There are few more rewarding feelings than pitching your tent and spending the night beneath the stars. Whether you want to escape to a remote mountainside or find an idyllic coastal campsite, there are some spectacular locations to discover. From New Zealand to Finland, this is our pick of the best places to camp around the globe.
You can’t talk about camping without waxing lyrical about New Zealand’s out-of-this-world landscapes. Mount Cook (or Aoraki to the Maori) is the country’s highest mountain and the entire surrounding rugged region is the South Island’s finest outdoor playground. Views from the campgrounds here are simply staggering.
The southwest of England feels a million miles from the rest of the UK. The campsites on Dartmoor and Exmoor are fantastic places to pitch a tent, while you’ll find spots with unbeatable vistas along the craggy cliffs that sweep down to the Atlantic on the north Devon coast. Come in autumn, when you can watch a huge red sun dip slowly over the horizon.
3. Loch Lomond & The Trossachs, Scotland
The scattered peaks, valleys and villages of the Trossachs – often called the Highlands in miniature – make an incredibly scenic backdrop for a camping trip. Amid these romantic lochs and glens you’ll find everything from sprawling caravan parks to remote wild camping spots; be sure to read the Outdoor Access Code before you go.
The dominion of skiers in the winter months, the Alps transform as the snow thaws. Once the balmy spring weather arrives, so do hikers and campers. You’ll find beautifully fresh alpine air and quaint villages nestled in the foothills. It’s a magical place to camp, made all the more special by the glittering night sky above.
Finland’s newest national park (set to open in June 2017) is in the wild northeast of the country, a rugged landscape of rivers, lakes and old-growth spruce forests. Finland welcomes wild campers and the park is dotted with remote lean-to shelters and rustic cabins, all with spots for campfires.
6. Skåne, Sweden
Long bright summer days pass delightfully slowly in Sweden’s most southerly region. Gentle countryside backs the coastline and there are many tranquil places to camp near Skåne’s beaches, lakes or forests. As in much of Scandinavia, wild camping is positively encouraged under Allemansrätt, the “right to roam”.
7. Zion National Park, Utah, USA
Zion is one of the most spectacular parks in the Southwest, with its red sandstone cliffs, rugged plateaus and forested canyons. Watchmen and South are the established campgrounds, but if you really want to get away from the crowds you can get a permit to overnight at one of the otherworldly wilderness campsites in the park’s interior.
Vancouver Island’s mind-blowingly diverse ecosystem gets ever more wild as you head north. Pacific Rim National Park and the West Coast Trail are spectacular places to set up camp – you might catch sight of orcas breaching offshore, sea otters playing in the shallows or brant geese flying overhead.
South America’s southern tip, spanning both Argentina and Chile, is as wild as it gets and a great destination for anyone with an adventurous spirit. Follow the RN-40 to discover campsites with wide open skies and snow-capped mountain vistas; this pristine landscape begs for outdoor exploration.
Time has stood still in this massively underrated region of northwest Spain, where villages cling to lush green mountains and fishing communities dot the craggy coastline. Some of the most beautiful campsites in Spain can be found on the coast here, along with delicious food and welcoming hosts.
The coastal region west of Galway cries out for leisurely exploration. Connemara’s landscape is dramatic and windswept, and camping here isn’t for the faint hearted, but you can’t beat getting up close to the Atlantic seascape or exploring remote valleys just inland.
12. Simien Mountains, Ethiopia
Recognised by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, the jagged Simien massif and its deep precipices rival the Grand Canyon for beauty. The landscape is phenomenal and the best way to explore is on a guided trek, sleeping under canvas in one of the park’s basic campsites.
Over 40% of Tasmania is protected within national parks and reserves. On an island the size of Switzerland, that means numerous wild and remote regions littered with beautifully sited campgrounds. Whether you’re travelling with a tent or a camper van, popular spots include the highlands of Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park and the spectacular coastline of Tasman Peninsula.
14. The Seto Inland Sea (Setonaikal), Japan
In the wide, watery expanse between Japan’s Honshū, Shikoku and Kyūshū islands you’ll find a little-known idyll made up of many tinier islands. Exploring by bike is becoming popular as seven modern bridges now link the islets. At night, it’s possible to camp beside the subtropical white-sand beaches.
This sparsely populated, high-altitude region in Jammu and Kashmir conjures pictures of gompas nestling in the mountainside and colourful prayer flags fluttering in the wind. Once the mountain passes open in the spring, camps of pre-erected tents pop up, though hardier souls still carry in their own.