5 Countries in 5 Weeks

Earlier this year, we spent a couple of months travelling through France and Spain promoting spending family time in the outdoors, via caravanning and motorhoming, making our bookings through The Caravan Club.

This time, we decided to take a different direction into Europe and spend five weeks heading into central and northern Europe, stopping at various campsites and places of interest in the Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, Sweden and Norway – yep that’s five countries in five weeks! The schedule is hectic; staying at 20 different sites and moving on every one or two days. We’ll be clocking up a few miles in the Eldiss AutoQuest 180 so it will be interesting to see how the fuel economy goes.

Week One in the Netherlands

Our first week was spent in the Netherlands. We set off from Hull on 25th July and arrived in Rotterdam the following morning after a calm ferry crossing. Arriving in the early hours meant that we had a full day in our first country. Rather than head up towards Amsterdam and Delft, as we have on previous visits, we turned right and towards a cluster of islands south of Rotterdam.

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Our first campsite was Camping International, one of many along the coastline, near Renesse. It was close to the beach (’strand’) and we spent our first day on the sand admiring the North Sea from the continental side, as opposed to the English one.

Our second day in Holland was at the nearby Oosterschelde National Park, located to the south. It is the largest national park (a coastal park with flood defences) in the Netherlands and offers many cycling and walking routes on which to explore the surrounding area.

We spent time flying the kite on the beach before the weather turned. Grey clouds descended around us and the rain quickly set in so we took shelter in the motorhome. The advantage of driving around in the motorhome meant that we had all the comforts of home around us. We had a bite to eat and drink and the girls even got out the Lego to play while we waited for the wet weather to pass.
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After a couple of days on the coast, we headed inland to our second site: Beekse Bergen – a fantastic resort that contained an African themed holiday park, water park and safari park (all included in the site price). We loved the water park!

One of the reasons for booking the Beekse Bergen sites was its proximity to Efteling theme park. Ella’s birthday always falls during the summer holidays and more often than not we are away. This year is no different. Since we knew we were going to be in the Netherlands at the end of July, we planned our stops so that we would be near Efteling theme park on the big day.

Efteling is the biggest theme park in the Netherlands and one of the oldest in the world. It boasts a range of adventurous rides as well as fairy tale themed shows and events. We were interested in the rides! Ella’s favourite was the Dragon, which she went on 5 times! Amy’s favourite was the Baron, a newly built ride with a 30m vertical drop. She returned to queue for this ride 4 times! Efteling was a fabulous, magical place to spend a birthday and a great family day out. One of the perks of driving the AutoQuest into Efteling was that the motorhome parking area was really close to the park entrance!

Getting near the end of the week we headed to our last site, Heumans Bos in eastern Holland, near the border with Germany. This was a quieter site, or so we thought, until the Saturday night entertainment kicked in! We enjoyed two nights stay at the site, exploring the area and returning to enjoy the swimming pool.

Nearing the end of our first week of five, we left the Netherlands and crossed the border into Germany. We will be back though, in about 4 weeks time.

Week Two – Germany

The start of our second week coincides with arriving in our second country: Germany. Having cross the border, we drove to Rieste in eastern Germany to our next stop, a five star campsite called Alfsee.

It was busy; full of families enjoying the summer sunshine. We were booked in for our usual two-night stop so had a full day and more to make the most of the facilities… and we did: water skiing in the lake, riding the electric bikes around the reservoir, playing on the playgrounds and visiting a local farm.

Our second stop in Germany was on the other side of the country so, yep it meant a long drive literally all the way across from East to West. We had planned to break the journey up by staying at a Stellplatz but the one we chose ended up being a car park near a busy road (not quite the romantic, picturesque spot we had hoped!) so we drove the extra miles and got to our site earlier than planned. It was a long journey but worth it in the end.

So, our second stay was actually in Potsdam, a historical region not far from the capital.

The area is covered in lakes and is famous for its association with Prussian kings who resided here in the late 19th century.

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We stayed in a lovely forest campsite called Sanssouci next to the gorgeous Templinar Lake. Leaving the motorhome behind, we hopped on public transport and spent two days exploring the sights of Berlin and the historical buildings and gardens of Potsdam.

