It’s time to start planning those summer Road Trips
Many people enjoy road trips in Europe and we wanted to experience one as well. We plotted and planned our adventure and experienced one of the best road trips ever! We spent 6 weeks on our road trip roaming around Europe and only booked the first couple of legs of our trip in advance. After that, it was free-flowing.
Flashback to 2013 road trip: Much of the accommodation was booked a day or two prior, and in a couple of instances, it was only hours in advance. Most often we used Booking for our accommodation, but it did vary. We are often asked about where we stayed, so we are sharing that info with you, as well as what we thought about it.
When searching for accommodation, these were our target priorities:
Cost: €60/night budget
Type: 2 bedrooms or comfy sleeping for 4 people (we don’t like to share), free WiFi and AC (crazy heat wave hitting Europe at that time). As an extra bonus we liked a pool. Many times we selected our accommodation based on price or location, but often made compromises.
Check out our other posts on The Cost of our entire 6 week European Road Trip or the details of the complete experience, including when the road trip took that hairpin turn. We also provide you 11 Tips and Tools For The Road Trip Planner.
Road trips keep you moving
We stayed in 16 different accommodations:
- Apartments in 5 different locations
- Hotels in 4 cities for a total of 6 nights
- Mobile Homes at 5 campgrounds
- We packed and unpacked a grand total of 32 times!
(including our initial pack and final unpack at home).
Here is where we stayed during our 6 week European road trip.
- June 24 -25, 2013
Castellon, Spain – Hotel Castellón Center
Type: Hotel Room with 1 King Bed, a pull out sofa, Parking and Breakfast.
Thoughts: This was our stop over on the 9+ hour drive from Almuñécar to Barcelona. It stopped us short from Barcelona by a couple of hours, but that is all the driving we wanted to do in one day. It was just a quick stop over for us to grab some dinner and crash for the night. The hotel was extremely clean and spacious.
- June 25 -26, 2013
Barcelona to Civitavecchia – Grimaldi Ferry
Type: Ferry with a 4 bunk exterior room, 4 passengers tickets, breakfast and 1 car.
Thoughts: This was an overnight Ferry, about 20 hours, crossing of the Mediterranean. It dropped us and our car, just 40 minutes outside of Rome, Italy. We wrote all about our experience and shared it with you. We could have saved €100, if I booked prior to May 31. I missed by 2 days, so keep an eye out for specials and watch those end dates. The kids had a blast and this saved us from driving the 1,363 km from Barcelona to Rome. Now, it would have been a scenic drive, no doubt. We saved quite a bit of money missing all of those extra toll roads and hotel rooms too. Not to worry, as we had a great drive on the return.
Activities: Game room, exploring the ship and a pool, but it was closed on our journey.
- June 26 – July 1, 2013
Fiano Romano – I Pini Camping
Type: Campground Mobile Home with 2 bedrooms, AC, a bathroom, kitchen, porch and loads of activities. This also included parking, linens, supervised activities and free WiFi.
Thoughts: This was a campsite just outside of Rome, Italy. We wrote a review of our time there, so check it out. We went camping in Rome! They had many guide books available at the office for free and a free shuttle into the town of Fiano Romano. They also offered a shuttle into the City of Rome, for a small fee, but we opted to take the train in and explore a bit on our own. We loved this place and would highly recommend it. A nice balance of city and down time with plenty for the kids to keep busy.
Activities: Day trips to Rome, 2 pools, water slide, tennis, trampoline and more.
- July 1 – 5, 2013
Montopoli, Italy – Toscana Village Camping
Type: Campground Mobile Home
This was a very basic 2 bedroom, with AC, a bathroom, kitchen, patio and a pool. This included parking.
We needed to pay extra for WiFi, so we weren’t too thrilled about that. They did offer a swimming pool, but it closed very early, about 7 pm. Other than the pool there weren’t really many activities for the kids at the campground. The location is why we chose this particular place. It is located in a small village about halfway between Florence and Pisa. There were some cool little villages nearby to check out. It was very close to the highway, so traffic noise was constant when you were outside. That said, we weren’t there much and once we had the AC on, you couldn’t hear the traffic.
Activities: We took day trips to Florence, Pisa and Cinque Terre, pool.
