Written by Kayleen and Neale Bertram.
When we were planning our holiday, we decided we wanted to focus on the more scenic parts of Europe this time. While we are in awe of all of the famous cathedrals, museums, galleries and history that we don’t have in Australia, these iconic sights and the large city bustle and crowds can become tiring.
After our time in Venice, we were easily able to get a shuttle transfer across to Ljubljana, where we based ourselves in an apartment for 11 nights. Most are a little surprised by the length of time we spent there and we were often asked ‘Why did you come to Slovenia?’. We hope our blog post will provide just a few answers.
Our travel preference is to spend a longer time in each location, so we can see places well and have time to relax and absorb the atmosphere. Slovenia is a small country and most sights are within a 30 – 90 minute drive from Ljubljana, which makes them easily accessible through day trips.
Ljubljana is an easy city to use as a base – it is small (population of 280,000), very clean, relaxed and accessible. The city centre is a pedestrian zone and everything in the Old Town is easily reached by walking (or bicycle, as the locals do). There is a strong café/restaurant culture by the Ljubljanica River, which flows through the centre, and this presents an ideal location to relax, sample some local wine, beer or foods and watch the world go by. This aside, there is also plenty to see and do in Ljubljana.
We understand most people “see” Slovenia in a couple of days – visiting the well-known destinations of Lake Bled, Predjama Castle and Postojna Cave - and these places are truly amazing. In fact, it was the postcard-perfect pictures of Lake Bled and the unique Predjama Castle that attracted us to the scenery and sights of the country in our planning stages, but, when we did further research, we realized there was so much more on offer and a lot of diversity in such a small country.
Slovenia takes on influences of its neighbours, so there is a little bit of Italy, Austria, Hungary and Croatia near each of these borders. This contributes to Slovenia’s diversity, not only in terms of architecture, but language dialects and foods. The locals are happy and welcoming people who are proud and willing to share their country with you.
For each of our day trips, we would wait in anticipation to meet our tour guide and see what was in store for us. We were impressed with their English language skills and even more impressed with their sense of humour (they were able to share in the Aussie jokes and even gave us a run for our money!!). All of our guides were friendly and relaxed, but professional in their approach. And then there’s the landscape…..
Stunning Tuscany-like rolling hills and vineyards in Goriska Brda (and with this naturally comes the wine tasting!)
The beautiful alpine lakes of Bled and Bohinj (and yes, Lake Bled is just like the pictures!)
And of course, one must try the delicious traditional cakes...
And to wear off the cream cakes, there is a simply stunning walk through the Bled Vintgar Gorge in the Triglav National Park
Predjama castle and its unique location built into a cave
Postojna cave – a very popular tourist destination – we were surprised by a 3.5 km train trip into the cave before we started walking around to see the beautiful formations
Škocjan caves – very different to Postojna cave – a more “natural” UNESCO listed sight with mammoth proportions and a rushing river below
Beautiful seaside towns like Piran with its Italian influence and Venetian past
Soča River – so beautiful with crystal clear water from the mountains, offering not only beauty for the nature lovers but also adventure sports, such as white water rafting and kayaking
Julian Alps and Vrsic Pass – fresh mountain air and the beauty, magnitude and peacefulness of the Alps, punctuated by reminders of World War I throughout this area
Lakes, like Lake Jasna, reflecting the beauty of the surroundings
The general green and lush environment of a country that is around 60% forest
And then there’s the hidden little gems and quaint towns, waiting to be found and explored, and often not visited by people who come for a short visit…
Our time in Slovenia sadly came to an end and, although we saw a lot of the country during our stay, this was only a taste...We’d LOVE to return!