It seems almost impossible to take a road trip without stumbling upon yet another wonderfully scenic journey in Austria.... a country we've enjoyed visiting, especially our time in Vienna. However 'stumbling' might not quite describe it accurately... as the wonderful Gerlos Alpine Road website conjured up some exciting images that meant we simply couldn't miss a scenic drive through the raw, rugged natural beauty of the Austrian Alps.
So with much wailing and gnashing of teeth from the backseats, we've packed up the vans and headed northwards through Croatia and into Slovenia. We've yet again loved the opportunities that Croatia presents to families, and would return in a heartbeat given half the chance! But we're equally pleased to be able to show the girl's grandparents one of Europe's most iconic sights - Lake Bled. This small lake (only 2km x 1.4km) is heated due to it's nearby thermal springs... so swimming is an option for active families. There's also the iconic island and a medieval castle clinging to the cliffs with the backdrop of the Julian Alps to enjoy too!
Croatia has so much more to offer than just the established tourist sites such as Dubrovnik, Split or hidden gems such as Korčula or Rovinj. With the region of Zadar fast becoming the newest member of Croatia's tourist elite due to the beautiful cities (Zadar or Sibernik) and wonderful countryside, explorable islands and coastline. There are endless tracts of wild mountain paths to explore, as well as some spectacularly beautiful stretches of coast between the pebbly beaches. So how better to explore this diverse countryside than on horseback....
Seemingly scattered among the waves by the gods themselves, the Croatian Islands surrounding Zadar were made to be seen by boat. You’ve probably seen their quaint villages and azure waters a zillion times on postcards and travel brochures, but even the greatest images are no match for the real thing. Think Kornuti Islands Archipelago or beach paradises like Dugi Otok.
So a chance to explore Zadar's islands with skipper Milan & his authentic 1932 'ZvizdaMora' boat gave us sight of a side of Croatia you’d otherwise miss. An opportunity to see where history (and myth) happened, meet the present-day inhabitants, and, of course, soak up as much sun as we could get. (just check out his Trip Advisor reviews and you'll know why we chose his boat tour! - click here).
They say you should visit Croatia in late spring or the end of summer to explore the inland National Park of Krka or the Velebit mountain range. Considered a great hiking country you'll find plenty of opportunities in Croatia on the islands such as Korčula, whilst others might prefer to sail the archipelago of the Kornati islands National Park.
But have you ever considered a Buggy Safari? No? Well, nor had we until we until we chanced upon Buggy Croatia's fantastic 'adventure tour' at Vransko Jezero, Biograd. So if you fancy a day filled with views of emerald lakes, azure blue seas, islands galore and a little adrenalin filled fun... then read on!
Zadar was recently elected Best European Destination 2016. Winning the prestigious title over more established rivals such as Athens, Plovdiv, Nantes, The Azores Islands, Paris, Novi Sad, Brussels, Kotor, Milan, Prague, Rome, Vienna, Madrid and Nicosia.
So where better to discover more about Zadar's wealth of attractions than Zaton Holiday Resort just outside Zadar, another of the fantastic campsites that fall under the banner of Europe's Leading Campings.
Ever felt like it's time to hit the open road in your motorhome? What's your favourite scenic drive in Europe? Here's a few of ours ( click here )
But we reckon you could pick pretty much any coastal drive in Croatia and be satisfied. It may not be an alpine pass where you see the whiteness creeping into your knuckles on each vertiginous hairpin bend... but those coastal landscapes are sensational! So here's a few pictures from our journey south from Camping Šimuni to the Leading Camping's site of Zaton Holiday Resort.
Apparently the new buzzword is ‘3G’, with three generations of a family holidaying together – grandparents, parents and kids. But could 'Camping Šimuni' offer enough activities to suit everyone’s holiday needs alongside a chance to relax together as a family? It certainly impressed us on our first visit in April but what would it be like with more people to please (see our first blog post on Camping Šimuni here)
Experiencing Europe by motorhome, we've compiled a list of some of our favourite driving routes (click here) So as we meandered southwards enroute to another visit to Camping Šimuni, we spent the journey south discussing which routes could possibly better 'Highway 8 (E65)' alongside the Croatia Dalmatian Coastline. So if you also love gripping the steering wheel that little tighter as you enjoy some stunning natural coastal scenery, you'd love this blockbuster drive. Taking you past sleepy seaside forts, 'picture perfect' islands, national parks teeming with wildlife or long stretches of isolated bays/headlands where your feet are the only ones in the crystal clear waters. It's worth grabbing some dash cam footage from (We used a Nextbase 512G which has proved brilliant all trip)
It wouldn't be the first time we'd visited Vrbnik with friends or family, having seen this charming hillside town with AussiesonTour (Jess/Dillon). But it's that spectacular that our re-visit to the island of Krk with the girl's grandparents had to include a trip to Vrbnik. Well, who couldn't resist a chance to see themselves inside the 'narrowest street in the world'?
