The Best of Both: City & Beach

When you’re starting to plan your next getaway the question inevitably arises: should we take a city break or beach vacation? People tend to have strong opinions one way or the other, and it can seem difficult to come up with a compromise. Especially when traveling to Europe.

best of both City & Beach graphic explaining 5 different european cities with both great city breaks and beaches to visit
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Fortunately, you don’t have to choose! There are plenty of beautiful, historic cities in Europe that also have relaxing, sun-soaked beaches. You can spend your European vacation exploring museums and wandering the cobblestone streets one day, and splashing in the stunning sea the next. We’ve created a quick guide to our top city/beach destinations with just a taste of what each has to offer. Read on below for even more detailed descriptions of what you’ll discover in these amazing places.

Vielle Ville -Nice’s old town features rustic narrow streets, colorful markets, and a vibrant atmosphere. You can enjoy beautiful architecture like the Cathédrale Sainte-Réparate or the 17th-century mansion Palais Lascaris. The old town includes the most popular dining destinations, charming buildings, markets, and monuments. It’s worth spending the day soaking up the history and atmosphere.

Musee d’Art Moderne et d’Art Contemporain (MAMAC)– This modern art museum has over 1300 pieces of art on display. The collection includes avant-garde works from the late 50s to the present day. And you can always head to the rooftop terrace for beautiful panoramic views of the city.

six bouquets of beautiful flowers at the flower market in Nice France

Marche Aux Fleurs Cours Saleya – Pretty striped awnings, hundreds of multicolored, intense, vivid bouquets, and exotic plants. This vibrant market has been in existence for over 120 years and is a must-see when in Nice. While the market is mainly flowers you can also find fruits, veggies, and stalls selling local delicacies. We recommend going early, bringing small bills, and enjoying this colorful, aromatic experience.

[Photo Credit: Kylie Paz via Unsplash]

aerial view of a beach with the light blue water on top and the grey pebbles covered with people on towels and pastel colored umbrellas in Page Beau Rivage inNice France

Castel Plage -The best views of the Bay of Angels with a chic and sophisticated atmosphere. There are several luxury hotels, bars, restaurants, and historic sites nearby. This smaller beach provides private decking down to the water’s edge, pebbles, and calm waters for the perfect break from the city.

Plage Beau Rivage– A longtime hotspot, this private beach is right at the foot of the old town. It’s the largest beach in the French Riviera and is packed with 5-star amenities. Dine in gourmet restaurants on the shore, sip on a cocktail from the luxe lounge bar or rent a classic blue striped sunbed. Head to the Beau Rivage for an iconic, glamorous French Riviera experience.

Coco Beach – Locals love this small public rocky outcrop. Here you won’t find rentals or beach clubs but just the chance to soak up the sun on the warm rocks and dive into the water. Located in a residential area about 5 minutes from the other beaches, this is the perfect spot if you want a quick dip.

[Photo Credit: Alex D’Alessio via Unsplash]


Las Ramblas– This famous promenade stretches 1.2km from the oldest port in the city to the new shopping center. Las Ramblas is full of shops, outdoor cafes, markets, theatre, and art. It is a completely pedestrian zone allowing you to take your time and soak in the atmosphere.

a curves wall covered in mosaics on a terrace overlooking the city of Barcelona at Gaudi's Park Guell

Gaudi’s Park Güell -This UNESCO World Heritage Site sits on a hill above the city. It offers stunning panoramic views, intriguing ceramics, Roman temples, and a forest of enchantment, all designed by the famous Catalan artist Antoni Gaudí in his signature style. Surrounding Gaudi’s beautiful work is a maze of carefully landscaped trails, soft green hills, intricate walls, and bridges, making this one of Barcelona’s most impressive parks.

La Boqueria Market The best and most famous food market near Las Ramblas. Originally dating back to a 1217 meat market, La Boqueria now serves a huge variety of meat, fish, fruit, veggies, spices, and local dishes. This is a foodie’s paradise from seafood tapas to fruit smoothies. When visiting Barcelona it’s a must to spend time soaking up the atmosphere and the explosion of colors.

[Photo Credit: Denise Jones via Unsplash]

golden sand and waves kissing the shore with the famous sail-shaped building in the background on Barcelonetta beach in Barcelona Spain

Barceloneta Beach – The oldest and best-loved beach, Barceloneta is linked with the fishing quarter of the same name. The most famous Barcelona beach and the one closest to the city. Its soft golden sands will get crowded in the peak summer season so arrive early to enjoy the classic neighborhood-by-the-sea atmosphere and many amenities.

