By Rebecca Brown – Freelancing Contributor
This summer is almost over, but you might just as well be thinking about possible destinations for the next one.
You likely spend your vacations mostly on beaches, but why not try something different? Many destinations, such as mountains, spas, castles and vibrant cities can be very good alternative to the views from the sandy or rocky beaches you are used to frequenting.
Spas in Slovenia
Slovenia became famous around the world when Melania Trump became the first lady of the United States, but this mountainous country should be famous on its own merit.
Spa tourism is very popular in Slovenia. The country is mostly surrounded by Italy, Austria and Croatia, a very small part of Hungary and has about 40 kilometers of coast on the Adriatic. It is a well-known destination for ski tourism too, but besides that, in the last few years, foreign tourists have started to arrive to see the spas.
The village of Olimia is located on the Slovenian-Croatian border on the river Sutla and it was proclaimed the most beautiful village in Europe in 2009. It offers many spa programs, such as saunas, massages, pools with different waves, etc. There is a church in town with a very old pharmacy where you can buy herbs.
In the surrounding area, you can visit a famous brewery, where you can drink beer made with a 500-year-old recipe, and a chocolate factory selling home-made chocolate made with the technology of the 19th century.
For animal lovers, there is a deer farm, where you can feed deer straight from your hands.
Other very popular spas in Slovenia include Catez, Radenci, Rogaska Slatina and Smarjeske Toplice.
A Regal Tour
The first thing that comes to the mind of many when they think of the German region of Bavaria is Bayern Munich in many cases. This football club is more of a brand, not just in Bavaria, but in the whole of Germany and is a synonym for a great game. You can visit the Alianz Arena stadium and other sports-related sights in Munich as well, but what we actually recommend seeing in the region are the Bavarian castles.
The most visited castles are those which were built during the rule of Ludvig II, the Duke of Bavaria. Neuschwanstein Castle, or in English, New Swanstone Castle, is located at 965 meters above sea level and it was used as inspiration for the castles in the Disneyland amusement parks and as a location for numerous movie scenes. Other must-see castles on your list should be Linderhof Palace and Herrenchiemse.
Another region which is known for its castles is Transylvania. You have all heard for Vlad Tepes III, also known as Count Dracula. The famous actor Bela Lugosi, who played the Count in the 1931 movie Dracula was even born near the region of Transylvania.
Bran Castle is the place where Vlad Tepes was sent to prison. Apart from having imprisoned him, this castle has a very rich history. The first castle was built by Teutonic knights at the beginning of the 13th century and it was destroyed during the invasion of the Mongols in 1242. In 1920 it became the residency of the Romanian Royal family.
Peles Castle was built between 1873 and 1914 in the Renaissance revival style. It is surrounded by seven terraces, decorated with a lot of monuments. Both of these castles are located in the Carpathian mountains.
Take a Walk on the Ancient Side
Ever heard of The Milky Way? No, not the Milky Way in the sky. Nor the chocolate.
Famous Spanish director Luis Bunuel directed a movie of that name in 1969, inspired by the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela in Spain. The way of Saint James, or the Camino de Santiago in Spanish, was not an inspiration for Bunuel alone. Many other films and documentaries have been inspired by Apostle Saint James the Great.
The Cathedral where Saint James is buried is located in Santiago de Compostela in the province of Galicia in northwest Spain. The pilgrimage to that cathedral was very important to Christians during the Middle Age, along with pilgrimages to Rome and Jerusalem.
At this time, about half a million pilgrims made their way every year to this site. Most of them used to travel on foot, and some even rode horses.
Today, the Camino de Santiago is a very popular walking holiday, one which you can enjoy yourself. There are several routes to choose from, and the oldest one is called the Original Way and it starts at Oviedo, also in the north of Spain. It dates back to the 9th century. The most popular route is called the French Way. It starts from Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port in the south of France and it runs through the Pyrenees and many Spanish cities and is long about 770 kilometers long. You can choose to break your walk up into smaller sections, or tackle all of it at once.
These destinations are our best beach alternatives. We know that you will probably be suspicious about them, because you do not want to give up the sunny beaches, cold sodas and refreshing waves. Give a chance to at least one of these locations and you will be very happy at the end of the trip, we promise .