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1. Posted by Anna95 (Budding Member 6 posts) 24w Star this if you like it!

Hello everyone! :),

My boyfriend and I will take a road trip through Europe in October 2017 (for about a month) and we're thinking about renting a campervan and finding good spots to hike/cycle and do other activities. I was wondering if you guys could give me some tips on where to go? Our itinerary is something like: South-France, Spain, Portugal, North-Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Greece, Austria and Switzerland. The Alps are high on our list, so is Caminito del Ray in Spain, Matterhorn in Switserzland, the Plitvice Lakes in Croatia, Lake Bled& Park Triglav in Slovenia. We are looking for lesser known areas or just something that stands out.

Thanks in advance! :) I'm really looking forward to your reactions.

- Anna

[ Edit: Edited on 06-Jan-2017, at 10:16 by Anna95 ]

2. Posted by Sander (Moderator 5055 posts) 24w Star this if you like it!

Most of my hiking in Europe has taken place north of where you're going, so I don't have a whole lot of recommendations, but in Spain, I was impressed by the hiking opportunities in Sierra de Grazalema, so that's a location you might like to check out. Nearby non-hiking destinations of interest would be Ronda and Arcos de la Frontera, which are both interesting small cities worth exploring for a day or two.

Btw, personally I would find your intended itinerary to be far too ambitious for a month's worth of travel. That's a lot of distance to cover, and just being on the road always tires me so much that I prefer to stay in the same destination for longer, with fewer travel days. That means I'd try to stick to just 2-3 countries max for a month. You might be different, but something to consider, if you haven't consciously thought about that yet.

3. Posted by Alain13 (Respected Member 105 posts) 24w Star this if you like it!

Hello,
I would like to suggest you some nice areas for hiking in Provence, south of France.
First in Parc National des Calanques where you can spend at least 3 days:
- One going to calanques of Port-Miou, Port Pin and En-Vau, close to Cassis
- One going to calanques of Sormiou, Morgiou and Sugiton, closer to Marseille
- One hiking from La Ciotat to Cassis.
in the same area, there are also some nice hikes to Frioul Islands, to côte bleue, to Montagne Sainte Victoire...
Avoid summer: too hot for walking!! and often partially closed!

Second wonderful area is Parc Régional du Verdon where you can also go several days into and above the canyons. Spring, summer and automn are nice there.

Then you have the Alps of South: Parc national du Mercantour, Parc régional du Queyras, Parc national des Ecrins. i am not so familiar with these ones but a lot of opportunities for hiking and cycling. The best period there is in Summer.

[ Edit: Edited on 07-Jan-2017, at 09:48 by Alain13 ]

4. Posted by Anna95 (Budding Member 6 posts) 23w Star this if you like it!

Hey guys,

Thanks for the advice! :)

@Sander I know, I'm trying to eliminate some destinations/countries, but well I'm sure you know how hard that is. Do you think it would be possible to skip Italy, but still go to Greece and Croatia? Or would the distance won with this hardly matter?

[ Edit: Edited on 10-Jan-2017, at 00:13 by Anna95 ]

5. Posted by Sander (Moderator 5055 posts) 23w Star this if you like it!

Quoting Anna95

@Sander I know, I'm trying to eliminate some destinations/countries, but well I'm sure you know how hard that is. Do you think it would be possible to skip Italy, but still go to Greece and Croatia? Or would the distance won with this hardly matter?

Honestly, I'd personally choose to focus on either south-France / Spain / Portugal, or on North Italy / Austria / Switzerland, or on Slovenia / Croatia / Greece. Those are all very varied regions that still have a bit of a similar "theme" to them. Three countries in a month feels about right to me for getting an overview and still going somewhat in depth. (Really, just look at all the suggestions Alain made. You could spend two weeks exploring just those regions, and you still wouldn't have exhausted the possibilities there.) You could maybe add a fourth, but that's really where I would draw the line. Dropping just a single one will hardly make a dent in the amount of time you'll be spending on just getting from place to place. That said, if you do want to visit most, and stick to only dropping one or two, then I'd do it from either geographical end: Drop Spain and Portugal, or drop Croatia and Greece.