Memories of Berlin

berlin wall
brandenburg gate
Check point charlie

The direction of our route then took a turn in a northerly direction. We headed into the countryside of Userin region, to a secluded site (Havel Tourist) in the middle of lakes and woodland. The site was one of nine linked together by lakes, rivers and canals. Many of the visitors in this area were travelling by canoe or kayak, carrying their camping gear from site to site. We decided to join them and hired a four-man canoe and hit the water for a day of paddling (some of us, anyway!)

Our stay in Germany is coming to an end as we have only one more stop before we reach Denmark. In the last seven days we’ve learnt a lot about some of Germany’s important historical events and used seven different means of transport to get about: water ski, bike, tram, train, feet, canoe and of course our trusty Elddis Autoquest!

Week 3 – Germany to Denmark

Our third week began in Germany but ended in Denmark!

At the start of the week we were staying at Wulfener Hals campsite on an island in Northern Germany linked to the mainland by bridge. The site is positioned in the south of the island at the end of a peninsular with views over the Baltic sea. Although it felt quite remote there was lots to do.

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The main attraction for us was the windsurfing. It has the biggest and most well-known windsurfing school in Germany. We, of course, had to have a go! Back in Nottingham, where we used to live, we were members of a sailing club and Tim has always been a keen windsurfer. In the past, we’ve been on watersports holidays and it felt very reminiscent of them.

Tim headed out on the water and loved it! I jumped on a board as well and the girls spent a few hours learning the ropes – two future windsurfers in the making!

Onto Denmark

It was then time to go to our third country – Denmark – a country that none of us had ever visited before and not surprisingly we felt excited at the prospect. We only had two stops planned – one in the middle of Jutland, the main Danish peninsular, and the other at the far top of the country. More long drives!

Our first Danish stop was at Riis Feriepark. Riis is a small village which does not necessarily have much significance but it is close to a very well-known attraction…Legoland, which is one the biggest and most popular tourist attractions in this area.

No we didn’t go.

We chose to visit the Home of Vikings museum in nearby Jelling where we learnt about the Viking history associated with the area. The location is famous for its two large Rune stones, placed by King Gorm and his son Harold Bluetooth. The museum told their story and the influence it had on the land – we came away having learnt a lot.

By the end of the week, we had travelled from northern Germany to northern Denmark. We stayed at a campsite called Rabjerg Mile camping. It got its name from the migrating sand dune called Rabjerg Mile, only a few miles away. We walked to the sand dune. It was an impressive sight even under grey skies and heavy drizzle.


 Week 4 – Sweden and Norway

Our fourth week of five was spent in Sweden and Norway.

It began with a ferry from Frederikshvn in Denmark across the Baltic Sea to Gothenburg. We crossed on beautifully calm waters in glorious sunshine therefore after driving the motorhome on the ferry we headed straight up on deck to soak up the sun and take in the views. The approach into Sweden was impressive as we gazed down on the Gothenburg achipeligo sitting in the calm blue water.
Ferry to Sweden

Lake swim
We arrived mid afternoon and within quarter of hour were at our next site (Lisebergsbyn), a city site not far from the centre of Gothenburg. It was a large site that catered for caravans and motorhomes as well as providing chalets and bed & breakfast. We quickly discovered a nearby lake and Amy and Tim went for a chilly but refreshing wild swim. Wild swimming is something we’ve discovered that many people of all ages seem to do more freely over on the continent, whether it’s a river, lake or the sea. It’s something we enjoy and want to do more and more.

The following day we went exploring Gothenburg. With a one day travelcard each (for adults) we were able to hop on trams, buses and ferries allowing us to get about the city easily. The girls became our tour guides for the day and took to a couple of well-known sights. We also explored the Gothenburg archipeligo by the public ferry.

On our second day in Gothenburg we went to the Universeum, as family museum based in the popular Liseberg park (not far from where the amusement rides are located) before driving up the coast to our next stop, Hafsten, a site on a peninsular, surrounded by the sea. The sea was sheltered by the surrounding landscape and looked and felt like a lake when there was little or no wind. It was saltwater though and affected by the tide.

Sweden camp view
Sweden camp lake
Sweden lake

We had a relaxing couple of days on the Swedish coast, swimming in the site pool and in the sea, running in the woods and admiring the gorgeous views that surrounded us.

