Take fifteen days, three countries, two girls, one Nest campervan. Add in few national parks, great camping spots, cheap wine, and countless natural wonders (and a few man-made ones, too) and mix well. The resulting road trip is likely to promote extreme happiness, encourage wild wanderlust, and inspire a love of the van lifestyle.
About the author:
Jazz is the founder of feminist clothing brand Mude Threads, and when she's not embroidering nakedness onto t-shirts she's out in her own converted campervan. Jazz and Elle discovered Nest Camper's Cuckoo van online last summer and HAD to rent it...they were so inspired they bought their own Berlingo to convert before even trying Nest's out! They have just got back from a three-week adventure in the Nest camper, discovering beautiful hidden gems of Slovenia, Italy and Austria. Along with her girlfriend, Elle, Jazz has started van-life (okay, their Berlingo conversion is more like car-life) small with the vision to convert many more in the future!! If you fancy buying any of Jazz's tees, feel free to use MUDE10 for a discount.
Lunch break at Lago Di Santa Croce (Italy)
We’ve just got back from our jam-packed roadtrip around Slovenia (hopping over into Italy and Austria too)! We spent three weeks travelling, eating, drinking (2€ cartons of wine only!) and sleeping in our rental campervan. From stumbling across local farm-stays, to swimming in pristine alpine waters. From ziplining (and simultaneously screaming/shitting/crying) our way through the mountains, to sipping on local wine in Slovenia’s answer to Tuscany. From sweating our way round 50 hairpin corners, to staring silently at green-screen views (#fakeviews). Its safe to say we listened to way too many Guilty Feminist podcast episodes on the road (we say 'on the road now', cos we're rad and cool and camp and stuff). I'm feeling #inspired to share our finds of hidden gems and must-sees in Slovenia and Italy!
Follow our route here - you have so much flexibility in Slovenia, since its such a small country. A change of heart can mean just a 1 hour journey to a totally new place!
Jazz's and Elle's road trip travel itinerary
We rented a converted Berlingo from the incredible Nest Campers - a Slovenian company owned by the friendliest duo, Nina and Vid. They welcome you into your new camper-home with a welcome box - redbulls, shower gels, nuts and an invaluable leaflet of Nest Camper recommendations.
(left:) Nest Camper boot window pops open for ultimate chill vibes.
(right:) Nest Camper essential welcome pack.
We don't have a bad word to say about our rental. If you're relatively low-maintenance (read: don't mind stinking a bit, living off pasta and just love waking up at 4am to a beautiful view), the Nest Camper is perf. It offered us so much flexibility - being able to explore the country at our own pace was bliss. renting the Berlingo is a great option as it is much less daunting than driving a campervan or transit, especially where Slovenian hairpin corners are concerned! Nest even have their own recommended routes depending on your time and interests! We’re a bit biased with our love for converted Berlingos as we recently converted our own!
Camping - download Park4Night App
I've written up our campsite recommendations at the end of the 'Must-sees, If-you-have-times, and Mehs' section. We didn’t plan or reserve any campsites or activities, we simply decided: if we like the sound of somewhere, we’ll go. It is completely possible to travel this route (and any other!) without booking campsites in advance. In fact, when we emailed asking to book we got replies along the lines of “you stupid?”. We travelled in peak season, which meant pitch prices were more expensive than usual, but we only ever came across one site that was fully booked.
Here's the 10/10 would recommends...
1. Ljubljana - the capital of Slovenia.
All the action happens along the riverfront, where its buzzing with restaurants and bars. Our time in Ljubljana was basically one long food-crawl for us, as outlined below.
- TOZD: casual tapas (Samantha Fox Tapas board for two people: melon, feta, prosciutto, olives...loads of local beers!)
- Romantika: gelateria with Rosemary & Chocolate ice cream...they also serve Parmesan gelato but we steered well clear of that.
- Delikatesa: €2 massive pizza slices...like massive!
