Why camping in the wild in Poland is easy
Poland is one of the best places in Europe to camp in the wild. Reasons? First of all: in general it is legal to do so. If you get familiar with a few basic rules (see paragraphs below) and exceptions from the general rule, you will be bullet proof.
Poland is pretty flat
Second of all: geography. Poland is pretty flat and it is very easy to find a suitable place to pitch your tent.
No fences around lakes
Also, it is illegal to block the access to the lakes. One cannot simply buy a land with a lake front and surround it with a fence.
Of course, it does happen sometimes. Especially in the very popular areas like The Great Lakes in Mazury. But most of the time you should enjoy the wilderness of Polish lakesides without trepassing.
Also, unlike countries like Italy, where every piece of land seems to be private and fenced, orchards, fields or forests in Poland are fully accessable to everybody.
Wilderness of Poland
Also, even though Poland has good infrastructure and living in the city you can expect more or less the same level of service as in Western Europe, this country is pretty wild. Parts like Mazury, Podlasie, Bieszczady or even western parts of the country are not developed and there is very few towns or big cities in the area. Light pollution there is very small so it is also perfect for star gazing.
Where you cannot camp in Poland
In general it is not allowed to camp:
- on Baltic beaches or dunes
- national parks and nature reserves
- in forests
Unless – there is a designated area for camping. Since this year such areas will be designated in each of over 400 national forests.
Camping in forests
Starting from May 1, 2021 it will be possible to camp in the wild in Polish forests. The programme is called “Sleep in the forest”/Zanocuj w lesie.
In each forest, National Forestry will designate an area where it is legal to camp in the wild, as long as you are complying with terms and conditions. Outside of this areas you can camp only in specific, marked places, or if you get a permission from the local forestry.
If you want to sleep in the wild in Polish forest using the “Sleep in the forest” programme, you need to:
- check whether the place you have chosen to stay overnight is not restricted area -There can be many reasons, such as logging, fire hazard or, who knows – maybe hunting?
- A maximum of nine people can stay in one place, for no longer than two nights in a row –
- If there are more than nine people, or we plan to stay for more than two nights – then the stay “should be reported by e-mail to the address of the forest district […] no later than 2 working days before the planned night. The application requires an e-mail confirmation from the forest district office, which is a formal consent to stay.”
- The application should include: your name and surname, contact telephone number, contact e-mail, number of nights (dates), number of people, planned camping place (name of the area), consent to the processing of personal data.
- Do not go with a car or motorbike for your accommodation – these must be left at the nearest parking lot.
Other basic rules
Now, the absolute obvious:
- do not destroy the undergrowth, preferably sleep in a hammock. But sleeping in a tent is not prohibited
- do not make noise, do not disturb the peace of wild animals
- clean up after yourself after the morning toilet
- do not litter!!! take all leftovers and trash with you, also bio
- make fire only if it is allowed in the given place.
Using gas stoves in the forest
- You can use gas stoves but only if fire hazard in this area is not high. You need to check it at least twice in a given day – the map is updated twice a day at 10:00 AM and 2:00 PM. The websites with fire hazard alerts are: http://bazapozarow.ibles.pl/zagrozenie/ or https://www.bdl.lasy.gov.pl/portal/mapy – by selecting “mapy BDL /” mapa zagrożenia pożarowego” in the menu. In case of high risk (3rd “red” level), the use of gas stoves is prohibited!
- the use of gas stoves is allowed only under constant supervision ensuring protection against a possible fire,
- it is forbidden to use gas stoves on peat soils, in young stands and stands where the height of tree crowns is less than 5 m from the ground, and on forest areas covered with tall grass and heather.
Camping in national parks in Poland
Rules of camping in the wild in the national parks are very strict. You can sleep there only in designated areas. If you do so, you are very likely to be fined.
Places like Tatry National Park are especially strict about it. The rangers take their work very seriously and will even track down people who post about their inapropriate behaviour online.
The fine for camping in the wild may go up to few hundred zloty. And in the national parks it can be more, since camping in the wild might be connected with making a damage to the protected species.
Typical picnic zone at the lake
Camping in wild in Poland – where to go
If you are looking for a place where you could camp for a few nights, semi-wild camping sites at Rezerwat Jeziora Nidzkiego (close to Karwica and Ruciane Nida) might be the best place. You can camp there on a high banks of the lake. There are always some people camping there and you should pay a small fee (PLN 2 = EURO 0,5) for each night. I believe you can pay for it at the Forestry in Karwica.
If you are always on the move, biking around Mazury Warmia, Suwalszczyzna, Kaszuby, Drawsko or Podlasie will give you plenty of opportunities to camp in beautiful places. We recommend going along rivers like Bug or Łyna. We absolutely adore biking in Kaszuby and Mazury.
If you follow the bike trails like Green Velo, or recently created kayaking routes (like Łyna route) you will find on their way facilitated stops.
How to find a camping spot
If you like planning in advance, check Google Maps to get an idea about the area. You will find there many good places marked as camping or picnic zones. They usually have some basic infrastructure like wooden tables and benches, a place to make a fire. Sometimes toi toi or even electric plugs.
“Nocuj w lesie” – how to find a spot
To find the areas participating in the program on the map, go to the Forest Data Bank website. As you probably see, it is packed with layers. These unnecessary layers must be deactivated.
First, go to the BDL map tab at the bottom of the page. The options for selecting a specific version of the map will be displayed slightly above. We choose the most to the right: Tourist development map/ mapa zagospodarowania turystycznego.
Then, in the list of layers in the panel on the right, deselect everything by clicking the check box next to tourist infrastructure. At this point, only the orange-marked bushcraft pilot areas and survivors (buszkraft i surwiwal) should remain on the map. For now, you will only find areas that participated in the pilot project that started in 2019 (46), but it will probably be updated with all 429 forests by May 1, 2021.
Camping site close to Karwica / Binduga at Rezerwat Jezioro Nidzkie
When to go camping in Poland
The best time to go camping in Poland is June and July. In August most of the nights the temperature drops below 15 degrees – so it is a nice temperature if you have decent sleeping bag.
In May you should expect more rain than in summer. Also the temperature at night very often drops below zero, especially during long weekend in the first weekend of May.