your guide to Europe off the beaten path

Category: Nature & Outdoors

Six Destinations In Europe I Wanna Visit Next

I’ve never liked bucket lists, to-do lists and other similar things but lately I’ve been thinking about places I’d love to visit in the future. Here are six destinations in…

I’ve never liked bucket lists, to-do lists and other similar things but lately I’ve been thinking about places I’d love to visit in the future. Here are six destinations in Europe that really sparked my interest.

Motorcycle trip around Iceland

I’ve been dreaming about motorcycle trip for a while and Iceland seems like a great place for doing that! Ring Road is a popular road trip that circles the whole country and offers many fantastic attractions. It’s a nice way to mix culture and nature because the road allows you to see the city of Reykjavik, hot springs, national parks, volcanoes but also museums and places of history and heritage. In general, tourism in Iceland offers so many opportunities especially if you are into nature and hiking. Other really great road trips in Iceland include a ‘Golden Circle’ which is famous day trip for travelers.

IJsland / Iceland


I’ve visited Slovenia in 2014 and I’d love to revisit again but this time for the mountains. The last time I was exploring the capital Ljubljana and Skocjan caves. Triglav is the highest mountain in Slovenia and it has always attracted hikers and nature lovers. It’s a national symbol for Slovenians and it even appears on their national flag. The nearby area of this national park also includes Bled, Kranjska Gora and Bohinj which means there’s a lot to see.

triglav 18r 161

El Transcantábrico Gran Lujo: San Sebastian – Santiago de Compostela

This is one of the most famous train journeys in Europe. It travels between San Sebastian and Santiago de Compostela and stops in a famous Picos de Europa national park. Traveling and dining at the same time, while passing by beautiful landscapes of “Green Spain” should be a trip of a lifetime. 😉

El Transcantabrico crosses the bridge over the River Ebro at Arija, Burgos: Luxury Train Club

Appian Way

This is a path that in the past connected Rome to Brindisi – a port on the Adriatic sea. Romans called it the queen of all roads. Some major catacombs are located here and they are open for exploration. It’s a great place for escaping the busy city center of Rome as you can walk or bike this green area. However, the real adventure is completing the full walk from Rome to Brindisi which is 540 km in total.

Appian Way


Probably overrated for someone, and it will probably be overrated for me after visiting but I’d love to give a chance to the world’s biggest beer festival. It lasts for 16 days and it has a really long tradition in Bavaria as it started in 1810. A mixture of other attractions such as amusement rides, games and a rich selection of food and beer make it a fun place to visit.



Okay, I have been dreaming of visiting Corsica for a couple of years already. GR20 which is the toughest long distance trail in Europe has sparked my interest for quite some time. Maybe I’m a masochist. 🙂  And it’s not just hiking that I would love to do, but also diving as this island is famous across Europe for its beautiful beaches and scenery. I also really like the fact that it’s still unknown and that tourism hasn’t done any damage so far.



1 Comment on Six Destinations In Europe I Wanna Visit Next

Tips For Hiking in the Cold Weather

Do you have second thoughts when it comes to hiking in the cold weather? People usually avoid doing this but it’s a mistake to think that hiking in the cold…

Do you have second thoughts when it comes to hiking in the cold weather? People usually avoid doing this but it’s a mistake to think that hiking in the cold weather means hiking during Winter only. Cold weather occurs in any other season and especially in the mountains where weather is  unpredictable and can change quickly. In just fifteen minutes weather can change from sunny to rainy and windy.

It is not that difficult but it requires some planning and good accessories.

Here are some tips for hiking in the cold weather;

If possible don’t go alone

Having a company is always more interesting. And especially if that person has a richer expertise when it comes to hiking in different weather conditions.

Print a map

Tourism boards and national parks have hiking maps that you can download or print from their official websites. I don’t have to mention how useful and important this is.


