It was quite difficult to plan a trip in this crazy COVID-19 year. The most certain plan was to go somewhere by car. Luckily, this is quite easy in Europe. My friend and me decided to do a 2-week-roadtrip through parts of Germany, Austria, Slowenia, Croatia and Italy (South Tyrol).
I did a rough plan where to go but of course some things changed spontaneously on the road which was totally fine. We did see and go to amazing places during these 2 weeks. It was a perfect mixture of mountains, nature and the sea side. And yes, places not too far away but I’ve never been to so far.
Of course, you cannot go and see everything within 2 weeks, especially if your route includes 5 countries 😀
To give you some inspiration for your road trip, here our route:
- Start: Nuremberg
- 1st Stop: Salzburg, Austria (2 Nights) (of wich we spent 1 day in Salzburg and the 2. day in Bavaria which was just a 30 minute drive)
- 2nd Stop: Königssee/Obersee (1 day), Bavaria, Germany
- 3rd Stop: Bled, Vintgar George, Bohinj Lake, Lake Jasna, Fusine Laghi (Italy), Ljubljana,Piran, Slowenia (5 Days)
- 4th Stop: Istria: Cape Kamenjak, Rovinj, Pula, Vrsar, Porec, Novigrad, Krk, Plitvicer National Park, Croacia (7 Days)
- 5th Stop: Pragser Wildsee, Plätzwiesen, Cortina, Bruneck, South Tyrol, Italy (1 Day)
On our way we obviously did some spontaneous stop-overs about which I will shortly write some tipps, if worth to stop or not.
1. Austria: Salzburg
Salzburg was our first stop. For a quite a long time this beautiful city was on my list and luckily it was anyway on our route. We actually only spent 1 whole day there which was enough at least to get a first good impression of the city. What did we do?
Oh, remember to buy a vignette when entering Austria. You can buy one for 10 days which costs 9,50 Euro (August 2020).
What to do in Salzburg?
- Strolling around the city without a big plan. My friend used to live in Salzburg a few years ago so she kind of knew the city and where to go to.
- Hotel Stein. Go up to the terrace and have a drink. You get a really awesome view of Salzburg.
- Festung Hohensalzburg. We didn’t enter the castle as it was quite expensive and we were not very keen to go to a Museum. The surroundings though are really nice to explore. Walk around and you get to pass some really interesting things. You also get to Mönchsberg. It is a really nice walk outside of the big city chaos and again you get a really awesome view of the city and a nice walk around.
- Cathedral of Salzburg. You cannot miss it.
- Getreidegasse. It’s a shopping street located in the old town of Salzburg. You also can find Mozart’s birth house here.
- Kapuzinerberg. It’s part of Salzburg and you should not miss it! You get an awesome almost 360° view of Salzburg!
- Schloss (Castle) Mirabell. Schloss Mirabell is a typical tourist destination and UNESCO World Heritage Site. The castle is surrounded by a beautiful park.
I’m pretty sure you can do and explore way more things like Museums, entering castles, etc. in Salzburg but as we only spent 1 day there, that are things we didn’t do. We spent 2 nights in a hostel, not really worth mentioning, a little bit outside the city center but still walkable. We had a double room with a bathroom and it was quite cheap for Salzburg. We wanted to save money for better accommodation somewhere else.
2. Germany: Berchtesgadener Land: Königssee & Obersee
Also for a few years on my list: beautiful Königssee & Obersee. It was only a 40 minute drive from Salzburg. That’s why it was our second stop on our route. What can I say? I loved it!!!! You can book the tickets for the boat on the internet or just buy them at the ticket counter when you are there. You just need to be aware of the limited available seats at specific times. If you want to go at 9 AM it might be better to book your boat tickets on the internet to avoid being sold out for that time. We decided to just go there and buy it at the ticket counter. Which worked out fine. We’ve been there in the morning and it wasn’t even so crowded. When buying you’re ticket you decide if you want it only one way or return. One way you can go only to St. Bartholomä or return further down to Salt/Obersee.
