I grew up reading Enid Blyton, and often find myself wishing to get away from the city and discover the simple joys of farms, hills and brooks ( For a break of course. I am a city girl through and through otherwise). I found myself dreaming of those Famous Five escapades packed with picnics, hikes, bicycle trips and of course adventure.
15 years later, dreams did come true in this small landlocked paradise – Slovenia.
Where is Slovenia?
As absurd as this question sounds (if you have come so far on the blog, you would know it is in Europe), understanding Slovenia’s location is important to appreciate its worth.
To quote Wikipedia, Slovenia’s location is where the Eastern Alps border the Adriatic Sea between Austria and Croatia. What this means is you get to ski on the mountains, explore the green valleys and vineyards, and, enjoy a beach holiday, all in one country.
Good things do come in small packages after all.
How to reach Slovenia?
Ljubljana, the capital city, can easily be reached by bus, air and train from anywhere in Europe. Ljubljana is also close to Venice, Italy so there’s more incentive to plan a trip around this region.
We visited Slovenia as part of our 20 day Central Europe Trip. We took a bus from Prague to Vienna to Ljubljana. Now, this was a 14 hour long journey but given our budget we chose this over the night train from Prague to Ljubljana. We booked our tickets from http://www.goeuro.com/buses which provides an exhaustive list of buses in Europe.
What to do in Slovenia?
To be honest, Slovenia wasn’t on our travel radar and we gave it a measly 2 days on our way to Croatia. Needless to say, the 2 days here left me regretting that I didn’t have more time here. Also goes to show you shouldn’t ignore the small things in life.
To ensure you don’t miss out on the best of Slovenia, here is what I picked up on the top things to do :
Spend a day in the capital city to soak in Slovenia before you start off your adventure across the country. Ljubljana pronounced as Lyu-bleeya-ana translates to ‘Beloved’ and this small and compact capital city is quite lovable. This is also your entry point to Slovenia since the rest of the country is untainted countryside and not easily accessible by air.
Read more on my next post – Ljubljana One Day Guide.
Lake Bled and around the Julian Alps
This is where your Slovenian adventure begins. Almost everything you need to see and do in Slovenia is just a day trip away from Bled.
You can reach Bled from Ljubljana
By bus: The Direct bus from Ljubljana costs about 6 EUR and takes 1.5 hours to reach.
By car: Take the E61 highway from Ljubljana and reach in just 45 minutes.
By train: Take a train to Lesce-Bled station and take a bus or shuttle (about 2 EUR) to the Lake.
Most of our time in Bled was spent being lost and figuring out our itinerary. When we got down the bus at Bled, all we saw was a tiny bus stop, a tour agency and a café. We had no clue what to do or where to go. Luckily, the guy at the tourist agency saw our lost faces and offered to help. We left our luggage at his office and started off our day with a trip to Vintgar Gorge. The rest of the stay in Bled involved a Fairy tale castle atop a hill, a lake below and an island in it, living in a cottage with views of snow-clad mountains, hiking along the lake, and, creamy pastries to indulge in.
There are a lot of B&Bs and Cottages to stay in Lake Bled. We booked ours from Airbnb and stayed at Vila Mangart https://www.airbnb.co.in/rooms/5539999.
A number of tours start from Bled which take you to the rest of your adventure in the Julian Alps.
Have put together some sites that will help you make your choice. Or you can just do what we did and go with the flow.
Just a few kilometers from Bled, Vintgar is a gorgeous rocky deep gorge packed with vegetation and with the Radovna River nestled in between. You can walk through the gorge on a trail of wooden bridges.
Vintgar Gorge is a few km away from Bled and you can combine this with your visit to Bled Lake and Castle on the same day.
The Adult entry fee to the Gorge is 5 EUR per person. We also paid 11 EUR per person for the to and fro Shuttle service from Bled to Vintgar. Our driver was also kind enough to spare us the ordeal of lugging our bags to our B&B and dropped us at the doorstep for no extra charge.
Triglav National Park and Lake Bohinj
Triglav National Park is just a half hour bus ride from Bled. This is the only national park in Slovenia but looking at how pretty it is, I don’t think another one is necessary. You can explore the park along its many hiking trails. The park also houses Lake Bohinj, Slovenia’s largest glacial lake. In the summer, the lake provides opportunity to swim and do other water sports.
Among the many hiking trails is one that takes you atop Mount Triglav. At 2864m above sea level, this is the tallest peak in Slovenia. Legend has it that to be a true Slovenian, one must conquer this peak. So go ahead and show your allegiance to Slovenia. But do start early to avoid the crowd in the summer months.
The Adult entry fee to the TNP is 5 EUR.
Soca River Valley : A glimpse of Narnia.
Unless you are willing to hike the 20km Soca Trail from Triglav National Park to Bovek, the best way to reach Soca River Valley from Bled is by road via the Vrsic (pronounced ver-sheech) Pass. This road takes you up the highest parts of the Julian Alps and down to the town of Bovec. The road has 50 winding turns (motion sickness alert) which means with every turn you have a different view.
Bovec town in the Soca Valley is paradise for all adventure seekers. Zip lining, rafting, kayaking, mountain climbing, paragliding– name it and it’s here.
Last but not the least, go visit Narnia. I mean, the Soca river. This emerald river was where the Fords of Beruna from the movie Narnia: Prince Caspian was shot. Apparently, it was a choice between this location and somewhere in New Zealand. Need I say more about Slovenia?
Slovenia has only about 50km of coastline but the short coastline sure packs a punch with its picturesque buildings and views. After all the adrenaline pumping activities, sit back and relax in this little seaside town.
Postojna is a 20 km long cave system filled with enormous Stalactites and Stalagmites. Only about 5 KM is open to public but sufficient enough to have you awestruck.
Slovenia and Ljubljana, feature on the list of the ten most environmentally-friendly tourist destinations in the world. This land of unspoiled nature with some of the most beautiful mountains, valleys, springs, rivers and lakes should definitely be on your bucket list.
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