With no major experience in camping, we suddenly got this idea of travelling in a camper to enjoy the freedom of stopping whenever and wherever. We therefore decided to just give it a try by renting a campervan for one week in August 2018. Our main destination: Slovenia.
Day 1 – Renting the camper
It was actually not that easy to find a suitable camper on such a short notice, so we had to rent it somewhere in Germany. Fortunately, coming from Belgium, the detour was quite small and we were able to park our car at the hirers house during the whole trip. We used the Share a Camper Platform which offers camper van rentals from private people all over Germany, Australia and New Zealand. We rented an old VW campervan which was older than us but in quite a good shape. However, driving more than 80 km/h was mission impossible.
When we arrived at the hirers house on Friday evening, we spent almost two hours for explanations of the car. Given the fact that we had no camper experience at all, this was a very useful introduction to this new world. However, we had to stop soon for our first night next to the highway. Even though the place was not very glamorous, our first night in a camper was adventure enough.
Day 2 – Austria
Still very excited by this new way of travelling, we continued our way to Austria early in the morning. Moving forward very slowly, it took us most of the day to get to southern Austria and we therefore decided to have another stop before the Slovenian Border. We found a super nice free parking just next to a mini zoo and with a castle view in Rosegg. This was exactly how we imagined travelling in a camper. We had dinner on our mobile terrace before going to sleep.
Day 3 – Vintgar Gorge and Bled
As we were impatient to arrive in Slovenia, we crossed the border early in the morning, direction: the Vintgar Gorge in the Triglav National Park. As its name suggests, it is a gorge carved by the Radovna River and its artificial infrastructure allows visitors to walk along the water.
Even though we were not the only ones getting there in a mobile home, the huge parking spaces were easily accessible.
We expected the place to be crowded on a Sunday in the middle of August but our imagination was far away from what we experienced. Most of the time we were actually standing in a “traffic jam” and waited for the people in front of us to move forward. This was such a pity, as the place could have been really gorgeous.
Even though our parking space was forbidden at night, it was no problem to stay for a lunch break after visiting the gorge. It is just great to always have a fridge, a fully equipped kitchen and a terrace with you, wherever you go. After enjoying our lunch break, we decided to spend the Sunday afternoon at the famous lake Bled just a few kilometers away. However, this was not as easy as it seems…
Bled is a beautiful small village on the front of a lake with crystal clear water and on a sunny Sunday afternoon in August just one thing was missing: Parking space.
Travelling with a camper was not really making it better and even though there were some parking lots reserved for campers, they were all full. After driving around for at least one hour, we were super lucky that just when we passed by a grey and crowded parking lot at a 10 minutes walk from the lake another camper left and we took its place.
We had to pay 10€ for 24 hours without any service but, nevertheless, felt really happy when we finally managed to park our car. We put on our swim suits and took our bikes for a small tour around the lake. When we stopped for a break to swim, we had forgotten all about the trouble we went trough in order to get there.
Day 4 – Lake Bohinj
The next day, we continued our way to the Lake Bohinj only some kilometres away and I don’t know why but the place was much less crowded. When we arrived, we directly found a beautiful green and empty parking lot for 5€ per day (unfortunately forbidden at night). We took our bikes and swimsuits again and headed for a tour around the lake. Lake Bohinj is bigger, much more natural and surrounded by a beautiful mountain chain. The water is crystal clear and great for swimming.
After this wonderful morning activity, we went back to our caper van, installed our terrace on the green grass and enjoyed our afternoon break in front of our mobile home. As we had parked our car just at the end of the parking lot, we enjoyed a beautiful view.
After a while, we decided to move on and headed our way to Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia. We were not really sure what kind of parking space we would find but thanks to Park4night, we directy found a free park&ride parking lot for campers, with all services included. This was the first time we even had electricity from outside.
Sure, the place was not very beautiful and surrounded by big streets, but it was only three kilometres from the city centre of Ljubljana. A bus brought us directly from the parking lot to the city centre and we spent a nice evening in the restaurants and bars.
Day 5 – LjublJana
Today, we wanted to see more of this beautiful city. This time, we decided to take our bikes.
First, we went up the hill to the castle. And I must say, that we were quite disappointed because even though the outside of the castle is beautiful, the courtyard was renovated in such a modern way that we did not even want to enter. However, the small streets around the castle are really cute and authentic.
For lunch we went to a great traditional restaurant called Druga Violina in the Old Town of Ljubljana. The restaurant serves Slovenian food with local ingredients. It is also a project for people with several needs who either work on the farmland next to Ljubljana or serve in the restaurant.