- Dvorni Bar: treat yourself to expenny but delicious tapas and wine
- Puffy lil pancakes for a sweet treat
- Friday 'Open Kitchen': every Friday, Ljubljana hosts a pop-up open air food market. I'd genuinely recommend planning your trip around this market, making sure you're in the city for it. We recommend: OSHA (classic stir fry), Asian fried noodle stand with cinnamon and sugar coated vegetable spring rolls!! Deffo try the Zimbabwean curry.
- Atlantis water park: €8 for Heated Spa pools (Thermal Springs) and Adventure Land (take bus 27)
- Watch a film under the stars at Ljubljana Castle - take the funicular mechanism up the hill else it’s a big walk.
- Central Station ridiculously cheap mains and good vibes.
- Lockal: donut on top of your milkshake, that is all.
- Metelkova area for edgey mooching and decent lunch at the museum. The nightlife is meant to be on point here.
Piran is one of the only coastal areas of Slovenia, so it's a bit of a hotspot for seaside shenanigans. We spent a few hours here: it has a really calm feel to it, and the sea is super warm for a dunk. The salt pans and Moon Bay Beach are nearby.
3. Lago di Santa Croce (Italy)
From Piran to Lago Di Santa Croce was a pretty long drive, with toll roads, but the view at the lake made the wait well worth it. We were meant to drive straight through Lago di Santa Croce, but we ended up staying the night as we fell in love.
4. Dolomites Road Trip (Italy)
This was the highlight of the trip! The Great Dolomites Road Trip is a famous route through the Dolomiti Mountains and National Park. The joy of doing the trip in a camper is we could park up at any viewpoint (or sketchy cliff-edge), whack out the camping chairs and have a cuppa (that's a lie, they don’t sell English Breakfast Tea anywhere…). The photos of the views speak a thousand words.
Lunch break in the Dolomites
Utterly fake views on the Dolomites Road Trip
5. Lago di Carezza (Italy)
Uhhhh actually this was the highlight of the trip! Lago di Carezza was completely unexpected - I’m almost tempted to not tell you about it so you can also have the sheer amazement, followed by panic of where to park, when you spy the crystal blue waters through the trees. The lake is a stunning end to the Dolomites Road Trip (we went from Cortina D’Ampazzo towards Bolzano, but you can obviously do it the other way round). I really don’t think I’ve ever seen anything so perfect in my life; the water was so untouched and still that it reflected the mountains like a mirror.
6. Lago Dobbiacho
Once you’ve seen Lago di Carezza, no other lake will compare. Lago Dobbiacho tries pretty hard, poor guy. We stumbled across this lake after blue-splodge-spotting on the Sat Nav (highly recommend this game). We rented a pedalo for an hour for 12 Euros and ate our lunch in the middle of the lake, surrounded by swans and mountains. #Blessed.
Pedalo on Lake Dobbiacho
7. Soča Valley
We spent much more time in Soča Valley last year than this year. We are yet to discover the joys of white water rafting in the freezing river...
8. Triglav Road Trip
The Triglav Road Trip is so underrated - it's a beautiful drive (for a passenger lol) with 50 hairpin bends, with each corner revealing a new postcard-view of the Julian Alps. There’s only really one road through Triglav National Park so you can’t miss it. Starting at Lake Jasna (don’t be fooled, it may look like a friendly lake but it's Alpine and will freeze your tits off), weave your way through the mountains and end up at Vršič Pass - a stunning viewpoint, with friendly local sheep roaming around.
Lake Bled is the obvious must-see of Slovenia, but it’s kind of got to a point now where it's reached maximum capacity. We couldn’t find a parking space so physically could not stop there - we visited last year and had a great time. The lake is lukewarm for a dip, and the castle (Bled Grad) on the hill is a stunning viewpoint overlooking the lake. I’d recommend getting to Bled early in the morning to guarantee parking and serenity.
Bled Island papped from the castle on the hill.
9. Vintgar Gorge
This is a meandering trail alongside misty green waters, that have carved out the gorge. If you go early in the morning the mist is still clearing and it feels so magical!
10. Lake Bohinj
Lake Bohinj is the lesser-known Sovenian lake, 20 minutes from Bled. We spent a lot of time here. It's much quieter than Lake Bled, but has all the same beauty. Highly recommend.
