If you search Google for free camping into the wild without standing on an official campsite, then almost every European country is against it, being illegal and therefore not allowed. Of course, on the various forums on the internet a lot of people tell you if you’re deep enough in the woods, you do not fire, you leave no waste, and especially you do not wildcamp in the official national parks it’s ok and you wouldn’t be caught by the officials. But still; It remains illegal. In the Netherlands for example they give you a fine of 120 euros.
In the Netherlands and Belgium it’s not much different. Still if you know the well hidden places it is possible to camp in these countries in wild nature for free and 100% legal!!
In the Netherlands we know Polecamps (Paalkamperen in Dutch). In Belgium we know the so-called Bivakzones.
Polecamps and Bivakzones are a legal form of wildcamp in the Netherlands and Belgium. In specially designated locations (often marked with a pole or pump), it is allowed to wildcamp under certain conditions. Many Polecamp site locations are owned by State Forestry (Staatsbosbeheer), but there are also a number of polecamp site locations from other organizations. The Belgian Bivakzones are managed by Nature and Forest. (Natuur & Bos)
The locations themselves are very primitive and often do not represent much more than a piece of lawn or forest with only a pole and a water pump. On the pole are the rules of residence and a pump of water is only available on limited places. For the rest there is nothing. No power, no toilet or shower and no trash can. So you must be 100% self-sufficient and take your own waste again.
Because you are very close to nature, or even in the middle of it, open fire isn't allowed either. note: we found one where fire is allowed. Sitename: Campanula
As I said, these sides are primitive and back to basic but also very adventurous and close to nature in it’s full glory.
Unfortunately, few people are familiar with the so-called Polecamps and Bivakzones. (That’s why we wrote down this article). This adventure opportunity is therefore hardly used to enjoy the Dutch and Belgian nature. The camp sites shown the diversity of the Netherlands and Belgium in a special way. There are camp sites in forests offcourse, but also in the polder landscapes. The camp sites can lie along wide rivers and on open fields, near historic windmills and on the defense lines from old wars fighted long time ago…
In summary, the following rules apply on the sites in both the Netherlands and Belgium:
On most sites, you may stay for a max of three days, sometimes there is a maximum of 24 or 48 hours. Open fire, leaving waste or digging pits is not allowed. Rules related to horses and dogs vary by area, but dogs usually have to be lined up and horses are not welcome. Do not disturb the environment and leave no trace of your stay.
Locations Netherlands: https://sites.google.com/site/paalkampeerders/kaart (Dutch)
Locations Belgium: http://bivakzone.be/overzichtskaart.html (Dutch)