Check weather forecast

Before starting a hike you should always check the weather conditions. A site I really love is It shows weather conditions for thousands of mountain ski resorts, difficulty and best months to climb. This is a must for your trip-planning process.

Contact the closest tourism board

People from the tourism boards are usually locals or experts who have rich knowledge of the area and who can give you great advice or pointers. For example, on my last hike I chatted with people from a local tourism board and I got a really valuable advice. You can also research internet forums and see what other people have written before.

Let other people know your plans

This is really important, especially if you will be hiking alone. Let your family or friends know where you will be, when you will start your hike and when do you expect to return. If you will go as a group you should make a list with names of the people and their contact number.

Set realistic expectations

If you are planning a difficult hike, it isn’t the best idea to mix an expert and a beginner. If you are going as a group I think it’s very important to set a plan and have the same expectations to avoid any misunderstandings.

Have a good hiking gear

Good hiking gear includes essentials like: map and compass, sun protection, good clothing, first-aid kit, matches, backpack and a tent if you plan longer hike.

Tent catching some rays

Food and water

Staying hydrated is a must, thus you need a good water bottle. If you plan a long hike or in an unfriendly environment you should definitely get a water purifier. You also need a supply of food in case of emergency. Energy bars, drink mix, supplements etc. are some things you can take with you. I recommend Quest protein bars. You can read my review of them here or check their Amazon page.


When you are hiking in the cold conditions you generate body heat by moving. You need to stay dry and warm, that’s why it is so important to choose good clothes. You need to be dressed in layers to be able to regulate the amount of warmth you need. Avoid cotton because it keeps the sweat and you will stay wet. The best material is made of synthetic or merino wool. For the outer layer you should have a good breathable and waterproof jacket.


Always be prepared

As previously mentioned, mountain weather is unpredictable and that’s why it’s always good to have an extra clothing and food in case something unexpected happens. Better safe than sorry!

Don’t over pack

If you are just starting with hiking don’t over pack. This can really ruin your trip and make you feel miserable. Instead choose 1-day trails that are suited to your level of fitness. You don’t need so much equipment if you are just starting out.

Hiking the Savage River Loop Trail

Bring a camera!

I love being in the peaceful nature surrounded by beautiful scenery. I also love to capture these moments! If you love photography I’m sure this will be on your list anyway. 😉 I’m currently using a camera from Nikon CoolPix series.

Do you have any tips to share? Feel free to comment below.

No Comments on Tips For Hiking in the Cold Weather

Why You Should Pack Up And Escape to Iceland

My fascination with Iceland began from a very young age. Whether it was its picturesque scenery, the remnants of old pagan beliefs (such as believing in the existence of elves)…

My fascination with Iceland began from a very young age. Whether it was its picturesque scenery, the remnants of old pagan beliefs (such as believing in the existence of elves) or its rich culture; there was always something about this small, mystical island and its inhabitants that lured my daydreams up north.

Here is a list of reasons why Iceland should be renamed Wonderland:

The beauty of Iceland, among other things, lies in its diversity. It was dubbed as the Land of Fire and Ice for its spectacular mixture of volcanoes (about 130 of them!), geysers and glaciers. The Eyjafjallajokull volcano, Lake Mývatn, black sandy beaches, Vatnajökull glacier, hot springs, the Fjords…the fairytale scenery will inspire even the biggest couch potatoes to become avid hikers. You can also look for the cheapest car rentals in Iceland and have a road trip around the country. As you can see you have an array of choices, so choose freely as it’s impossible to go wrong.

Coastline, Isafjordur

Gufufoss, Seydisfjordur

Blue Lagoon is a geothermal spa near Reykjavik. It is one of the most visited sites in Iceland. You can relax, drink cocktails, enjoy the warm waters and be in awe of the otherworldly setting (the spa is located in a lava field in Grindavík). Besides being famous for its natural beauty, Blue Lagoon is also known for its healing abilities. A lot of people from all over, come here to seek treatment for various skin diseases.

