with equipment drying rooms, modern sanitary facilities and spa options right on site. Freeontour has put together a few recommendations for your winter camping holiday in the Alps, the Alpine foothills, the Bavarian Forest, the Black Forest and the Ore Mountains.
Ötztal Valley/Tyrol: Camping Sölden
This place is a winter camping pioneer – hardly surprising as it is only 300 m away from the Gaislachkogl cable car, which takes holidaymakers to the mountain station at 3,056 m above sea level in just 4 minutes. The ski region is snowsure and the season here runs from October to 3rd May. You can usually ski down into the valley very close to the campsite until the end of March as well as enjoy typical winter activities such as ski touring, cross-country skiing and tobogganing.
The campsite has 97 marked-out pitches, a spa area with a sauna, steam bath, solarium and heated bench, a fitness area, its own climbing wall, modern sanitary facilities and a ski storage and drying room. Embedded in the breathtaking Tyrolean mountains, the award-winning Aqua Dome Thermal Bath in Längenfeld is only 14 km away. “If you want to camp here between Christmas and the New Year, you will have to book a year in advance,” campsite operator Lukas Kneisl explains, “but you can usually book just a few weeks beforehand during the off-peak season. And sometimes you can even get lucky last minute."
Ziller Valley/Tyrol: Camping Aufenfeld
Two of the best ski areas can be reached from the campsite: the Zillertal Arena with 143 km of piste (5 to 10 minutes by a free ski bus) and the Ski-Optimal Hochfügen/Hochzillertal with 88 km of piste (about 35 minutes away). The ski season in the Ziller Valley usually runs from the beginning of December to Easter. You will need to make a reservation at the campsite about six months in advance if you want to visit over Christmas and the New Year or during carnival and Easter week. But spontaneous winter holidaymakers will usually be able to find a spot outside of the holidays.
Campers in Aufenfeld can expect pitches with many amenities. Depending on the category you book, there is electricity, TV, gas and waste water connections as well as your own private bathroom cabin. The campsite also has 5 excellent sanitary facilities, a family-friendly children's washing area, optional private bathrooms, a children's playhouse, two restaurants, an après-ski bar, an indoor pool with a 60-metre water slide as well as a western-style sauna area with a saltwater spa and solarium, massages and other spa options.
South Tyrol: Caravan Park Sexten
Resembling a luxury holiday resort, this five-star campsite is nestled in the spectacular backdrop of the Italian Dolomites at 1,500 m above sea level. In addition to spacious pitches, guests can also opt for chalets and luxurious tree houses.
Tucked away in the heart of the UNESCO World Heritage Site, this retreat uses as much natural material as possible, from waste wood for the lodges to dolomite rock in the spa area. There are 3 water worlds, including the “crystal pool”, which was built in a tunnel with sparkling minerals, children's areas and optional private bathrooms. There are also drying rooms for skiing equipment, shops, three restaurants, an indoor swimming pool with a panoramic view, several saunas, a fitness room, an indoor climbing wall, a playhouse for children and adolescents and even a small cinema. A bus runs every 30 minutes to the ski area, which is about 3 km away and has 1,200 km of piste, 200 km of groomed trails and several toboggan runs. You can also go snowshoeing here and even visit a reindeer enclosure on one of the family slopes.
The ski season in Sexten starts at the beginning of December and, depending on the weather, can last until Easter. You should book your pitch in late summer for Christmas/New Year, in November for carnival, and you can even book at short notice during the off-peak season. Caravan Park Sexten also offers flat rates for campers who want a seasonal pitch for their motorhome over winter – we recommend taking snow chains with you.
Zugspitze region/Grainau: Camping Resort Zugspitze
The multi-award-winning five-star luxury facility offers pitches with supply and waste disposal pillars, even a private bathroom and a fixed gas connection on request, a modern sauna and gym area with massages, a baby bathroom for families, a ski and drying room, a ski hire centre and a free ski shuttle bus to the Kreuzeck ski area five times a day. Boasting an amazing view of the Zugspitze mountain, it is easy to get to the glacier ski area on Germany's highest mountain from the campsite: via the Eibsee cable car (25 minutes by bus) or via the cogwheel railway (10 minutes by bus). The region also has a lot to offer cross-country skiers: there are 16 km of cross-country ski tracks around Grainau at 750 m above sea level, which are connected to other trails to Garmisch and Mittenwald.
The three-star Camping Erlebnis Zugspitze sister site right opposite is slightly cheaper as are the motorhome parking spaces at Wohnmobilhafen Zugspitzblick (with electricity and water supply as well as showers and toilets). Reservations can only be made at the latter for the period between Christmas and New Year's Eve – the ideal place for spontaneous campers and ski resort hoppers not restricted by the Christmas holidays. As for the five-star campsite, you should make a reservation about five months in advance for Christmas, New Year's Eve and carnival, and about three months beforehand for the three-star site. You can usually get a pitch at short notice during the low season.
Upper Bavaria/Karwendel Mountain Range: Alpen-Caravanpark Tennsee
One of the winter camping pioneers in Bavaria, this caravan and camping park promises winter sports in a fog-free, sunny region. Surrounded by the fascinating Karwendel and Wetterstein high mountain ranges, the site is the ideal base for winter sports enthusiasts: activities range from hiking, Nordic walking and ski tours to horse-drawn sleigh rides, ice stock sport, ice skating and tobogganing through to cross-country skiing and alpine skiing. Access to an extensive network of trails is within walking distance as is the Barmsee ski lift on the snow-covered practice slope, which is suitable for children and beginners.
