Europe in a Van Part 9 – Germany and Czech Republic: Holle, Langelsheim, Schierke, Moosheim, Růžová and Karlovy Vary

The packed title of this post is pretty representative of the last couple of weeks! Its only now that I’m reflecting on it that I realise how much we squeezed in. From an old watermill, to a cloudy mountain hike and even some alpacas (THEY’RE SO FLUFFY), we covered a lot in the last few weeks.

We started off returning from Dublin to Schiphol, Amsterdam. We spent one night in Arnhem before leaving The Netherlands to head to Germany, where we visited a lot of countryside towns and villages. We left Germany to spend a week in the Czech Republic where we stayed on a racecourse and drank questionable water from thermal mineral springs.

Highlights and Lowlights


  • We’re back in the van! After 2 weeks at home for a wedding, it was really nice to be reunited with Vanessa
  • Alpacas! Enough said
  • It is lovely to explore Europe in the Autumn, with the beautifully coloured foliage and fewer people around


  • Its cold! I can’t wait to migrate south for the winter
  • Our two weeks at home were so wonderful that I had to readjust a bit when we returned to the van. I am not ashamed to say I got a bit homesick when we first came back

Below, I have listed some of the extra facilities available at the campsites we’ve stayed at. Each campsite also had the basics – toilets, showers, sinks for dish washing (a god send as we don’t have running hot water), laundry facilities, bins, grey water disposal, chemical toilets and fresh water.

Working at a watermill

Campsite Campingplatz Bergmühle
Cost – €23.25 per night for two people including electricity. Showers were at an extra cost of .50c
Facilities – No extra facilities
Accessibility score – 2 / 5

See here for further detail on my accessibility scoring system.

A former watermill, this site oozed German charm. The main reception building and owners house were red brick with the typical German black criss cross designs on the outside. It was also surrounded by a river, so we had to take a bridge to go to the loo. The staff here were really friendly and helped reunite us with a bag we left behind. We spent two days working at our laptops here which was very pleasant.

A wooden and metal bridge leading over a river to a the side of a red brick building. A white and black standard toilet sign is on the wall.
The entrance to the bathrooms in Campingplatz Bergmuhle

Apart from a very good bathroom sign, there wasn’t much else to write home about accessibility wise. We did get a pitch close to the bathrooms and reception so it was ok to navigate. The lighting at night was pretty good but we didn’t get a map, nor were the pitches numbered. We did get escorted to our pitch by the owner, and she pointed out where everything was, which was a nice welcome. She was also really friendly and accommodating so I would say that if you needed a specific pitch or extra help, they would be more than willing.

Things to see and do – we made the short bike ride into the local town of Holle, to visit Hutewald der Wohlderburg. This was a medieval castle and fort with a huge tower to climb. It was a lovely way to spend the afternoon, despite the big hills we had to push the bikes up! The castle and its tower were gorgeous, surrounded by the autumnal leaves and blue skies.

A brown and grey stone building with a terracotta tiled roof meets a white chapel on the right. Green and yellow ivy climbs up the building. A black chicken is visible in the bottom left
Some of the buildings in the medieval castle. Spot the chicken!

A Spooky Overnight Mountain Stay

Campsite Langelsheim, 1 Am Maaßener Gaipe
Cost – Free! No facilities
Facilities – A pizzeria was about 500m away
Accessibility score – 1 / 5

We went off the beaten track for a night to stay up the mountains, in the middle of nowhere. It was so worth it for the view, peace and spooky isolation it offered us. And it was free, which is always a plus.

We put our port-a-potty style toilet to use again and made sure to fill up both water tanks before we left our previous campsite. We were not disappointed by this spot which we found on the Park4Night app. The view was incredible! As well as being surrounded by the falling crunchy autumn leaves, it was a great spot for a night. There was also a pizzeria nearby, which made it feel a little less isolated.

A view over a village in the valley of mountains. White building with red roofs can be seen among the trees. There are numerous mountains surrounding them. The sky above is cloudy and grey. A pink and purple yoga matt is set up on the ground, overlooking the view.
The view from our overnight spot in Langelsheim

Climbing Cloudy Mountains in Schierke

Campsite Harz Mountain Camp Am Schierke Stern
Cost – €22 per night for two people including electricity
Facilities – a bistro and wi-fi at reception
Accessibility score – 2 / 5

This was a very quick stop over for us after a days hiking. As well as camping pitches in the site itself, this place also rented out parking spots in their car park. As a cheaper option but retaining access to all facilities, we felt this was a god choice for us, for the one night we were there. Thankfully we got there just in time and nabbed the last available spot!