- July 5 – 6, 2013
Bologna, Italy – Novotel Fiera
Type: Hotel Room with 1 King Bed and a pull out sofa.
We wanted to move to the Modena area next and found an apartment in Reggio Emila, but it wasn’t going to be available until July 6th. We had one night to burn and we thought we would spend a city night in Bologna. We love the Novotel brand hotels as we always know what we can expect. They offer a Wii game room and plenty of kids activities. We even liked that they offered a happy hour with drinks and free snacks.
Activities: Pool, ping-pong, fusbol, and Wii game room.
- July 6-10, 2013
Reggio Emilia, Italy – La Casa del Barone
Type: Apartment with 2 bedrooms, 1 bath, kitchen, family room and a small balcony. Parking and WiFi were included)
Thoughts: This was a family home with the upper floors converted into 3 separate apartments. We found this to be very spacious and in a great location for day trips and down time. The owners, Roberto and Marinella, and their children were very gracious and hospitable. We really enjoyed their company and apartment. We highly recommend this place. It was set in a quiet residential neighborhood, but close to the town center to explore. If you stay with them, please tell them we sent you!
Activities: Exploring Reggio Emilia, and Tours in Modena – Pagani factory tour, Parmigiano-Reggiano dairy tour, Traditional Balsamic Vinegar tour and to Verona for the Opera. A local park and playground was just 2 blocks away.
- July 10 – 13, 2013
Peschiera del Garda (Lake Garda), Italy – Villaggio San Benedetto Camping
Type: Camping with a 2 bedroom mobile home, AC, a bathroom, kitchen, porch and loads of activities. This also included parking, linens, supervised activities and free WiFi.
Thoughts: We weren’t sure where we were heading next and we booked this the day before. We wanted to move a bit north as we had plans to meet up with our cousins in Lake Como, but had a few days to kill. We thought we would give the Lake Garda area a try, and it was AWESOME! We loved this campsite and the entire area.
Activities: Pools, soccer, ping-pong, volleyball, supervised kids activities, and load of lake activities like renting a boat for the day!
- July 13 – 16, 2013
Varenna (Lake Como), Italy – Apartment
We crashed with Cousins Sandi and Randi. We won’t do a review on this one, but Lake Como was gorgeous. The apartment was very high up the hill, so great views but not much in walking distance.
- July 16 – 19, 2013
Oriago (Venice), Italy – Apartment – Unfortunately the apartment is no longer listed for rent online. We wish the owners well. We often use Vrbo, find your vacation rental now.
Type: Apartment with 2 bedrooms, kitchen, living room, dining room and a very spacious bathroom. This included parking and WiFi.
Thoughts: This was a fantastic apartment in a local quiet neighborhood, just one block off of the main road and bus route to Venice. This town is located just across the bridge from Venice and only a 15 minute city bus ride. The owners were fantastic and the apartment was very well equipped. It felt like home with art on the walls and all of the little things to make us comfortable. The kids loved having bunk beds too.
Activities: Day trip to Venice, meandering around town and planning our next moves.
- July 19- 21, 2013
See Austria – Apartments Renata
Type: Apartment with 2 bedrooms (1 King bed with couch in Master, 1 full bed in 2nd room), 1 shared bath, 1 complete kitchen and dining area.
Thoughts: This was a very last-minute decision to go to Austria and we are so glad we did it. We booked the apartment the night before arriving, based only on driving distance and price. We fell madly in love with this place! The apartment was a bit odd and was the upper floor of the family home, with separate entrance. There was a main door from the outside was for 2 apartment rentals. That main exterior door opened to a shared hall way. From the shared hall were many lockable doors and most of them were “our apartment” a la carte style. One door led to our kitchen, another door to our big master bedroom, another door to the kids locked bedroom and then a door to the shared bathroom and a final locked door to another apartment. The entire apartment was ours the first night, as the other apartment wasn’t rented. It was a bit strange to have a key for every door, but it worked. We just loved this village and the owners were fantastic. It was like there was an apartment within an apartment; odd but it worked. Please do read about our time in Austria, it was magical.
Activities: The free tourist card was a dream as the gondolas, city bus and swimming pond were all free! I am sure there was more free, but we were only there 2 days. I love saving money!
