In our first year of travelling full time we have visited 20 countries which means we have been to A LOT of fantastic places! We love natural beauty; magnificent mountains, raging rivers, spectacular seas, luscious lakes, gigantic gorges, breathtaking backdrops and sensational sunsets. Here our our absolute favourites from the past 12 months…
Schwarzwald (Black Forest), south west Germany: Already one of my favourite places to visit from previous travels, it was one of the earliest stops during this year of travelling. We stayed in a little campsite in Enzklösterle and cycled through the forest to the neighbouring town of Bad Wildbad, home of one of our favourite paid actvities; the Baumwipfelpfad tree top walk. The forest itself has cycle tracks running through it along with winding mountain roads. The forest is so dense and seemingly never ending that it has a magical, almost eerie quality to it. Standing on top of the treetop tower & looking down over the miles of trees made us feel so small in comparison to the huge forest. With the loss of so many trees and forests worldwide it’s always great to spend time in a place where the trees are looked after and the large forest is sustained.
Plitvice Lakes National Park:, Croatia: We absolutely loved Croatia. It’s where we finally started to slow down, to learn to take our time & begin to relax. It’s also home to so many naturally beautiful places; Krk Island, Krka Park & the drive south along the west coast were all phenomenal but Plitvice really stood out for us.
Plitvice Lakes National Park is a 295 square km forest reserve in central Croatia containing 16 terraced lakes, joined by waterfalls that extend into a limestone canyon. The largest of which is a 78m high waterfall. Walkways and hiking trails wind around and across the turquoise blue water. It is a paid entry park and it gets REALLY busy, especially during tourist season. We’d recommend that you get there as soon as it opens and out of season to capture the crowd free photographs.
Salzburg Lakes, Austria: Another early stop on our travels and one that we will remember forever. It was the first time (but not the last) that we were overwhelmed by the extraordinary colours of the sun setting over the lake. It was also the first time that we braved a swim in such cold water that started our love for wild swimming.
‘Salzkammergut’ is known as one of the most charming regions of Austria containing crystal clear lakes, imposing mountains, green meadows and lush forests. The most well known lakes are: Mondsee, Traunsee, Wolfgangsee and Attersee, which is where we stayed on a campsite right on the edge of the water. It was the middle of October when we visited and the water was pretty cold but we were drawn in, much to the amusement of our fellow campers. There are campsites scattered along the edges of most of the lakes, lots of places to stay, things to see and miles upon miles of tracks to cycle. Definitely one to add to your itinerary.
Lovatnet, Norway: More stunning turquoise lakes & more wild swimming in freezing cold water. Norway itself is such a beautiful country. The fjords, numerous waterfalls & imposing mountains meant we were constantly awestruck as turned every corner on the winding mountain roads. The views over Lovatnet though were something else. The melting ice cascades down waterfalls into the lakes and fjords directly from the surrounding mountains creating an almost cartoon coloured view.
There are a few small campsites along the edge of Lovatnet & wild camping is also legal in Norway, so there are lots of places to park up and enjoy the scenery. We chose Camping Sande as we needed to do laundry but others are available. We chose to take a rowing boat out onto the lake and took some drone shots, they are part of the video of our Norway tour, which you can find here.
Dune de Pilat, France: Dune du Pilat is the tallest sand dune in Europe, it measures approximately 500m from east to west and 2.7km from north to south. We were so awestruck by the immense size of it that it was difficult to forget that we were in France, near Bordeaux, not in a dessert! The views on either side, over both the forest and the sea, are incredible. It was a totally different experience to anything else that we’ve encountered over the past 12 months & definitely worth the climb up the 140 stairs and lower dunes.
It was so cool that it also makes the list of our favourite free activities of the past year!
The Peloponnese, Southern Greece: I guess it’s kind of cheating to include the whole of the Peloponnese rather than one town or one particular area but we absolutely loved it! After a slow start in northern Greece, discovering some beautiful places on the way south (Mt Olympus) and continual disappointment about the amount of litter everywhere we crossed the bridge over the Corinth Canal into the Peloponnese. Some of the area is run down and you can see the beauty that was once there, Methana & its spa for example, but the natural beauty continued to astound us. There really aren’t any words to describe the astonishing majesty of the mountains. The lush greens, the winding mountain roads, the unbelievable coastal views and the continual awe we felt as we discovered more and more of the Peloponnese. It’s easy to see how the ancient Greeks thought of the mountains as the home of the gods.
I really hope we have the opportunity to return to Greece one day and to explore the islands which we didn’t see last time, along with returning to the Peloponnese. Even if we don’t, the Peloponnese will always bring me the feeling of reverential awe. The first time I’ve really felt “Wow! This planet is incredible”.