17 Nov

Spain and Portugal

Motorhoming in Spain and Portugal


“Area Autocaravans”
Parking Area for Motorhomes/Campervans

Providing official, economical, overnight parking for motorhomes in Spain is something that is still developing. The huge network of Aire de Service or Stellplatze seen in France and Germany is not yet developed as historically people just stopped wherever they felt safe. Although motorhoming in Spain and Portugal has long been popular, the numbers of people motorhoming now has put pressure on many long established but unofficial overnight parks and the Spanish government has moved to bring some order to this. Their rules around self-containment differ from the situation in New Zealand where self-containment refers mainly to the plumbing of the motorhome. In Spain it’s all-encompassing in that you must be able to live within the vehicle without stepping outside for any reason. By doing this, you are ‘parked’ and not camping, a difference that is defined in Spanish law. If you go outside to cook, or put your table and chairs or awning out, you’re camping. There are many places where you can park overnight but not “camp”. This automatically rules out the use of caravans, cars and small vans at these overnight stops. The historical absence of free but official Aire de Service like France means that many commercial overnight parking places are springing up in Spain to fill the gap and for a charge varying between €5 and €15 you can use basic facilities and usually service your tanks and toilet. These commercial aires are a good option and an economical alternative to campsites. An indispensable book for motorhoming in Spain and Portugal is:-

All the Aires – Spain and Portugal

Published by Vicarious Books   ISBN:9781910664124

See Vicarious Books

Here is a notice board explaining the rules for a free stop in Spain:-

And here in close up so you can read the rules (Apologies for the reflection):-

Portugal is similar to Spain in that a network of official and economical overnight stops for motorhomes is rapidly developing although some areas in Portugal, such as the Algarve, completely prohibit overnight parking outside official camp sites or commercial aires. However, this rule is seldom enforced outside the peak holiday period of late July/August. Historically it’s been possible to stay overnight almost anywhere in Portugal but things are tightening up. Again the aires guide mentioned above will find plenty of safe overnight stops where you’re unlikely to be disturbed.

Above is a free aire on the west coast of Spain near Vigo. Parking is available for about four or five vehicles on a first come first served basis and restaurants are within walking distance. The grass area in front of the motorhomes was being used by locals for picnics so it seemed reasonable that motorhomers could picnic there too. We got our chairs out!

Below is a free aire at Faro in Portugal. It was part of a large public car park which filled with the cars of local workers the next morning. The local police regularly cruised around which was reassuring but it seemed prudent not to get our table and chairs out here. We were parked – not camping.

Below, on the left, is a power box on a commercial aire in Spain. Many power hook-ups in Europe use the same 15A circular blue plug and sockets we see in New Zealand but there are some, like the one shown below, which use the European two-pin socket outlets found in domestic and light commercial use as shown below. A close-up of one of these sockets is shown on the right. Adapters to convert from these sockets to the standard 15A circular plug which will be on your hook-up lead are readily available in camping shops in the UK and it’s definitely worthwhile taking one.


The information given  on this website is based on the opinions of the author and readers act on this information at their own risk.
It is recommended that all readers check this information independently before using it.