Fifth county: Norway


It was then time to drive to our fifth country: Norway. We crossed the border and spent a night in Oslo. With very little time to spare, we wandered from our city site down the hill to wander around the marina and Opera house.

The following day was one of the most beautiful and dramatic drives of our trip. We drove out of the city and into the Norwegian countryside, along roads that were bordered by lakes, reflecting rocky hillside covered in tall pine trees. Stopping to stretch our legs on the six hour journey didn’t involve finding a nasty service station but a picturesque view point over water where you are encouraged to stop for a swim!
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Norway view
We didn’t have long in Norway but our last two days were spent in Byglandsfjord, in the south at a site called Neset Camping. We were pitched up by the water’s edge with amazing views up and down the fjord. We borrowed the site’s canoe and kayaks and explored the fjord for a morning.

Norway view from motorhome
Norway campsite

So, after four weeks, we had managed to reach our fifth country and fell in love with Norway and its beautiful landscape. With so little time here, we felt frustrated to leave and will definitely return one day to see more of what is an impressive country.

Week 5 – the return journey

We are now beginning the return journey. Having spent four weeks travelling through the Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, Sweden and Norway, we frustratingly have to turn the motorhome around and head south again.
It was an early start to the day since we had to leave our last site in Norway at half past five in order to drive to the ferry port in Kristiansand by half past seven (an hour before the scheduled departure).
The trip over the Baltic sea was short; we were on the twin-hull speed ferry and arrived in Hirtshals, northern Denmark, mid morning. After stopping off for food and fuel (much cheaper than in Norway) we drove to our campsite for the night, not far away.

Gronhoj strand
As time is limited, more and more of our stops are one-nighters. This is the case for our first night back in Denmark. It feels rushed and we can’t fully appreciate all that is around us but we try to make the most of the time. The journey after all is an opportunity to see as much as possible but we also manage the day, leaving early when necessary so that we can arrive at a place in good time and explore. Gronhoj Strand, our first stop after the ferry is on the beach on the East coast of Denmark. It is a great family site with many playgrounds dotted around. There were also some resident goats and ponies that proved popular with children as well.

Our last couple of days in Denmark were spent in a site called Hvidbjerg Strand – a luxurious site in Blavand. Included in the cost of our stay was access to a swimming pool, indoor play centre and spa. The site was five star and felt extremely luxurious. Not surprisingly we filled our time with what was on offer at the site as well as visits to the picturesque beach nearby. The two days here flew by and the girls certainly didn’t want to leave.
The return journey then continued as we drove through Germany, stopping off briefly to spend a night in two different campsites on the way. Both sites were near lakes and, in the hot weather, many locals and people from the sites spent time on the banks and swimming in the water – very different to England where people walk, cycle, sail, paddle or sit by lakes but few people actually venture in the water.
German lake

The last three nights of our trip were spent in the Netherlands but this time we crossed the border further north and stopped in a less well-known region of Overijssel. Pitched up at a site (Arendshorst) beside a river, that of course we had a few swims in, we then explored the area by bikes from the campsite. The girls wanted to spend the last of their holiday money at the nearby town of Ommen and we stopped to admire a couple of local windmills.

Holland bike ride
Holland bike ride 2

Our final stop was in the historical city of Utrecht. The main reason for this stop was to catch up with a Dutch friend and her family. It had been many years since we, as adults, had met up and the children hadn’t met each other before. We all clicked and got on like a house on fire. We had a wonderful 24 hours, swimming at a lake, hiring a boat and exploring the canals and wandering around the city of Utrecht.

Before we knew it, time had run out and we had to make our way to Rotterdam for the ferry.

We arrived in good time and were hoping to get on the ferry in plenty of time to enjoy the facilities. For some reason, we were the last ones on! We watched as the cars, vans and lorries all drove on ahead of us and began to worry as the car deck looked increasingly full. Finally, we were asked to reverse down the ramp and on to the boat, squeezing on amongst the lorries. This meant that the following morning, we were the first ones off and drove quickly out of the port ahead of all the other passengers.
Our Five Countries in Five Weeks tour has come to an end. We’ve seen some stunning sights, learnt some fascinating facts, met some fantastic people and experienced life in five wonderful European countries. Travelling around in our motorhome meant that we were able to pick a route that took in many different places. It was a lot of driving but we certainly saw a lot!