Bogatell Beach – Classic Barcelona golden sands, a huge variety of recreational facilities, and easy mobility access — this beach has it all. There are smaller crowds here, and they tend to be a little older averaging around 35-38 years. Beautiful water, seafood, and sun lounger rentals make this the perfect place to spend a sun-soaked day.

Nova Icaria– A wide stretch of golden sand on this peaceful beach makes it perfect for families and big groups. Nova Icaria, right next to Bogatell, has the widest range of leisure amenities, including restaurants, bars, playgrounds, ping-pong, and beach volleyball. This was a beach made with large families in mind.

[Photo Credit: Alessio Rinella via Unsplash]

Pompeii & Vesuvius -An easy day-trip from Naples this famous archeological wonder is a must-see. You can book a tour with transportation included, or get a guided tour when you arrive. After marveling at the living museum of Pompeii, head up to Mt Vesuvius itself. The hike to the top is suitable for all ages with many rest areas along the way to admire the panoramic city views.

Historic City Center– This UNESCO World Heritage Site has existed through twenty-seven centuries of history! The largest historic center in Europe, you can admire the many museums, monasteries, catacombs, and over 200 churches. It’s impossible to see it all so we highly recommend taking a local tour to help you appreciate the highlights.

Sansevero Chapel Museum– Mystery and beauty blend to create one of the most enigmatic chapels in Europe. Sansevero Chapel is located in the historic city center and holds some of the greatest marble sculptures in the world. We recommend reading up on the history of the artists and the chapel before visiting.

[Photo Credit:David Mark via Pixabay]

top photo a wide bay with mountains in the distance and the sky at sunset in the bay of Naples, bottom photo people in a bay sitting on rocks with a yacht in the background

Gaiola Beach – This almost hidden beach is in the Posilipo district. The beach is divided into two sections — the public area, which is a local favorite swimming spot, and the marine protected area in Parco Sommerso Della Gaiola, with its untouched beauty and beautiful views. The blue-green water is perfect for swimming, kayaking, snorkeling, or scuba. Or just settle in on the rocks or small sandy strips to soak in the sun.

Miseno & Miliscola – Located in the Bacoli area at the extreme point of the Capo Miseno peninsula, these two beaches feature a long seaboard with several lidos, bars, cafes, restaurants, and facilities. This is the perfect spot for a picnic with friends or family, with soft sand, clear shallow waters, and a long coast.

Scoglione di Marachiaro – Marechiaro is a seaside town famous for its beauty. This beach can only be reached by boat from the Calata Ponticello, creating a unique experience. Crystal clear water is perfect for a swim, or you can lay your towel on the long rocks or rent a sunbed. This is the perfect beach for classic Italian charm and taking a dip in the Med.

[Photo Credit Top: Jan Gottweiss, Bottom: Ferran Feixas via Unsplash ]

Alfama Neighborhood– The oldest, most traditional, and charming neighborhood in Lisbon. There’s plenty to see as you wander the steep cobblestone lanes. Visit the Castelo de Sao Jorge, hop on the iconic tram, or head to Miradouro de Santa Luzia for breath-taking views on a romantic terrace. Enjoy the cafes, music, and festivals and soak up the atmosphere in this vibrant, lively neighborhood.

a view of red tiled roofs and white buildings including a small tower with the sea in the background looking from a height in Lisbon Portugal

Jerónimos Monastery – This UNESCO World Heritage Site was built in the 1500s and is a must-see site for history and culture. The church features tree-trunk size columns and exhibits a mastery of architecture. Mixing naturalistic elements and religious symbols in its magnificent cloisters and gardens it’s one of the most interesting monuments in Lisbon.

Museu Nacional do AzulejoA one-of-a-kind museum all about the famous Portuguese azulejos, or tiles. Housed in an old convent from 1509, the collection features pieces as far back as the 1400s. Exhibiting masterpieces of tile art, the azulejos tell a story, and the museum takes you through their history. This unique collection will let you see Lisbon with new appreciation.

[Photo Credit: Tom Byrom via Unsplash]

top photo: Carcavelos beach with golden sand and surfers catching waves with a historic castle walls in the background, bottom photo: Adraga golden sand beach with jagged rock formations at sunset in Lisbon Portugal

Carcavelos Beach – Located halfway between Lisbon and Cascais, this wide beach is one of the largest on the Lisbon coast. Strong waves make it perfect for surfing or bodyboarding, but there’s plenty to do here besides hitting the waves — including a scenic promenade for skaters and joggers, restaurants and bars with seating on the beach and parasols to rent. This is a lively beach, big and convenient to get to, only a 20 min train ride from the city center.

