My adult daughter and I have a silly dream of a grand adventure to all the S countries in Europe. Sadly neither of us have the time or money for an extended trip so we are narrowing it down to one country for a 10-12 day June trip. We like natural beauty, hiking, people watching in public squares, affordable accommodations, quaint cities, castles, coastlines, public transportation. We aren’t interested in large cities, fancy food or museums. Scotland, Slovenia or Sweden? I will do plenty of research; just interested in the opinion of all you well traveled people. Thank you!
did you rule out Serbia and Slovakia? They are S countries too.
Scotland isn't a country yet.
Yes, we have ruled those out as well as Switzerland and Spain. Oops, you are right of course, Nigel, it’s part of the UK, but I think we can sneak Scotland in to our very unofficial way of trip planning!
Of course the answer is Sweden! :) (I might be a bit biased though…)
Joking aside though, natural beauty, hiking, people watching in public squares, quaint cities and public transportation can be found in all countries. Sweden and Scotland have long coastlines, but Slovenia has a bit of catching up to do in that department, but at least they have a couple of km of coastline. If you're looking for castles, Scotland is probably the winner, but there are a number of great castles in Sweden as well that are not as famous as the Scottish ones but still deserve a visit. Affordable accommodations can be found in all countries, but in general Slovenia will be the cheapest and Sweden the most expensive.
Why not Spain?
I think you could explore San Marino very thoroughly in 10-12 days. ;-)
Since we are going for S I’d throw in Sicily. Yes, It’s part of Italy but it has it’s own language, great scenery, food, wines, more Greek ruins than Greece.
What about Slovakia? Serbia? San Marino?
Shqipëri? (that's the correct name for Albania, in Albanian/shqip)
Suomi? (Finland in Finnish)
And why the S countries?
Slovania is my vote.
Spain is ruled out because it’s an “E” country - España, and Switzerland is a “CH” country -
Confoederatio Helvetica! ; )
After reading your preferences for natural beauty, hiking, people watching, affordable accommodations, quaint cities, etc. I think of Slovenia. Ljubljana, Lake Bled, Lake Bohinj, Predjama Castle and Škocjan Caves....
I too would say Slovenia. Great hiking in the Julian Alps, lovely lakes (Bled and Bohinj); a charming little capital city (Ljubljana) with sidewalk cafes and people-watching, as well as a castle; a small but beautiful bit of coastline (we walked from Piran to another town along the water and it reminded me of photos I have seen of the French Riviera, but without all the people). And definitely affordable.
I highly recommend these apartments in Ljubljana, right by the river in the center, near the triple bridge.
And this delightful land welcoming chalet-style Bed and Breakfast at Lake Bled:
There are interesting hikes around and above the lake. And Penzion Kaps has free bikes for your use; we took 2 and rode to Vintgar Gorge for a hike there.
Piran is a lovely town right on the Adriatic with the cleanest saltwater I have seen outside of British Columbia. We could not resist going for a swim several times. (No beach, though). Our hotel there was right on the main square but I will have to go search for the name.
We love Scotland and Switzerland too, but I feel Slovenia is a better fit for your wish list. As for Sweden, my time there has been limited, but I prefer Norway and Denmark for Scandinavian countries. And they are all very expensive!!!
I would also take Lola's advice to stay at Meščanka in Ljubljana. After all, she recommended it for us! It was affordable, quaint and had a lovely vibe by the river. We spent 4 nights and wished we could have stayed longer. It's my favorite European city.
Thank you all for your thoughts and fun with my crazy question! Why S? No profound reason - as we were dreaming one day, we noticed a theme of S places and it just became a thing. My daughter is saving Spain for a different traveling partner. We have been to Switzerland, loved it, and I will return there with my husband one day. I appreciate your help!
Scotland isn't a country yet
Just like England, Wales and Northern Ireland.... boring to say the least.
I love Nigel's "yet" about Scotland. And I don't find it boring at all. There's plenty to see and do for a 10-12 day trip.
When I was there in 2016 I concentrated on the east side. I used public transportation (taxi, train, bus, ferry, plane) to get to everything. The tours were by small bus or car.
I enjoyed the Orkney Islands, rarely mentioned on the Forum. I went for the Neolithic and Viking ruins. I also loved St. Magnus Cathedral.