You can go alpine skiing on the family-friendly Kranzberg mountain, which is only 6 km away and served by a free ski bus, as well as in the ski areas around Garmisch-Partenkirchen. The camping and caravan park offers winter holidaymakers a range of services and options: from the ski drying room and supply pillars at every pitch to private family bathroom cabins and game rooms for children and adolescents through to the cosy Bavarian restaurant on site. "Reservations should be made early for stays between Christmas and New Year's Eve, but last-minute pitches are often available from 2nd January," according to operator Viola Zick. In recent years there has been snow from January to mid-March, and "sometimes it even snows here in December."
Upper Bavaria/Karwendel Mountain Range: Naturcampingpark Isarhorn
“We are one of the largest campsites here in the area,” Helga Haaf proudly claims. She runs the nature caravan and camping park framed by the Isar River at the foot of the Karwendel mountain range together with her husband Andreas. “There's no need to make a reservation, you can come at any time,” she continues. The park offers a free choice of non-marked pitches for 180 motorhomes, a ski drying room and modern sanitary facilities.
The area is perfect for nature lovers, even in winter: cross-country trails are about 10 km away and can be reached by ski bus. Alpine skiers have several areas to choose from, e.g. in Mittenwald (5 km away) and around Garmisch-Partenkirchen (19 km away). Self-sufficient campers will appreciate the reasonably priced motorhome parking spaces (with electricity and water supply) offered by the Haaf family in the centre of Mittenwald not far from the Karwendel railway and Kranzberg chairlift.
Upper Bavaria/Oberammergau: Camping Park Oberammergau
"Most of our winter guests come here for cross-country skiing," Sonja Häringer explains. She has run the campsite with her husband for the last 7 years. Attractions here include the König Ludwig Lauf, the largest popular long-distance cross-country skiing race in Germany held in Oberammergau at the beginning of February, and the guaranteed snow in the region. "It usually starts in mid-January and sometimes lasts until the end of March, beginning of April," Sonja Häringer has observed. Nevertheless, you will only have to reserve a pitch here between Christmas and New Year's Eve, whereas spontaneous winter campers should usually be able to get a pitch during the rest of the year.
The campsite includes beautiful sanitary facilities, bathrooms for rent, a drying room for skis and supply pillars on the pitches. Cross-country skiing trails are right on the doorstep of the campsite. Located just 2 km away are the station at the bottom of the Kolben and Wank ski lifts that provides access to the Kolbensattel family ski area, the Snowpark Oberammergau and the nostalgic gondola lift up to Laber mountain at 1,683 m above sea level, which has one of the steepest freeride runs for daredevils on its northern slope. If you want to go ski resort hopping, you can also park overnight at the inexpensive motorhome car park (with a power connection).
Southern Black Forest/Todtnau-Muggenbrunn: Camping Hochschwarzwald
Run by a Dutch family, this campsite is located at an altitude of 1,000 m and offers just 11 pitches – early booking recommended! The Muggenbrunn ski resort with 5 lifts is only 300 m away, and a practice slope for children and beginners is even closer. Access to the wonderful Notschrei-Schauinsland-Feldberg skiing trail network is right on site. "We don't usually get snow until the New Year," operator Tineke Gaijkhorst states, "but then when it does snow, it's often half a metre over night." Therefore, winter campers should make sure they have snow chains on board.
Southern Black Forest/Lenzkirch: Camping Kreuzhof
"Since including the Hochschwarzwald Card in the price of an overnight stay, we have seen a significant increase in winter holidaymakers," Insa Rogg claims. She not only runs the campsite with her family, but also a farm as well as a brewery and schnapps distillery in town. "We've got two tractors – so if anyone gets stuck on the pitch, we can pull them out." Thanks to the Hochschwarzwald Card, holidaymakers can borrow cross-country skiing equipment for free, use the ski lift and go snowtubing as well as enjoy many other benefits. The next cross-country ski trail is only a 5-minute walk from the campsite and the extensive network of hiking trails, which is rolled daily in winter, is easily accessible. However, it is more convenient to take your own vehicle to get to the surrounding ski areas in Belchen or Hinterzarten, on Feldberg mountain or Schluchsee Lake.
The campsite includes drying rooms for skiing equipment, an indoor swimming pool, sauna, steam bath, solarium and massages on site. The 80 tourist pitches are booked well in advance for the period between Christmas and New Year's Eve. The winter season in the Black Forest often lasts until Easter – also thanks to artificial snow – and you can often get a last-minute pitch during the carnival holidays.
Saxony/Ore Mountains: Erzgebirgscamp Neuclausnitz
Although there is usually snow in this area as early as November until the end of February, a toboggan hill right on site, cross-country skiing trails 100 m away and a small ski area 4 km away, campsite guests only pay off-season prices here in winter. The family-friendly campsite offers 13 comfort pitches with electricity, water and waste water connections and there is a ski cellar with a drying facility. Cross-country skiers can really go for it: the longest route is 30 km to Altenberg, where they can simply catch a train to get back.
Skiers and snowboarders looking for more challenging slopes or a snow park can get to the inexpensive Czech ski area of Bouřňák in half an hour by car. “We always have capacities in winter, even last-minute,” Kathleen Kilbel explains. She runs the Erzgebirgscamp together with her husband and recommends relaxing in the sauna at Naturhotel Lindenhof 5 km away and then dining in the Wirtshaus am Trostgrund restaurant that serves regional cuisine after a day in the snow. The campsite can even arrange for guests to be picked up from the restaurant if desired.