Adraga – Less than 45min from Lisbon, this beautiful beach features a rock arch, strong waves and is a favorite among locals. Perfect for walking, fishing, and families who want to play in the warm sand. Explore the beach caves or just admire the dramatic coastline from the restaurant terrace.

Arrabida Beaches – The coastline to the south of Lisbon is full of beautiful beaches. A 30 minute train ride from the city center, this area is a natural paradise and protected park. With calm crystal-clear waters, laid-back restaurants, and even some Roman ruins, stretches of golden sand, lush green hills, and vibrant colors make these beaches the perfect getaway.

[Photo Credit Top: Zachary Pearson, Bottom: Natalia Alves via Unsplash]

graphic wavy circle with Split Croatia written in the middle

Marjan Forest Park One of the most beautiful places to visit in Split. This park offers nature, peacefulness, and mystery. Formerly the residence of monks, it has been transformed into a top place for recreation. Perfect for cycling, hiking, walking, and enjoying the stunning views with a coffee from the cafe.

an aerial view of downtown Split Croatia with the harbor and red tiled roofs and mountains in the background


Historic Old Town – There’s a lot to see in Split’s historic old town, and much of it is well-marked with signs in English! Wander the pedestrian-only medieval historic streets, enjoy the cafes, bars, restaurants, and shops. Soak in the history all around you as you navigate the maze of cobblestone alleyways. Be sure to visit the Diocletian’s Palace, the 13th century Bell Tower and the statue of Nin!

Klis Fortress– This ancient stronghold is just outside of Split. You can admire ancient ruins and the 2000-year-old history that seeps from the stones. Sprawling over the hilltop, this fortress is full of lookouts and nooks and you can explore it all with complete freedom.

[Photo Credit:Spencer Davis via Unsplash]

a white stony path to the right of a bright blue sea with green tress overhanging the path in Split Croatia

Bačvice – This sandy beach is only a 10-minute walk from this historic old town. A very popular local beach in the heart of the city, the shallow waters are perfect for little ones. You can rent chairs and umbrellas, play water sports, rent jet skis and swim in the clear calm waters.

Ovčice – Just a 5-minute walk from Bacvice Beach, Ovcice is lined with cafes and restaurants with beautiful ocean views. This small pebble beach features many amenities, especially for children, such as rentals, playgrounds, and trampolines! It’s right next to the city and will give you a typical Croatian beach experience.

Ježinac To avoid the crowds of the main city beaches head to Jezinac at the base of Marjan Hill. This quieter and more peaceful beach is only 2 miles from the city center. It has an upscale atmosphere with luxury accommodations, dining, and amenities. It’s one of the most scenic pebble beaches, offering plenty of places to relax in the sun in style.

[Photo Credit: Tom Bradley via Unsplash]


These are just a small sample of what these fascinating cities and beautiful beaches have to offer, if your interest is piqued- let us know! We’re excited to help plan an adventure that combines the best of both worlds!

The Diversity of The Dolomites

Dolomites Guide Pin
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Le Dolomiti aren’t generally top of mind for Americans planning an Italian adventure but they should definitely be added to the list. Located along the Italian-Austrian border, just a few hours north of Venice, the Dolomites offer a breath of fresh air and scenery that will leave you speechless. Jagged pale mountains tower over green rolling hills, towns and villages mix Austrian Chalets with sunny Italian piazzas, medieval churches, and modern world-renowned restaurants. Reliable snowfall creates a winter wonderland of luxury ski resorts and breathtaking snowshoeing paths, while the lush alpine meadows burst into bloom along the hundreds of hiking trails and glacial lakes in the summer. These mountains are a nature lover’s paradise, but you don’t have to be an expert hiker or mountaineer to enjoy the trails, which range from leisurely walks to rock climbing. The Dolomites are a great travel alternative to the Swiss Alps and the perfect starting or ending to your adventure around “The Boot.”

 

The Basics

looking down on a winding road surrounded by trees

Getting Oriented: If you’re not familiar with exactly where the Dolomites are, that’s okay. You’re not alone. Here’s a helpful map to put the general location in perspective.

Getting Around: The closest airports available are either Venice or Innsbruck and from there you’ll need to take a bus, train, or car into the mountains. Towns both large and small are connected by a network of bus and rail lines, so getting around without a car isn’t impossible. However, if you want to be on your own schedule and arrive early at the more popular sights, we recommend renting a car. The famous Grande Strada Delle Dolomiti cuts through three alpine passes and is one of the most beautiful scenic roads in Europe. With lots of twists and turns without being too hair-raising, driving this road is reason enough to rent a car — just make sure you get an International Driver’s Permit before you arrive! 