If the Croatian Adriatic has an increasing reputation for mixing Mediterranean tradition with modern chic, then it's arguably on the southern Dalmatian islands, but you'll find a more rugged honest landscape if you head towards Baška on the northernmost island of Krk (close to Rijeka). The Dalmatian Coastline is a narrow belt along the eastern shore of the Adriatic Sea, stretching from the island of Rab in the north to the Bay of Kotor in the south... but just above this is the island of Krk which not only contains 'Camping Zabalaće' but also the 5-star 'Camping Krk Resort'
For those that have never explored the amazingly varied Dalmatian Coastline in Croatia... You'll never forget that moment that you crest the hills that line the Adriatic near Rijeka... to be met with that dazzlingly alluring blue of the Adriatic Sea.... Even after seeing it numerous times during the course of our two year European Roadtrip, we're still in awe of that first glimpse of the crystal clear waters of the island of Krk! So where better to stay than at Camping Resort Krk.
Leaving our base at Camping Lanterna, we spent the day driving around the Istrian interior which proved to be yet another amazing experience in the mild early May weather (mid 20°C) With plenty more sudden stops like this one at Baredine Caves , this corner of Croatia has something new up it's sleeve at every turn...
There are hundreds of campsites across Croatia so how do you choose one that's right for your family? After over 2 months in this stunning country, we've certainly stayed in a wide variety!!! Some are in fantastic locations with waterparks on site, others offer an array of on-site activities and even spas. Others are tucked away on mountain sides overlooking the glittering Adriatic whilst others can give great access to Croatia's national parks... But if you want to see which one was voted Croatia's best campsite in 2016. and has sunsets to die for... then read on to find out what we discovered at Camping Lanterna on the Istrian peninsula.
Almost all of the adrenaline-fuelled activities are to the north of Lake Garda, where the lake cuts spectacularly into the Italian Dolomite mountain range. But we had no intention of adding to our Family Adventures . So no white water rafting, kayaking or climbing, this time we'd be adding to our Bike Adventures alongside the south-east corner of Lake Garda, leaving our well placed campsite at Piani di Clodia and heading for Lazise & Sirmione.
The rambling 5-star Piani di Clodia campsite, spread along the shores of Lake Garda, Italy, offers four different ways to escape the summer heat... a huge water park, gentle swimming pools, a dip in Lake Garda itself or through the spacious, shaded grassy pitches. So if you're looking to book your next summer camping holiday, you could do much worse than try one of Europe's best campsites by a lake or river. Think less sand, more a combination of sun, aqua parks and great food and loads of opportunities for family fun!!!.
Everyone knows Switzerland is perfect for winter sports such as skiing and snowboarding but are there are other reasons to visit one of the smallest countries in Europe? After you've read about Switzerland's Chocolates, Lakes, Castles, Scenic Drives or Train Rides.... you'll probably feel like we do about this beautiful country. Plus we've heard it's an interesting country jam-packed full of stunning views to match similarly beautiful countries like Croatia, Norway or parts of Andalusia in Spain.
With our adventures in Pembrokeshire now almost a distant memory (it's amazing what difference a week makes...). We've headed back into Europe taking the girl's grandparents with us! Our 'Taste of France' adventure last year with them was so much fun... they've decided to throw their hats back in the ring.... but this time it won't be kayaking on the Dordogne or visiting Ile de Re.... this time we're heading much further south to Croatia, Italy, Austria, Slovenia & Switzerland. So where better to start this adventure than the beautiful Alsatian town of Kaysersberg.
It's been an eye opening view into another side of European culture for our girls. Full of new adventures with plenty of new friends met along the way. It's been full of 'wide eyed' stares at the poverty witnessed in Poland or Hungary, yet these are often the places with the warmest of local people... We've seen the impressive canals of Venice, climbed the steep cliffs of Split and been staggered by the beauty in Budapest, Vienna or Prague.
Having already visited in February (read our full article here)... we couldn't wait to return with the wider family on a '3 Generation' (3G) Holiday. As we mentioned on our last visit to the national park resort of Bluestone Wales... if you love 'Free Range Fun' then you'll find everything you need in the well designed resort set in over 500 acres of Pembrokeshire's finest countryside. But once you've exhausted the array of opportunities within the resort, don't forget that it also lies within easy reach of the amazing beaches of Barafundle Bay, Broadhaven South or Freshwater West! Before returning back to one of its 350 individual timber clad lodges that offer plenty of space to relax and enjoy family fun...
I'm sure it is in young girl's genes to love horses and ours are no exception... they have loved horses since they were exposed to them with local riding schools for special treats... But since we've been away this has grown into something of a passion for both girls who have read every single Pippa Funnell's excellent series of horse books from cover to cover. So as we're staying at Bluestone Wales, we've relented and given into the pressure and taken up the chance of a ride through Pembrokeshire's beautiful bluebell woods with the nearby Marros Riding School.
They say that Surfing was invented by the Polynesians at least 4000 years ago. Going onto become a popular sport for all ages... including kids!!! Perhaps the water might be a little warmer in Polynesia, but surely there can't be too many better places to learn to surf than on the vast Pembrokeshire beach of Newgale. So with the sun shining on a brilliant May afternoon, with Road Schooling finished for the day, we headed off to discover just what we could find in Pembrokeshire ably assisted by the fantastic team at Preseli Ventures.
Our girls have tried indoor climbing and even motorised climbing walls... plus a fair few 'adventure climbing walls' in Exeter and Birmingham or 'real climbs' in Norway & Croatia... but today was a real challenge with no brightly coloured hand/feet holds... just solid unrelenting Pembrokeshire stone to find some purchase!!! Thankfully, we had a brilliant instructor in Henry (from Climb Pembroke) who not only helped offer a series of technical challenges but also made us feel utterly safe throughout...
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