Slovenia was a country I instantly fell in love with. From the moment I arrived in Ljubljana, on a cold rainy night, it reminded me so much of Bosnia. I stayed 5 nights at the H20 hostel, which was right next to the Zmajev most (Dragon Bridge), and enjoyed four full days exploring this small but gorgeous country which was once part of Yugoslavia. I was very fortunate to join Roundabout Tours on my trip, for four different tours, three of which were full day trips to various locations.
Our first adventure was The Alpine Fairytale Tour which included the magical Lake Bled + Castle, Lake Bohinj which is Slovenia’s largest glacial lake, Vintgar Gorge & a walk through Skofja Loka town- one of the oldest Slovenian towns.
I had arrived to Slovenia after spending the summer in Bosnia & Croatia. My last day in Croatia was in Pula, and it was the first day of Autumn. It rained all day. It was defiantly a big weather change from two days before in Split & Zadar. I wasn’t really prepared for the cold, having only one jumper with me along with my parka jacket & boots. I had no beanie, only one scarf, and no warm jumpers. But I wasn’t going to let the cold weather & the rain spoil my time in a country I had been looking forward to seeing for so long.
In the morning after having a quick meeting and coffee with Roundbout Manager, the small mini van was picking up guests for the first tour I was joining.Tomaz, our guide was the coolest guy ever. He was a real funny person and he is so proud of his country. He had a car full of women, and he was very patient when we asked to stop at each place and take dozens of photos. In the car he told us the history of his country, his experiences in the Yugoslav war (lasted for a very short time in Slovenia), and told us about the refugee crisis that hit the country the week before.
This is a very long post, BUT I fell so madly in love with Slovenia and wanted to show you guys everything I saw, and hope you too one day can see the beauty of this small yet beautiful country.
Our first stop was the Vintgar Gorge.
This 1.6KM long gorge carves its way though the vertical rocks of the Hom and Bort Hills and it is the Radovna River, flowing down Mt. Triglav, that has cut the Vintgar Gorge and created it’s stunning and magnificent waterfalls, pools and rapids.
It was discovered at by Jakob Žumer and Benedikt Lergetporer in 1891 and two years later wooden observation bridges and walkways were made through the gorge to enable the tourists to visit this gorgeous place that before that was untouched by man.
The trail is easy, and is suitable for anyone. Our small group of females took our time here, taking as many photos as we could, Tom waiting ever so patiently. When your backdrop is this beautiful, how can you not take as many photos, right! But it can get very crowded on smaller spaces, as everyone had the same idea.
Towards the end the trail turns from a wooden path to pebbled one leading you down to the Šum waterfall, Slovenia’s highest river waterfall and a single arch stone bridge which was the Bohinj Railway, built in 1906, and is often missed by tourists.
Vintgar is located just north of Bled and is easy accessible from Bled. From Bled just follow the road signs with ‘Vintgar’.There is also a bus that leaves Bled bus station daily at 10am from June to September.
Please note: The gorge is closed outside the main tourist season. You can visit it from April to November between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m.
Admission fee: 4€ adult
Bled memorised me before I even saw it in person. After seeing pictures of a friends travels a few years back, I put Bled on my list. I told myself Slovenia was one of the countries I had to visit year. And it was just as gorgeous and magical in real life.What could be more picture perfect than an emerald lake surrounded by alpine trees, a Gothic looking church on a tiny island surrounded by more trees and a medieval castle up on a cliff.
The town of Bled was first mentioned over thousand years ago, on 10 April 1004, when the Holy German emperor, Henry II, gifted it to the Bishop of Brixen.
Even though the area has been settled since Mesolithic times, the present-day area of Bled probably originated about 600 AD, during the Slavic settlement of the Eastern Alps. Today’s town of Bled formed in the mid-19th century from the neighbouring villages, which encircled the lake and was officially recognised as a town in 1960.
Bled is Slovenia’s most popular resort, with young travellers looking for adventure in hiking, biking, water sports and canyoning activities, or honeymooners wanting a fairytale backdrop.
On the small island in the middle of the lake, is the Assumption of Mary Pilgrimage Church, and it is said if you ring its bell, it will bring you good luck. History here goes long before Christianity arrived to the country as human traces from prehistoric times have been found on the island. The ancient Slavs worshipped Živa, goddess of love and fertility and long before the church was built, there was a temple in honour of this goddess.