[Photo Credit: Luke Stackpoole via Unsplash]

Weather- the Dolomites are characterized by short summers and snowy winters. Though both seasons enjoy brilliant sunshine since the Dolomites receive more sun than any other region of the Alps. There are two peak tourist seasons: the height of summer and the depth of winter. In the in-between seasons, you’ll find very few crowds but unpredictable weather, and most businesses and mountain huts closed. Summer Season begins in mid-June and lasts through August for warm sunny days. For all things snowy, the winter season lasts from December until the last snow in early April. 

an imposing spire mountain towers above a small local Inn in the Dolomites Italy

Rifugio – in addition to the range of wellness spas, hotels, chalets, and alpine cabins, the Dolomites give you the option of staying in a rifugio. Meaning refuge, these small inns are dotted along the trails in the heart of the mountains. When hiking from peak to peak you can stop for a delicious warm meal, a hot shower, and a bed for the night. You’re always welcome to stop in for a bite, but beds will have to be reserved well in advance. Rifugios are only open during the peak seasons and range from a dorm bed to romantic private rooms. Waking up to see the sunrise while ensconced in the mountain peaks makes staying at least one night in a rifugio a must-do when hiking in the Dolomites. 

[Photo Credit:Ruud Luijten via Unsplash]

Multiple Languages – due to its diverse history of cultures and borders, the Dolomites have four official languages: Italian, German, Ladin, and Friulan. German and Italian are spoken equally depending on the town and the person. In this case, multiple languages mean at least two names for each place! The German and the Italian names often don’t resemble each other in the slightest. While the buses and s,.[igns will have both the German and Italian versions when you ask the locals you may only get one or the other. We recommend noting down both names to help minimize your confusion. 

Where to Stay

With 26 mountain ranges stretching across five provinces, the Dolomites cover a lot of ground. To make sure you don’t spend more time driving than experiencing, we recommend selecting only 2-3 areas to explore during your trip. The most popular regions in the Dolomites can be broken up into about 5 slightly overlapping areas, each with diverse highlights but all with stunning beauty and excellent outdoor activities.

Alta Pusteria/ Hochpusterta

a beautiful mountain lake surrounded by grey jagged mountains in the Dolomites Italy

In the north-eastern corner, bordering Austria is the very popular area of Alta Pusteria. Along with the charming romantic towns and impressive mountain views, you’ll find a focus on wellness, gastronomy, and some of the most Instagram-famous sights. Alta Pusteria is perfect for tiny churches, extensive bike paths, exploring castles, enjoying lakes, and taking a restorative bath in the sulfurous waters.

[Photo Credit: Jonas Verstuyft via Unsplash]

Top Sites: 
Lago di Braies/Pragser Wildsee– the most famous and most beautiful lake in the Dolomites – enjoy the turquoise water by taking the 3.5km easy walking circuit around it, hire a boat to explore from its center or brave a swim in the glacial waters. 
Tre Cime/Drei Zinnen– the poster picture for the Dolomites, these three tall spires have created their own holiday region and national park. You could spend days hiking the trails in and around them, though their main circuit is a 3hr 10.5km trail. Head counterclockwise on the circuit for the best views from within or get an amazing view of the peaks themselves from the steep trail in Val Fiscalina to Rifugio Locatelli.

Towns to Stay in: 
Dobbiaco/Toblach – the largest and oldest town in the region. This charming village is the closest hub to Lago di Braies. Austrian cottages and luxury food await your stay.
San Candido/Innichen– a delightfully small hamlet close to the Austrian border but still with an Italian piazza in its center. It is often called The Gem of Val Pusteria. 

[Photo Credit: Jeison Higuita via Unsplash]

a turquoise lake reflecting a stoney mountain and surrounding forest with a line of wooden boats and boathouse on Lago di Braies Italy

Belluno/Belum

looking down on a small town between two imposing mountains in the Dolomites Italy

Often considered the gateway to the Dolomites, Belluno is a perfect base for exploring the eastern range. Eighty percent of the mountains are in the Belluno province so the sites to see are extensive. Glaciers, waterfalls, forests, and shopping, Belluno offers a lot of options, making it the perfect spot for those who want to try a bit of everything.

