Adventure/Culture Vacation

Hi: We've done a few great European vacations (London, Paris, Rome, Athens, Germany, Madrid and Barcelona)with our two kids (soon to be aged 8 and 13) We just came back from a 10 day trip to Costa Rica filled with adventure activities (ziplining, rafting, surfing and snorkeling) and animal and nature tours. Unfortunately, DS says he never wants to go on an art and history tour with us again. And I have to admit that we all did have a great time on such an active trip together. DD wants to take another European trip this fall, similar to our previous trips. And DH wants to visit some place new and get a good value on a family vacation. Any ideas for a 10 day trip that could include culture and adventure on a budget? I'm thinking about Slovenia as it seems there are lots of outdoors activities, but I'm very open to any recommendations.
Thanks so much

Posted by Gretchen
Westminster
13 posts

Should have mentioned that we're looking to travel in September or October 2013.
Thanks

Posted by Glenn
Grand Falls-Windsor, NL, Canada
307 posts

If you haven't been to Switzerland, I highly recommend it. Any time spent in the Berner Oberland ( stay at Lauterbrunnen, Wengen, or Murren) will put the stunning Alps right in your lap, with plenty of easy hiking and incredible scenery. Another option is Luzerne, where you have the beauty and culture of the city, plus you can do something like the Golden Round Trip( search Pilatus Golden Round Trip)which includes a boat trip up Lake Luzerne to Alpnachstad, a cog railway to the top of Mt Pilatus, and a cable car and gondola ride back down to Luzerne. On the way down, stop at Frakmuntegg, which is like an alpine recreation park, with suspended ropewalks, luge rides, etc. DS and DD will like that... I was there late Sept..the weather was perfect, and if you go on a clear day, the scenery is stunning

Posted by Alex
Longmont, CO, USA
342 posts

Look at Lech am Arlberg in Austria. Excellent hiking. If you stay there you get the Lech Card, which give you free access to all of the lifts, gondolas, and hiking buses. It also gives you access to their swimming park for you and the kids. The area is absolutely wonderful and has a myriad of trails that are well marked and color coded as to difficulty level. http://www.lechzuers.com/lech-in-summer/
We stayed at the Pension Juliana and loved it. Claudia and her family have a wunderbar little farm and Pension with great rooms (family apartments also). http://www.juliana.at/?lang=en

Posted by Kathy
Germany, Germany
800 posts

Southwestern Turkey is just what you're looking for. You can get great deals booking ahead at all-inclusive resorts. Look around OluDeniz for the best beaches and fun water and hiking activities. Croatia is a better option than Slovenia because of the beaches, but the tourist industry isn't as developed as in some of the resort places in Turkey.

Posted by James
Frisco
1799 posts

Adventure and Culture? Go to "Eastern" Europe before it begins to look too much like Western Europe. Slovenia I understand is beautiful but I would put it on the safe side of adventure. Albania would be the other extreme. In the middle are places like Slovakia, Romania and Bulgaria. Then for culture pop into Budapest. For me 10 full days of fun would be something like: Day 1 Arrive Bucharest Days 2,3, 4, 5, Tour Romania, similar to this http://www.covinnus.com/tours/tour013.html except I would have him end it in Budapest. Days 7, 8, 9 in Budapest
Day 10 Depart September and October are the absolute ideal months for this part of the world. You can do something similar with Slovakia or Bulgaria. Just don't pull it too thin. The adventure is getting down deep into the country and not just passing through it. For outdoor activities there are castles, caving, ballooning, shooting, tank driving, fishing, hunting, hiking, forests and mountains. You just have to choose. For culture there is wine, vineyards, amazing food, opera, classical music, theater, more amazing food, raw beautiful architecture, museums, cold war and WWII history not under glass but looks you in the face at every turn. Yes, I love this place. If you go here http://budapestflat.shutterfly.com/, look to the top for a line of links; Bp is Budapest, HU is Hungary, BU is Bulgaria and there are others under "MORE". Just to give you an idea of the landscape. We've seen a lot of Western Europe as well but nothing has had the same impact as has "Eastern" Europe. (why the " "; the locals west of Ukraine think of themselves as being in "Central" Europe. The whole "Eastern" thing is a cold war construct). Let me know if i can help.