The return ticket costs around 20 Euro (August 2020). I recommend going all the way to Salet. As we only had 1 day there we did not do a lot of hiking, of which you can plenty but we went directly to Sales and decided to get off St. Bartholomä on our way back. Just follow the crowds or inform yourself before and plan your route you want to hike. I only can say that the place is so beautiful and breathtaking and even if you don’t have much time to do hikes there, just go and explore the lakes surrounded by the mountains! You will love it! What I also liked a lot was that it was not over crowded. It got a little bit more crowded when we already were on our way back to the boat at around 4 PM. At each place there you can buy something to eat & drink.
After exploring Salzburg and Königssee & Obersee our next stop was Slovenia. I planned to go to Slovenia during Easter 2020 but as we all know, due to Corona that was not possible. The more happy I was, that I could do it later this year. Postponed doesn’t mean canceled 🙂
Also in Slovenia you need to buy a Vignette. We went from Austria to Slovenia via the Karawankentunnel and this also costs extra, return around 15 Euro. Also for Slovenia, the vignette is a bit more expensive than in Austria, for a 7 day vignette you pay 15 Euro (August 2020).
In total we spent 5 days in Slovenia. You can spent way more time in this small beautiful country and explore many more cool places than we did. But you need to plan carefully and have the amount of time in mind when planning a roadtrip. Slovenia is quite an expensive travel country though. You need to pay entrance literally everywhere, same with parking, you need to pay everywhere. You also can find a lot of camping sites. Most of them are really nice, located at the lake, either Bohinj or Bled lake.
Slovenia is surrounded by the Julian Alps and also has a 40 km long Adriatic coast. One country, country everything you need: mountains, mountain lakes, spectacular views and also time to enjoy at the sea side. The Slovenians are very proud of that fact. Formerly, it was part of former Yugoslavia. The small country wasn’t hit hard, actually not at all, during the Yugoslavian war in the 90s. The people are very nice and welcoming and the food is as we know balkan food: a lot of fish meat and sweets 🙂
Our first stop and base was Bled. Of course, Bled is the most famous place in Slovenia and deservedly so. We stayed here, which I can recommend. There is also a nice restaurant nearby where you can go for dinner. There are also a lot of cafes and restaurants around where you can just sit down, relax and enjoy the view. By boat, you can also reach the small island with the church „Blejski Otok“.
If you want to get a really awesome view on Bled, hike all the way up to the view point „Mala Osojnica“. Make sure to wear comfy clothes and sneakers. The way up is a bit tough but you won’t regret it!
What to do in Bled?
- Walk around Bled lake. It’s 6 km long and easy to do.
- Hike up to the view point „Mala Osojnica“. Even if you don’t make it to the top, you can already enjoy a spectacular view being half way up. The view point „Mala Osojnica“ is the highest (685 m) and most popular view point. It still was quite empty when I reached the top.
- Blejksi Grad (Bled Castle). We did see the castle but we didn’t go there as from what I read, you get another nice view but the entrance is quite expensive and apparently not worth it. You need to decide yourself, if you want to do it or not. We did not only do it because of these reasons but also because of little time again. Entrance fee: 13 Euro (2020).
- Vintgar Klamm. Just a little bit outside of the city centre of Bled. Vintgar Klamm is part of the Triglav National Park and carved by the Radovna River. The hike is flat and you’re walking on boardwalks most of the time, enjoying the cristal clear water and its small and big waterfalls along the way. You should plan approx. 1,5 h for visiting the Klamm. The entrance fee is 10 Euro (2020) which is quite a lot in my opinion but when you there, you just do it. It is beautiful, no doubt, but I think 5 Euro would be more than enough. You also need to pay for the parking 5 Euro for the whole day.
3.2. Lake Jasna
Lake Jasna is very close to Kranjska Gora and a 30 minute drive from Bled. These 2 lakes are artificial and interconnected within a beautiful mountain scenery. Very nice to have a walk and sit down for a coffee and enjoy the beautiful view.
3.3. Zelenci Lake
Just on the road you need to stop and walk a bit through a forest and you reach Zelenci Lake. Really nice!
