SLOVENIA is a country in the heart of Europe that was part of Yugoslavia for most of the 20th century. Slovenia is a LAND OF DIVERSITY, a country made up of portions of four major European geographic landscapes: the European Alps, the Dinaric Alps, the Pannonian and Danubian lowlands and hills, and the Mediterranean coast. Easily accessible mountain passes through Slovenia’s present day territory have long served as routes for those crossing the Mediterranean and transalpine regions of Europe. Ljubljana is the capital and largest city of Slovenia. In Slovenia, the sun shines approximately 2,000 hours per year and there is plenty of snow in winter. The highest mountain is called Triglav, meaning “three-heads”. This mountain is a true national symbol, featured on the national coat of arms and flag.
WHAT TO DO IN SLOVENIA
Slovenia is a perfect mix of gorgeous natural scenery, vibrant historic towns and rich culture. This country boasts more than half of its territory in forest land, a national park, regional nature parks, stunning mountain lakes like the ones at Bled and Bohinj, and 6,000 karstic caves. Its history and multicultural background have left behind a striking architectural legacy that is sure to enchant you, from the ramparts of Predjama troglodyte castle to the Secession façades in peaceful Ljubljana. The country is also known for its great wines and delicious traditional food. GORGEOUS!
WE TRAVELED TO SLOVENIA IN THE SPRING.
LET’S GET TO KNOW IT…
A superb glacial lake lying at the foot of Mt Triglav, Blejsko Jezero or Lake Bled, is without a doubt the most beautiful lake in the Alps. It has a medieval castle perched on the rocky headland, a little island with its Baroque church and a surrounding forest. The lake is of mixed glacial and tectonic origin. It is situated in north-west Slovenia about 50 minutes from the capital Ljubljana.
DAY 1 – In the middle of May, we flew from Munich to Ljubljana by Adria Airways. At the airport, we rented a car to go to Bled Lake. We stayed in a good and well located hotel.
DAY 2 – The next day, we walked about 6 miles around the lake. The walk started at our hotel, passed by the STRAZA HILL and went to MLINO, a small hamlet that also houses the famous HOTEL VILA BLED. This was a famous summer residence for the late President Tito and, these days, guests can sit down to a regal dinner at the hotel restaurant. Continuing on to the far side of the lake, we saw OSOJNICA HILL which offers great views if you wish to take the path to the summit. Then, we walked to ZAKA, where is the Slovene Rowing Centre. Regular World and National Championships are held on the lake.
Continuing, we passed the GRAJSKO KOPALISCE, the swimming area underneath the Bled Castle. We passed by VILA PRESEREN and we arrived at the place where the traditional PLETNA boats begin their ride on the lake. We took one of them and enjoyed very much the tour. The PLETNA BOAT is a wooden flat-bottom boat with a pointed bow and the stern widened with a step to enable passengers to enter. Pletnas can be taken from out front the Vila Preseren, Hotel Toplice, Penzion Mlino, Camping Bled at Zaka and the rowing center. There is a small island in the middle of the lake that is Slovenia’s only natural island. After disembarking there, we strolled around to visit the CHURCH OF THE ASSUMPTION OF MARY, which is a favorite for weddings. The island also has a small cafe. AMAZING! If you want more information, contact us.
In the afternoon, we drove to the BLED CASTLE (Grajska Cesta). We drove to the castle and parked inside it.
Slovenia’s oldest castle sits majestically over Lake Bled atop a 130-meter steep cliff. The castle dates back to the early 11th century, although most of what stands here now is from the 16th century. Made up of two parts, the Upper Courtyard houses the main residence and the gothic chapel while the lower courtyard houses the outbuildings complete with defensive walls and gothic tower. The residence houses a restaurant and the museum which illustrates Bled’s history from the Bronze Age to the present. The castle terraces offer spectacular views of the lake and the island. If you want more information, contact us.
We had dinner at PENZION VILA PREŠEREN (Veslaska Promenada, 14) that has Slovenian cuisine, wines and homemade pastries. The restaurant’s terrace offers views of the church on the Bled Island.
DAY 3 – The following day, we drove to Lake Bohinj, passing by many little villages like: Bitnje, Bohinjska Bistrica, Ribcev Laz, Ukanc.
