South Dalmatian coast – 15 to 24 Nov

After a couple of strenuous days sightseeing we moved on to a remote cliff side campsite near Omis at the recommendation of @john.n.kellie, another couple of van dwellers who were spending time in Croatia and who we would catch up with in person a few days later.

Autocamp Sirena

Although Omis is only a few kilometres from Split along the coast, we took the long winding road via the Cetina Gorge and over the Dubci Pass to come back around to the campsite.

Cetina Gorge

Autocamp Sirena is a terraced campsite between the main road and the sea. We opted for one of the lower terraces (with just two other vans there we had plenty of choice!) and parked up facing the sea. That didn’t last long as once the wind picked up, as it does frequently along the coast, we were being rocked all over the place. A quick 90 degree turn to get the nose into the wind helped and we managed a decent night’s sleep.

Not a bad view to wake to

Throughout the the campsite there is access to the sea, via either small pebbly beaches or the rocks. Bob couldn’t be persuaded but June went in for a quick dip and it wasn’t so bad.

June having a dip

The campsite has a small shop and will provide bread and croissants of a morning if preordered. We also ate in the restaurant where we were treated to the hospitality of Milan and the food cooked by his wife. We (not just us I should add!) were left with six numbered bottles of schnapps like alcohol and a dice in case we couldn’t decide which one to have next!

So much choice

Having been quite controlled with the free alcohol so hangovers averted, we moved on to Dubrovnik, one of our last stops in this part of Croatia. Our campsite was Autocamp Matkovica in Srebreno, south of and just a short bus ride from Dubrovnik. Hard to tell exactly how many pitches there were but most of the site was hard standing and all have EHU. Showers and toilets available plus use of a washing machine (paid for). Whilst here we met up with @landylifeoverland again as well putting spending a couple of afternoons with John and Kellie who are spending a couple years touring Europe from Australia.

Autocamp Matkovica

The owner gave us a local map and pointed out where the bus stops were and well as giving us the bus timetable. The bus was kn18 each one way and the drivers all seem to speak some English which helped.

Stunning Dubrovnik

We really enjoyed our day in Dubrovnik where we walked around the impressive city walls (not cheap at kn200, £22, each but we thought worth doing), wandered through the alleys and streets of the Old City and took the cable car up to Mount Srd for panoramic views over the city. The cable car was kn170, £19, each but again we thought it had to be done. There is a restaurant at the top and the Homeland War Musuem dedicated to the Croatian War of Independence.

Looking down onto Dubrovnik

Within walking distance from the campsite is Kupari, a favoured beach resort of the former socialist Yugoslav government and army which has now been left to fall into disrepair. The resort consists of several hotels – the colonial looking Grand Hotel and then a few concrete monstrosities, and you are free to wander around what remains there. Maybe not a good idea to go to far into the buildings!


A little further round the coast is an old villa that belonged to Tito, the former ruler of Yugoslavia. It is sill guarded and you can’t get to it but you can see the ruins of a house he had built for his wife and walk on the rocks from which the elite would have accessed the sea via concrete stepping stones.

A short distance in the opposite direction along the coast is the picturesque fishing village of Mlini. A lot of history here with old mills for olive pressing, a raging stream running through the village (well it had been raining – a lot!) and a couple of churches. If you’re thinking of visiting Dubrovnik, this would be a great place to stay and take the bus into the city.


We ended up having two stays in Autocamp Matkovica, albeit the second unplanned! After our first four days we headed about as far south as we could go to stay on a disused former airbase which is now a popular place for vans to overnight. It’s a large site and our plan was to spend the night on the old helipad after watching an amazing sunset. The site also has great views over Montenegro where we had hoped to visit but sadly our insurance won’t cover on this trip. We were that close that the phones kept trying to pick up Montenegro networks but we soon stopped that as it was not covered by our UK packages!

A beautiful setting

After a quiet evening we settled down for the night, knowing that rain was forecast and that it could potentially get a little windy. At this point we were contemplating spending the following day really exploring the base and possibly spending a second night there.

The best view from any helipad that Bobs ever been on.
Watching the sunset

We awoke the following morning to very grey skies, more rain and the continued rumbling of thunder somewhere offshore which had been going on for a few hours. As we were sitting having our breakfast, there was suddenly the loudest clap of thunder and a simultaneous flash of lightning followed by the sound of things hitting the van. We had been parked just a couple of metres from a lightning strike which destroyed a wall and it was pieces of brick and mud that we could hear hitting us.

At first we hadn’t seen the damage to the rear quarter.

In addition to the “blast” damage we also realised there were some electrical issues with the van so we decided to head back to the previous campsite to take stock.

Bit of battle damage

Having seen some photos of the damage to the wall (thanks to @vanstgramage who were staying in the area and went to the helipad after we had left. They were over a km away and heard the strike and a local bar owner compared the destruction to a bomb blast ) we got away quite lightly!

