Want to know how to find campsites for motorhomes, campervans or caravans in the UK and Europe? Here are the best sites we use to find places as we travel and plan our trips
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Finding Motorhome Campsites near me
We spend a lot of time touring the UK and Europe in our motorhome. Most of the time, those trips are unplanned and we rarely book campsites in advance.
HOWEVER, the sites we use to find campsites are different, depending on whether we're on holiday in the UK or touring Europe.
But there are also many places we haven't visited yet. So here's how we find and choose campsites and how we assess them to (hopefully) find decent ones!
Finding overnight motorhome parking spots
Now, to be clear, in this post, I'm not talking about how you find motorhome wild camping spots or free overnight spots. I'm talking about campsites, places that you have to book and pay to stay in.
If you do want to know more, here's how we find free overnight parking spots.
And here's more on the law about motorhome wild parking.
Motorhome wild camping guides for the UK & Europe
For information on how to find good wild camping places, WHAT to do when you're there and how to stay safe, check out our step-by-step guide for motorhome wild camping in the UK and Europe, complete with database of 250+ overnight spots we've stayed with our motorhome.
Don't forget to grab your free wild camping checklist here
Finding motorhome campsites nearby
So, what do you do if you're trying to plan and find campsites for your trip?
There are a couple of ways we can slice and dice this. The first is whether or not you're going to be in the UK or Europe. And the second is: do you want to stay in a very specific place (ie- visiting an attraction or visiting family), or do you just want to stay in a general area?
So let's split this post into two halves. Let's talk about finding camper sites in the UK and then we'll talk about finding sites in Europe afterwards.
Finding motorhome campsites in the UK
In the UK, there are a couple of ways that I find motorhome campsites near to where I want to go. In order (roughly), these are:
- Club sites/ apps
- Search for Sites
- Brit Stops
The first place I tend to look is the Caravan and Motorhome Club website/ app, both to find proper big campsites and also to find the CLs.
The Caravan and Motorhome Club have CL certified locations which are small campsites, with only five pitches. The Camping and Caravanning Club have CS sites (certified sites) which are exactly the same thing. We prefer using small sites like this to larger sites, but remember these small campsites often have very limited facilities- no on site restaurant or laundrette here,
We're actually members of both motorhome clubs, but I prefer the website on the Caravan and Motorhome Club, so I tend to use that just to see if there's a site nearby.
Once you find a site, you can book through the website or app. The CL sites are a little harder as you have to phone them up and speak to somebody to see if they've got any spaces. This can be a bit frustrating because most of the time these sites are run by farmers or people with an additional business, so they're not sitting by the phone waiting for your call, which can make booking last-minute more challenging.
The next place I look, if I'm looking for a specific campsite near a certain location, is a website called Pitch Up. I'm not affiliated with them in any way, I just really like their site- it's very easy to use.
You can search an area, and a type of pitch required (plus filter for dogs allowed etc) and it will tell you all of the campsites nearby. A lot of the time you can book directly through Pitchup, or it has a link to the site website where you can book or a phone number so you can phone them.
Search for Sites
The next place I look at to find motorhome sites in the UK is a website AND app called Search for Sites. I tend to use the app more and I really like it because it will show you campsites, CLs, CSs and also pubs and other locations that will allow overnight stays. It will also show you some wild parking spots.
I believe there is now a small yearly charge for the premium version and it's well worth getting because the amount of information in there is superb.
The last place I check to find somewhere to stay with the motorhome overnight in the UK is Brit Stops.
If you don't know what Brit Stops are, they are a scheme with a lot of businesses around the UK, including many pubs but there are also places like restaurants and farm shops; businesses which have got a big car park already and they are prepared to let you stay overnight (normally for free), as long as you have a meal in their restaurant or drink in their pub or bought some stuff from the farm shop. You can see more about Brit Stops here.
We LOVE them because they are a really good way of exploring and seeing a bit more about the local place that you're in. We're big believers in eating local dishes and food, so if you go somewhere like a farm shop or cafe, you can try some of the local dishes of where you are, and that's a really nice way of blending travel and food and all these nice things that we enjoy.
We would use them more if we didn't travel with our motorbikes, but because we're often looking for a campsite or place where we can leave the motorhome while we ride on the bikes, we don't use them as often as we'd like to. But if you like some freedom in your travels, they are a fantastic scheme.
Finding motorhome campsites in Europe
So moving on to Europe. When we motorhome in Europe, we don't tend to book up campsites in advance.
Heck, most of the time we use aires in France and Europe, especially if we're touring around.
Having said that, when we are on our motorbikes and want to go off for the day, we want somewhere safe to leave the van- like a campsite. I use slightly different methods to find campsites near me in Europe. These are:
- Park 4 Night
- France Passion (or equivalent)
Park 4 Night
So to find campsites near where we want to stay, the first place that I look is a website/ app called Park4Night. I believe the website you can still use for free, but you need to pay for the app and to get more detailed information (it's something like £7 for the year, totally worth it.)
We use Park 4 Night ALL the time and it is fantastic. Whether you want to find motorhome campsites, aires, motorhome waste points or wild camping spots, they're all on there. The only downside is you generally have to Google a campsite after you've found one on the app in order to find a phone number if you want to contact them in advance to book.
ACSI is fantastic. They have a couple of schemes which are worth purchasing before your trip to Europe.
If you're going to be travelling all through the year, both peak season and low season, and you want to be sure you're staying at high-quality campsites, join their Europe campsites scheme.
This is a list of over 9000 campsites for motorhomes, campervans, caravans and camping that are inspected annually by ACSI representatives.
If you are able to travel outside of the peak season, you can sign up for their Camping Card and that will give you a discount on any of their campsites that are signed up to the scheme, which means that you can stay at the exact same campsites for a little bit less money.
But even if you can only travel in school holidays, you can still be a member of the main Europe Campsites, which will allow you to have that peace of mind that the campsites you're staying at are of decent quality.
You can actually use the Pitch Up website for Europe. They have got a few campsites listed, but it's not anywhere near as many as you would find on Park4 Night, so I tend to not use Pitch Up so much in Europe as I would in the UK.
Brit Stops equivalent
Just like the UK has Brit stops, there are similar schemes all over Europe. For example, in France they have a scheme called France Passion and in Portugal there is a scheme called Easycamp
Just like Brit Stops, these are a great way to combine travel with experiencing local food and culture. For example, if you enjoy your wine, you'll find many vineyards where you can turn up in your motorhome, pay for a wine tasting tour, buy a couple of bottles of wine and stay there overnight for free so you can really enjoy your wine tour and make the most of it.
So if that's the kind of thing that you enjoy doing anyway, it's well worth signing up for the schemes. You can see a complete list of these overnight motorhome parking schemes here.
So those are the main ways that we find motorhome campsites across the UK and Europe. There are, of course, other ways, but these are what we use.
Want more tips for motorhome life?
Here are some more ideas you might find useful:
- Essential Motorhome accessories every van should have
- Best Sat-nav for motorhomes or campervans
- Motorhome Security– tips for at home and on the road
- How to get Internet & wifi in a motorhome
- Europe- essential gear for travelling to Europe
- Best gift ideas for motorhome and campervan owners
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