Stellplatz: Free Motorhome Parking in Germany
Motorhoming in Germany is a real treat. Stunning and varied scenery, great climate year round, fascinating towns, cities and castles and excellent food & drink.
Couple that with some excellent campsites and you might think you have everything you need. But how can Germany compete with French Aires? The answer, the German Stellplatz.
A Stellplatz is very similar to an Aire in France except that they are, pretty obviously, in Germany. So if you’re familiar with French Aires you’ll know what they’re all about in principle, but read on to discover the differences and nuances. If you aren’t familiar with a French Aire then check out our post all about French Aires here as well.
So, how can you find a Stellplatz? How do you use one? Why would you use a Stellplatz over a campsite and what about wild camping in Germany? All these questions and more will be answered in due course.
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What is a German Stellplatz?
A Stellplatz is a motorhome and campervan parkup area for free or very cheap overnight stops across Germany. There are somewhere around three or four thousand scattered across the country.
How do they differ from Aires?
They don’t really, except for they are in Germany and not in France.
How do you use a Stellplatz?
There is no universal rule for using Stellplatz but they are all similar in broad strokes.
Usually you can stay for one or two nights in your campervan or motorhome.
No camping behaviour is normally permitted: i.e. don’t get out your tables, chairs and bbqs. That said, often in a more rural or larger Stellplatz many locals do have camping equipment out (in their space and their space only) and so do feel free to do the same in that situation.
Of course, you don’t have to stay the night. If you’re wild camping in Germany then use this network to your advantage to empty, fill and charge your motorhome without paying campsite prices.
Can I book a Stellplatz?
Not normally, usually it’s first come first served so it’s all about timing your arrival at popular spots. Late morning to early afternoon is usually the best time as the departures will mostly have gone and a lot of vans will be yet to arrive.
Are Stellplatz better than campsites?
Yes. And No. It depends what you are after. If you’re touring Germany on a budget they are excellent. Normally close to beauty spots, pretty villages and historic towns so great for exploring this fascinating and historic European country.
However if you’re after space to spread out and relax in a more traditional style then perhaps you would be more comfortable on a campsite. We typically do a mixture of campsites and Stellplatz when we tour Germany as this allows us the freedom and budget to see more places, whilst also chilling out on a campsite from time to time.
How much do Stellplatz cost?
Always cheap, often free. Expect to pay nothing to about ten euros per night. Often they are free but you can optionally pay for facilities such as electricity, water and waste.
How to find a Stellplatz?
There’s a number of ways to find Stellplatz. Check out local tourist information centres, search for Stellplatz on google maps whilst zoomed in on your area of interest, or buy the Stellplatz guide book with listings all over the country detailing the facilities available at each site.
Do Stellplatz have motorhome facilities available?
Again, no universal rule. But oftentimes you will find fresh water, waste and electricity for a small fee. And sometimes there will be recycling and bins available as well.
You can usually find out in advance by looking online at Google maps and reading reviews and looking at photos. There may also be information on Park4Night and Search For Sites.
What about Wild Camping in Germany?
Our answer here applies explicitly to campervans and motorhomes. We don’t know the answer for tents or bivvying, and as soon as you put out camping chairs or camping equipment from your van then you fall into that category and are no longer wild camping in a campervan.
Wild camping (or free camping) in a motorhome in Germany is a grey area.
However, it is a fairly commonplace and generally accepted by most so long as you are sensible, considerate and leave no trace.
That said, do not try free parking in a German national park, you should always find a designated area (campsite or stellplatz) if in a park as you will face being moved on and a hefty fine to boot.
Is there an alternative to Stellplatz that aren’t campsites or Wild Camping?
Yes! Called Landvergnuegen!
Similar to Brit Stops in the UK and France Passion, in, funnily enough, France, there is a network of vinyards, restaurants and other attractions which allow free overnight motorhome stops in Germany in return for a little trade. You can read everything you need to know about it and buy the guide here.
Top guides for Motorhoming in Germany
Stellplatz Germany Summary
Now that you’re all clued up using and finding German Stellplatz and can tour the country for less money then get after it. Why not take a incredible road trip through the stunning Black Forest region?
Go Explore! In Germany!