The ruins of a wall that was complete before the strike.

The dents that have potentially pierced the shell of the van are now taped over with clear gaffer tape, a travelling essential, and after changing a few blown fuses we are left with just our electronic key fobs not working properly so the van is booked in with Mercedes when we get back to the UK. Our mifi was also a victim but we don’t know yet if it’s the internal dongle or the external aerial. Having originally thought we had no insurance cover (policy document specifically states that), it turns out we are covered but have a huge excess so once we’re home we’ll get quotes and try to decide if the cost of claiming,including future premium increases, is worth it.

Such a stunning sunset the night before the strike

After a day of running around we were both feeling a little flat the following day so decided to spend one last day at the campsite before moving on to Bosnia and Herzegovina.

We’ve really enjoyed what we’ve seen of Croatia so far. We may explore a little more when we start heading back towards home as we have to cross through the northern part of the country. That will depend on how long we spend in Bosnia and Herzegovina and any changes to the COVID situation. At time of writing Europe is starting to impose restrictions again so we’ll just keep an eye on the news and FCO updates.

Croatia – Senj to Pag 1 to 8 Nov

On leaving the Istrian peninsula we began to zigzag across the country heading in a general southerly direction. We had no particular plan, just a few places we thought we’d like to see, and a loose timeframe of about five or six weeks before we had to start heading north again.

Our first stop was the small coastal town of Senj and an overnight stop in a car park. As we walked around the town, which like many Croatian towns has an old part which is all narrow alleyways, and a fortress, we could see the sky turning greyer and darker.


We had parked in the main car park and as we were staying the night, we had headed to the far end by the harbour wall to be out of peoples way. Those grey skies we had seen earlier were the edge of an incoming storm and we were rudely awakened in the early hours by the waves coming over the wall and crashing down on to the van roof!

Overnight parking on the harbour side

We then headed inland on our way to Plitvice Lakes National Park, one of the leading tourist spots in Croatia. Once over the coastal mountain range, we found ourselves on a wide open, agricultural plain and spent the night in Otocac. Another strange night in that we were parked in an unused motorhome aire – it had EHU posts, toilets, showers, barriers (one side was permanently raised) and a little office complete with a computer and screen, but nothing was connected. Still, we were able to empty the grey tank and the WC.

Camping Otocac

As recommended on their website, we booked the Plitvice tickets online but at this time of the year that’s probably unnecessary – tickets are limited and you get a timed entry but there was no more than a handful of cars in the car park when we visited. Our tickets cost kn80 each (about £9) but in the peak season, admission is kn250 or £28, plus parking of another kn80 for a motorhome. The entrance fee does include use of the boats and busses within the park and multiple day tickets are available – there are extensive hiking trails in the wider area.


After entering the park (a reasonable walk from car park 2 and all uphill on the way back), we chose the lakeside walking path which took us down to the lower lakes and main waterfalls ending up at Veliki Slap which literally translates as “Big Waterfall” although as there hadn’t been too much rain at that point, it wasn’t so big!

Veliki Slap

We had originally planned to follow the longest walking path which is about 18km but with the shorter days, the park closes earlier so instead we took one of the boats back across the main lake which gave great views of the surrounding hillsides and the glorious autumn colours. From pier 2 we were able to explore some of the upper lakes via the wooden boardwalks and we could see close up the travertine formations that had created the lakes and the waterfalls in the crystal clear water.

There were boardwalks all around the park.

There was limited local camping and the campsites that were open were very expensive but we managed to find a place via Park4Night. It was basically someone’s back garden in which they let a couple of vans park. Entrance is via a steep driveway, the owner is really friendly and the site is only 10 mins from the park entrance and has stunning views across the valley. We also met for the first, but not the last time on this trip, @landylifeoverland who we knew via Instagram, and spent a couple of hours chatting about van life.

Bit steep access but did us brilliantly

Throughout the countries that made up the former Yugoslavia there are plenty of reminders of the period of socialist rule and the subsequent war that saw the break up of the country in the early 1990s. Close to Plitvice is Zeljava Airfield, a now disused airfield from the Cold War where the hangars were inside the mountain.

An old DC3

There are miles of tunnels through the mountains running in to Bosnia and Herzegovina (there is a continual police presence as the tunnels are used by immigrants trying to cross the border in to the EU) and the border between the two countries also crosses one of the runways. An eerie but interesting place to visit!

The entrance to the hanger inside the mountain

We moved on from Plitvice back out to the coast and on to the Pag peninsula. Big commercial all-singing campsites are not our style but with limited choice we opted for Camping Village Simumi, a huge complex of touring pitches, static caravans and holiday lodges. Thankfully the campsite offered a special winter rate – summer rates for the beachside pitch we had went as high as EUR80 per night, but we pretty much had the place to ourselves on a fully serviced pitch and with free use of the washing machines as a bonus!

