Imagine a place of snow-capped peaks, turquoise lakes and small villages dotted around the countryside.
Then think Slovenia.
I could go on and on about the stunning beauty of Slovenia. When I decided to travel there, I had no idea the gem that it would be.
Where is Slovenia?
Slovenia is a small country nestled between the borders of Italy, Austria, Hungary and Croatia with the Adriatic Sea flanking the southwest side creating a tiny piece of coastline.
I have to admit I had no idea about Slovenia. I stumbled across it when trawling travel forums researching our trip.
Lake Bled popped up time and again, so I decided to take a look. I added it to our itinerary, and it was one of the highlights of our European trip.
From mountainous landscape to the quaint capital Ljubljana, stunning lakes and the intriguing Karst Region full of underground caverns and waterways, this country truly is a destination worth discovering.
If Slovenia has escaped your attention, I suggest you go soon. Although Lake Bled has been described as touristy, in no way does it compare to other popular European destinations.
The people were welcoming and the country was easy to navigate and drive around. Except when our car got stuck in someone’s driveway and nearly went over the edge! But that’s a story for another time.
My Recommendations for your visit to Slovenia
An old-world city, the capital of Slovenia, is definitely worth your time.
It is small in making it easy to explore. From markets to browse, the Old Town which sits below the castle and the upmarket fashion retailers there is a lot to see and do no matter your interests.
It is a beautiful and quaint city I recommend at least a full day to explore.
Take time to wander around Ljubljana Castle, perched overlooking the city. The hike up to the castle is not for the faint-hearted. If that doesn’t sound like something you want to take on, take the funicular from the Old Town to the top, affording you stunning views on the way.
The symbol of the city is the dragon which adorns bridges everywhere.
2. Postojna Cave & Predjama Castle
The Slovenian Karst Region is amazing.
In Postojna Cave a 3 km underground railway takes visitors deep into the cave where you view stunning stalactites and stalagmites, pillars and translucent curtains.
The castle is open daily, and the cave beneath the castle is open to visitors from May to September and is closed during winter.
Nine kilometres from Postojna Cave is Predjama Castle.
The 800-year-old castle is built halfway up the 123-metre high cliff and in the mouth of a cave. It is listed in the Guinness World Records as the largest cave castle in the world.
A free shuttle bus that runs between Postojna Cave and Predjama Castle, available in July and August for those visitors who purchase a combo ticket to both attractions.
For those who want to stay overnight, book a room at Hotel Jama, located in the Postojna Cave Park overlooking the Pivka River.
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3. Skocjan Caves
What Skocjan Caves lack in beauty, they more than make up with the awe-inspiring first glimpse of its underground canyon.
The cavern is 150m deep and spans high above the Reka River. If you have a fear of heights, walking across the Cerkevnik bridge, stretched across the vast abyss, might be difficult.
I found it scary, but it’s not far. Focus on the other side of the bridge and go, go, go.
Guided tours take one and a half hours and don’t forget a jumper. The first part of the cave can be quite cold, around 12°C.
4. Whitewater rafting on the Soca River
The town of Bovec is a gateway to adventure in the Soca Valley with tour operators offering whitewater rafting, kayaking and canyoning.
The crystalline water of the Soca River winds through incredible landscape, made up of forested valleys, waterfalls and canyons.
Depending on the time of year, and the amount of water in the river, the white water rafting experience could be a heat thumping adventure or a more sedate meander with a few exciting tumbles and turns.
The plunge into the icy water is indeed something I will never forget.
5. Lake Bled
Did someone say fairy tale? They must have been talking about Lake Bled.
The water is crystal clear, turquoise colour and a tiny island dots the middle. A quaint church sits prettily atop. Perched high on a cliff overlooking the lake is the medieval fortress of Bled Castle, a perfect spot to view the surrounding landscape.
Visit the island by hiring a rowboat or a traditional pletna. I suggest the pletna, even though it is a little pricey it was nice to sit back and enjoy the ride rather than row ourselves. That’s just my preference though.
There is no charge to visit the island except for the boat. However, there is an entrance fee for the church. If you go in, don’t forget to ring the wishing bell, a sure thing to make your wish come true.
Lake Bled is one of those places that is hard to describe. Located at the foot of the Julian Alps it is beautiful. The colour of the water is gorgeous and the water itself is pristine. No powerboats are allowed on the lake, just the rowboats.
It is possible to visit Lake Bled as a day trip from Ljubljana. However, I suggest allocating a few more days in your itinerary and stay.
A variety of accommodation is available catering to all budgets from camping to five-star villas. A nice way to spend some time is to walk around the lake. It takes about an hour, more if you stop at places of interest or climb up to the castle.
A must-try if you are a foodie, is the Bled Cream Cake (Kremna Rezina).
This special treat was created in Bled by the former manager of the Hotel Park patisserie. Thes are available at various places, though the most famous being the ones prepared at the Hotel’s patisserie and sold in the café located opposite.
We ordered ours through Camping Bled where they are delivered regularly throughout the week.
6. Vintgar Gorge
Another stunning place in this area is Vingtar Gorge.
The walk through the gorge is only 1.6 km long, the path winding its way along and Radovna river.
The walk takes you over wooden bridges through vertical cliffs, passed rapids, pools and waterfalls to the end where you can see the single arch stone bridge of the Bohinj railway built-in 1906. The bridge spans the width of the gorge, 33 m above the path.
Vintgar Gorge is a place you won’t forget and now is the time to visit before it becomes crowded. It is listed as an important Slovenian site, and visitor numbers are growing each year.
Entry is 5€ for Adults and is open for visitors from 8.00 a.m. to 7.00 p.m. Parking is free. You can find out more information here.
7. Lake Bohinj
Lake Bohinj is an easy 26 km drive from Lake Bled.
This area is noticeably quieter, less touristy with most visitors there to hike the surrounding trails. It has a more laid-back pace than Lake Bled.
The look of the lake is entirely different from Lake Bled, but beautiful nonetheless.
The largest lake in Slovenia, Lake Bohinj offers a range of activities including rowing, paragliding and hiking.
Buses run daily from Lake Bled.
Getting to Slovenia
There are no direct flights from Australia to Slovenia.
Fly into another European destination and then fly to Slovenia using a European carrier.
I loved Slovenia.
We stayed in Lake Bled at Camping Bled for a week which I organised through a Dutch company called, Tentsetters (see article Finding the right Accommodation) and was happy with the overall experience.
We took day trips from Lake Bled to Ljubljana and Skocjan Caves, and we drove to Bovec for our white water rafting experience.
We also visited Lake Bohinj and Vingtar Gorge in half-day trips from Lake Bled.
If you are travelling around Europe, you might find these posts useful.
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- My Tour to Monet’s Gardens
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- 7 Reasons to Visit Slovenia Now