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Well, that depends on where you are. You can’t just park your car somewhere overnight and expect not to get in trouble with the law.
However, there are many places around Germany where you can spend the night in your car for a small fee.
There are also some areas of Germany where it is free to spend the night in your car, but you are limited to how long you can stay.
Generally speaking, it is permitted to spend the night in your car near a campsite or parking lot for RVs/motorhomes. The latter must be marked with a sign designated as an overnight stay area for motor homes. Some parking lots have these overnight stay areas on the premises.
Overnight Stops in Germany
- You are not allowed to park your car in a residential area where parking is usually prohibited.
- The same goes for shopping centers, business districts, and pedestrian zones.
- You must also not leave your car somewhere that would obstruct traffic or endanger other people.
We recommend asking somebody who works at whatever place you want to park whether they can stay overnight.
In some cities, parking lots have been established expressly to spend the night there in your car.
In these so-called “park and sleep” or “overnight parking” zones, vehicles under 6 meters (20 ft) may remain parked for up to ten hours at a time between 10 pm and 6 am.
These zones are primarily located in cities with tourist destinations or significant events (Cologne fair, Oktoberfest in Munich, etc.).
Each city has its own regulations regarding which areas of town the parking lots apply to and how long you can park there.
These parking lots are not accessible for the whole night (like camping sites) but require payment for a portion of the night.
The price varies from city to city; it is often between €2 and €5. Payment must be made via an electronic payment system, such as coins or credit cards.
If you’re looking for a place to actually rest your head, there are some options in Berlin. (and perhaps elsewhere).
These include the Caravan Salon parking lots and the vehicle storage areas at major train stations that can be used as overnight parking spots.
In other words: You cannot literally sleep in your car at these places, but they often have overnight parking areas that can accommodate RVs and other large vehicles.
Is it legal to sleep in a car in Germany?
Unless otherwise noted, as long as you are not hindering traffic and follow the local regulations for overnight parking, it is generally legal to park your car at a rest area or designated overnight parking lot.
Where is a safe spot to sleep in your car in Germany?
If you are on the road through Germany with a car full of camping equipment, this is probably one of the most pressing questions you have.
The campsites all want to see their bookings confirmed by credit card at least two weeks in advance, and even if you manage that, they are still costly.
Camping is actually forbidden in Germany, except in the designated camping areas.
And these are usually pretty hectic, so if you plan on spending more than one night at a campsite, you’ll probably end up sleeping next to your car.
As an alternative to the commercial campsites (and for free), there are several public rest stops where it is allowed to spend the night in a camper or tent.
They are open from around 8 pm to 8 am. There is usually some construction in the proximity, so you will be woken up by jackhammers and dump trucks after a few hours of sleep. Your car may also be towed away if you have parked on premises not belonging to one of the rest stops, so you’d better check the signs.
Can you live in a caravan in Germany?
It’s possible to live in a caravan or mobile home if you are a member of the European Union. Non-EU citizens have very few chances to get a residence permit for living in Germany.
Of course, you can try to apply for a tourist visa and later ask for a residence permit. But this isn’t easy, I don’t know how it works in your country, but here in Germany, many people were rejected when they applied for a residence permit after being on a tourist visa before.
Can I sleep in the car overnight in Europe?
Short answer: Yes, if you know where to go.
Longer answer: It’s illegal to sleep in your car overnight at a campground because it would be the same as camping there without paying for space and facilities. If you’re sleeping in a city and it doesn’t seem like the kind of place where that’s allowed, I would recommend finding other accommodations or risk getting fined.