European Road Trip in a Campervan – Part 1

Road Trip in a self build camper – Final preparations!

Finally, it was time for our European Road Trip in a self build camper! Now I like to think that I am quite organised.  Furthermore, I feel that I am pretty good with deadlines.  However when it comes to the van, I always have a long list of tweaks and improvements that I want to make.  Consequently, the evening before departure was a late one as I continued to tackle some of these tasks!

Planning a trip of your own? Why not check out my Top Tips for planning a Road Trip? 

Don’t know what to pack? No problem, I have created a handy packing list!

European Road Trip in a self build camper: Day 1  [Total Mileage: 400]

[Country: England, France, Belgium, Germany]

After an early start, we left home at 05:30, topped up with fuel and headed for Dover!  As expected there was no traffic and so we arrived with plenty of time to spare.  The stationary queue for the ferry was the perfect place to sit and have a coffee along with some breakfast!

Soon it was time to board and we headed to the open deck. Luckily the weather was calm and we had a nice smooth crossing. Finally we arrived in France!

Our European Road Trip in our self build camper van had begun! Dover Calais Ferry Crossing

As per our planning, we headed North from Calais, through Belgium and into Germany.  The traffic was light and so we pushed on, only stopping for a few coffee breaks.  As early evening approached, Erica looked on the app Park4Night and found a place to stay in a village called Bad Camberg.

Bad Camberg

Our overnight stop was a lovely purpose built camper stop including water service point.  Best of all, it was completely free! Once we had parked up, we headed into the town to explore.  We found a lovely Bavarian Old Town with churches and towers to explore. 

Our first stop on our European Road Trip, Bad Camberg
The Square in Bad Camberg

The town was certainly a lovely place to spend our first evening.  Furthermore, one of the parks was hosting a music festival with live music and food.  Naturally we stopped to enjoy and soak up the atmosphere along with a snack.

Bad Camberg festival
We even stumbled upon a small festival!

We decided to have dinner in the van as Erica had brought some prepared meals for the first night.  After a little organising of the van, we had an early night accompanied by the sound of a nearby disco!

European Road Trip in a self build camper: Day 2  [Total Mileage: 795]

[Country: Germany, Austria]

We awoke at 7am after a very good night’s sleep, despite being parked near to the festival site.  After breakfast, we departed Bad Camberg at 08:30 and drove to just outside Munich where we had lunch in the service area.  Keen to get some more miles out of the way and faced with increasing traffic, we soon pushed on and made our way into Austria.

Ellmau

We arrived in Ellmau at around 5pm and headed up into the mountains where we sat and admired the stunning view. 

Citroen Relay, Fiat Ducato, Peugeot Boxer Self build campervan overlooking Ellmau during a European Road Trip
Motorhome overlooking Ellmau

Ellmau holds a lot of memories for me as it is a place that I used to visit yearly for family skiing holidays.  Consequently, it was lovely to return so many years later.  Gadget2 (the camper) also hit a milestone of 100,000 miles just before we arrived. I am of course excited to what the next 100,000 miles will bring!  

Eventually, we left Ellmau and continued on our journey. After a short drive we arrived in Kitzbuhel and wandered around for a while.  It was rather strange to be in a ski resort in the middle of summer!  As evening approached, we decided to park up for the night a short drive out of the town. Finally, we had dinner in the van looking out to the beautiful mountains behind. Beautiful.

Overnight Stop near Kitzbuhel
Our overnight stop above Kitzbuhel

European Road Trip in a self build camper: Day 3  [Total Mileage: 930]

[Country: Austria]

We woke to pouring rain which had luckily passed by the time we opened the van doors.  Erica had a shower whilst I investigated why the battery wasn’t charging. Then it was onto the road and down through the cloud layer!  Our destination was the Großglockner Pass, a 40 minute drive away.

Großglockner Pass

The Großglockner Pass is a private toll road built specifically for tourists back in the 1930s and is well worth visiting! We paid the €35 at the toll gate and began our ascent. The views were truly breathtaking along the road with tight hairpin bends and steep drops!  Luckily, the road was well maintained and had many parking areas for visitors to enjoy the spectacular views.