[Photo Credit: Julian Villella via Unsplash]

Top Sights
Rifugio Nuvolau– The oldest rifugio in the Dolomites and one of the best balcony views of the mountains. 
Lago di Sorapis/Sorapissee– the slightly hidden lake is a two-hour hike from Cortina but worth the otherworldly views. 
Lago Misurina/Misurinasee– clear water reflects the contours of the craggy mountains in this Pearl of the Dolomites. Easily reached from Alta Pusteria, this lake’s special microclimate makes it a center for respiratory health.
Val di Zoldo– a small alpine valley that is the heart of the mountaineers’ villages. This hidden gem is not very busy, so it feels very authentic and genuine. From here you can take the trail to Lago Coldai for a swim. 
Monte Cristallo/Hohe Schneide– in the center of the Dolomites, this mountain features four peaks that can be reached by cable car, mountaineering, or skiing. 

Towns to Stay In: 
Cortina d’Ampezzo– the most famous town around, often called the Queen of the Dolomites. Cortina is the jet-set, trendy and worldly fashionista town nestled in mountainous craggy spires. Not only can you easily get to Tre Cime and Lago di Braies from northerly Cortina, but you can also access a huge number of amazing peaks. But Cortina offers more than just alpine lakes and mountain hikes. Enjoy shopping, gastronomy, and entertainment of all kinds. For those who want a rounded luxury Dolomites experience, this is the place to start.

[Photo Credit:Piotr Guzik via Unsplash]

a large lake reflects the green trees and cloudy sky in the Dolomites

Val Gardena/Gröden

an italian espresso in the foreground and a ski resort in the background Dolomites Italy

This is the perfect place for those who want to leave their own transport behind and explore as much as they can from one spot. The beautiful Val Gardena boasts a colorful Ladin culture making it a truly unique experience. This culture-rich valley enjoys a slightly longer summer than other areas- often staying open until mid-October. It also features the most famous ski slopes – Sella Ronda. A network of cable cars and ski lifts connect 300 slopes, meaning you can ski all day without repeating a run.

[Photo Credit: Vlado Sestan via Unsplash]

Top Sites: 
Seceda Ridgeline– a jaw-dropping photo opportunity, the ridge is a two-hour hike from the gondola or a 5hr hike from the bottom. 
Passo Pordoi– the highest surfaced road through a pass- you can take a cable car to the top and find yourself between the Sella and Marmolada peaks. 
Monte Pic/ Pitschberg– not as well known, but you will be rewarded with stunning 360 views of the more famous peaks and you won’t have to share the view with anyone else. 

Towns to Stay In: 
Ortisei/ St Ulrich– the busiest town in Val Gardena because it’s the perfect home base. With several different chairlifts to the top peaks located in the center of town, you don’t need to worry about driving around to reach the amazing views.
Santa Cristina/St Christina– a tiny town located near Ortisei which gives you access to many of the lesser-known trails with fewer people.

[Photo Credit: Giorgi Shakarashvili via Unsplash]

an imposing mountain ridge with a sheer drop on one side and soft grassy hills on the other and imposing mountains in the background Dolomites Italy

Alta Badia/Hochabtai

grassy hills with a little hamlet in the center give way to forest and then imposing grey mountains in the Dolomites Italy

If you only have a short stay in the Dolomites then Alta Badia is the perfect place to spend it. This area features magical fairytale-like valleys, romantic locales, superb food, and extreme sports. Closely connected with Val Gardena, you’ll find some of the Sella Ronda slopes and the unique Ladin culture here as well. Enjoy the storybook landscapes, wellness facilities, and quiet alpine luxury.

[Photo Credit:Massimiliano Coradini via Unsplash]

Top Sites: 
Piz Boè– the highest peak of the Sella massif- this can be a challenging climb but the on-top-of-the-world feeling is worth it. 
Sasso di Santa Croce/ Ciaval– a breathtaking hike considered one of the most beautiful in the area. With a huge abundance of flora and fauna and mind-boggling views over the lush green valley. 
Cascate del Pisciadù– a picturesque hike through wildflower meadows lead to this thin 150m waterfall. This short hike is about an hour each way and can be done at a leisurely pace. 

Towns to Stay In: 
Corvara/Kurfar is located in the very center. It features many gondolas up to the peaks and is close enough to walk to the nearby villages. You can also enjoy any of the Michelin Star restaurants or play a round of golf at the club.
San Vigilio di Marebbe/ Vigil in Enneberg– a gateway to the Fanes-Sennes natural park this tiny hamlet emphasizes the romantic contrast between the wild and tame landscapes.

