For my birthday this year (the big 3-0) I decided I wanted to be far, far away from where people could make any type of fuss. So, despite it not actually being THAT far away I decided its finally time to tick Slovenia off my never-ending bucket list! And I’m SO glad I did ❤
Slovenia had been on my radar for a good few years, I’d known a few people who had passed through on a bigger Euro trip and read many blogs and not once heard anyone say a bad word about it. I spend my entire life researching places all over the world and reading endless travel blogs and noticed its incredibly rare to hear of a place that supposedly everyone loves… can this really be true?!
We arrived very late into Ljubljana airport, which is actually between Ljubljana and Lake Bled so you could start your trip in either location. Our first day we were up early to immediately leave Slovenia, only about 6 hours after arriving in the country, to take a full day trip to Venice!
Our first full day in Slovenia however, was spent exploring the charming capital Ljubljana ❤ The centre is pedestrianised and you can find pretty little bars, cafes and restaurants all along the river. Our first point of call was up to Ljubljana castle, partly because its one of the main tourist attractions but also because I love a good view and like to get my bearings in a new place! Our Airbnb was ideally situated at the foot of the funicular up to the castle (and Central Market and Dragon Bridge – perfect!) but we chose to take the walk up, it really doesn’t take long and you can save yourself a few quid and get a bit of exercise in, it’s a no brainer!
The views from the castle were lovely and we spent a lazy afternoon wandering the castle grounds, learning the history of Ljubljana and Slovenia, before heading back down to wander some more. Ljubljana is very small and can pretty much be explored in a day so with this in mind we took our time which was nice as this isn’t something we usually have time to do! We visited many of their famous Bridges such and Dragon Bridge, Triple Bridge and Butchers Bridge, whilst stopping for the occasional Aperol Spritz….obviously. We even ended up in the Museum of Illusions which was fun!
The next day after collecting our little ginger polo, we headed out to explore the country! We were firstly heading for Postojna Caves which are apparently the most visited caves in the world?! Who knew! With over 24km underground passages to explore they have installed a train system which is pretty cool when you’re a 6 year old boy at heart like me! As you zoom through tiny tunnels and then emerge into huge, high ceilinged open spaces (some even with giant hanging chandeliers) I couldn’t help but pretend I was on my way to my vault at Gringotts, also massively helped along by Slovenian’s love of dragons and the promise of seeing real life baby dragons at the end! Though not the cheapest place to visit, I’d say it’s definitely worth it; our guide was great, and you get 2 train rides and to explore by foot AND to see baby dragons, what more could you want.
Only a 15 minute drive from Postojna is the very cool Predjama Castle, the largest cave castle in the world. I think I actually discovered this on Instagram or Pinterest not too long ago and as I so frequently do, demanded to myself I must visit immediately. Like something fresh out of a fairytale, it stands boldly half consumed by cliff. It almost seems fake, like a film set maybe, but over 800 years ago some medieval folk actually built this. It hides a network of secret tunnels and was the home of Knight Erazem of Predjama…. now it’s the home to a colony of bats!
After checking into our next airbnb in Lake Bled, we took a little drive out through the sleepy villages to Triglav National park and Lake Bohinj. Lake Bohinj is arguably just as beautiful as Lake Bled but also has the bonus or far less tourists. We attempted to walk the whole way round, ignoring signs that the trail was temporarily closed up ahead but unfortunately could not surpass the hundreds of cut down trees that lie across the pathway ☹️ so back we went.
I was totally gutted to learn that Vintgar Gorge was temporarily closed due to a flood damaging the access road, but luckily we found another little gem which made up for it. Due to the blocked Bohinj trail we drove to the bottom of the hike to Slap Savica Falls and hiked from there, it only takes about 20 mins to reach (about 500 steps) but you do have to pay a small fee. I was hugely impressed, I do love a good waterfall! As well as a beautiful blue waterfall the viewpoint also offers great views of the valley and lake Bohinj below. It definitely reminded me of Banff, Canada.
Despite moving accommodation once more, Bled was our final stop and we thoroughly enjoyed our last few days exploring and relaxing here. Like most people, Bled is the reason I wanted to visit Slovenia in the first place. And whilst there is definitely so much more to the country than just Bled, I did find it truly magical. Maybe because the sun was shining, maybe because I finally found peace in turning 30 or maybe because Prosecco and Aperol kept finding its way into my face, we’ll never truly know.