Self Build campervan road trip - Großglockner Pass
Großglockner Pass
Winding Road! Großglockner Pass was a highlight of our road trip by camper
Winding road of the Großglockner Pass
Citroen Relay (similar to the Fiat ducato, Peugeot Boxer) Self build campervan on a road trip parked in front of mountains
Stunning view of the motorhome

We slowly continued our ascent, stopping every miles to enjoy our surroundings with some coffee. The higher we climbed, the colder it got until we eventually found snow. At the summit there was an excellent visitor centre and viewing platform offering stunning views across the glacier.

View from the Motorhome at the Top of Großglockner Pass. Austria. Amazing road for a road trip
It was certainly a very winding road!
Summit of Großglockner Pass
The visitor centre at the summit

Eventually it was time to begin our decent.  Luckily, we found a perfect spot to sit and have lunch with a stunning view.  We even made time to play the guitar!   The decent seemed to go on for miles, however we finally reached the valley below.  By now it was getting late, and needed somewhere to spend the night.  After a little bit of research, we found a lovely restaurant that allowed us to spend the night in their car park.   The food was also excellent!

European Road Trip in a self build camper: Day 4  [Total Mileage:980]

[Country: Austria, Slovenia]

After breakfast we headed towards the 4.8 mile long Karawanlzen Tunnel for the border of Austria & Slovenia. It’s easy to forget just what a feet of engineering tunnels such as this actually are. Thanks to the tunnel, we soon arrived in Slovenia and headed straight for Lake Bled. 

Lake Bled

Lake Bled was very busy and expensive for parking.  Consequently, we headed a few miles out of the town and parked in a lay by. We then got the bikes out and started to make our way back to the town. This seemed like an excellent idea, right up until Erica’s bike got a puncture!   

Undeterred and with the bike soon fixed, we carried on our journey to the lake where we found an ice cream stall.  I sat on a lovely white bench eating my ice cream and admiring the rather beautiful view. Erica chose to sit on the grass with her ice cream.

Lake Bled, Slovenia. Touring by bike
Beautiful Lake Bled

After half an hour sitting, we decided to cycle further around the lake towards Bled Castle.  Upon leaving, Erica looked at me and started laughing uncontrollably along with a few members of the public. I had finally discovered the reason why the bench looked so clean and bright white.  Consequently I had to spend the rest of the day walking around Lake Bled with three white paint stripes across my trousers…

Wet Paint on the bench during our European Road Trip
Wet Paint and black trousers are a bad combination!

Once Erica had stopped laughing, we continued on our way to the bottom of the climb to Bled Castle where we locked up the bikes.  The 130m climb was worth it as the castle offered commanding views across the lake.  Furthermore, we were able to enjoy a well earned drink in the cafe!

 
View from Bled Castle. A stunning stop on on Campervan Road Trip through Slovenia
The view from Bled Castle

After touring the castle and museum, we headed back down to the bikes and continued our cycle around the lake.  Eventually, we arrived back where we had started and returned to the van where we had lunch.

Lake Bohinj

After lunch, we drove to Lake Bohinj, around a 30 minute drive away.  In many ways this was more enjoyable than Lake Bled, simply because there were so few people around!  We sat on the pontoon and watched the fish pass beneath us.

Lake Bohinj
Lake Bohinj
Fish beneath pontoon of Lake Bohinj
Fish in the lake’s crystal clear water

Savica Waterfall

Our final stop of the day was Savica Waterfall, a short drive into the mountains above Lake Bohinj. We parked up in the large car park and began the climb to the waterfall.  The noise was stunning and the cool mist welcoming.  Once at the waterfall, we were rewarded with a great view of the waterfall and of the lake below us.

Savica Waterfall, Slovenia
Savica Waterfall

By now it was early evening and so time to find somewhere to spend the night.  We found a local campsite, however these were tightly packed and very expensive.  Consequently, we looked on the app CamperContact and found a lovely stop a short drive away in Bohinjska Bistrica. For around £8 we had electricity, water and waste. After a short walk in to town for some shopping, we returned to the van where we cooked dinner before retiring for the night.