Alpe di Siusi/Seiser Alm

a green valley of hills with imposing craggy grey mountains in the background Dolomites Italy

The largest alpine meadow in Europe, with green rolling hills, wooden cabins, and not a car in sight. You can explore the meadows and pastures on horseback, between the scattered farms, or even go bathing in Lake Fie. Gentle soft green meadows and legends of witches and elves make this a delightful spot, especially for families. 

[Photo Credit: Pietro de Grandi via Unsplash]

Towns to Stay In:
Castelrotto/Kastelruth– the largest village at the foot of the region. A resort town that features a family-friendly ski park in the winter and a crisscrossing series of trailheads in the summer. 
Tires/ Tiers– a holiday village that is the definition of ensconcing yourself in nature. This tiny hamlet is best explored in summer with the many trails and climbing routes. 
Bolzano/Bozen– though not strictly in the area, Alpe di Siusi can be easily reached from the large city of Bolzano. This is truly a bustling city with castles, museums, and the opportunity to see the famous Iceman. 

[Photo Credit:Lukas Leitner via Unsplash]

looking at a flower dotted grassy meadow with wooden huts and imposing craggy grey mountains in the background in the Dolomites Italy

The Dolomites offer so many options and so much to explore it’s definitely an Italian destination you will want to visit again and again. If you feel inspired to plan a mountain adventure and need help choosing the best itinerary – let us know!

Spotlight on: Slovenia

Top Reasons to Visit Slovenia Pin
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Slovenia may not be top of mind when it comes to a European vacation, but it has all the romantic charm, history, and stunning beauty of top European destinations — and its under-the-radar status is a big selling point right now! As travel opens back up, and the usual European “hot spots” see surging crowds, Slovenia will be an even more attractive option. You can expect colorful cobblestone streets, stunning lakes, impressive mountains, castles, and vineyards. The Alps meet the Adriatic in this small country, so you can climb mountains in the morning and swim in the sea in the afternoon. Whether you’re looking for a city break, an outdoor escape, or a culinary adventure – Slovenia offers the best of it all. 


 

Cities

Old world meets new in Slovenia’s cities. Modern contemporary architecture is only a stone’s throw from castles, winding cobbled streets, and delightful historical centers. Start in the big cities and work your way outwards to the tiny villages and fairy-tale towns. 

a church and other buildings lit up at night viewed from across the river in Slovenia

Ljubljana is the capital and largest city in Slovenia, a great home base, and a perfect blend of modern and historic. Check out the famous Dragon Bridge and wander along the pedestrian shopping streets by the river. Take in stunning views from the 15th-century castle or from the Nebotičnik skyscraper terrace with a cocktail in hand. From the city, you can explore the many smaller historic mountain towns throughout the rest of the country. Or head to the coast to stay in Piran, Portorož, or Izola. Here you can enjoy the classic red roofs, Venetian influence, and a relaxed beachy atmosphere. 

[Photo Credit: David Enzel via Unsplash]

view of Piran Slovenia from a hill looking down on red roofs and a tall church spire that juts out into the sea
a looming castle set into a large stone cave in Slovenia

More Highlights:
* The Piran Salt Flats – a 700-year-old tradition that still uses classical methods and tools which help retain the special taste of Piran salt. Walk or bike along the pools, or enjoy a mineral treatment at the spas.

*Ptuj: Considered the oldest city in Slovenia this charming town is the definition of tradition and is famous for its architecture. 

*Kranjska Gora – your gateway to the stunning Julian Alps, this small mountain city boasts a breathtaking combination of nature and tradition. 

*Predjama Castle- The largest cave castle in the world!

[Photo Credit: Top: Mikita Karasiou via Unsplash; Bottom: Ivabalk via Pixabay]

Nature

Slovenia is a green paradise for hikers, cyclists, walkers, and adrenaline buffs. You can enjoy water sports like kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding, explore deep caves, go paragliding, horseback riding, or try the longest zip-line in Europe. There are hiking trails throughout the country as well as an abundance of lakes and rivers. In Slovenia, you simply must enjoy the great outdoors! 

traditional small wooden houses sit in a meadow surrounded by pines with snow capped alps in the background in Slovenia

Mountains & Gorges

Slovenia has three different Alpine ranges, each with its own unique character. They vary from rock-climbing on snow-capped peaks to gentle walking paths for the whole family. The biggest National Park is Triglav. Here you can head up into the Julian Alps or enjoy a section of the 167-mile walking trail designed with food and culture lovers in mind. 

