It’s almost that time of year again. Ya know, when all the Aussies head over to Europe to escape the cold and get their fix of culture (because ours comprises of little more than shoeys and Bunning's sausage sizzles). While most travellers are eager to follow the usual route (Paris, The Amalfi Coast, Yacht Week, etc. etc.), we’re keener on taking the road less travelled. Poetic, we know.
Last European Summer we jumped on a road trip and drove down the eastern coast, and discovered some pretty cool spots that most Aussies are yet to know about. And HUGE plus, Eastern Europe is pretty cheap. So, you can skip the expensive tourist cities and uncover some of the continents best-kept secrets. Yes, they’re all bodies of water, because it’s Europe... in the summer. What else are you meant to do if not spend all day lounging in the sun before gettin’ on Aperol Spritz?
Lake Bled, Slovenia
When you cop your first view of Lake Bled you’ll feel like you’ve just stepped into a perfectly manicured fantasy land, and well, you kinda have. Lake Bled is a pristine freshwater lake tucked between the mountains of the tiny European country, Slovenia. The water is crystal clear, and even in the peak of Summer, it doesn’t get overcrowded. There’s plenty of hostels around, and they’re all pretty cheap. While you’re in Slovenia, we definitely recommend checking out the capital city, Ljubljana (don’t even ask us how to pronounce it, we’re pretty sure not even the locals know).
Lake Skadar, Montenegro
Another day, another lake. If you think Lake Bled sounds sick, listen up. Lake Skadar lies the border between Montenegro and Albania and is the largest lake in Southern Europe. If you’re desperate to avoid running into other Aussie backpackers, Lake Skadar is your haven. You can reach the small town of Virpazar, which sits on the lake, by bus. But if you want to go out into the sticks and camp, the only way to get to the hidden campgrounds is by car. Beware that the roads run along the sides of the cliffs, are one lane, and have no safety guards or mirrors to see around the corners. But hey, near-death experiences are all part of the adventure.
Krorëz Bay, Albania
Albania is the new Greece, trust us. It’s just as beautiful, less crowded and cheaper. So actually, it’s kind of better than Greece. Krorez Bay is one of Albania’s absolute gems. You can only get there for a day trip via boat because it’s that fkn remote and secluded there’s not a building in sight. Boat trips leave from the nearby town Saranda. Saranda is a small city on Albania’s coastline. The beaches there are beautiful but somewhat overcrowded. Standing on the idyllic shores of Saranda you can even see the Greek island Corfu.
Krka National Park, Croatia
Krka National Park is a bit of a drive from the popular coastal Croatian town, Split. It’s the perfect spot to escape from the party town for the day. We recommend getting there early to avoid the crowds. Once you’re there, take a serene walk through the national park, and discover the crystal clear swimming holes and gushing waterfalls. We swear the cool, fresh water at this place has been poured straight from the fountain of youth, it’s that refreshing.
Main Image: Helmut Newton
About the author
Evelyn is a Brisbane-based creative writer. She's addicted to iced long blacks and cares more about her house plants than people. The most common thing she hears is ""Ev, that is way too much butter".