Although most people are familiar with Lake Bled and its Instagram-worthy island, it’s worth going beyond Bled to discover this incredible country. For such a small country Slovenia really does have it all: stunning mountains, waterfalls and sparkling blue rivers, incredible underground caverns, vineyards, beautiful coastline and vibrant cities. From Ljubljana, to Bled and Piran we crammed in as much of this country as possible in a few short days.
Considering I knew very little about Slovenia before I went, other than that the flights were cheap, I am so glad we spent the time discovering so much of this varied country. We started with a day in the capital, Ljubljana, exploring the castle atop the hill, surrounded by trees in radiant autumn colours. I really enjoyed walking around the city and it made for a great introduction to Slovenia.
We then headed to Lake Bohinj, which is a larger lake than Bled, surrounded by the mountains of the Julian Alps. I enjoyed swimming in the warm, crystal clear water. Bohinj was so peaceful, with very few people and if I were to visit Slovenia again I’d visit Bohinj over Bled. Bohinj is also the perfect starting point for some easy hikes including Mostnica Gorge and Savica waterfall.
We then headed on to Bled and although it was much busier than Bohinj it is undeniably beautiful. We enjoyed a cycle around the lake (using bikes from our hotel) and then hired a boat to row out to the island where we bough huge ice creams. We also took a walk through Vintgar Gorge.
From Bled we drove along the Soco valley to Tolmin and then the next day we headed towards the coast. We spent a morning taking a tour through the incredible Skocjan Caves, along an underground valley. There are many caves in Slovenia but Skocjan is the largest and unmissable.
As we drove closer to the coast we entered the wine-making region, with terraced grapevines either side of the road. There were literally hundred of sings for vineyards and so eventual we followed on, turning up at a small farmhouse where we were greeted by an elderly man. On discovering we were English he quickly found his son who spoke a little English and gave us a personal tour of his wine-making facilities – including getting is to taste many of his wonderful wines. It would have been rude not to leave with several bottles.
Finally we made it to the coast where I enjoyed a dip in the sea followed by a walk around the beautiful town of Piran. Although much of the town was closed for the end of the season, we enjoyed a delicious meal at a restaurant in the main square. Eating calamari and fries in the warm autumn sunshine, listening to the buskers in the square was such a perfect end to our trip.
WHERE WE STAYED
We spent a night at Hostel Celica in Ljubljana, which is an old prison that has been converted into a hostel. Each room is actually a cell, complete with a barred door. And while this might not make for the most luxurious room (narrow single beds) it’s certainly an interesting experience. And it’s located in Metelkova, an area of the city given over to artists which is incredible to walk around surrounded by surreal sculptures and graffiti.
We spent a night at Penzion Resje just outside of Bohinj, where we enjoyed an incredible meal and woke to a beautiful sunrise in the mountains. In Bled we spent two nights at Alp Penzion where we enjoyed a few hours in the spa next door – we had the spa to ourselves and it was lovely to sit in the outdoor hot tub.
Our final night was spent at Tourist Farm Pri Kafolu where we were welcomed with a glass of wine, which we enjoyed sat in the late afternoon sunshine on the terrace.
EATING AND DRINKING
The wine in Slovenia is both incredibly high quality and inexpensive so we enjoyed plenty of it during our trip. We loved chatting to the staff and other guests over a barbecue at Hostel Celica.
As we were celebrating our anniversary we decided to splash out on a meal at the restaurant in Bled castle, which is a fantastic spot to watch the sunset over the lake. We also ate at the fantastic Okarina in Bled.
Not really a lowlight so much as disappointment that we didn’t have time to do more. If I go back to Slovenia I will definitely do more hiking in the Julian Alps as well as explore the Soca Valley, which is famous for outdoor sports.