Stresa and Lake Maggiore

Just an hour North by train from central Milan is the small lakeside town of Stresa. It sits right on the edge of Lake Maggiore and is famous for its stunning sunset views. There is a real sense of belle époque elegance and sophistication to Stresa, with beautiful old villas lining the shore and a pretty warren of pedestrianised cobbled streets in the old town where there is lots of fantastic  restaurants, cafes and gelato all over to choose from. I stayed at the Hotel de Parc, a beautiful former private villa since converted into a quaint little boutique hotel.
Along the gorgeous lakeside promenade sits the Hotel La Palma. From the outside it looks very traditional and maybe even slightly old fashioned, but peaking out on the rooftop sits the Sky bar. This was definitely my favourite Aperitivo spot in all of Stresa. The views over the lake are incredible. Go around 6.30/ 7pm just before the sun starts to set and enjoy the stunning views across the lake with a Spritz or two.

Plitvice National Park Croatia

 

After a lovely few days in Zagreb I got a bus down to the Plitvice National Park. I stayed in a lovely little B&B called the Plitvice Miric Inn. You can just do Plitvice as a day trip, but I’d been advised to stay overnight so I could get the most out of it and to avoid the crowds and I’m so glad I did. The park is split into two halves, the upper and lower lakes. I arrived at Plitvice mid afternoon around 3pm and after checking in, I headed into the park around 5pm and started with the upper lakes, it was really quiet and I hardly saw anyone else, the weather was lovely, beautifully sunny, but not too hot. It’s a big area and I finished the circuit of the upper lakes quite late just before the park closed for the evening. I had a nice meal at my hotel that evening and met a lovely Canadian couple and ended up having a slightly later night than I had intended. The next morning I’d been told to go to the park really early as soon as it opened to avoid the crowds, but being lazy and a bit tired I didn’t. Anyway big mistake, it was heaving, a complete contrast to the day before. Coach trips arrive from around 10am and stay til about 4pm and as such it was unpleasantly busy. Literally queuing along the boardwalks unable to pass anyone. So in short yes it’s definitely worth staying overnight at Plitvice and go very early in the morning or late in the afternoon/ early evening.