- July 21 – 25, 2013
Interlaken, Switzerland – Camping Manor Farm
Cost: €240 (this was a 50% discount because the owner was just nice)
Type: Camping in a 2 bedroom 1 bath mobile home, no AC and no WiFi in the unit, we had to go to the common area to pick up the WiFi signal.
Thoughts: This was a great campground and several mobile home rentals. We learned that each block of mobile homes was owned and run by different companies. We booked with Altogold the night prior and they gave us a significant reduction in price, but most of their units were very dated. They are in the process of upgrading, so I would recommend this campground. There are several companies that offer newer units.
Activities: As far as activities, we took the funicular up the Niederhorn and also the cogwheel train to Schynige Platte. These were pricey activities, but well worth it. Of course there was the lake and water activities and the campground provided us with an Interlaken transportation pass for the ferry and local bus/trains. There was a game room, soccer field, kayaks, store and much more.
- July 25 – 26, 2013
Passy le joux, France – Residence La Fontenay
Type: Apartment with 1 bedroom, 1 bath and bunk beds in the kitchen. Free WiFi in the lobby.
Thoughts: This wasn’t too bad, but not really great for our needs. This was an apartment/hotel with restaurant and game room. The views were gorgeous and I could see this as an ideal location for winter sports to hit the slopes. For us in the summer it was a long winding road up and down from the town, so we shortened our 3 night booking to just one night and moved on.
Activities: Hiking, pool table, ping-pong, trampoline
- July 26 -29, 2013
Dardilly (Lyon), France – Camping Indigo
Type: Camping Mobile Home with 3 bedrooms, 1 bathroom, porch, AC, parking and free WiFi.
Thoughts: We were in “road trip burn out mode” and wanted a bit more space. We splurged on a 3 bedroom, so the kids could each have their own room. After several weeks of sharing, it was apparent the time had come for us all to just chill. We found campgrounds were great for us because the kids had activities and they could roam around safely.
Activities: Swimming! I hate to admit it, but we didn’t really leave the campground. It rained quite a bit while we were here, so we used that as an excuse to have some chill time and recharge our batteries a bit. There was a game room, TV in the lobby, ping-pong and a pool. We played loads of card games as well.
- July 29 – August 1, 2013
Toulouse, France – Park & Suites Village Toulouse Saint-Simon
Type: Apartment with 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, living room, dining room and kitchen. Parking and wired internet included.
Thoughts: This was a bit off the beaten track on the outskirts of the city, but it was very close to the train station. It was just a 15 minute ride into the city. The apartment was more like a regular apartment complex, it reminded me of a long stay business type of complex. The grounds were a bit run down and weren’t as nice as the photos, but the interior of the apartment was very nice and as pictured.
Activities: Exploring Toulouse and swimming at the pool.
- August 1 – 4, 2013
Zaragoza, Spain – Eurostars Rey Fernando
Type: Hotel / Apartment with 1 bedroom, a pull out sofa, 1 bathroom, dining room and partial kitchenette.
Thoughts: This was a very spacious room and we were thrilled to have a king bed and a big bedroom too. The kitchenette was very handy, but it wasn’t supplied with dishes, pans or utensils. Not a problem, we went to the front desk and they allowed us to raid the restaurant kitchen supplies. It was fun! It was located in a very industrial area along side the airport, so not much within walking distance. That said about 2 miles away there was a large shopping mall with plenty of restaurants and things to do. This was a great price for the room and the staff was great.
Activities: We played at various shopping malls, one was like a theme park. There was indoor rock climbing, flowrider body boarding and many other activities. We also roamed around the old part of town.
- August 4 – 5, 2013
Madrid, Spain – Novotel Madrid Sanchinarro
Type: Hotel with a typical family room. It had 1 king bed and pull out sofa.
Thoughts: We love our Novotel choices and this was no different. It wasn’t really close to the city, but we weren’t there to see any attractions this time. For us it was just a good stopping point on our way home.
Activities: We really enjoyed swimming here and the game room.
- August 5, 2013
Home Sweet Home in Almuñécar, Spain!
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Please keep in mind we are sharing all of our actual details and costs with you. Prices may vary based on dates and other circumstances, so we can guarantee you will find the same deal we did. Some of the links included are affiliate links, which means if you make a booking we will get a very small commission.