A brown wooden door with a small sign on it. The sign is a black and white picture of a female deer. There is a red banner across the sign reading Damen.
The ladies bathroom door sign in Harz Mountain Camp

The poor bathroom signs are back! I see now that this is a doe, as opposed to a stag (for the Gents) but in isolation, this doesn’t make sense. I also know that this reads “ladies” but if you have low or blurred vision, this is no good. Also, the sanitary block didn’t have a sign outside it. We did get a good map at reception and the lighting at night was good so it was OK accessibility wise. I can’t rate them too low as we knowingly took a spot in a car park.

Things to see and do – The Harz Mountains are a hikers paradise. We climbed the highest peak in the range, The Brocken. It was a relatively easy hike, with a couple of different routes up and down. The Brocken is covered in cloud and fog for about 360 days of the year so we spent the top portion walking through cloud which was pretty cool – and spooky! Perfect for the time of year that it is.

A gravel mountain track winds through leafless trees. Their bark is grey and silver, which matches the colour of the gravel. The sky above is grey and cloudy.
A view from our hike up the Brocken


Campsite Alpacas am Nonnenwald
Cost – No set price, but donations are welcome!
Facilities – Access to a bathroom and surrounded by Alpacas
Accessibility score – 2 / 5

I mean, I feel like there isn’t much to say here apart from THEY’RE SO FLUFFY. This was a great stopover, which we found on Park4Night again. It was actually the car park of an Alpaca farm, so we were surrounded by them for the night! The owners were so friendly and gave us such a warm welcome, including their 15year old cat who spent a few hours in our van with us. We even got a little tour of the farm the following day.

A brown and white alpaca stands in a green and brown field. There are white houses in the background
One of the Alpacas on the farm

This was not an official campsite so it didn’t have the facilities that they normally have but we did get access to the bathroom and they had motion powered lights at night. It was a level gravel car park and the bathrooms were very nearby so it was pretty accessible overall.

Crossing the border into the Czech Republic

Campsite Trapani House and Camp
Cost – €23 per night including electricity
Facilities – No extra facilities
Accessibility score – 2 / 5

Yet another car park stay! This time we stayed on the grounds of a guest house in Růžová, just over the Czech Border with Germany and in the Bohemian Switzerland National Park. They also had a gorgeous little cat who spent the afternoon in the van with us one day.

The resident cat from Trapani house

This was a grand little spot despite the fact that it was in the middle of nowhere and very cold. The facilities were nice as they were part of a nice guest house and the surrounding area was beautiful, given it was a national park. Accessibility wise it was fine. The signs for the toilet were fine and it was accessed via a level, landscaped path so it was easy to follow.

Things to see and do – Despite the fact that this place was in the middle of nowhere, we found a few nice things to do. The Mýdlárna Rubens artisan soap shop and workshop was nearby which smelled divine! We also walked up to the Rozhledna Růženka observatory tower which gave some really cool views of the surrounding countryside.

A giant stone circular window, with no glass looks out over the countryside. You can see green fields, houses and mountains.
The view from the observatory

At the Races in Karlovy Vary

Campsite Stellplatz Karlovy Vary
Cost – €28 per night including electricity
Facilities – On site traditional Czech Restaurant
Accessibility score – 3 / 5

This was an interesting place to camp, it was literally on the grounds of a race course. It was a modern set up, about a 20minute bike ride outside of Karlovy Vary centre.

A view of a green racecourse with iconic white fencing and sand track. Mountains can be seen in the background
Our view of the racecourse from our pitch in Karlovy Vary

It was a small and compact site so it was very easy to get around. They also had good signs on their bathrooms which made them easy to find and navigate. Lighting at night time was very good as well. No map was needed as everything was beside the pitches.

Things to see and do – we cycled into Karlovy Vary one day and sought out some of the mineral water fountains the town is known for. The water comes from underground thermal springs and is seen as a health drink. To me, it tasted like warm Solpadine – I wasn’t a fan. We took to funicular up to the Diana Observation Tower and visited the butterfly house while we were there too.

On the last day, as part of our drive to Germany, we stopped at the Tiské stěny rock formations, which were really cool to see.

Huge rectangular rock formations rise high into the sky. The ground underneath is sandy.
Tiské stěny rock formations

So that was our jam packed first fortnight back in the van. We squeezed a lot in, probably a bit too much considering we have 2 – 2.5 work days a week to fit in as well. We’re taking a nice break next as we head to another house sit before finally heading towards the warmer Spanish weather.

Thanks for reading! Aoife, x

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