Blue Lagoon

Reykjavik is the capital and actually the only city in Iceland. Surrounded by many natural wonders that give Reykjavik an almost magical backdrop – it’s a city with a vivacious cultural scene and eclectic architecture. There are many things that make the capital of Iceland worth a visit: places of historical significance, landmarks, their budding nightlife and very interesting restaurants. Icelanders have a very specific palate and most likely you’ll have to train your taste buds in order to truly enjoy their traditional Icelandic cuisine. Make sure not to miss a free tour of Reykjavik (with a history grad) and to go for a swim in one of Reykjavik’s many public pools.


Iceland Airwaves is one of the most famous music festivals, annually held in November, it attracts thousands of tourists each year. They showcase Icelandic and international music. Over the course of five days of festivities, about 40+ bands and DJs perform. Musical greats such as Crystal Castles, The Kills, The Knife, Beach House and Father John Misty have performed there over the years. The festival is known for its party vibe and laidback atmosphere.

Airwaves Chill-out Party @ Blue Lagoon - Saturday°

Aurora Borealis is a beautiful weather phenomenon. The best chances of seeing the Northern Lights is if you have dark skies, clear weather and make sure to book a week-long stay. It’s risky to plan your whole trip only around the Northern Lights. It should be considered as an added bonus to your whole experience at Iceland. If you’re lucky and you see those bright stars accompanied with lights flickering and twirling in the dark skies, you’ll have that image etched into your mind forever.

Luces del Norte en Tromso Noruega

You don’t want to waste a single day in Iceland – it’s such an intriguing country that it won’t let you feel inertia. Your curiosity will awake a desire to interact and explore your surroundings and you’ll feel as a child that discovers something new each day. As many others before you, you’ll keep coming back in a futile attempt to try and comprehend the magic of Iceland. Or their elves.

1 Comment on Why You Should Pack Up And Escape to Iceland

7 Reasons To Visit Lapland Even If You Hate Winter

This guest post is by Tihana, a blogger behind the Wandering Polka Dot, a personal travel/lifestyle blog where she shares her love for travel and all other endeavours. You might…

This guest post is by Tihana, a blogger behind the Wandering Polka Dot, a personal travel/lifestyle blog where she shares her love for travel and all other endeavours. You might stop by to check out her advice for travel on a budget, city guides and experiences living abroad. Oh, there are also packing tips as you’re bound to have them after dragging the literal burden across a country in three weeks. 


If you had unlimited funds to travel, and a decent slot of time, and a person or two you could travel with (if solo travel is not your thing) – where would you go?

Let me guess. OK, I won’t really be guessing your exact destination, but it will probably be something that (in perspective) sparks joy. If you like summer, chances are it will be a seaside country. If you’re a city type, a bustling metropolis might be your choice. If you’re into active vacation, skiing, paddling, paragliding? You get it.

Yet I once made a choice totally unexpected for me. It was back when I lived in Finland and I booked a trip to Lapland in December. Honestly? It scared me a bit. Now let me back this up: I hate winter. I hate snow in the city, I hate how unsafe I feel walking in the iced streets, I hate the cold, the short days – everything.

Stepping Outside the Comfort Zone

At least that’s what I thought before the trip. Why I booked it then? For the sake of travel, of course. And as an organized traveler that I am, I was quite informed in advance. The Lapland trip did sound interesting. What I didn’t know is that it is also one of the most magical trips you can ever take. Yep – coming from a person who up to that moment hated winter. So you know you could trust me on this!

Finnish Lapland is the largest and the northernmost region of the country. Why do I emphasize Finnish Lapland? There’s also Swedish Lapland, no need to tell you where. It’s the least densely populated area of the country. And if you’re bothered by the cold or the short days just like I was, read on. I might just trick you into adding this trip to your bucket list.