Not a bad pitch. One we’d keep away from in the summer though

We passed our time here walking along the coast and swimming. One of the onsite restaurants was still open but we didn’t use it and there was quite a bit of work going on – luckily we were there for the weekend and were only woken by workmen once when they started just before 7am on Monday morning.

Yes, we did swim.

Sites used:

Senj harbour car park: kn40 (approx £4.50). All tarmac and no facilities

Camping Otocac: free when we stayed. Small aire like site but currently disused. Full EHU and facilities looked to be in place but all switched off.

Apartmani San Poljanak 5A, near Plitvice: kn70 p/n. Steep sloping grass parking. No facilities other than rubbish disposal and fresh water.

Camping Village Simuni, Pag: kn142 p/n (about £16.50) for beachside pitch in November with EHU and water. Huge site with various price bands based on proximity to beach. All the facilities you would expect of a site this size catering for families. 6 beaches and something like 500 pitches (mix of touring, seasonal and lodges).

Slovenia, a hidden gem – 23 to 27 Oct

Both of us had been to Slovenia previously when part of Yugoslavia, so some years and what seems several lifetimes ago, and we crossed the border with Italy with no issue.

The Beautiful Lake Bled

Our initial plan had been to stop at Kranjska Gora, a ski resort close to the Italian and Austrian borders but we changed our mind on arrival as the motorhome parking was along a service road and we were reluctant to potentially pay €20 for parking along a road with no services. We therefore headed into the Julian Alps and before we realised it, we were climbing up the Vrsic Pass, the highest mountain pass in the eastern Julian Alps which tops out at 1,611m or 5,285 ft and consists of 50 of the tightest, shortest hairpin bends we have ever driven!

50th Hairpin…

Many of the campsites we tried were already closed for the season but we found Kamp Korita, close to the village of Soca open. With just one other van there it was bliss! Having read a recent travel article on the area, the Soca Valley and the wider Triglav National Park, was on our list to explore and the campsite has direct access on the walking path that starts where the Soca River rises and passes through stunning valleys and gorges.

Kamp Korita

We walked the section from the campsite to where the river passes out of the Great Soca Gorge which just a couple of metres wide at this point. The water is the most amazing colour, crystal clear and has carved hollows in the rocks where it swirls around. The river is also renowned for trout and the fish can easily be seen with the naked eye.

The Soca Gorge
The water was so clear
The Soca Gorge

We drove out of Soca and followed the river along through the towns of Bovec and Tolmin before turning back in to the southern side of the National Park heading towards Lake Bohinj. On our way we stopped at the Boka Waterfall, one of Slovenia’s highest waterfalls but on the day of our visit, quite dry – maybe best visited once the winter snow melts!

Lake Bohinj

Lake Bohinj was still quite busy when we arrived so we drove to the western edge of the lake and walking along the southern shoreline for a short distance. Camping directly by the lake or in the town was expensive (can’t imagine what the summer prices are!) so we actually overnighted at a small village a few minutes away. Another very quiet pitch even if we were joined by a large overlanding vehicle and with views over the surrounding countryside.

Lake Bohinj
Not a bad view to wake up to

With our days in Schengen starting to clock up we decided on just one more stop in Slovenia at Lake Bled but we’d take a roundabout route to get there. The road took us over an unnamed pass where we drove more small, tight hairpins right in amongst the autumnal forests to reach the Vintgar Gorge on the way to Bled. Whilst most places we have visited are free, there is a fee to visit Vintgar (€10 each plus another €10 for parking the motorhome) but in our opinion it was worth it. It’s a circular walk through the gorge along a wooden boardwalk and you exit via one of two routes along the top of the gorge, so whilst the walk through the gorge is flat, it’s quite an uphill climb out of it! Again the water is crystal clear, in various shades of blue and green with bridges taking you over the river at the base of the high, tree covered sides of the gorge.

Vintgar Gorge
Vintgar Gorge

Our final stop was in Bled where we spent a couple of nights at the city centre stellplatz. It’s at the back of a building site (no noise issues though when we were there), close to a couple of supermarkets and an easy walk to the edge of the lake where you can pick up the path that encircles the lake. We were blessed with great weather and were able to see the lake at its finest but without the crowds 😊

Lake Bled
Lake Bled

There is still so much of Slovenia that we didn’t see so we will be back!

Sites used:
Kamp Korita Peter Della Blanca, near Soca: €24 p/n including EHU. Hard standing. Showers and toilets on site plus a small restaurant during season

PZA Srednja Vas motorhome park, near Bohinj: €10 but price varies. One EHU post but water and WC disposal available.

Bled Stellplatz, Bled: €20 per 24 hours. Hard standing and depending on ticket bought, limited EHU and water available. WC disposal.