Halti World Blog: Van trip to Central EuropeHalti World Blog: Van trip to Central Europe

Van trip to Central Europe


Climate change is affecting more and more travellers' decisions about which mode of transport to use. Many people choose to travel in Europe in their own or a rented motorhome/van. Before you start your trip, it's worth considering which route to Europe is best for you. There are different routes to Central Europe from Finland. Three of them are listed below:

  • Via Baltica: The car ferry from Helsinki to Tallinn, then through Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland to Germany or further south.
  • Sweden - Denmark - Germany: By ferry to Sweden, then through southern Sweden to Denmark and Germany.
  • Finnlines from Helsinki to Travemünde: The easiest way to get to Central Europe is to take the ferry from Helsinki to Travemünde, where you can continue your journey refreshed.

Hop aboard Vanlifefinland's Teemu and Kirsi and enjoy a trip to Europe.

The adventure begins

Travel plans can change unexpectedly, and that's exactly what happened to us on our getaway last summer. We had originally planned a trip to central Norway, but on the ferry to Sweden we decided to head for Switzerland because Norway was forecast to be rainy and cold for the next ten days. So our journey eventually took us to the breathtaking mountains of Switzerland and a charming little village called Weesen.

Our journey began in Stockholm and the van was set off for southern Sweden, where we spent our first night in a cosy rest stop. On the second day we crossed the Öresund Bridge between Sweden and Denmark, which is just under 8 km long. The bridge was truly magnificent and at the Danish end the road also goes under the sea.

Once on the Danish side, we took a closer look at the route and finally decided to take the ferry from Rødby to Puttgarden in Germany, saving some driving time. We also made a little stop in Lübeck, explored the city and had a few beers, as the Finnish singer Samuli Edelman sings "Many long cold ones in Lübeck" in the song Peggy. 😊

Halti World blog: Van trip to Central Europe

The route through Germany was a bit tiring in the end as the scenery was not really good from the start. In southern Germany, the terrain started to change and the mountains started to loom on the horizon. We stopped just before the Austrian-Swiss border to buy motorway stickers, vignettes. Driving without a vignette in Switzerland and Austria is punishable by a fine, plus a sticker fee with the fine.

We finally arrived at about 23:00 and it was already dark. We quickly found a place to sleep and went to bed. Our decision to stay overnight proved to be the right one when we woke up in the morning in the village of Weesen and saw crystal clear waters and mountains before our eyes.

We could also immediately feel the hospitality of the small village when an elderly local man noticed from the back of the van that we were from Finland. He immediately came up to us and told us he was a big Finland fan. After chatting for a while in the parking lot, we moved to a nearby café to continue our story-telling, where the man told us that he had spent several summers on the shores of Lake Saimaa. He also got us some hiking maps and showed us the best hiking trails in the area.

Halti World blog: Van trip to Central Europe / Switzerland Weesen
Van trip to Central Europe: Switzerland Weesen
Van trip to Central Europe: Switzerland village of Weesen

The welcoming, peaceful atmosphere of the small village of Weesen was the perfect counterbalance to the busy stops earlier in the trip. We spent six days hiking and admiring the scenery around Weesen.

One of the highlights of the trip was our visit to the Appenzell region. We went on a day hike to Saxer Lucken. It was a slightly cloudy day, but nevertheless the trail offered great views of the surrounding landscape. The time had passed without us noticing and we didn't make it to the end of the hike. Still, the experience was unforgettable and as we sipped our evening tea, a smile on our faces told the story of a great hike.

Van trip tp Central Europe: Switzerland Saxer Lucken

We also did a day trip to Zürich. In the heart of the city, we explored its fascinating history and architecture. One day in Zürich didn't seem enough and it gave us a reason to return again sometime in the future.

During the trip we also faced a small challenge when the van's batteries started to give out the day before our trip to Zürich. This caused the van's fridge, water pump and lights in the sleeping area to not work. We didn't let minor setbacks shake our sense of adventure. The final trip without electricity brought its own excitement, and we learned to appreciate simple things even more. After the trip, we ordered new batteries and a solar panel for the van, so that we would have more power in the future.

Van trip to Central Europe: Switzerland mountain road
Van trip in Central Europe / Switzerland
Van trip in Central Europe / Switzerland Zürich

Before heading home, we decided to make one more hike to the top of Speer. The hike was demanding, but every step brought us closer to the prize: breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains. Standing on the summit felt like an achievement. We stopped for a snack break and chatted with local youngsters who had come to spend time at the top of the Speer.

It was time to return home after a week of travelling in Switzerland. We made quick stops in Hamburg and Copenhagen, picking up the last pieces of the trip.

Van trip to Central Europe : Switzerland Molden

Our last night was spent in the port of Stockholm by Silja Line, where we were greeted by a small city fox. As the ship set sail for Finland, we reminisced about all the wonderful landscapes, encounters and experiences we had on our journey to Switzerland and back.The stunning scenery, unexpected challenges and encounters with the locals enriched our journey in ways we could not have anticipated. When we got home, it wasn't long before we were already dreaming of our next trips. This trip taught us that a change of plans can lead to incredible adventures.

See you outdoors!