Posted by Angela
Sammamish, WA
403 posts

Ah! We love CR, too! Europe will be different, of course, but there is plenty of adventure to be had. I can recommend the Rhine area. We were there last summer with our teens and they loved it. Instead of riding slow boats, rent bikes to ride from castle to castle along the river. Each one is a new adventure. Rheinfels is the best with a teen appropriate scavenger hunt through the creepy tunnels. You must carry a candle to see the way! There is a hiking trail that extends the length of the Rhine all through the scenic Koblenz to Mainz region. You can access it anywhere along the river. We sought out a couple of Klettersteig trails. These are hiking trails on steroids. Along the way you will find ladders bolted to the cliffs and cables to help you hang on. Pretty exciting! As you work your way towards Trier, there is a killer new Sommerrodelbahn (summer luge track) at Triolago, slate and gemstone mines you can tour (at Fell), and best of all, ropes courses. This is my single best recommendation for families with older kids traveling in Europe. They are awesome! In Germany, watch out for "Kletterwald" or "Adventure Forest" or even "Indian Forest." These are amazing adventures with ropes strung high in the trees and all sorts of challenges to get from one to the next. My kids could have done this every day. Here's an example: www.adventureforest.de Being Germany, they are brilliantly engineered and very safe. We also saw them advertised in the Netherlands and Belgium, but didn't try them there. (We did do the one at Vianden castle in Lux--also a great adventure day.) BTW, Germany was not nearly as expensive as we expected. Felt like a bargain compared to Benelux, France or UK.

Posted by Sarah
Stuttgart, Germany
2012 posts

Hm. Romania is an interesting suggestion. It hits the adventure part, and the OP is an experienced traveler who is no stranger to "real" cities so I'd almost say go for it. On the other hand, I have experienced traveler friends (who are European) who were recently mugged by fake police in Bucharest. I'm not saying it's not safe to travel with kids there, but I'd do a lot of research beforehand to gauge how comfortable you'd be there. It is a great value, though! For me - an 'intermediate' traveler in terms of experience, I found the former Yugoslavia countries of Serbia, Bosnia/Herzegovina, and Croatia to be the right blend of new and exciting but not stressful to travel in compared to Romania. And cheap! (Serbia and B&H more so than Croatia, which is nearly Western European in terms of pricing and tourists yet retains a lot of charm) Budapest is another great suggestion. Slovenia is supposed to be amazing (hope to visit soon), Czech Republic and Slovakia are of interest as well. Switzerland is extremely expensive so not such a good match for DH's recommendations. Go east! Angela's suggestions for Germany are excellent as well. THe Mosel/Rhine area have plenty to offer in terms of art, culture, history, and adventure and are very kid-friendly and surprisingly affordable.

Posted by James
Frisco
1799 posts

I'm not sure if Bucharest is all that dangerous. I will admit that there are better places in the world. Unfortunately the plane almost has to land in Bucharest (there are a few other limited options). There are a couple fo worthy sights in Bucharest and you get to say you have been in Bucharest, but then its time to get out and see Romania which is one of the most wonderful places we have ever been. I didnt do the same detail about Bulgaria but the opportunities and the sights are just as unique and marvelous. I encourage people because these countries havent changed much and its time to see them before they do. Same with Bosnia, Croatia, Serbia, etc. I just havent done them myself, YET. Oh, and they are inexpensive. I also like Romania, Bulgaria and Slovakia in particular because they are easy to visit and end in Budapest. I love Budapest.

Posted by James
Frisco
1799 posts
Posted by Gretchen
Westminster
13 posts

Thanks so much for all of the great ideas. I've started googling all of the suggestions and showing destinations to the kiddos so we can make a pick for our fall trip. Thanks again!
Gretchen