Finally, another thing to consider: one way car rental between countries is almost never possible, and when it is, it tends to be extremely costly. This means you'd probably have to bring the campervan back to your starting point after the month is over. So limiting your countries visited to a selection that makes it easy to do a large loop would probably be preferable over stringing them all after each other.

[ Edit: Edited on 10-Jan-2017, at 09:58 by Sander ]

6. Posted by Jackson81 (Inactive 14 posts) 23w Star this if you like it!

I hope you have a great trip, Europe is lovely to visit and the places you have in mind are wonderful!

Post 7 was removed by a moderator
8. Posted by OldPro (Inactive 400 posts) 23w Star this if you like it!

The two commonest mistakes that travellers make are trying to cover too much in too little time and packing too much.

It is not hard to eliminate places if you don't put them on a list in the first place. Most people start by coming up with a list of places and then trying to fit them into a fixed amount of time. No doubt that is why you have done. I suggest you try the opposite approach. First you determine how many places you are likely to have time to visit and then prioritize the list of the 100s of places that interest you to see which ones you can visit.
One rule of thumb you can use to determine how many places you can visit is the 'Rule of 3s'. That says, never spend less than 3 full days/4 nights in a place unless it is just an overnight stop between A and B. Note the 'less than' in that rule. Most people would agree that major destinations like Rome or Paris need more than 3 days to do them justice. The 3 days is a minimum. Also note the '3/4'. To spend 3 full days in a place you have to spend 4 nights in that place. Most people when counting days, forget to count travel time separately. If you are enroute from A to B, you are not in A or B. Travel time is in that sense, lost time.

That brings you to best use of time. Using the 3/4 rule, you can expect to spend 75% of your time in places and 25% of your time in between places. We all want to see more places but you have to look for a balance. If you move every second day, then you will only spend 50% of your time in places, seeing and doing things. Does that sound like a good balance to you?

It also follows that the farther apart and the slower to get to that places are, the more time you will lose to moving. That is why staying within a smaller area is better. I would never include Spain and Greece in a one month road trip. Barcelona to Athens by road is a 3,000 km. drive. That's a lot of hours looking at the countryside through glass. You want to spend your time in nature, not looking through a window at nature.

Going back to the rule of 3s, your month would allow you to visit 7 places. 30 days minus arrival and departure leaves 28 divided by 4 equals 7. You named entire countries. You could probably name 7 specific places in any one of the countries you named. I could easily name 7 in Switzerland alone for example.

You mention the Matterhorn. The closest you can get by road is Tasch. There is a small campground for your RV their. Do you really think there is much point in spending less than 4 nights there? How long will it have taken you and from where, to get there? Where will you go from there and how long will it take you to get to that next place?

Last September, my wife and I spent 10 days hiking in the Davos-Klosters area. A very small area and yet we still did not have enough time to do all the hikes we would have liked to do. Have a look here:
http://www.davos.ch/en/summer/activities/walking/
How much time would your current plan allow you to spend assuming you even went there at all? A day, 2 days?

Quantity is about ticking names off a list. Quality is about spending time in a place.

9. Posted by breathabbott (Budding Member 4 posts) 23w Star this if you like it!

I agree with you the nature in Europe is awesome. I fully enjoyed Europe in last year with my family.

10. Posted by Anna95 (Budding Member 6 posts) 23w Star this if you like it!

Hey guys,

Thanks for all the advice! :). I really appreciate it!
I'll try to come up with a list of things I really enjoyed after the roadtrip and let you know! :) Perhaps I'll find some hidden gems myself.

@OldPro, yes that's what we did, our initial plan was to travel for two months, so we would have had more time, but unfortunately it's not really possible to do that for us at that time. I know I don't want to be 'checking boxes' but there are so many beautiful places. I know you can spent a lot of time in one place :), we did it ourselves in Cesky raj (bohemian paradise) in the Czech Republic. We spent two weeks there, it was amazing. We dit do some daytrips (one to bohemian Switzerland and one to prahovsky skaly), but they weren't as good as bohemian paradise, less variety and more tourists. I get your point about not wanting to travel to much. Perhaps we should just go to the father away countries, because they are less easy to reach in a normal summer vacation. (Greece, Croatia, Slovenia) and perhaps if we have time left on the way back we could stop in Austria or Switzerland. I'll have to discuss this with my boyfriend.

Anyway, thanks for all the advices! :)