A trip to Bled Castle is an absolute must as well as eating Bled cake whilst you’re up there, though custard and creamy things are not really my thing, it has to be done. The views from Bled Castle were amazing, despite the rain, with the famous church on Bled Island the Julian Alps in the background and the blue waters below.
The BEST views, though, are from Ojstrica view point. The trail start can be a little tricky to find but if you find the grass patch just south of the beach and head into the woods and up to the right, you can’t go far wrong. It gets pretty steep in places but don’t be put off the view is so worth it! We were lucky only a few people were up there when we arrived but I’ve heard it can get very busy, though I’m not sure how cause it’s pretty tiny up there!
You can’t go to Bled without visiting Bled island, it’s the only island in Slovenia actually. You can either swim there, take a relaxing traditional pletna boat, where you are leisurely rowed by a highly skilled oarsman or hire a boat, row yourself and try not to die! Now I’ve rowed a few boats in my time, my boyfriend however has not… After taking a driving licence from us to ensure we didn’t hijack the boat and become lake pirates forever, the young man quickly told us each where to sit and kicked us off, only then to ask if we knew how to row a boat, as we drifted away learning that Ali was the one in the driving seat. Great. We bobbed around in circles for a few minutes, but he soon got the hang of it and we made way for the island… whilst I silently wished I’d left my bag of belongings behind for when we inevitably end up having an unplanned swim. Why aren’t life vests mandatory?! Once I’d chilled out a bit and thought maybe we won’t end up in the water, we were faced with exiting and docking the boat. Another thing that wasn’t really explained to us. The island is tiny and home to the Church of the Mother of God where people come to ring the wishing bell 3 times and make a wish. Annoyingly the church was under renovation and covered in scaffolding whilst we were there and we just settled for an ice cream and a rest before struggling to clamber back into a very unsteady rowing boat with out it capsizing.
A few more must do’s around Bled are to walk and cycle around the lake as much as possible and of you are big kid, ride the mountain coaster! It is a lot of fun, again with fantastic views on the way down.
Our final accommodation was at Bled Garden Village, famous for its epic tree houses. As part of my birthday present we stayed in a large glamping tent with its 2 floors, indoor and outdoor showers and hottub! One of the best parts of the Garden Village, being an eco resort, fruit and veggies were being grown everywhere, in our gardens along the pathways, around the pool and you can just pick and eat as you go, they encourage it! I did some morning yoga on our terrace and we watched the stars from our hottub at night, it was definitely one of the coolest places I’ve ever stayed.
We spent my 30th birthday, riding bikes, riding the mountain coaster and having boozy picnics by the lake watching the plentas go by. The weather was perfect and I honestly didn’t want that day to ever end. It’s been a long time since I’ve left a little piece of my heart somewhere but there’s definitely a piece left in Slovenia. As a general rule I tend not to go back to the same place twice as there is just so much world I want to see, but I can see myself revisiting this country time and time again ❤
- Flights get in late (from Luton anyway) a taxi shuttle to Ljubljana is by far the cheapest option when the buses have stopped running. Just €9 each compared to a €50 taxi
- Once you’ve explored Ljubljana for a few days, hire a car, Slovenia has some of the emptiest, easiest looking roads I’ve ever seen (I say seen as I’m guilty of being a road trip passenger) I would actually drive there if I went again and that’s saying something! Car hire and petrol are also really cheap
- Try to get accommodation with parking as parking is not free (probably the only downside I can think of!)
- If you’re on a budget buy your booze and snacks from the Mercator and you will save a fair amount. Our first trip there we bought a box of cereal and croissants for breakfast, sweets, 6 large beers and 2 bottles of wine for €11
- Take a jacket or something warm if visiting Postojna caves, it’s at a constant 10°C
- If you plan to row yourself to Bled Island, hire your boat from the West side of the lake near the beach, it’s the closest point! (otherwise you’ll have no time to explore the island cause you need to return your boat already)
Reasons to visit Slovenia:
- ABSOLUTELY BEAUTIFUL – It’s like a mini Canada
- It has everything, mountains, lakes, cities,countryside, a small coast
- Very safe
- Very clean
- They make wine!
- Cheap compared to a lot of Europe
- Great roads! Easy to get around
- Friendly people – but not too friendly, like American friendly; I don’t want to hear your life story
- Still under the radar, though not for much longer, tourism is definitely on the rapid increase, but for now it’s pleasantly unrammed… ish.
- Perfect Italian and Eastern European influences but still very much its own country