11. Waterfall Savica
A 20 minute trail culminating in a breathtaking view of Waterfall Savica, near Bohinj.
12. Planica Zipline
Planica Zipline is the steepest in the world, since the zipline starts over their world famous Ski Jump! The zipline is ‘566 m long, and you will reach the speed of up to 85 km/h in just a few seconds’...I can vouch for this. It's 25 Euros for a 40 second experience, but we thought it was well worth it.
Smiling through the anxiety.
13. Goriška Brda
Slovenia’s Little Tuscany! Set in a stunning valley laced with vineyards, Goriska Brda is calm and tranquil. I literally couldn’t take my eyes off the view. Not many tourists know about this hidden gem, so it’s a welcome break after the crowds at Bled. We parked at the picturesque lil medieval town called Smartno, resting on a hill overlooking the vineyards. We wandered into a local shop called Nona Louisa, a natural cosmetic and liquor producer, after their unreal lavender scent wafted into the street. We picked up some local Olive Liquor and Cabernet Sauvignon scented bath soaps...
Now you're up to date with our 'must-see's, I'll leave these 'if-you've-got'time's and 'meh's here for your own perusal...
- Štanjel - a little medieval town located on the Karst Plateau, with breathtaking views overlooking the Vipava Valley. We picked up some local honey (self-service, they trust you'll leave the correct amount of money per jar you choose!). Here we saw albino donkeys (I don't think this is a real tourist attraction, but we made it one) and took a stroll in Ferrari's Garden.
- The Šunik Water Grove - a trail of turquoise water pools, gorges and waterfalls.
- Zelenci Springs - Zelenci is a nature reserve, with the springs being the source of the river. Its a quiet spot, just a five minute walk from the car park. The Zelenci Springs were almost underwhelming, but the peace of the place was captivating. We dunked our feet and spotted little thermal springs bubbling below the surface. Worth stopping here for a lunch break.
- Camp Šobec with private lake
- Tolmin Gorge - we arrived too late in the day (there's a theme here...must wake up early ugh) to grab a parking spot, but the gorges are supposed to be beautiful.
- Predjama Castle - the largest cave castle in the world! Built on caves and secret passages, its a really unusual sight. We didn't pay to go into the castle or caves (it was over 25 euros), so we sat comfortably for free with this view:
Castle in the cave
The ‘Meh’s - people may tell you to visit these places...those people are not your friends.
- Lipica Horses - the home of world-famous white Lipizzaner show horses. To be fair, we arent horsey people, but it cost 12 euros each to just get into the Lipizzaner complex. We saw one horse, that was brown. If you've got the pennies, this would be worth going to and seeing the show.
- Faaker-See - this Austrian lake is heavily commercialised to the point where there is no free or public access! The area has been over-developed and there's a weird 50's Blackpool vibe to it. Everything is not-quite-new but costs a fortune. We didn't even see the lake as we got fed up of trying to access it via private cul-de-sacs. Give it a miss.
Camp Lijak: 6 Ozeljan, 5261 Ozeljan, Slovenia.
This was the ONLY campsite we booked in advance! Affordable, very quiet with beautiful views of surrounding mountains. Possibility to rent a bike for 3 Euros an hour. Brand new restaurant and bakery. Swimming ‘pool’ is a great little addition, despite it being a relatively deep glorified paddling pool. Electric, average facilities.
Camp Vovk, Osp: 7 Osp, 6275 Osp, Slovenia.
We ended up being holed-up in Camp Vovk’s Inn for an hour or so as we waited for a crazy storm to pass. The Inn is super cosy and seconds away from their camping ground across the road. Very cheap alcohol (3 Euros for a beer and wine), average facilities. 26 Euros for one night, two people, campervan and electric.
Koper Camper Stop: Sermin, 6000 Koper, Slovenia.
Our first experience of a bargain ‘camper stop’. 10 Euros for two people, campervan and electric. Incredibly clean facilities (showers too), better than most campsites! Felt very secure at night, as the car park was surrounded by fencing that required a Koper Card (bought at the machine at entrance) to access. Supermarkets and McDonalds five minute walk.
