One usually thinks of Switzerland as one of the most expensive destinations in Europe, however, we set out with a mission to explore Switzerland by Camper-van and only make use of FREE campsites and parking areas. Unfortunately after four nights, we ran out of gas and had to return to Italy. If it was not for the fact that we absolutely had no choice but to get to Italy for gas we would have been very happy exploring further! However, we did discover that Switzerland has many fantastic free camping options and we will definitely return to visit more of them very soon.
Trying to escape the crazy tourist season of August in France, we approached Switzerland from Chamonix, after having visited the magnificent Mont-Blanc. Our first tourist attraction in Switzerland was the famous Salt Mine of Bex (Mines de Sel de Bex), so we looked for a free campsite nearby. We found that the "Park4Night" App was very useful, although one should be cautious to read a few recent reviews to ensure that the site you are considering is in fact currently open and in use. When we arrived at the campsite in Leysin, we couldn't believe that it was really completely FREE! The campsite was complete with electricity, servicing facilities and even a wonderful outside relaxation area and activity grounds for children.
From this campsite, there are many wonderful walks and hikes into the forests and peaceful countryside where you can meet lazy cows and even friendly spotted deer at the deer park. It's a short walk up to the town centre, which was very tranquil as their main tourist season is the winter ski season. This was a beautiful natural campsite where we would happily have spent a week! From here, we visited the nearby Salt Mine of Bex (Mines de Sel de Bex), before moving onto our next free campsite in Switzerland.
From Leysin, we made our way to the Bisse Saviese Torrent-Neuf and found our next free campsite at the Parking Binii Aire Camping-car, Switzerland. This is a big parking lot with information office and toilet facilities which are only open during the day. There are also free campervan service facilities including free potable water. The parking lot is at approximately 1100m altitude and offers the most incredible panoramic views out over the mountainous valley, even including a view of the Matterhorn.
This parking lot is the starting point for many hiking trails, including the famous Bisse du Torrent-Neuf or Bisse de Savièse channel. This in itself is a well-known tourist attraction worth visiting. Although, if you're afraid of heights, you may want to reconsider, as the route has four suspension bridges of 100m long each! Read more about our experience and decide for yourself!
Whether you decide to cross the swaying suspension bridges or not, there are plenty other hiking trails from here which can lead you up into the mountains or across grassy fields to tranquil lakes. The air is fresh, camping is free and the views are incredible - what more could you want!