In this series, Lonely Planet’s team of writers and editors answers your travel problems and provides tips and hacks to help you plan a hassle-free trip. Here, Lonely Planet’s Tom Hall offers a tip on pleasing perhaps the pickiest of travelers: teenage boys.
Question: We are looking to take our two teenage sons on a four-day trip somewhere in Europe. Where is somewhere that is reasonable for a family on a tight budget and where they won’t be bored?
Tom Hall: Neatly fitting all your requirements is beautiful, compact and adrenaline-charged Slovenia. This Central European state is nestled between Italy, Austria, Hungary and Croatia, with a sliver of coastline connecting it to the Adriatic Sea. Its capital Ljubljana is well connected by budget airlines to key cities around the continent, and it’s also straightforward to reach from neighboring countries by rail or bus.
What really marks Slovenia out for this trip, though, is its relatively small size and the huge range of activities that are sure to keep teenagers constantly engaged. For a few days, you needn’t even move far from one location. There’s fabulous rafting, hydrospeeding (like rafting, but on a rapid-eye-level waterborne sled), canyoning and climbing in the Soča Valley – with Bovec or Kobarid surely your best bases for this trip. Well-marked hiking and mountain biking trails radiate out from these centers, with bike rentals easy to arrange. Even just driving or taking a bus over the hairpin-heavy Vršič Pass between Kranjska Gora and Bovec provides a memorable adventure. For more water sports – from paddleboarding to kayaking to wild swimming – head to either famous Lake Bled or wilder, cooler Bohinj. If sticking to the road with two wheels then consider biting off a piece of the Bike Slovenia Green long-distance trail.
Slovenia has a great choice of well-equipped campsites, simple hostels and rental homes in locations close to the action. Book ahead for accommodation in peak school holidays, and also note any disparity between your vacation times and European break periods.