3.4. Bohinj Lake
Also a 30 Minute drive from Bled is another very beautiful mountain lake called „Bohinjsko Jezero“. We started our walk around the lake in Ribčev Laz. It took us around 3 hours to surround the lake included photo and food and drink stops. There is a park & ride in Ribčev Laz. You pay around 5 Euro for the whole day included a free shuttle to the city center where you also can start your walk around the lake. This was quite cheap as all other parking spaces very close to the lake were way more expensive and also limited in parking time.
What else can I do around Bohinj Lake?
- Water Sports. What I could see a lot around the lakes in Slovenia is that a lot of people were doing stand up boarding or kayaking.
- Vogel Cable Car. You can take the cable car up the mountain Vogel. Unfortunately we were not able to do it because we arrived quite late and the cable car was about to close so we decided to make our way towards the Savica waterfall. A return ticket for the cable car costs 20 Euro (2020).
- Savica Waterfall. The Savica Waterfall is considered to be the most beautiful waterfall in Slovenia. The waterfall has height of 78 meters and is located within the Triglav National Park. The entrance fee is 3 Euro (2020). I advise you to wear comfy clothes and sneakers as it is a walking up & down and can also be a little bit exhausting but worth doing.
We decided to skip some places like the Soca Valley and planned to do it afterwards but we didn’t do it due to time. Ljubljana was definitely on our list but also Croatia and as the Corona situation regarding Croatia got more and more tense and it was not clear until when it will be allowed to enter the country and what restrictions will come in place, so we had to speed up our road trip a bit. By that time, Austria already announced Croatia as a risk region and we were pretty sure that it won’t take long until Germany follows with this announcement.
Ljubljana is a really cool city with a special vibe and atmosphere. I really enjoyed it and recommend highly to go there for 1-2 days which is enough to explore the city. Do a free walking tour as you get really interesting insights about the city, the country and the culture.
Top things to do in Ljubljana:
- Free Walking Tour. The best way to explore and get to know a city.
2. Prešeren Square. Main square where the city meets up and celebrates.
3. Triple Bridge. It is a group of 3 bridges across the Ljubljana river. The bridges connect Ljubljana’s historical town and the modern city.
4. Ljubljana castle. In my opinion it is not worth to buy a ticket and enter the museum! It’s something for children. You can enter the castle yard without a ticket! You can either walk up to the castle or a tourist train or funicular.
5. Zmajski Most/Bridge. The famous dragon bridge with a lot of stories you can listen to during a free walking tour.
6. Central Market. Really nice. The market is open every day except Sundays.
7. Metelkova. It’s very similar to Christina in Copenhagen. Almost every wall is covered in graffiti and other pieces of art. A very interesting area of Ljubljana. Come for photos during the day and return at night to go to the bars and clubs.
8. Town Hall. You cannot miss the town hall. It’s one of the main squares of Ljubljana.
9. Museums. There are plenty of museums to visit if you like to. Museum of Illusions, National Museum of Contemporary History, National Museum of Slovenia….
On our way to Croatia we passed Piran and did a spontaneous stop-over for a few hours. Great place at the Adriatic coast of Slovenia! It’s quite small, so you easily find your way around. It’s worth a stop, don’t miss it!
Next stop: Croatia. Due to the Corona Situation and distance, we explored the Istrian Peninsula. It was my first time in Croatia, don’t ask me why 😀 I really loved that region. You’ll realise when being on the Peninsula, how big the Italian influence is. Under the current circumstances we had to register online that we are entering the country and have to had the document printed out and visible in the car when passing the boarder.
4.1. Istrian Peninsula
- Rovinj. I’m really happy that we have chosen it as our base as for me it was the most beautiful city on the Peninsula. Quite touristic and a little bit more expensive than other places but really beautiful and enjoyable. For food, go to Mavi Grill. An excellent restaurant where you might have to wait for a table but it’s worth it. Just around the corner is a really nice and small bar, where you can wait having a drink and the waiter from the restaurant will come over when your table is ready.
