Last year we finally got round to exploring Croatia, where the secret seems to be well and truly out, but during our research Slovenia kept getting mentioned. After doing some digging we decided it looked worth an extra week and we were so glad we took a punt.
We flew in to Ljubljana (in hindsight not the best planning*) and spent a few days there before hiring a car and travelling to Lake Bled. We had low expectations, but were blown away. It’s a beautiful city; designed by Joze Plecnik, a student of Otto Wagner who designed Vienna.
Nap times allowed us to take a walking tour around the small, pedestrianised city centre. The river and plethora of bridges are the focus with the castle overlooking it all from the hillside.
Who knew the Slovenian food was amazing!?! Taking influence from its neighbours menus feature Hungarian goulash (try Gujzina Prekmurska Gostilna), Italian pastas (Julijas) and Croatian fish. Klobasarna served up some traditional sausage, hugely popular with students, and the beer flights at Pop’s Place on the river were a great respite after walking round town. We found our favourite restaurants to be along the Stari Trg strip and reservations are required.
We also ventured up to the castle which was fun for the views and gondola ride, but the acted out historical tour was ridiculous. So bad, we couldn’t stop laughing.
A little outside is a huge city park called Tivoli which was nice to let C run wild in. Some footpaths meander you round and there’s a big playground for kids to let off steam.
A short drive from Ljubljana is Lake Bled with its incredibly famous monastery island at its centre. The town itself is pretty dated and pretty touristy, but the scenery is stunning.
You can walk around the lake in about two hours and there are lots of spots you can jump into the clear water. Sadly a rowing race meant all boat trips were suspended, so we couldn’t get to the monastery, but looking at it from a far is probably the highlight anyway.
We also ventured up a very steep hiking route (called Ojstrica) with C on our backs to see the lake from it’s highest point. No doubt the hardest 25 mins of my life, but you won’t regret it at the top.
Lastly we took in the last vantage point to view the lake by trekking up to Bled Castle from the St. Martin church. More great views.
From Bled it was on to Croatia and Rovinj. We heard good things about the Slovenian alps and Pula which, in hindsight, may have been better choices.
Until next time
(* if planning a Slovenia-Croatia trip there are no easy links between the north and south and car rental companies don’t let you return to another country. Best route we could determine, afterwards, is to fly into Zagreb then hire a car to do Slovenia. From there you can return, dump the car and fly to Split.)