First of all, a trip to Lapland is not all about snow. I mean, you can go to a winter resort anywhere in Europe, right? But other places, like mountains of France or Switzerland, cannot offer you the ultimate cultural experience of the indigenous people, nor its unique perks of having daylight only 2 hours a day. Did I just say perks? I guess I did; I wouldn’t have believed it had I not experienced it firsthand, but it really adds to the overall charm and magic.


So here are the seven reasons to visit Lapland even if you hate winter

The snow is different. You might already know this if you’ve been to the winter resorts before; what made me hate snow is actually the snow in the city. Being in a city is not the right context to enjoy snow, and I might be discovering America here, but it’s so much nicer and more beautiful in the nature. If you visit the Ranua Wildlife Park, you can even get to see polar bears in their natural surroundings – well, sort of – without going to the North Pole. This park, better known as the Ranua Zoo, is the northenmost zoo in the world. Its animals consist of approximately 50 wild animal species and 200 individuals. I liked it better than most of the zoos, because the areas animals live in are really large so it doesn’t look as sad as it does in most of the zoos.

You Get to See Santa

If you’re into Christmas, you should visit Santa Claus Village on the Arctic Circle – which is just outside Rovaniemi. To tell you the truth, the village is highly touristic, full of souvenir shops, and Santa is also making profit by charging people for taking photos with him. On the other hand, the place looks really magical. My inner child was super excited to see the ‘real’ Santa – even though I wasn’t really convinced his beard was real. Anyway, you don’t need to go crazy and leave them your pennies – many other people will do that – but you can always have a hot chocolate. On your way up north, it’s a necessity, so to speak.

Santa Claus Village Lapland

…And His Reindeer

Unfortunately, Santa’s reindeer won’t be in the Village with him, but you can visit them elsewhere. There is a number of reindeer farms all over Lapland, and the animals are scattered there in the winter – as opposed to summer, when they roam free across the land. Trivia: there are no wild reindeer in Finland! Every animal has an owner. Owners are usually Sami people – indigenous people of Lapland – who have been living with reindeer for centuries. If you pay a visit to one of these farms, you’ll hear facts and figures, but also enjoy a ride in a reindeer sleigh, and pet and feed the animals with moss. Oh, in case you wonder – reindeer are the small ones; moose are much bigger. Aaand yes, you can eat both. In fact, at least one of your meals in Lapland will offer some sort of reindeer meat. It might sound gross, but, you know, the circle of life.

Lapland Reindeer

You’ll Pet a Hundred Dogs

Any dog lover like myself will be delighted to visit a husky farm. Yes, there is such a thing! The Levi Husky Park, near the fell of Levi, has around one hundred dogs, huskies and Japanese spitzes, and even semi-huskies semi-wolves. Oh, and a real wolf. Mr. Reijo Jääskeläinen, the owner of the park, has been racing and breeding these arctic dogs over 30 years. He has trained his animals for several movies and projects, so I could say I pet and took photos of some celebrities. That wasn’t the only thing I did there, as I also enjoyed a ride in a sleigh pulled by huskies, real northern style! I left the park wanting to take all the dogs with me because they were just adorable. (Mental note: get a dog.)

Lapland Huskies

You’ll See the Northern Lights

Yet one Lapland experience tops them all. The downside is that you can never really tell it will happen, so you have to rely on luck and good karma. I must had been really nice before the trip, because it greeted me in all its glory. Of course, I’m talking about Aurora Borealis, or the northern lights. They had always seemed to me like something you want to see in life, but aren’t sure it would ever happen. It did. The aurora forecasts were foreseeing a good night: we went outside of the resort, out into the woods, as artificial street lighting won’t do you much good in spotting auroras. (Strong auroras remain visible in a city, but they’re much more beautiful out in the darkness.) We put snowshoes on and went hunting for auroras. The wind was just scary! But it was all worth it when a tiny green stripe across the sky emerged. It wasn’t really what I had expected, but soon enough it rose. I wish I were skilled with words enough to describe the wonderful dance of the aurora, its changing of the color, turning white and then back to green; its behavior, similar to what would be a very slow moving fire; and how everything becomes so insignificant in that moment, even the cold that threatens to eat you up; how you feel so very humble and small and so grateful for witnessing this. But I’m not, so I’ll skip even the part where I teared up a little and wish you an opportunity to experience it yourself.

