Is It Allowed To Sleep In a Tent on the Dolomites?

Are you leaving for Dolomites and want to travel with your tent? Your dream is to sleep under the starry sky or do you love the idea of ​​a low-cost travel? Beware, it’s not so simple. Italy is well known for having one of the most complicated bureaucracies in the Western World, and camping rules are not so clear. So it is much better to ask before leaving, so as not to incur in sanctions. Below I give you some indications.

First of all, there is no one law in Italy that regulates overnight stay in the tent throughout the whole National territory. As in many other cases, the Regions or Parks issue different laws depending on the area. For this reason, you may find different laws depending on the area you are visiting.

Let’s start by distinguishing two important things: the campsite and the night bivouac.

For Italian law, it is defined as camping to stay in a tent site for at least 48 hours. This is generally prohibited in all areas not specifically dedicated to camping (camping, caravan parking areas, and similar). In this case, if you settle down for more than 48 hours in the same place you are definitely be punishable by law. For a closer look at the rules in the various Italian regions, take a look here (in Italian).
In any case, in the 2 Regions that particularly concern to us (Veneto and Trentino-Alto Adige), camping is strictly forbidden outside the areas specifically dedicated to.
It is different for the night-time bivouac.

For night-time bivouac is meant to spend the night outdoors from evening to morning, which can be done in the mountains either by necessity (f.e. impossibility to reach a hut, bad weather, physical difficulties), and by choice (and it is the case that we are seeing).

We have already seen in another post that in the Dolomites, in addition to huts, there are free and unattended bivouacs, in which you can stay overnight in case of need or even during an excursion.

But what if I would sleep in my tent? Can I do it?
Here we go into a not very clear regulation. In general, the night-time camp for necessity or emergency is always allowed, but of course in case of control of the Forestry Guards you should explain why, if you did not think about sleeping outdoors, you had a tent with you. And if we check the website of the Parco delle Dolomiti Bellunesi we see that the ban applies only to camping. However, I wrote to the Park and the answer was that both the campsite and the night bivouac are always forbidden.
During my excursions it happened to me to find hikers with tents.

My personal impression is that Regions and Parks try to limit the number of overnight stays in the tent, and this is understandable, considering the protection of the environment, security reasons (not each hikers is well prepared to sleep in the Dolomite enviroment!) and all the unforeseen events that can happen during the night on the mountains.

It is not possible for the Forestry Guards to sanction each hiker or hinder those who want to move to the mountains by going to the tent, however they try not to publicize this possibility. In any case, the best choice is to ask the Tourist Office or the Alpine Guides Office closer to the Dolomite town you are, and of course to get all informations about the areas where you are going.

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About Author

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Matt
I am a passionate hiker of Dolomites, the Alps subgroup settled in the Eastern area of Italy and UNESCO heritage. Hiking in this particular and extended mountain area is really exciting and full of any kind of satisfaction. I started to hike on Dolomites since I was a child, and I am writing this blog to let all English speaking hikers to take easily informations and useful details to plan their hike on Dolomites.

Comments

Temimah Bassel
03/10/2018
Hi Matt, Thank you for your blog. My partner and I are trying to find out if there is any trek we can do in the Dolomites in mid October. We would like to hike for at least five consecutive days. We understand that many of the refugios are closed during this time and that weather can limit us as well, do you know of a trek we can still do during this time of year? We also consider using a tent if the huts are closed. So far we can't seem to find this information, we would be very grateful if you have any advice for us. Thank you very much, Temimah
04/10/2018
Hi Temimah, thanks for contacting me. The most of the huts are closed in October, you can hike of course but consider that over 2,500mt altitude you can easily find snow on the path so avoid to do difficult paths and absolutely avoid any Via Ferrata if you are not expert and well equipped for it. You could choose one of the Alte Vie, that are classic Dolomites treks of 7-10 days (but you can select a part of the trek). Take a look here: http://www.infodolomiti.it/en/active-holiday/alpine-paths-of-the-dolomites/alpine-path-of-the-dolomites-no1/6883-l2.html Let me know if I helped!
Kathrina
13/03/2019
Hi Matt, I was planning on renting a car and sleeping in it at night rather then paying for lodging. Is that allowed and are spots easy to find ?
Kathrina
13/03/2019
Hi Matt, If I want to sleep in my car as I travel through the Dolomites is it doable or allowed ? Thanks
15/03/2019
Hi Kathrina, in all Dolomites area there are campings and if you have a camper you have to use these areas. Campers or roulottes are not allowed to stay out of campings. If you sleep in your car (and car is not modified like a camper :-)) you can sleep inside (in case of need it is allowed). Parking areas are widespread and most are free. A good idea is not to sleep more than 1 night in each place and look like a camperist :-)
Sean Webb
15/07/2019
Hi Matt! Thank you for the article. Do you know where I can rent camping gear, tent, sleeping bag, and pad, for the Dolomites? I’d be driving from Venice and could pick it up anywhere in route. Thank you!
15/07/2019
Hi Sean, honestly I do not know. Renting for camping is not common here, so usually people have their own equipment. You can try asking to Decathlon https://rent.decathlon.it/ Usually they rent sport equipment and you have shops in Mestre and Treviso
23/07/2019
Hi Matt! Thank for your post, it is been very helpful! I'm trying to plan a trekking on the Dolomites (first half of August) where I can tent every/most of the nights. All of the options I have seen go through refugios and it is not clear if there are "camping sites" along the way. Is there a trekking that considers camping site between sections? Another option I'd enjoy is to have a camping site from where I can go on different daily hikes. Any recommendations? Thanks! I hope you can help me :D PS: I'm an experienced trekker from Chile, If you ever go there don't hesitate to contacting me for tips an tricks! cheers!
26/07/2019
Hi Enric, sorry for delay. In which dolomites area will you be? The most viable way is to have a camping site for daily hikes. There are private camping sites in many towns. There are not camping sites along the hikes, so you should come down to towns every night...

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