Romanian Transfagarasan vs. South West of England
Slovenia is a stunning country bordering Croatia and Italy on the Adriatic coast. Its capital city Ljubljana is ideal for enjoying a leisurely break, and once you’ve finished there, travel north to Lake Bled for hiking trails that criss-cross deep into the countryside. In Wales, what you might lack in good weather is made up for by the diverse countryside and the beautiful beaches and villages. Walk or mountain bike through Snowdonia before relaxing on a beautiful beach in Anglesey in this replacement road trip swapping Slovenian forests and lakes for more of the same in Wales.
Slovenian Forests & Lakes
- Distance: 328 miles/528 kilometres
- Driving time: Approx. 8 hours
- Recommended holiday time: 14 days
The old town of Ljubljana is a beautiful place to spend a few days to start off your Slovenia Road Trip. For a capital city, it’s very small – which means it’s ideal for leisurely exploration. With cobbled streets, a medieval castle, colourful buildings and a relaxed atmosphere, it feels like a safe and welcoming place to be.
At the end of August, the city hosts Nights in Ljubljana Old Town, which is a celebration of arts from across the city. Around the same time, the International Mladi Levi Festival brings world-renowned stage performers to the city. Pedestrianised streets make it easy to stroll through the city. Walk beside the river, and enjoy the many different bridges, taking in art galleries, independent boutiques and cafés along the way. Be sure to visit the Castle, which can be reached by foot or funicular lift. For lunch, stop by Open Kitchen – Ljubljana’s street food market, and then when day turns to evening, visit Metelkova mesto, a squatted army barracks that is now home to alternative art galleries and bars.
Nearly two hours north of Ljubljana is Lake Bled – one of Slovenia’s most iconic landscapes. This beautiful lake has bright blue water perfect for swimming, but make sure that you take a boat to the island to explore the medieval castle. The area has 15 signposted hikes so that you can really explore the surrounding area on foot. One of the more popular walks is Vintgar gorge, where hikers can see underwater rock formations through crystal clear waters, and marvel at white water rapids. At the end of a long day, head to Slascicarna Zima to enjoy a Bled cream cake, or Cremeschnitte at – a delicious bakery where you’ll be spoiled for choice. Stay at the Garden Village Eco Hotel for an enchanting few nights in a tent or treehouse.
The road through the Triglavski National Park is incredibly beautiful. Vrsic Pass is the highest Alpine road in Slovenia at over 1600 metres above sea level. Hairpin bends, narrow roads and changeable weather make it quite the experience, but if you’re up to it, the views are incredible. Park the car for photographs or a hike in the surrounding mountains, before heading down to the Soca Valley. Here, you’ll find the clear waters of Lake Bled. It’s perfect for hiking or water sports, as well as lounging in a quiet spot at the side of the river.
Slovenia has a minimal coastline, but Piran is a must-see seaside destination. This small town is perched on the edge of a peninsula, giving it spectacular views over the sea into the distance. Climb along the town walls to find spectacular views over the Adriatic Sea. The ocean here is warm, but the best place to swim is an area called Fiesa for its privacy and quietness. After a swim, visit the marina and lighthouse to finish your trip.
Welsh Forests and Lakes Road Trip
- Distance: 259 miles/416 kilometres
- Driving time: Approx. 9 hours
- Recommended holiday time: 10 days
Wales is a small but beautiful country that has something for everyone. Beautiful beaches, stunning scenery and a culture of great food and drink. A trip to Wales should start in its capital city, so spend a few days exploring Cardiff and all it has to offer. Cardiff Castle and the Cardiff Bay are great days out with plenty of bars, cafés and restaurants nearby. Visit the Bayside Brasserie for excellent quality Welsh food in the Bay, and then visit Fabulous Welshcakes at the Mermaid Quay for some sweet treats for your upcoming journey.
Your journey north will take you up through the Brecon Beacons, a national park that’s fantastic for hiking. At just under 3,000 feet, Pen-y-Fan is a 6-mile climb, perfect for all the family to reach the summit in around 2.5 hours. Nearby Libanus is home to The Brecon Tap, and is famed for its excellent pies and live music. Stop here for lunch before continuing along your way before heading further north towards Hafod Uchtrydd and Devil’s Bridge. Beautiful walks in this area will occupy you for as long as you would like.
Into Snowdonia, and there’s hundreds of miles worth of breathtaking trails. Villages such as Llanberis, Betws-y-Coed and Beddgelert are well known to be excellent starting points for hikes in the area. Spend a couple of days here, enjoying the relaxed atmosphere and engaging scenery, and use your B&B as a base to visit Portmeirion for the day. This magical village was built between the years of 1925 and 1973 by Welsh architect Clough Williams-Ellis, who wanted to create the ‘ideal village’, enhancing the natural environment with sympathetic architecture. Visitors to the village are enchanted by the place, and lunch at the Castell Deudraeth Brasserie is well known to be the best around.
The Isle of Anglesey is a stunning part of Wales that includes coastal paths, stunning landscapes and picturesque towns and villages for exploration. Spend a few days here to make the most of your visit, enjoying the many trails and walks that zigzag across the landscape. Stay at the Castle Court Hotel in Beaumaris and use the seaside village as a base to explore the surrounding countryside and coast. The Anglesey Coastal Path passes through farmland, heaths, dunes, salt-marsh and woodland, as well as cliffs and foreshore. Watch out for wildlife like red squirrels, and even birds of prey.