Lapland Aurora

You’ll Enjoy Winter Sports

If you’re staying in a resort, you might want to do regular winter stuff like downhill or cross-country skiing or driving a snowmobile. I had never skied before and wanted to devote it a couple of days sometime in the future instead of one afternoon in Lapland, so I skipped. But I did slide downhill on my behind. Apparently, I reached speed of around 40 km/h. It felt super dangerous, but was also so much fun.

Lapland Ski Resort

You’ll Relax and Unwind

After a day of all sorts of wintery activities, you absolutely need to do what Finns do. One word: sauna! Sauna is one of the best traits of Finnish culture and an absolute bliss. You should know, though, that it will probably be forbidden to enter a public one in a bathing suit. If you crave for a true Finnish experience, after some minutes in sauna get outside and jump into the snow. At first it feels like a thousand knives stabbing into your skin, but hey, it’s good for the circulation. And you get used to it after a couple of times. 😉

Finnish sauna II

You’ll Experience Something Crazy

If snow in -15 degrees didn’t feel as bad, you can go one step further. Finland doesn’t have a shore on the Arctic, but while you’re here, you can travel to Norway and test your endurance in the cold waters. I’m not even joking – I did this. If you’re trying to set your foot in all the oceans, or just want to have an interesting story when you get home, this is the experience for you. I now know the answer to the question ‘what was the craziest thing you’ve ever done’.

Lapland Arctic

How to Get There

The fact that Lapland is a part of a European country shouldn’t leave you all spontaneous when it comes to the travel part. Finland is a quite large country, geographically speaking, so you might want to consider flying into Rovaniemi or Kittilä, and you can do so from major Finnish cities. Traveling by bus or train might be scenic, but if you’re doing it in winter, remember that the sun rises really late and sets really early, and the trip from the south of country lasts for a whole day.

Where to Stay

Apart from the town of Rovaniemi, the capital of the region, you can opt for the resorts out in the nature, such as Levi, Saariselkä or Ylläs, all of which offer hotels, spas, restaurants, but also wooden cabins and even igloos.

What to Eat

Reindeer in all forms – smoked, dried, as a steak. Herring. Lots of smoked salmon. Salmon soup – delicious and filling. Berries, even if it’s winter, because locals picked tons of berries in the summer.

Things to Remember

There is no cold weather – only inappropriate clothes! According to Norwegians. Well, some could question the “no cold weather” argument, but make sure you wear lots of layers, a really good winter jacket and all the winter accessories. You don’t want to leave your room without gloves and a winter hat, no matter what it does to your hair. It’s survival of the fittest!

Watching northern lights from the Hotel Kakslauttanen has always been on my bucket list. What about you? Would you like to visit Lapland?

Photos: ©Wandering Polka Dot except Flickr
No Comments on 7 Reasons To Visit Lapland Even If You Hate Winter

Five Reasons To Visit Iceland Now

Iceland is a place where culture, nature and historical heritage ideally complement each other, making it a destination that you should visit at least once in your lifetime. Here are…

Iceland is a place where culture, nature and historical heritage ideally complement each other, making it a destination that you should visit at least once in your lifetime. Here are just a couple of reasons to visit Iceland now;

Scenic Road Trip Opportunities

The Ring Road is Iceland’s most popular road trip that circles the whole country and offers some fantastic attractions. This main national road allows you to see the city of Reykjavik, hot springs, Vatnajokull National Park, the East Fjords, the Eyjafjallajokull volcano and much more. This is a great option for an active holiday as not only you’ll be able to admire amazing natural landscapes but also hike, relax in the Blue Lagoon’s thermal spa, explore the capital city etc. For all these reasons, Icelandic road trip is very high on my bucket list. If you plan to spend several days in the country and you’d love to do this scenic route, the first thing to do is to look for cheap car rentals in Iceland. If you don’t plan to spend too much time in Iceland another alternative is a Golden Circle which is a popular day trip for the visitors.