[Photo Credit: Jonatan Pie via Unsplash]

Lakes

view of Lake Bled from atop a hill looking down at the blue lake with small island and surrounded by green looming mountains in Slovenia

Slovenia boasts a number of impressive, idyllic alpine lakes. The most famous, Lake Bled, has been named one of the top destinations in the world. You can take traditional boats across to the island, head up to Bled Castle for beautiful views or stay in the Bled Hotel. To avoid crowds, head a bit further south to Lake Bohinj which boasts incredible beauty, hiking, and water sports. If you’re stopping in Kranjska Gora on your way to Vršič Pass, be sure to jump into the blue-green waters of Lake Jasna – a popular summer swimming spot. 

[Photo Credit: Arnaud Steckle via Unsplash]

More Highlights:
*For the best views of Triglav head to the top of Vršič Pass – hike from there or continue the breathtaking drive down the peaks. 

*Vintgar Gorge– 1.6km of boardwalks that criss-cross the Radovna River are fun to explore, easy to walk, and have a sense of magic. 

*Velika Planina– the most beautiful mountain plateau is perfect for day trips or tours. You can even experience a day in the life of a traditional herdsman at one of the rare herdsman settlements still in the pastures. 

*Lipica Stud Farm- This farm has been breeding the famous white Lipizzan horses since 1580 and offers you the opportunity to interact, ride and learn about this beautiful breed. 

*Rafting and canyoning along the Soča River – take 2-3 hours to enjoy this exciting but not-too-challenging adventure.

[Photo Credit: George Bakos via Unsplash]

light shines onto the small river through the gorge with boardwalk on the side in Vintgar Gorge Slovenia

Food 

a piece of bread with fish, herbs and egg on it in Slovenia

With 24 distinct regions of diverse culinary styles. Slovenia was named the European Region of Gastronomy 2021 and is a foodies’ paradise. Influences from surrounding Italy, Austria, Croatia, Turkey, and Russia blend together for an original and unique food experience. Slovenia focuses on simple, local, whole ingredients transformed by creativity and experimentation. From Michelin star restaurants in the cities to farm-to-table restaurants in the countryside, Slovenia’s chefs love to experiment and create an experience with their food. Look for the “Gostilna Slovenija” designation for the restaurants which focus on sustainability and seasonal cuisine. 

With local cheeses and meats, hearty stews and soups, and a rich beekeeping tradition you’ll find a variety of culinary delights to try on your adventure. Slovenia also has an amazing wine region, with crisp, savory whites being their specialty. You can visit the vineyards and enjoy tastings throughout the country. 

[Photo Credit: Content Pixie via Unsplash]

a hand dusts powdered sugar on round pasteries in Slovenia

More Highlights:
*Potica– a holiday dessert bread filled with walnuts, hazelnuts, tarragon, and poppy. 

*Idrijski žlikrofi- traditional dough dumplings stuffed with potatoes, herbs, or meat. 

*The Tourist Farm Stoglej– traditional mountain farm where you can stay the night or just visit for a bite. 

*Velenje Underground– connected to the Coal Mining Museum, this dining room is 160 meters below the surface making it a truly unique dining experience. 

*Oldest Vine– Taste a wine made from the world’s oldest vine that is still producing grapes in the second largest city, Moribor.

[Photo Credit: Klara Avsenik via Unsplash]


Slovenia is full of surprises and wonders, so it won’t stay a hidden gem for long! If this post has inspired you to explore this amazing place and you’d like to find out more details- let us know! We’re always here to help you plan the best of the best for your European Adventures!

Six Scenic Train Trips through Europe

6 Scenic Train Trips through Europe Pin
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We all know that trains are an eco-friendly way to travel. They have more leg room than airplanes, with free wifi, and they conveniently drop you off right in the city center rather than at an airport on the outskirts.  While most countries in Europe and the UK have some form of high-speed rail connecting them, train travel can actually be SO much more than simply a way of getting from one destination to the next.

If you relish the journey itself and prefer to travel a little more slowly so you can soak in the beauty of the country you’re visiting, consider taking a scenic train trip. These trains won’t get you anywhere fast, but that’s not the point. They give you time to relax in luxury and hop on and off to explore tiny towns you might not have otherwise found. They can simplify multi-destination trips and they are the more sustainable and “green” travel option. Best of all, these trains are unique experiences in and of themselves that allow you to truly enjoy the beauty of the journey.