Lake Bohinj is located in a glacial valley and it is Slovenia’s largest lake. It is the gateway to the Triglav National Park. There are lots of outdoor pursuits like kayaking, hiking and horseback riding. THIS IS A PLACE FOR NATURE LOVERS!
TRIGLAV NATIONAL PARK
Triglav National Park is located by the border with Italy and Austria and accounts for four percent of Slovenia’s entire territory. It is almost entirely covered by the Eastern Julian Alps and was named after the highest mountain, Mt. Triglav. It features picturesque mountain peaks and valleys as well as numerous natural attractions. Many other lakes are well known in the park and there are also numerous waterfalls, two of the finest being Savica and Peričnik. If you want more information, contact us.
From there, we drove to VOGEL MONTAIN. We crossed the SAVICA RIVER and headed towards the cable car station to Vogel.
Towering high above Lake Bohinj’s southern edges, Mount Vogel at 1800m is one of Slovenia’s premier ski resorts in winter. From there, we had some amazing views over the Alps and Lake Bohinj. The CABLE CAR station is located in Ukanc, about 250m above the Hotel Zlatorog.
From there, we drove through the small villages of Stara Fuzina, Gorjuse to Goreljek. We had lunch at the terrace of the Hotel Jelka Pokljuka, Goreljek, in Triglav National Park, on Pokljuka Mountains. It is surrounded by peace and lush greenery.
Then, we drove by Zatrnik and Zgornje Gorge to return to Bled.
DAY 4 – The next day, we drove to Kranjska Gora and Jasna Lake.
Kranjska Gora is a summer and winter tourist resort near the borders with Austria and Italy and near the Triglav National Park. The imposing peaks of the Julian Alps, the vast forests stretching from Mojstrana to Rateče, and the ski areas among them attract hikers, alpinists, bicyclists, and skiers. Kranjska Gora marks the starting point for the route over the Vrsic Pass in the Julian Alps.
Jasna Lake consists of two interconnected artificial lakes at the confluence of the Velika Pišnica and Mala Pišnica streams and it is an extraordinary beautiful alpine lake. The views around the lake are very scenic. There is an area to feed the ducks, a 3 level diving platform and central platform for swimming. The area around the lake offers wonderful trails, but it is also possible to fish, but fly fishing is the only type allowed.
BE AWARE – Get the area map on the Tourist Information – TIC: Ticarjeva 2 – Kranjska Gora.
We drove to Soca River Valley passing by many little villages like: Vršič Pass, Kal – Koritnica, Bovec and Tolmin. If you want more information, contact us.
Bovec is the first town of some size in this area. Nearby, there is the Boka Waterfall, the waterfall that has the most abundant flow of water in Slovenia. The Bovec area is a paradise for water sports, hiking, biking, paragliding, and other outdoor activities. There is a cheese made from the milk of the indigenous Bovec sheep that graze in the surrounding mountain pastures.
SOCA RIVER VALLEY
The River Soča has a distinct emerald green color and is very beautiful. Its water flows across waterfalls, small waterfalls, and cascades as well as through narrow rocky gorges, and along the way it has carved surprising canyons and pools. A renowned fish lives in the River Soča – the Soča Trout, which attracts fishermen from all over the world. The mountainous landscape above the River Soča was the scenery of the largest mountain battle in history during World War I. This ride was WONDERFUL!
On the way back, we drove to Trenta where we had lunch at GOSTILNA METOJA RESTAURANT (Trenta 19a, Soča), which is located in the heart of Triglav National Park and offers good homestyle food. We ordered for grilled trout with potato and it was EXCELLENT!!
From there we visited the Vintgar Gorge.
Vintgar is a small and picturesque village, which became famous because of the Vintgar Gorge. The highlight of visiting the gorge is an easy 4 km walk. Vintgar is a narrow gorge carved out over time by the Radovna River which weaves and cascades through the gorge. THIS WAY WONDERFUL! If you want more information, contact us.
DAY 5 – The following day, we drove to Škofja Loka.
