Roadtripping through Slovenia

Well I guess it’s better late than never to come out with our Slovenia itinerary from our trip in July! Slovenia was one of those underrated countries I had always wanted to visit and people, including my mom who I’d be going there with, would ask me, “Why?” 

I think I was mainly drawn to the peaceful, turquoise waters of Lake Bled, so that’s where we spent the first two days of our trip. Our cheapest option to get there was to fly to Venice and then rent a car, and we gave ourselves four full days to fit in as much as we could. We drove through the Italian and Austrian Alps to get to Bled, which quickly became one of my favorite places I’ve been in Europe. It was reminiscent of the mountain lakes south of Munich, but more lively. A 3.5-mile path perfect for my tranquil 6 a.m. runs circled the water. There were tons of shops and restaurants with some of the best food I’ve ever had. And while it was touristy like people had warned me, it didn’t feel crowded and I enjoyed seeing people appreciating lake life in different ways, from sunbathing to swimming to boating to hiking. My personal highlight was the grueling walk up to the Mala Osojnica lookout where I could get the classic Bled photo of the water below. Vintgar Gorge is a less strenuous hiking opportunity just a few miles from Bled that cannot be missed.

Quiet morning on the lake
View from Mala Osojnica lookout
Vintgar Gorge

Let me side track to the food real quick. Bled’s food scene really shocked me. I expected Slovenian food to be more Eastern European but there was a ton of Italian influence so I had truffle pasta and delicious seafood several times throughout the trip. I’m also not a dessert person but I had to try the iconic Bled cream cake and I was pleasantly surprised how airy and not overly sweet it was.

While staying in Bled we took the car into Triglav National Park. We could’ve planned this day much better but we didn’t know what we were doing so we basically just started driving, not realizing how long it would take to cross a national park. Our first stop was Boka Waterfall, which flowed high up on a mountain, so it was hard to see but still quite amazing. We grabbed a quick lunch nearby in the town of Bovec, and then made our way to the Soča River. A gorge called Velika Korita was among the most beautiful natural sights I’ve seen. We drove along the river more, stopping at various points to get out for photos and short walks. Then, we spent the rest of the afternoon in the car as Mom navigated the winding, scenic roads of the Vršič Pass. It was quite a long drive with around 45 hairpin turns but definitely worth it as it led us high up toward the mountain tops.

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Our other day in Bled we took the car to Lake Bohinj about 20 minutes away. I don’t have as much to say about this lake because unfortunately the weather was dark and cloudy. We took a cable car to the top of nearby Vogel Mountain, but it was too foggy to see anything. We also did a hike to another waterfall, called Slap Savica, which I liked much more than Boka Falls because we were closer to it.

Cloudy day at Lake Bohinj
Slap Savica

When we left Bled on our third day, our first stop was the Postojna Caves, a really cool experience from start to finish. We started in the Vivarium, which had some species that live in the caves on display. Though I was too scared to look at most of the creepy crawlies, I found their famous salamander, the olm, particularly fascinating (please google these guys because they’re so strange and kind of cute). Then, we took a 10-minute train ride deep into the caves, passing through huge rooms of rock formations. I felt like a little kid at Disney World. I haven’t seen a ton of caves in my life for comparison, but these were shockingly huge with many kinds of formations, so a nice change from our typical sightseeing activities. Unfortunately, none of my pictures turned out so you can leave the visualization to your imagination.

After the caves, we quickly stopped at the nearby Predjama Castle built into the face of a cliff for some pictures;  we skipped the tour because we’ve toured several castles in Germany. We are definitely obnoxious tourists, but we had places to be!

Predjama Castle

In the afternoon, we drove an hour out to the Adriatic coast to Piran. I was pretty hyped for this part of the trip because I had read so many good things about this coastal village, but I must say I was pretty disappointed. I was expecting a nice beach but there was none to be found—people were sunbathing on the pavement and swimming right off the rocks. The town was small with not much to do so we basically walked around for half an hour and I climbed the town walls for some nice views and then we left. We finished our jam-packed day of sightseeing and driving all over at our next accommodation in Ljubljana, Slovenia’s capital.

We had one full day to see Ljubljana which was more than enough time. We did a free walking tour in the morning, went up to the castle in the afternoon, and then were basically done. Though there wasn’t as much to see there as in most European capitals, I thought Ljubljana was a beautiful city with an interesting, colorful mix of architectural styles. Cars are banned from driving in the old town and there are no tall buildings so it was a really relaxing city overall.

Slovenia definitely lived up to my expectations and I would highly recommend a visit to anyone looking to go beyond the typical tourist spots in Europe. I could easily have spent the entire 5 days just in Bled, and Ljubljana is close enough that we could have just gone as a day trip from the lake. But oh well, these are the things you can only learn through traveling!

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