 


The Golden Eagle Danube Express

a church and other buildings lit up at night viewed from across the river in Slovenia

Journey: 11 days Distance: 1832km (1138mi) 
Route: Venice, Italy to Istanbul, Turkey

This train is luxury on wheels. With lush sleeping cabins, a posh cocktail bar, and incredible restaurants, you’ll truly be traveling in style. While the Danube Express makes a few different itineraries, The Balkan Explorer route is a perfect way to explore much of Eastern Europe. Blending culture and ancient tales, you’ll have a personal guide through nine countries including Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Greece, and Turkey! This trip is classical elegance paired with modern convenience and curated travel.

[Photo credit: David Enzel via Unsplash] 

Venice Simplon Orient Express

The interior of a sleeping car in the Venice Simplon Orient Express train - couch, seating are and bed with dark polished wood and gold trim

Journey:24hrs Distance: 1636km (1016mi) 
Route: Italy, France, Switzerland, Austria & England

When traveling through Western Europe, this train is a delight. With many of the original carriages from its namesake, this train will transport you from the 2020s to the 1920s in elegance and style. On offer are martinis at the piano bar and lobster in the restaurant car as you wind your way through mountains and meadows. This sleeper train lets you travel between a variety of cities in sophisticated, luxurious comfort. Choose between Venice, London, Geneva, Paris, Verona, Florence, or Innsbruck as your starting and ending points for an unforgettable night and a unique, glamorous experience.

[Photo Credit: Belmond]

Glacier Express

a red train traveling through snowy mountains towards the matterhorn in Switzerland

Journey: 7.5 hours Distance: 290km (180mi)
Route: Zermatt to St. Moritz Switzerland

Switzerland is known for its impressive mountains and awe-inspiring views, and its most famous train line does not disappoint. Traveling at only 38kph, this route is perfect for seeing Switzerland slowly. Spiral up mountains, across viaducts, and burrow through tunnels as you take the train from one luxury ski resort town to the next. The pace is slow and relaxing with panoramic windows so you won’t miss a moment. The train itself has on-board entertainment and a concierge to advise you on the best sights in the small towns you stop in. 

[Photo Credit:Kevin Schmid via Unsplash]

Bernina Express

a red train traveling next to stunning blue lake through a mountainous valley in Switzerland

Journey: 4hrs Distance 163km (101mi)
Route: St Moritz, Switzerland to Tirano, Italy

This trans-alpine journey loops through the Prattigau mountains before descending into the ravines of Italy below. With modern, panoramic cars and stunning views of the alps, lakes, and the famous Landwasser Viaduct ( a UNESCO world heritage site and a feat of engineering) this is a beautiful way to travel between the two countries. Traveling through snow-capped mountains and dramatic gorges crossing over 200 bridges and 50 tunnels, this trip will be a jaw-dropping 4 hours. 

[Photo Credit: Alessandro Prato via Unsplash]

Linha do Douro

a golden vally of vineyards and trees with a winding river off to the side in Portugal

Journey: 3.5 hours Distance: 160km (99mi) 
Route: Porto to Pocinho Portugal

More scenic than a day cruise from Porto, this train winds its way through the beautifully stunning Douro Valley. With terraced vineyards, steep hills, and the meandering river, the final section of this train trip is considered one of the most beautiful train lines in Europe. It offers plenty of time to stop in the quintessential small towns along the way to enjoy wine tastings, local food, and riverside walks. This is the perfect journey for a leisurely day trip in Portugal. 

[Photo Credit: Eduardo Lages via Unsplash]

West Highland Line 

aerial view of the glennfinnan viaduct surounded by yellow and orange mountains in Scotland

Journey: 5.5 hours Distance: 265km (164mi)
Route: Glasgow to Mallaig Scotland

No list would be complete without this impressive train route made more famous by the Harry Potter films. Whether you take the featured steam train or the typical passenger rail, this route is one of the top train journeys in the world. It weaves its way through a variety of scenery from moorlands to forested lochs to castle ruins. You’ll travel alongside the river Clyde and be able to stop in Fort William for some of the most beautiful hiking in the region. Three trains leave each day from Glasgow to Mallaig. Once you arrive in the little port town you can begin an island-hopping adventure into the Scottish Highlands including the Isle of Skye! 

[Photo Credit:Connor Mollison via Unsplash]

Even More

Every year, new train lines are opening up to make travel a little easier, a little more sustainable, and a little more enjoyable. Whether it’s sleeper trains from Amsterdam to Austria that opened this year or the GoldenPass Express with views over Lake Geneva set to open in December 2022, train travel through Europe is becoming easier and faster all the time. 

If these trips have inspired you and you want to find out more, or if you want to work out how to build your own epic train journey – let us know! We can help keep everything on track so you never feel overwhelmed. 

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