Campervans parked at Bohinjska Bistrica camperstop
Our self build Camper parked at Bohinjska Bistrica camperstop

European Road Trip in a self build camper: Day 5  [Total Mileage:1100]

[Country: Slovenia]

Both of us slept very well, and woke early.  After breakfast and a shower, we tidied the van and replenished the water before hitting the road towards Ljubljana. Our route took us back past Lake Bled and after an hour, we arrived at Dolgi Most Park & Ride.  From here we took a bus into the Old Town.

Ljubljana

Ljubljana’s Old Town is filled with cobbled streets, lots of cafes, a market and many bridges over the River Ljubljanica.  Consequently, we spent some considerable time wandering around taking in the atmosphere and drinking coffee!

Bridge over Ljubljanica. A lovely stop on our campervan road trip!
One of the many bridges of the River Ljubljanica
Cobbled street, Ljubljana during our European road trip by motorhome
One of the many cobbled streets!

After a while, we decided to climb up to Ljubljana Castle.  The climb was well worth it as we were rewarded with stunning views across the city. Furthermore, the castle was a pleasant place to explore!

View from Ljubljana Castle
The view from Ljubljana Castle

We soon headed back down into the city and made our way to the cathedral.Both Erica and I really enjoyed our visit and felt it was well worth the 2 Euro entry fee!  

The organ in ljubljana cathedral
Organ inside Ljubljana cathedral

As it was now approaching lunchtime, we found a lovely little riverside cafe for lunch.  We then headed into a local market to buy some fruit to re-stock the van before getting the bus back to the van.

Walk through Ljubljana
Walking back through the centre of Ljubljana

Haasberg Mansion

We planed to visit some caves during the afternoon, however en-route stopped at Haasberg Mansion.  This was an impressive ruined mansion with easy access from a nearby car park.  Furthermore, the views from the mansion were rather picturesque and so we spent some time with the camera taking photos.

Citroen Relay Self build motorhome parked at Haasberg Mansion
The campervan below Haasberg Mansion

Planina Cave

The drive to Planina Cave was only around 2 miles, and so we arrived here quickly. At first we were unsure if we had come to the right place, however soon another couple arrived. Once we got chatting, we found that they were a French couple travelling with their young child by bike!  Furthermore, they had already covered over 1500 miles on their bikes, spending the nights wild camping in the woods.

Our cave guide Maya arrived and the tour began.  Both Erica & I both love geology and thoroughly enjoyed the 2 hour private tour deep into the cave system including a river confluence.

Entering Planina Cave
Walking into Planina Cave
View out of Planina Cave during our motorhome road trip
View looking back out of Planina Cave

After a thoroughly enjoyable visit, our guide suggested we drive to Rako Škocjan. Ever keen to explore off the tourist trail, we did just that! We drove through a dense woodland and along a narrow gravel track with a clear view of the gorge below.

Citroen Relay, Fiat Ducato, Peugeot Boxer Self build campervan parked up at Rakov Škocjan during a road trip
Parked up at Rakov Škocjan

Stari Trg pri Lozu

It was now early evening ans so we we decided to find somewhere to spend the night. Once again, Park4Night came up with the perfect spot in the small town of Stari Trg pri Lozu.   The beautifully maintained fully serviced hard standing even included wi-fi and electricity, all for a donation in the honesty box.  Whilst we found Slovenia to have relatively few camper stops, they were certainly of excellent quality! Thank you Slovenia.

We went for a walk into the town, before returning to the van and cooking a nice meal.  Furthermore, we had a stunning view out of the back doors!

Driving to Stari Trg pri Ložu
Driving towards Stari Trg pri Ložu

Where Next?

Croatia, Hungary, Romania.  There is so much more to see… Click the link to find out more!

European Road Trip – Part 2

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Further Reading.

Hopefully you enjoyed reading about our European Road Trip. If so, why not read about my Road Trip around North Wales as well as other adventures in the van and boat.

If you are planning your own Road Trip, read this handy guide!

 

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