Slovenia is in an ideal location for intrepid travellers and explorers. Nestled between Italy, Austria, Hungary and Croatia, it is well connected and is a common stop-off point for travellers who are on the move. A former Yugoslavian state, Slovenia has been influenced by its communist past and offers a unique experience, combining both Eastern European and Mediterranean culture in a perfectly Slovenian way.
Despite not being a tourist hotspot (yet), I can safely say that Slovenia is a beautiful country and somewhere I wouldn’t hesitate to go again. With it’s greenery, snow-capped peaks, breath-taking lakes, subterranean caves and coastlines, you should really add this to your travel list. If you’re a nature junkie and enjoy outdoor activities, there’s even more reason to visit!
Whilst I was in Slovenia, I based myself in Ljubljana (Travel Guide here) as it seemed to be easier to travel from here to other places and there were lots of day trips on offer. Here are the places that we visited:
About an hour’s drive from Ljubljana on the bus (€13 return), Lake Bled is an enchanting place with stunning views and a quaint, rustic feel around town. If the weather is good, you can hire a bike and cycle around the whole lake or you can rent a rowboat and row to the island in the middle of the lake. This is probably the most iconic part of the place and, unsurprisingly, features in most picture postcards of Slovenia. If you’re not up to rowing, you can also get a water taxi style boat (€11 return) that takes you to the island with its small church and café. After returning from the island, we headed to Bled Castle (€10 entrance ticket). This is about a 20-25 minute, steep walk up a lot of steps so be prepared. I promise you, it is worth it once you get to the top! You can also drive up if you can’t take the stairs of course. Make sure you try the famous Bled cream cake (€4) at the castle cafe – it’s very creamy/custardy and a bit like a Mille-feuille style pastry. There are a few exhibits in the castle itself but the main reason for going up here is mostly the view – it is beautiful.
We spent half a day in Bled and left around 2pm without feeling rushed so it’s definitely a more relaxing day out. If you are in to sports/hiking/outdoor activities in general, you may want to stay overnight.
We organised this day trip ourselves but there are also organised tours available if more convenient for you (though make sure you check that entrance fees to the castle etc are included in the price of the tour).
Postojna Caves and Predjama Castle
Postojna Cave is a must-see in my opinion. With its 24 kilometres of underground passages, galleries and halls, you’ll be hard-pressed to find anything quite like it. Visitors get to enjoy around 5 kilometres of the caves (in 1818, just over 300 metres were accessible!), riding on an underground train for part of the way, which is a truly unique experience. Sadly, the caves lost their world heritage status because of the addition of the train being built but I think I can live with that…
In terms of getting there, I would recommend taking an organised tour for this one depending on the time of year you visit, particularly if you also want to see Predjama Castle. Both are approximately 9 km apart from each other and in the summer (only July and August), there is usually a shuttle bus that takes visitors to and fro. However, anytime other than July and August, you would have to organise your own transfer between the two sites and when we tried to find out the options, no body seemed to have a clue. So, to save us a lot of hassle, we booked the organised tour which was actually pretty good value for money in the end and included entrance fees to both the castle and caves – we used Roundabout Travel (€64) and I would recommend them for this tour (though it doesn’t include entrance to the cave under Predjama Castle). Roundabout also have a number of other tours across Slovenia so do check them out.After Postojna Cave, we headed to Predjama Castle which is about a 10-15 minute drive (but not very easy walking distance as it was a drive along a very windy and inclined road). Perched in the middle of a 123 metre high cliff, this castle is definitely worth a visit! It isn’t opulent in any shape or form from the inside but it’s more about the structure of the castle itself which is impressive to say the least. We didn’t visit the cave under the castle which was a shame so might be something to look in to if you’re interested.I would highly recommend a visit to Lake Bled, Postojna and Predjama Castle though there are also many other day trips you could do (we just didn’t have the time!). These include visits to Lake Bohinj, Škocjan Caves and the coastal town of Piran which all looked amazing.
Have you been to any of these places? Which ones were your favourite?