Though our group didn’t have the time (weather wasn’t looking so good), you can get to the island on a traditional wooden boat called Pletna (costs 12 € per person). The wooden taxi 7 X 2 metre wooden boat have been a symbol of Bled and a tradition dating back to the 12th century. I can just imagine how gorgeous the water must look when the sun is shinning and reflecting back while making your way to the island.
The island has 99 steps leading to the church. Many couples get married here, and it is tradition for the husband to carry his new bride up these steps, without her saying a word.
Perched atop a steep cliff rising 130 metres above the lake is the Bled Castle. It was first mentioned in 1011, and at that time only a Romanesque tower protected by walls stood in the place of the present day castle. Then only in late Middle Ages, more towers were built and the fortifications system were improved. Today the castle is used as an exhibition area, showcasing the country’s history. The castle’s terraces offer spectacular views of the lake and its tiny island in the middle.
Admission fee: 9 € adult, 7€ student
Once upon a time…
The museum in Bled’s castle will take you on a journey to the time when the first settlements in the area appeared to the present day.
Josip Broz, president of Yugoslavia, was born to a Croat father and Slovene mother so naturally he would want to have a residence in Sloevnia, which is where he also died on May 4, 1980. He was a popular public figure, especially with his promotion of the “brotherhood and unity” of the six Yugoslav nations.
Vila Bled, Tito’s former holiday villa, has been transformed into a government luxury hotel. Tomaz thought it would a a great idea to stop here, as it had incredible views of the lake and the island itself. He was right! Inside the villa, you can see 50’s style furtnishings, the same Tito used, on the walls there are picture frames of Tito, with family and many well known figures of his time, and you can enjoy a creme cake kremšnita which is a traditional cake (in Bosnia we call it krempita). The cake is a vanilla and custard cream cake dessert popular in several central and eastern European countries, and even though I didn’t try one in Slovenia, I had one too many of these in Bosnia.
Situated just 26km west of Bled is Lake Bohinj, Slovenia’s largest glacial lake. This lake is 4.2 kilometres long, one kilometre wide, and forty five meters deep, and lies between the mountains in the Triglav National Park.
Surrounded by towering green mountains, serene crystal clear water, medieval style church and a gorgeous stone bridge, the lake is a popular holiday destination despite it being less known than Lake Bled.
Located on the shore of Lake Bohinj in the town of Ribčev Laz, is the Church of St.John the Baptist which was built in the early 1400’s and more added later in 1500’s.
We had about 45 minutes in the town of Ribčev Laz and we made the most of it, each of us helping others take photos, watching the ducks swim towards us and explore the surrounds.
Just as we were leaving, it started to rain and by the time we were in the car it was getting heavy so we got pretty lucky with timing (which is why we skipped the boat ride in Bled).
Lunch at near by village of Srednja vas
It was lunch time and we were all starving. So Tomaz took us to a near by village called Srednja Vas, where we had lunch at a restaurant called Restaurant pri Hrvatu. They serve local specialities such as cottage cheese štruklji, buckwheat krapi, and Bohinj trout from the lake. A few of us ordered pumpkin soup to share. It was just what we needed on a very cold day.
The view from the restaurant outdoor seating
Our last stop for the day was one of the oldest settlements in Slovenia, Škofja Loka (Slovene for Bishop’s Meadow), which dates back to more than 1,000 years. Just 25km from Ljubljana, Škofja Loka will capture you with its picture perfect scenery mixed with lovely medieval streets and squares, a castle and its gorgeous window displays of bright flowers. I swear I spent most of my time in this town snapping away at peoples windows!
Tomaz, waiting again for us, while we took so many photos!
The gorgeous streets of Skofja Loka
The best tour I have ever been on hands down. Very organised, yet relaxed and Tomaz let us choose what we felt like doing. Tomaz was very knowledgeable and very proud of his country which reflected on how amazing our day was. It was a full day of adventure with 5 locations that will give you an insight to this fairytale like country. I would honestly recommend you book with Roundabout for tours around Slovenia.
The Alpine Fairytale tour is as follows:
The tour operates Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday from 1st April until 30th October, costs only 46 € / person which includes transport, professional English speaking guide, and organisation of the day (excludes entrance fees and meals).
- Bled castle: 9 € / person
- Vintgar gorge: 4 € / person
- Pletna boat: 12 € / person
**I experienced the Alpine Fairytale tour as a guest of Roundabout Slovenia, however my opinion is my own as always!