IJsland / Iceland

Interesting Culture and Customs

Iceland is rich in history and culture, therefore the country offers many museums especially in the south. Culture has always occupied an important place in the life of Icelanders. That explains so many art exhibits, concerts, folk dance groups etc. Choirs are especially important as one in three Icelanders is an active choir member. Also, reading seems to be the most popular activity as the country is a place where one in ten people will publish a book.


The Northern Lights

One of the best places to see this interesting natural phenomenon is Akureyri- a small town in Northern Iceland. Many companies specialize in Iceland trips, among them the Northern Lights. The north of the country also has a number of the historical sights and museums related to the Viking age. Traditional country architecture in a form of turf houses is well presented which makes an interesting ambiance.

Stars over Iceland

Winter Adventures

This doesn’t come as a surprise but if you are a Winter type and into active holidays, Iceland offers some great opportunities, especially in the North. Besides skiing you can go whale watching or you can immerse yourself in a culture that blossoms during cold winter months. The country hosts a festival called the ‘Days of Darkness‘ that intends to brighten up dark and short days.

Iceland Winter photos, 2015

Amazing nature

Iceland’s north-west corner which is the westernmost point in Europe amazes with its unspoiled wilderness. There are great places for hiking and from here you could even see Greenland on a clear day. Natural hot springs are pretty common and this area is perfect for biking. West Iceland is home to the Snæfellsjökull National Park which is very famous primarily due to the novel “Journey to the Center of the Earth” in which the entrance to a passage leading to the center of the world is right here. The Reykjanes Peninsula which is a continuation of the mid-Atlantic Ridge is a famous geo park. Here you’ll be able to experience nature at its best with 100 different craters, lava fields and black sand beaches.


Is Iceland on your bucket list? Or is there anything else you have to add? Feel free to comment below.

No Comments on Five Reasons To Visit Iceland Now

Explore #MySerbia

This month I was invited by the National Tourism Board of Serbia to take part in a press trip which aims to promote the campaign called #MySerbia. I’ll also be…

This month I was invited by the National Tourism Board of Serbia to take part in a press trip which aims to promote the campaign called #MySerbia. I’ll also be joined by several other domestic and foreign bloggers. They are: Rob Lloyd of Stop Having a Boring Life, Melvin Bocher of Travel Dudes, Becki Enright of Borders of Adventure, Kash Bhattacharya of Budget Traveller, Milos Petrovic (Milos Blog), Uros Nedeljkovic (Neblog),  Thiago Ferreira (Bem-vindo a Serbia). You can find more info on the official website of the campaign.

Bloggers will be divided into two groups and my group will visit attractions in Eastern Serbia, Vojvodina, as well as major cities such as Belgrade, Novi Sad and Nis.

The main theme of this trip will be devoted to an active holiday in nature and through the hashtag #MySerbia we’ll try to promote the beauty of the country through many photos.

Activities will include hiking, paragliding, kayaking but also tasting wine and learning more about the cultural offer of Serbia.

I invite you to take active part in the campaign by using the hashtag #MySerbia and sharing your favorite photos of Serbia along with your recommendations. Bloggers will pick four interesting suggestions and the National Tourism Board of Serbia will sponsor a weekend trip for two for a destination of your choice.

Lonely Planet has placed Serbia among their top 10 countries to visit in 2015 and this campaign is just one in a series that aims to promote the country.

No Comments on Explore #MySerbia

Type on the field below and hit Enter/Return to search