Skofja Loka is located at the confluence of the Poljanska Sora and Selška Sora rivers and is considered the most beautifully preserved medieval city in Slovenia. It was rebuilt in 1511 and has remained intact ever since. The old town core is made up of the Upper Town square called Plac and the Lower Square called Lontrg both dominated by the LOKA CASTLE. It was built before the year 1202 by the bishops of Freising and it was the center of the Loka dominion. The Castle was almost totally demolished in the earthquake in 1511 but it was restored by the bishop Filip. Our tour began on the Stone Bridge or CAPUCHIN’S BRIDGE to the Upper Square. In the middle of the bridge is the statue of Saint John of Nepomuk with the coat of arms of Škofja Loka. We strolled about the little streets and picturesque squares and saw the HOMAN’S HOUSE and the MARTIN’S HOUSE, real gems of manor houses in their original state. We also visited the Loka Castle. It was a WONDERFUL VISIT! If you want more information, contact us.
From there, we drove 130 kilometers tol IZOLA.
The old Mediterranean town of Izola lies on the shore of the Gulf of Trieste and has traditions of fishing and winemaking. It used to be an island until the 19C, when it was attached to the continent by a stone bridge. It has an italian influence that can be seem in the little streets and Venetian houses. We strolled around the old city, passing by narrow medieval streets, small churches and watching the boats in the harbor. AMAZING!
From Izola we drove through the wine roads, passing by many wineries and wine cellars, on the way to Piran.
Piran maintained the clustered medieval structure of narrow winding streets; houses huddled close together, rising in cascades, the contact with the sea, numerous squares and churches. Its architecture was influenced by the Venetian Republic, which left its mark on most Istrian towns.
We stayed in a good hotel located between the coast and Piran’s ancient historic quarter and that offers amazing sea views. From our hotel we walked to the PIRAN PORT, where a hundred or so boats and yachts are docked in the small harbor. From there, we went to TARTINI SQUARE (Tartinijev trg), which celebrates the Piran-born violinist and composer Giuseppe Tartini. We also passed by the 19th-century City Hall. Then, we walked to MOGORON HILL where the largest preserved section of the Town Walls is. These defensive walls are believed to date from as far back as the 7th century, attaining their present form in the 16th century. This place marks the limit of the medieval town center. From there we had a full-on view of the town.
We walked to St. George’s Parish Church that is a Roman Catholic Church located on a hill and was built in the Venetian Renaissance architectural style. Then, we continued along ADMAICEVA ULICA and PRESERNOVO NABREZJE to pass by PUNTA LIGHTHOUSE and by ST. CLEMENT’S CHURCH. On the way back to our hotel, we passed a slew of seafood restaurants in quaint Italian houses on the one side, and the Adriatic’s Gulf of Piran on the other. THIS IS A VERY PRETTY CITY! If you want more information, contact us.
DAY 6 – The next day, we drove to Predjama.
The Postojna Cave is a fantastic web of tunnels, passages, galleries and halls, with some 20.6 km long and two million years old. The Pivka River continues to carve several series of caves. This is the largest cave in the “classic karst” and as it has an easy access it is one of the most visited caves in Europe. The constant temperature in the caves ranges from 8 to 10° C.
We saw about 5.7 km of the cave on a one-and-a-half-hour tour. Some 4 km of this is covered by an electric train, which took us to the Big Mountain (Velika Gora) cavern. From this place a guide escorted us through halls, galleries and caverns. These are dry galleries, decorated with a vast array of white stalactites shaped like needles, enormous icicles and even fragile spaghetti. The Conference Hall (Kongresna Dvorana), which is the largest in the cave system, can accommodate 10,000 people for musical performances. We had lunch there and wen to Predjama Castle that is located just 10 kilometers from Postojna Cave. COLOSSAL! If you want more information, contact us.
BE AWARE – The entrance to the cave is situated approximately 300 meters from the parking area for passenger cars, motorcycles and buses. Ticket offices are located approximately 50 meters from the cave entrance. Next to the parking lot there are some kiosks selling souvenirs, fruit, snacks and beverages, as well as public restrooms.
We had lunch there and went on to Predjama Castle that is located just 10 kilometers from Postojna Cave.