In the afternoon, we visited the Old Town, the Metelkova, former military barracks which were transformed in an art squat and the Tivoli Park.
Before going back, we tasted some slovenian cake in the cafeteria on the skyscraper. The terrace and its view on the castle and the Old Town of Ljubljana are just amazing and prices are really affordable.
Day 6 – Caves and Sea side
Slovenia is not only famous for its mountains and lakes, it is also famous for its caves, so we decided to visit the Postojna caves.
When we arrived at the site at nine o’ clock in the morning, it was already really crowded. The parking lot is quite expensive but if you travel by camper van you should know that they have overnight tariffs as well. We got tickets for the tour at 11 am and were quite happy to have our campervan close by in order to start the day with a nice coffee break at our new “home”.
Yes, the tour of the caves was nice but it was just overloaded of people with huge groups and guides talking via microphones. This definitely harms the atmosphere of an otherwise great place.
The expensive ticket (it costs 23,90€!) includes a visit of the Predjama castle. The best way to get there is the free shuttle just in front of the cash desks. We did not expect much of this visit, but I must say that it was beautiful. The castle is built in a huge cliff and the audioguide is pretty well done with interesting stories about the history of the castle and medieval music. Even though it is sometimes a bit too much, actors walk around the castle and you feel like back in time. Predjama castle is definitely worth a visit!
As it was still early when we got back to the car, we decided to drive to the seaside, just a one hour drive away. Our plan was to go to Piran, a beautiful old town just next to the sea side. But at this season, finding a parking space was quite difficult again so we ended up driving back and forward between Piran and Portoroz for at least half an hour before finding a parking space at Portoroz around 3,5 km from Piran. Fortunately, there are nice cycling paths all the way long which offer a beautiful sea view and possibilities to swim.
Piran is a typical old town with small streets going up the hill. From there, you have an amazing view over the village and its sea. We climbed up the old tower, from the top of which the 360° view is just breathtaking.
As an overnight stay was forbidden at the parking space, we had to leave the sea side before 8pm and headed to a small and free parking lot next to the salt pans.
day 7 – Cross cave and (bear) watching
The next day, we went to the Region of Cerknica and its huge forests. We started our day by a visit of the Cross Cave or Krizna cave, which had nothing to do with our experience at Postojna caves. With very few infrastructure and no concrete pathways, we were equipped with boots and a torch to visit the caves.
We did the normal tourist tour which is open to everybody and takes a bit more than one hour. Without reservation, we were able to participate in a guided tour at 11 am for 12€ per Person. See more information here.
The specificity of the cave is the chain of lakes with green water. We particularly enjoyed the small boat tour on one of these lakes.
For the afternoon, we had organized a bear watching activity in the area. We payed almost 150€ per person but thought that seing brown bears in wild nature would be worth it.
When we arrived at the place at 3 pm, several other couples were distributed to different hides in the forest. A person brought us to the hide, and left us there. He told us not to eat, drink or make any kind of sound until he would come to get us some hours later.
Even though, the view on the forest was beautiful, we only saw one deer and no bear at all during our 5 hours stay. It was quite uncomfortable to sit five hours in a wooden hut without being allowed to move or make any noise. When we came back we learned that the other couples had made a similar disappointing experience.
day 8 – Velika planina
Our last day in Slovenia had come. We decided to already get closer to the Austrian border and directed ourselves to velika planina, a big pasture plateau. We took the cable car from Kamniška Bistrica, although we learned that it was possible to hike all the way up.
On the top, we were surprised by this idyllic place with green grass, wooden huts and cows walking around. The view on the surrounding mountain chain is also amazing. Some huts offer fresh milk and cheese for reasonable prices.
We decided to spend the night at our favorite parking space with castle view in Austria.
day 9 – Rothsee in germany
In order to enjoy a last day of our holidays, we went to the Rothsee, a lake in Germany next to Nuremberg. Unfortunately, at this time of the year, the parking for camper vans was super crowded and everybody had parked very close to each other. We still enjoyed the last hours next to the water before going home.
day 10 – driving home and Conclusion
It took us the whole day to drive home to Belgium. Time enough to review our camper experience.
As you might have noticed, we encountered some troubles finding nice parking lots because either they were forbidden at night or already full. In addition, some tourist attractions in Slovenia in the middle of August were just too crowded for us.
However, we really enjoyed our life in a camper and will definitely repeat the experience. Next time we will either chose a bigger, more camper friendly country or another period of the year (or maybe even both).