Slovenia – A cornucopia of possibilities
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We didn’t quite know what to expect when we in the summer of 2019 decided to visit one of Europe’s youngest countries, Slovenia. Luckily this only 28 years young nation turned out to be a paradise of unbelievable beautiful untouched nature, wonderfully varied architecture, charming culture, sophisticated gastronomy,
and friendly welcoming people.
Slovenia is a tiny country but it pampers its visitors with an unbelievable abundance of opportunities when it comes to outdoor activities. The country is nestled in between Austria, Italy, Hungary, Croatia,
Slovenia is one of the greenest countries on earth as more than 50 % of its total surface is covered in forest.
With such a diverse nature Slovenia has something to offer every one. Not only the adrenaline junkies will get satisfied as they paraglide from the highest mountain tops in the Julian Alps or get tossed down the fast and roaring Sôca river. Hikers, bikers, horseback riders and climbers also will fall in love with this heaven for active holidays.
But if you find all this activity and physical expression to be a bit too much you can always decamp to the Adriatic coast for a lazy day in the sun.
How to get around
The easiest way to explore the country is by car. It seemed as if most visitors had arrived
Almost 6 million tourists visit Slovenia each year. It may seem like an awful lot of people but apart from a single night, in Ljubljana where the streets were jammed by tourists and locals and we could not get a table at a restaurant, the country was by no means overrun.
Slovenia is a cornucopia of opportunities and it soon became clear to us that we had to make a tough priority between all these fantastic possibilities.
Here you get our take on the perfect Slovenian summer holiday.
A visit to this “out of this world beautiful ” little alpine lake has to be mandatory on every Slovenian itinerary. We do get why this jewel once was nominated one of the seven new wonders of the world.
For centuries Lake Bled has been known for its natural beauty, its traditional wooden boats or Pletnas that take visitors to Slovenia’s only island, its thermal springs and its castle.
For the best sights of the lake you should hike to Mala Osojnica. From here you get an aerial unspoiled view towards the emerald green lake, the little island with its beautiful church tower and the imposing Lake Bled Castle.
The hike starts on the western side of the lake. It isn’t that strenuous and a round trip will take an hour or so. But be warned, it is most likely that it will take longer as you will find it quite difficult to draw you
It is also possible to stroll around the lake. The path is approximately 6 km long. There are some nice swimming spots dotted around the lake and in the heat of summer you might want to take a refreshing dip.
If you want to visit the island it is easily manageable. You can either go by Pletna, big wooden boats that can carry up to 20 persons and are rowed by a standing boatsman, or you can rent your own rowboat. Both the lazy way and the adventurous way will take around 20 minutes.
As you get closer to the island you will constantly hear the church bell ringing. Legend has it that everyone who rings the bell will have their wishes fulfilled.
Once on the island you will have to climb 99 steps to reach the Assumption of Mary Church and the bell.
After hiking, strolling, rowing, climbing and bell ringing you can without any second thoughts attack a huge piece of the sinfully delicious calorie bomb, Lake Bled Cream Cake. Puff pastry atop layers of delicious vanilla cream and custard. What’s not to like!!
Rising 130 meters above Lake Bled you will find the more than 1000 years old Bled Castle. The castle is as drawn out of a fairytale and from here you get another stunning and dream like view of the lake and the island.
You will have to take a shuttle bus from the parking-lot next to the football stadium to reach the Castle entrance. The fee will set you back 11 €.
Being in the Bled area you should most definitely pay the Vintgar Gorge a visit.
The gorge in the Triglav National Park is easily accessible from Bled. You can go by car all the way to the entrance but there are almost no parking options here and therefor we recommend you to use the excellent shuttle service from the central parking lot 15 minutes from the main entrance. The entrance will set you back 5 € but it might turn out to be the best 5 € spend on your entire trip through Slovenia.
The Vintgar Gorge is a magical and extremely beautiful acquaintance. The gorge has through thousands of years been carved by the Radovna River. A crystal clear river that changes color from emerald green to
In addition to the marvelous natural beauty of
We visited the gorge in July and were lucky as there were not that many tourists. We were told that the gorge normally gets its fair deal of visitors in the summer month. There for we recommend you to visit early morning or late afternoon. The gorge closes at 20.00 during July and August.
You might not think of Slovenia as a coastal country as it only has 47 kilometers of coastline. In fact, you won’t get the true Mediterranean feel until you are a few kilometers from the coast it self. As we drove from the Julian alps the vegetation and architecture slowly changed. As we approached the coast we could certainly tell that we had arrived in another climatic zone.
We choose to spend some time in Piran, by far one of the loveliest towns in Istria. The
If you go to Piran by car be aware that the old town center offers limited parking options. You are therefore advised to park in one of two nearby parking garages. From here, you can take a public bus to the center or even walk as the central town square is close by.
Piran is a wonderful acquaintance. The beautifully situated city is still surrounded by remnants of a medieval city wall. From the top of the hill, you have an incomparable view of the blue Adriatic sea, the city’s towers and, the endless red brick roofs. For many centuries, the small port town gained its wealth from the extraction of salt. If you visit the salt pans outside the city, it is still possible today to observe how the finest salt, Fleur de Sel, is produced.
Piran gets its fair part of visitors especially during the hot summer month but we still didn’t find the town to be overrun. We loved walking through the narrow cobblestoned streets and winding alleyways of the old town almost feeling like we had been catapulted hundreds of years back in time. Some of the alleyways gave us flashbacks to the narrow streets of old Naples in Italy.
In former days, Piran was a part of the republic of Venice . These days you are still able to see quite a bit of extremely beautiful and well preserved Venetian Gothic architecture.
Tartini squared, the main square, is named after the composer Guiseppe Tartini, who was born here. On three sides the square is surrounded by wonderful pastel-colored buildings. On the fourth side, the square opens up to the small and very charming and bustling harbor. The square is the perfect place for a cup of coffee or a cold drink.
You can stroll along the waterfront almost all the way around the old town. Along here you will find the seafood restaurants lying like pearls on a string. The perfect spot for lunch or dinner.
It is also possible to take a dip in the blue waters of the Adriatic sea from here. Along the ocean front walkway there are several spots from where you can take a plunge into the refreshing clear water. There are no sandy beaches here but water access by stairs or jetties.
You will fall in love with this small Adriatic gem.
If you want to learn more about Slovenia, do read our post “Active days in Soča Valley“
• Take a Pletna tour on Lake Bled
• Eat Lake Bled Cream Cake
• Wooden boardwalks of Vintgar Gorge
• Eat seafood in Piran
• Take a dip in the Adriatic sea in Piran
• Bring good walking shoes
• Bring swimwear and a towel when visiting Piran
• Do always have some cash with you. Credit cards are not accepted everywhere
• Park at one of two central parking garages in Piran
• Because of the many winding mountain roads, it may take longer to drive from A to B than