Predjama Castle was built in the middle of a 123-metre high towering cliff, more than 800 years. The castle offers a unique insight into the construction techniques and ingenuity of medieval people who came here searching for a safe haven right at the entrance to the cave. During a siege in the 15th century, the castle offered refuge to its most famous and notorious owner – Erazem of Predjama. The legend tells about the brave robber baron Erazem, who had remained undefeated until he was betrayed by one of his servants, as the gallant knight resisted the besiegers from inside his safe castle for over a year. The karstic terrain beneath the castle, with its cave system, was an excellent choice. It provided Erazem and his people with a secret passage that lead to freedom, a source of drinking water, a further place for hiding and storage of food – everything that turned out to be indispensable, invaluable and essential during the siege. From the castle building a passage leads to a refuge in a hollow, where an observation post on the rocky cliff offers a WONDERFUL VIEW over the surrounding countryside. UNBELIEVABLE! If you want more information, contact us.
After visiting the castle we went to Ljubljana, where we returned the car. We stayed in a good hotel in the heart of Ljubljana.
DAY 7 – The next day, we visited Ljubljana.
Ljubljana is the capital of Slovenia and has preserved evidence of the five millennia of its history, including the remains of the Roman city of Emona and the old city center with its medieval castle and beautiful buildings with Baroque façades, decorative portals and uneven roofs. The city also has picturesque bridges across the River Ljubljanica that marks and divides the city center into two. On one side the old part and the access to the castle, on the other the commercial and political part of the city. In the center, the square of the national poet, France Prešeren, houses the main church (dedicated to the Franciscan Order) and many cafes and it was from where we had one of the BEST VIEWS OF THE CASTLE.
After this visit, we strolled around the old city that has shops and art galleries, the CITY HALL, many restaurants and a series of Vinotekas, very exquisite bars, where it is possible to taste excellent wines both Slovenian and imported. We walked across the TRIPLE BRIDGE, one of the most splendid sights of the capital and the DRAGON BRIDGE, the first bridge in Europe to be built out of reinforced concrete. The four dragons on the bridge look out over the city.
Then, we visited the LJUBLJANA’S CENTRAL MARKET that consists of an open-air market located in the Vodnikov trg and Pogačarnev trg squares, a covered market situated in between the two squares, and a series of small food shops along the RIVER LJUBLJANICA, which are referred to as ‘Plečnik’s Covered Market’ as they are located in a colonnade designed by Ljubljana’s famous architect Jože Plečnik. In the city center, one of the most used means of transport is the bicycle. For this reason, and thanks to very wide sidewalks, there is, in most of them, a red band that is destined to the bicycles. If you want more information, contact us.
We had an excellent ice cream at CACAO (Petkovskovo Nabrezje 3). If you like ice-cream this is your place.
DAY 8 – The following day, we went to the rail station to get the train to ZAGREB.
DAY 1 – Flew from Munich to Ljubljana and by car to Bled Lake.
DAY 2 – Bled Lake
DAY 3 – Bled Lake / Lake Bohinj
DAY 4 – Bled Lake / Kranjska Gora
DAY 5 – Skofja Loka / Piran
DAY 6 – Predjama / Ljubljana
DAY 7 – Ljubljana
DAY 8 – Ljubljana to Zagreb by train.
SLOVENIA – TRAVEL TIPS
WHEN TO VISIT SLOVENIA – Temperatures in Slovenia soar into to 30C in summer (June, July and August) and it is very hot, except for the alpine area of Kranjska Gora and Bled where temperatures are generally cooler by approximately 5 or 10 degrees centigrade. In autumn, from September, the temperature drops down to 20C. In winter (December, January and February) it is very cold in most of the country and only a tad warmer on the coast. The winds can be fierce and snow can fall at any time. In spring (March, April and May), the melting snow turns rivers and waterfalls into gushing currents that wash down through the valleys coming into full bloom.
Despite the queues at major attractions, summer is a great time to visit. Autumn is also a brilliant time to visit. The crowds thin out as workers go back to the office and school recommences. With the cooler weather, expect a little more rain going into October and especially November. Winter is the time to the many winter activities like skiing or skating. In spring some days remain cold, some clear and sunny, some days windy.
CURRENCY – The currency of Slovenia is the Euro.
LANGUAGE – The official and national language of Slovenia is Slovene, which is spoken by a large majority of the population. Two minority languages, Hungarian and Italian, are recognized as co-official languages.
POWER – In Slovenia the standard voltage is 230 V and the standard frequency is 50 Hz.