isn’t allowed though, and wild camping can only be done on certain locations and under strict conditions. So you’ll need to plan ahead: find the campsites that suit your needs and reserve your spots in advance. Campsites can get busy, especially during (summer) high season and school holidays in Switzerland or surrounding countries.
Pick the perfect location
Location is very important for your camping trip, especially if you plan to stay put for several days or even weeks. These tips will help you find the perfect spot:
- consider which Swiss region(s) you’d like to visit, and which day trips are high on your wishlist. Find general planning tips here;
- if you’re traveling in summer, it’s good to know that it can get pretty hot. If you prefer lower temperatures, find a region higher up in the mountains, or pick a lake region to cool down in the water. Study the options here;
- are you fond of city visits, shopping and restaurants? Choose a location close to a larger town in that case;
- will you be making trips into the Swiss mountains, or will you be using public transportation? Pick a site close to a rail station if that’s the case;
- if you won’t be leaving your campsite that much, the site itself and its immediate surroundings are even more important. You may want to enjoy great mountain views right from your tent or caravan, or be located on a lake to enjoy nice views and water fun on a daily base;
- if you’re traveling by caravan or camper, make sure you pick a location that can be well reached. Some of the more challenging Swiss mountain roads are hard to conquer with mobile homes or campers.
Select campsite features that suit your needs
Swiss campsites come in all kinds of luxury variants, ranging from basic spots on grasslands to well-maintained holiday parks with lots of facilities. Consider what’s important to you:
- if you’re traveling with children, you may want to check whether a playground, children’s activities or a pool are available;
- check whether a camping shop, restaurant or breakfast service are available;
- check the availability and quality of sanitary and laundry facilities;
- many campings allow you to rent a camper, caravan, cabin or (luxury) tent: this is ideal if you don’t have your own camping gear;
- if you want to enjoy the Swiss outdoors, check whether your camping offers services like bike rental, boat rental, guided hikes, et cetera;
- make sure you can rent a shadowy spot if you prefer to avoid direct sunlight in summer.
Calculate the costs and include tourist tax
Check what’s included in the rental price of your campsite, and which services have to be paid for additionally. This can apply to using the showers, using laundry facilities or taking up a parking space for example. Note that you’ll always have to pay for an additional Swiss tourist tax. Costs vary per municipality. Find more information on tourist tax here, and budgeting tips here.
Prepare for traveling with a caravan or camper
Driving in Switzerland requires special skills and sharp focus. You’ll have to study the traffic rules before heading off, and you’ll need to know how to drive on mountain roads. This is more complicated if you pull a heavy caravan or if you’re driving a large camper. Find general tips on driving in Switzerland here, and specific tips for traveling with a motorhome or caravan here.
Mind the weather, especially if you sleep in a tent
Weather in Switzerland is changeable. In spring and summer, long warm and dry spells are no exception. But heavy rain and thunder storms can occur as well:
- regularly check Swiss and regional weather forecasts, and install a warning app on your mobile device;
- if you don’t feel safe with the weather forecast, change your plans and find a safe spot or book a night in a hotel;
- some campsites right along rivers or lakes can get (gradually) flooded, and tents might get damaged due to strong rain or heavy winds. Move your gear well in advance if flooding or storm risks are predicted;
- prohibitions on fire making may apply during hot, dry periods. Stick to them and don’t create any fires on non-designated areas. If you're not sure whether you're allowed to grill or barbecue on your campsite, ask the personnel;
- if the campsite is at risk, carefully follow the instructions of the campsite personnel.
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