Don’t miss having a drink at Valentino – Cocktail and Champagne Bar. Drinks are really expensive, more expensive than in Germany. But the view is just amazing. Come here for the sunset!
2. Kap Kamenjak – Kamenjak National Park. It’s at the end of the peninsula. You pay a small entrance to enter. It’s quite big and best to explore by car. You can even camp here. Just go and explore, it’s really nice. You can easily spent at least 3 days here as it is quite big.
3. Pula. In my opinion not recommendable and not worth to visit. But many blogs say differently. Except the amphitheatre, and if you have already seen one even not the amphitheatre is something special to explore here, you can skip it, believe me. It’s quite an ugly city.
4. Poreč. Just go and explore. Very nice.
5. Vrsar. Same, just go and explore, very nice to stroll around.
6. Novigrad. Same as number 4 and 5. These places are kind of similar to each other but still different.
7. Hum. It’s supposed to be the smallest city of the world. Unfortunately, we didn’t make it but I believe that it’s worth a visit 🙂
8. In any city you’re staying you can book different boat tours. They are not too expensive, price range between 10 – 20 Euro. We wanted to do a dolphin watching boat tour but in the end, we didn’t have time which was ok as we did a boat tour later on and it was great
I only can say that we enjoyed this part of Croatia a lot!
As we wanted to explore a little bit of Croatias islands, the easiest and closest for us was to go to Krk.
For me Krk was very touristic but good and interesting to see. We stayed here 3 nights.
What to do in Krk?
- Explore the island itself. Stroll around the city centre, go for a drink, go to a nice restaurant and enjoy the islands flair.
2. There are some towns and beaches you can explore in Krk. The beach Stara Baška is very nice.
3. Boat trip. Do a boat trip! At the harbour of Krk are plenty of companies offering tours. It’s quite hard to decide which tour to do because at one side they are all the same but all include 1 stop which the others doesn’t have. So you need to decide. We did ours with Kapetan Nemo and it was great! Much smaller and more quiet than Krk. Lunch is optional and costs 10 Euro. We paid 20 Euro for our trip which included a stop on Rab and Cres, several other swimming and snorkelling stops, for example Golden Beach which you can only reach by boat. At the end on our way back, we also were very lucky to see dolphins! That was my personal highlight of that boat trip. Most of the companies charge you the same price, some are a little bit more expensive when lunch is included.
The water of the Adriatic Sea is just a dream! It’s clear and it’s turquoise colour reminds the Caribbean sea. The only disadvantage is that almost all beaches are not sand but stone.
4.3. Plitvicer Lakes National Park
Next stop: Plitvicer National Park although it was a 3 hour drive by car from Krk. World UNESCO Heritage site and also famous for being the film location of the Winnetou movies. We started early in the morning at around 7 AM so we arrived there after 10 AM. Due to Covid, we had to buy our tickets online as there was a limitation of entries. In August 2020, a day ticket was around 34 Euro. You can choose between 2 entrances. If you only spend 1 day at Plitvicer, it is recommendable to choose entrance 1. You walk a lot but to shorten the ways there are boats which bring you from one side to another.
Some highlights to see are:
- Veliki Slap
- Galovac Slap
- Kaluderovac Lake
- Supljara Cave
- Sastavci Slap
I can highly recommend to visit Plitivicer Lakes. It is very beautiful and unique.
6. Italy – South Tyrol
On the way and for very long on my list: South Tyrol. We spent 2 nights and 1 whole day here but it was my favourite part of the trip. I definitely want to go back very soon and explore the World UNESCO Heritage Dolomites more! Since a lot of Italians didn’t travel abroad during summer 2020 due to COVID, it was quite packed and also difficult to find an affordable accommodation. But we found a really nice and affordable one which I can highly recommend, breakfast was included. Click here for more information.