Campeggio Sarathei: 13, Viale Al Lago, 32016 Farra D'Alpago BL, Italy
Expensive (35 Euros for one night, two people, one campervan and electric) but ideal location. The campsite backs onto the beautiful. Once the tourists and visitors have left, the lake becomes quiet and peaceful at sunset. There is a restaurant on-site, with the option of asking in advance for fresh bread to be made by 8:30am the next morning! Beautiful facilities.
Farmstay near Vilpiano: 9 Via Nazionale, 39010 Gargazzone, Italy.
We initially pulled up at the larger campsite two minutes down the road, but found no reception or welcome. We moved on and stumbled across a welcoming Farmstay on a working farm. Surrounded by chickens and ducks, with a stunning view of the mountains. Cost us just 12 Euros for one night with electric. No showers unfortunately. There’s a bit of a language barrier.
Camping Flaschberger: Obervellach 27, 9620 Obervellach, Austria
Ahem, we like to call this one Camping Crashberger. We reversed into a tree as we were finding a spot, losing our deposit for the rented van. Nightmare, but I'd like to say here how BLOODY BRILLIANT Nest Campers were with #crashgate. As far as the campsite goes, it was fine. Good facilities, good views, cafe on-site, pool.
Triglav Trenta: 18a Trenta, 5232 Trenta, Slovenia.
One of our favourite stays! Great price, friendly atmosphere and decent facilities. Take the scenic walk along the river (about 40 mins) to get to the nearest shop - or don't, the shop arrives by van every morning at the campsite to get your essentials. There’s a bar two minutes down the road too. Takes 20 seconds to reach the river and dip ya toes (you won’t wanna dip anything else…).
Camp Špik: 16 Jezerci, 4282 Gozd Martuljek, Slovenia.
Expensive for what it was - bar on site and amazing facilities, but the showers were freezing. We ended up using our campervan’s tiny sink as an emergency shower. Funny looks all round.
Camp Šobec: Šobčeva cesta 25, 4248 Lesce, Slovenia.
We had trouble finding spaces at campsites near Bled! This led us to the extortionately priced camp Sobec. It ended up being worth the money to some extent, as it has it's own private lake for campers (freezing, but gotta push through it). Decent facilities.
Planina Camper Stop: Ratece, 4283 Ratece, Slovenia.
We loved this camper stop! Cost us 7 Euros a night, with electricity! A quiet little car park area with quite a few campers and motorhomes turning up. WC and facilities were clean (you can request a shower for a few euros, at the Inn). The Inn is open late and serves food and drink - 1 Euro for a glass of wine!
Kamp Siber: 92 Poljubinj, 5220 Poljubinj, Slovenia
Quiet campsite right next to the river (two minute walk). There’s a bar on site, but you have to walk through the bar to get to and from the showers and toilets.
Autocamp Mirjam Bar: 19 Razdrto, 6225 Razdrto Slovenia.
Buzzing about this one! Mirjam Bar campsite is about 15 minutes from Predjama Castle. Our final camping spot of the hols! Incredibly friendly hosts who rent out rooms and apartments above their bar. Behind the building is a small car park and grassy area, a pool, and even a wellness area. It cost us 12 Euros a night for two people with electricity! They charge 1 Euro per person for use of the shower. The pool is completely free and open to campers!
The Route: here are the bare bones of our route.
CAMP: KOPER CAMPERSTOP
LAGO DI SANTA CROCE
CAMP: LAGO DI SANTA CROCE
DOLOMITES ROAD TRIP (Cortina D’Ampazzo to Bolzano)
LAGO DI CAREZZA
CAMP: BOLZANO FARMSTAY
CAMP: FLASCHBERGER AUSTRIA
SOCA VALLEY & BOVEC
CAMP: TRIGLAV TRENTA
TRIGLAV ROAD TRIP: Vršič Pass
SUNIK WATER GROVE
PLANICA ZIPLINE KRANJSKA GORA Planica Ski Jump
LAKE BLED & BOHINJ
BOHINJ WATERFALL SAVICA
CAMP: PLANINA CAMPER STOP
CAMP: LITTLE TUSCANY Goriška Brda
CAMP: MIRJAM BAR
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