Another year, another awesome road-trip.
This year we’re heading off on a 2 week, almost 4,000 kilometer round-trip adventure to the Alps. Starting and finishing in London, we’ll be roaring through France and then exploring 4 new countries – Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Austria and Slovenia before heading back through the Italian dolomite’s, France and back to the UK. I’ve mapped most of the nightly stops below, but here are a few of the things I’m looking forward to experiencing along the way.
Switzerland and the Jungfrau Region
Everywhere in Switzerland looks picture-perfect but one of the most stunning regions is the Jungfrau region, which incorporates 6 alpine villages – Grindelwald, Murren, Lauterbrunnen, Interlaken, Unterseen and Wengen. We’ll be spending 2 nights in Lauterbrunnen in a chalet right next to Staubbach Falls, a 1,000 foot waterfall. From here you can catch a train to Kleine Scheidegg and then the Jungfraubahn to the highest railway station in Europe – Jungfraujoch.
The Italian Dolomites
Part of the Southern Alps, the Dolomites are a mountain range located in north-eastern Italy. Altogether there are 18 peaks which rise to over 3,000 metres and cover 14,000 hectares. Amongst the UNESCO peaks are some of the world’s most stunning views and amazing roads, including the Great Dolomite Road which crosses three alpine passes (Falzarego, Pordoi and Karerpass) and connects the Bozen and Bolzano regions.
Influenced by Italy, Hungary, Germany and the Balkans, Austrian food looks delicious. Bring on the strudel, schnitzel, sausage and Sachertorte.
Lake Bled and Piran, Slovenia
Like much of Eastern Europe, tourism in Slovenia is on the rise. The country is home to mountain vistas, lush green mid lands and an Adriatic coastline inspired by Venice. It’s also home to several beautiful churches, one of the most famous being the pilgrimage church dedicated to the Assumption of Mary (Cerkev Marijinega vnebovzetja) atop an island in the middle of Lake Bled. We’re spending a night in the camp ground adjacent to the lake before heading down to the coastal city of Piran.
Aside from stunning scenery and tasty food, we’ll also be experiencing some of the best roads in Europe. We’re hoping to tick off 5 of the 10 best driving roads in Europe, including the Stelvio Pass, the Furka Pass and the Grossglockner High Alpine Road. I’m particularly looking forward to the Stelvio Pass, which Top Gear named the “greatest driving road in the world”, so let’s see if that’s true.
In the past we’ve done a mixture of camping and cheap hotel accommodation. This time around we’ve decided to skip the camping altogether (and the extra gear weight) and stay in budget accommodation where we can. A couple of nights will be spent in a chalet, a couple in an Austrian guest house, a couple in a hostel and a few more in cute wooden pods within camp grounds. We’ve booked 90% of our accommodation in advance because a) we’re entering peak European holiday season and b) there is nothing worse than spending the entire day riding/driving only to have to spend another couple of hours driving aimlessly around looking for somewhere to sleep when we could be checked in, unpacked, changed and drinking beer.
Here’s the day by day itinerary…
London to the Alps and back again
Day 1: London, UK to Charleville-Mezieres, France
Estimated Mileage: 309 kms
Day 2: Charleville-Mezieres, France to Epinal, France
Estimated Mileage: 264 kms
Day 3: Epinal, France to Buochs, Switzerland
Estimated Mileage: 238 kms
Day 4: Buochs, Switzerland to Suatens, Austria
Estimated Mileage: 255 kms via Liechtenstein via the Klausen Pass
Day 5: Rest day in Suatens, Austria
Day 6: Suatens, Austria to Zell Am See, Austria
Estimated Mileage: 198 kms via Alpbach (the prettiest town in Austria)
Day 7: Zell Am See, Austria to Lake Bled, Slovenia
Estimated Mileage: 237 kms via the Grossglockner High Alpine Road
Day 8: Lake Bled, Slovenia to Portoroz, Slovenia
Estimated Mileage: 185 kms
Day 9 and Day 10: The half-way point and 2 rest days in Slovenia
Day 11: Portoroz, Slovenia to Corvara in Badia, Italy
Estimated Mileage: 387 kms
Day 12: Corvara in Badia, Italy to Madulain, Switzerland
Estimated Mileage: 208 kms via the Stelvio Pass
Day 13: Madulain, Switzerland to Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland
Estimated Mileage: 320 kms
Day 14: Rest day in Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland
Day 15: Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland to Völklingen, Germany
Estimated Mileage: 420 kms
Day 16: Völklingen, Germany to Brussels, Belgium
Estimated Mileage: 303 kms via Luxembourg
Day 17: Brussels, Belgium to London, UK
Estimated Mileage: 368 kms via Calais and the Eurotunnel
Have you been to the Alps?
Please leave your route, food, accommodation and sightseeing suggestions in the comments below.