National Lampoons European Vacation
May 22, 2011 4:08 AM   Subscribe

European Vacation! Zurich, Neuschwanstein, Innsbruck, Salzburg, Graz, Ljubanja, Bled, Trieste, Venice. Then Stockholm, Roslagen!

Wife, and 2 kids (7+4) meeting up with brother in-law, to do above road trip. Looking for anything worth doing, must see things, children's energy burners/playgrounds and so on. Maybe even places to stay too, as we will probably stay in each place mentioned (well, not the 2nd one).

In Sweden/Stockholm area we thought about a cabin near a lake/sea, but they seem to mostly go in week-periods, and we are only there for 4 nights. Perhaps Camping/Cabins or B&Bs are better.

We have collected somethings from the Internets here, so all feedback would be appreciated, if you know one of those places, as well as, any place we may have missed.

Going end of July, assuming Iceland don't ruin things.
posted by lundman to Travel & Transportation (7 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I would take in Piran if you are going between Bled and Trieste. It is really worth a day trip.

In Bled, a drink a the Vila Bled is really worthwhile. It's Tito's old summer palace that has been very faithfully refurbished.
posted by MuffinMan at 4:22 AM on May 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: This salt mine tour should appeal to everyone. It is near Salzburg.
posted by backwards guitar at 4:38 AM on May 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I stayed at the Club La Costa Alpine Centre last year - it's midway between Innsbruck and Salzburg, not far from Zell am See. It consists of small apartments with kitchens, and has a restaurant, a lovely pool and lots of outdoor space and a play area for children. It's fairly close to Saalfelden, where there are a number of restaurants and cafés - and supermarkets if you want to self-cater. In the American-themed steakhouse in Saalfelden I had one of the best meals I have ever eaten in my life - pike-perch with truffle butter, which was, I think 20 Euro or less.

Zell am See is worth a visit, it's a very pretty little town on the lake and the cable car up to Schmittenhöhe is worth the ride, because the view is spectacular.

Salzburg is likely to be busy, but I found lots to interest me. There was a little theatre with puppet shows for children in the main square of the Old Town. The Mirabelle Gardens (across the river from the Old Town) are lovely and a good place to have a picnic with the children. The day I was in Salzburg there was a market selling picnic-friendly food, and on the Mirabelle Gardens side of the river are lots of little take-out places. Be sure to try Mozart's Balls!
posted by essexjan at 5:44 AM on May 22, 2011

Best answer: Go to the marionette museum in Salzburg and the Spanish Riding School Stud Farm in Piber near Graz.

August 1 is Swiss National Day. Wonderful fireworks, but EVERYTHING will be closed.
posted by brujita at 7:56 AM on May 22, 2011

Best answer: Bled is pretty small - it's really sort of a summer resort kind of place, not a place to see and do a lot of activities. There's a neat boat ride to a tiny island in Lake Bled with a church on it, and possibly some hiking. I was there at the wrong time of year, but I believe there's also swimming in the lake and other typical "Hey, it's a lake!" activities (canoeing? fishing?). I can't imagine wanting to spend more than a day there, as an international tourist with other stuff on the agenda (it seems a perfectly nice place to spend a long weekend if you are Slovenian).

Ljubljana - check out the castle on a hilltop above the city. You can hike there through a park, or if the kids are too small, there's a tourist train as well as a funicular. The town itself is generally charming and fun to stroll around in, eat in riverside restaurants, check out baroque architecture, etc.

Keep in mind that Slovenia is really small, and Ljubljana is right in the middle of it. A lot of the sights in the country are within an hour or two's drive of there. The Postojna cave and Predjama castle (the pictures on that site do not do it justice) are an hour's drive away, on the way to Trieste. Also on the way to trieste is the Lippazzaner horse farm, if there are any little girls in the height of their horse obsessions on the trip. Piran is also pretty neat, as MuffinMan says. In general, Slovenia is a great country for kids - storybook castles! caves you can go inside! boat rides on the lake! horses! the seaside! Frankly, I felt like a kid when I was there.

Trieste - Nice enough city, but I'm not sure there's much of interest for kids. The only big sight I'd recommend is the Miramare castle just outside the city, if you guys aren't tired of castles by this point.

Venice - whatever you do, try to stay on the islands proper. It's actually quite easy to escape the tourist madness, or at least see what all the fuss is about, if you do this. Because unless you are spending a huge pile of money, your hotel will be off in one of the quieter neighborhoods where you can see how normal Venetians really live. I stayed in Sestiere Cannareggio, near the Jewish Ghetto, and really loved it. I never got around to taking the vaporetto, because I kept getting distracted by the stuff to see on foot, but if you have kids whose legs tire easily, it's a great (and expensive) way to get around. Keep in mind, though, that Venice is actually really small. You really can walk a lot of places, even with kids. The two big clusterfucks are the Rialto Bridge and Piazza San Marco. The rest is actually pretty manageable. Don't be afraid to get lost; it'll be beautiful and you can't really get that lost - it's an island after all.
posted by Sara C. at 9:02 AM on May 22, 2011

Best answer: Nitpick: it's LjubLJANA, not LjubANJA (there are several towns with sort-of similar names in the ex-Yugoslav region, and I don't recommend ending up in one of them instead of Ljubljana ;)).

I second everything Sara C. wrote. Bled is generally sleepy and mostly caters to "I just want some peace and quiet" crowd. But you can try the adventure park (it's mostly climbing trees) or summer tobogganing (I wouldn't recommend it for the 4-year old). For Ljubljana, there's a list of events for your planned time frame here (it's updated regularly so check before you leave). I recommend The House of Experiments to anyone with kids. Don't wait for a scheduled event, go in at any time they're open (the events are in Slovenian). (Although, to be honest, the #1 attraction in Ljubljana for a 4-year-old I know was a "milk-o-mat".)
posted by gakiko at 11:43 PM on May 22, 2011

Response by poster: A little late this update, but 'why not' eh.

We had a great time indeed, left Zurich a little late, so we only got to Neuschwanstein around 17:00. But took the horse ride and walked around the grounds. Very nice. Stayed in a Guesthouse in Fussen (I think that was it) which was really nice.
Went to Salzburg and did the salt mine there, which was excellent. The kids loved this one. Stayed in Guesthouse near Hallein.
Went down to Bled, and did the Castle there, lake/rowing, etc. Bled was very lovely, stayed in the Bled Union Pub (apartment) had a fantastic evening. The restaurant had no issues letting us order from, and eat at, the pub.
Stopped in Graz for Lunch(alas, the day Armoury was closed) then went to Maribor where we have friends. Saw the oldest vine, and did the toboggan down the hill bit.
Stopped by Postojna Caves, which were excellent, then over past Trieste. We actually stopped at the camp grounds around St Sist*something.
We spend 4 hours or so around Venice which was the perfect amount of time for us (and the kids). But we probably would have skipped the Water-Bus and taken Taxis both ways if we'd known how long that journey was :)
In Sweden we found nice cabins in a campground around east stockholm (they were red too!), right next to a lake, so that was lovely. Tom Tit's experiment was very appreciated by the kids.

Thanks for the suggestions everyone, we had a great time. Driving in Europe was just fine, and did no more than 3 hours a day.

Unlikely anyone cares about pictures, but I'll leave them here anyway.
posted by lundman at 5:52 PM on November 16, 2011 [2 favorites]

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