6.1. Pragser Wildsee/Lago di Braies
Yes, no doubt, a hotspot of the last years, especially on Instagram. Since I saw my first picture of that lake a few years ago, it was my dream to go there. Since it really got over crowded there, the municipality introduced a new system: If you want to visit, you need to book a parking slot online 1 day before if arriving between 9 AM and 3 PM. Otherwise you won’t be able to pass the road to the parking slots at the lake. You could park somewhere else but the walking distance would be too much. We didn’t know it so the time we checked online to book a parking slot everything was booked out and for us the only day to go there.
But here’s my hint:
If you arrive early in the morning before 8 AM you can pass the street without having a parking slot booked! I recommend you highly to arrive early in the morning if you are travelling during holiday season! We arrived before 8 AM and it was just perfect! There were only a few people around but it was not crowded at all! Pragser Wildsee is really magical and I felt in love. We did hike around the lake, included a breakfast stop with an awesome view on the lake and several photo stops it took us almost 3 hours. By the time, we finished our round (it was after 10 AM ) it got really crowded and more and more people were arriving. So believe me, it’s worth to get up early and to explore that magical place with a lot less people!
As our accommodation was located in Bruneck we also went to explore this town. It’s really nice and cozy a lot of places to have a drink and to eat something. The city centre is also very nice.
The Winter Olympic Games took place in Cortina in 1956. That’s what Cortina is famous for and also for the rich and famous society. We got told that it’s very ugly and not worth visiting but we still went. Don’t go to Cortina, save your time!!! It’s really ugly and nothing to do or to see there! But if you want to go back to the 50s don’t miss that place 😀
The same situation at Plätzwiese like at Pragser Wildsee. You are allowed to pass by car after 3 PM if you didn’t book a parking slot. You pay a little parking fee when entering. It is also possible to go up by bus. I loved this place! It was so empty, almost no people around but soooo beautiful! We did a short hike around Plätzwiese and stopped to have a coffee and beer. Put it on your list!
There are much more things to explore here and a lot of hikes to do. But as we were limited in time we couldn’t enjoy it any longer. Also as it was the end of August and holiday time, COVID numbers were going up and new restrictions were introduced again. We were also a bit worried about the situation with border crossing so we decided to go back home 1 day earlier than planned.
7. Lago di Fusine
In Slovenia, more precisely when we were staying in Bled, we did a very quick cross bordering to Italy, only a 20 minute drive. I read somewhere something about that lake „Lago di Fusine“. It is very nice and if you’re close by you should go. Plan around 2-3 hours for that stop. It’s worth it!
8. Achensee, Austria
On our way back we made a quick & short stop at Achensee in Austria. It was anyway on our way. Unfortunately, the weather was not good, it was quite cold and also raining. Still a beautiful place to be 🙂
9. Bad Tölz, Bavaria
Small and cozy city in Bavaria. Worth a short stop if it’s on your way. The city centre is really beautiful.
I am really happy and thankful that I got to travel at all that crazy year 2020. A really cool 2-week road trip – of course you cannot see everything and you need to decide where to go and what to skip. A lot of more places and things are to be explored in all these wonderful countries we visited. Also we didn’t plan everything in detail, a lot of things we just decided spontaneously and that’s the good thing about a road trip, you are flexible and you can decide what you want to do. A really good vacation in a crazy Pandemic year.
Things to remember:
- You need to buy a Vignette for Austria & Slovenia. Check prices on official websites as they change from year to year.
- It’s worth to get up early to explore some places to avoid crowds, e.g. Pragser Wilds/Lago di Braies. If you don’t want to get up early, remember to book your parking slot online at least 24 hours prior.
- In Slovenia you need to pay entrance for almost everything, also almost no free parking available.
- Think how much time you want to spend in Plitvicer National Park and buy your ticket accordingly.
- If you cross border Austria – Slovenia via the Karawankentunnel you need to pay.
- Food and Drinks are quite cheap in Croatia. Also you almost get along in every language.
- Do a boat trip in Croatia, it’s worth it!
- Slovenia is a great country to try stand up paddling.
- The view point „Mala Osojnica“ in Bled is worth the hike!
- Being in Croatia and/or Slovenia means that you are also very close to Italy. You might say hello to Italy 🙂
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Such an exciting road trip you make!