There are many day tours available that take you to other historical and stunning places. I found one that suited me at the Tourist Info. This link has a pretty good list of what to see and do there. My favorite foods definitely were not fancy. If you go, try the Cullen Skink and bere bannock.
I liked staying in Edinburgh and seeing the castle and the Royal Yacht Britannia . It didn't seem like a big city to me. Taking a day tour with the Hairy Coo was a blast and there are many to choose from. There's a lot more to see and do in or near Edinburgh than what I had time for. Food note: I had some very good Indian food near my B&B in Edinburgh.
Culloden Battlefield near Inverness is also worth seeing. Food note: I had the best salmon and sticky toffee pudding I've ever eaten in Inverness.
This website along with Wikipedia can tell you a lot more about Scotland. Can you tell it's my vote for your first S trip?
My heavens, Scotland is anything but boring!!
I am afraid I am of no help as I love all three countries (I know Sweden by far the least).
If you do end up in Slovenia, I recommend a couple of nights in a village around Lake Bohinj. You can cycle through mountain meadows to another village with a church, go higher up the mountain for a hike, and walk around the lake. I admit though that I rented a car to get there.
River rafting on the incredibly beautiful Soca River is also tons of fun — lots of outfitters there.
I love your idiosyncratic “S Country” dreams — why not??! It is fun, and inspiration is found all kinds of ways.
Why arbitrarily pick countries based on a letter in the alphabet.
All three you mentioned are nice, I would go with Scotland as my first choice. Scotland has so much natural beauty. Sweden is nice, but frankly, it pales compared to its neighbor, Norway. If you want scenery, Norway is awesome.
I love Nigel's "yet" about Scotland. And I don't find it boring at all.
My heavens, Scotland is anything but boring!!
Oh dear, my apologies, I forgot Americans don't do sarcasm....
Jim.... not sure but Paris isn't in the US if you're looking for sarcasm that is...
Posted by Kim
01/17/20 02:36 AM
My heavens, Scotland is anything but boring!!
I'm with Badger on this, Sweden, by all means. Scotland is lovely, but Sweden is equally if not more lovely and more varied, IMO. (I might also be partial as it is the country in which I have felt most at home.) It also has residents who strike me as more outdoorsy than Scotland, all times of they year. I think the coastline is lovelier as well. I don't find it expensive and was less expensive than Scotland, but I'm sure if you hunt you can find the cost you want if you are willing in many places. Hold Harmless, I have not been to the Eastern European S countries as they have yet to interest me, but I understand they are less expensive.
Maybe you can visit Sweden during midsummer celebrations...outside the city!
To be fair, Jim is right in tagging me as an American — my city of residence may be Paris, but I am as American as they come!
I vote for Slovakia. Not expensive, stunning scenery, mountains. outstanding fly fishing (i go ever few years), castles, close to Budapest. Nothing compares.....
Another vote for Slovenia, and I loved Scotland too. Based on you interests, you definitely will not be disappointed. Spectacular scenery, plenty of castles, low crowds, quaint cities, friendly people. Can’t go wrong!
10-12 days in June sounds perfect. We spent 4 nights in Ljubjiana, with a day trip to Lake Bled. We then drove to Kobarid on our way to Venice. I definitely recommend spending some time in the Soca Valley. Gorgeous! Driving is easy in Slovenia, if you decide you rent a car.
Given the choices of S countries, my vote is for Slovenia
Sweden is a little early for reliable weather in June. If your dates include the Summer Solstice, however, that is a big deal in Scandinavia. It would be worth the visit to enjoy the festivities. Stockholm is the prettiest city in Scandinavia, I'd start with that then add from there. Be sure to take a ferry to either Helsinki or Tallinn so you can see the archipelago from Stockholm to the Baltic.
Slovenia has most of what you've requested. Another post talks about the alps and the hiking. Ljubljana is an amazing small-ish capital city. I think this country is low on coastline and on castles.
Scotland has more of what you've requested BUT it won't be affordable (on the British pound) and it may be relatively cold in June.
Haven't been to Sweden, but it has plenty of coastline, castles, nature, and green transport. Not sure that it would be too economical (also an expensive country) and, like Scotland, is so far north you might expect cooler temps.
Watch some of Rick's videos online or you-tube to narrow it down.