Slovenia is a small country located in central Europe snuggled between 4 other countries, These are Italy, Hungary, Croatia and Austria. Although it may sound like Slovenia is landlocked, it does in fact have a small, but stunning coastline along the Adriatic Sea.
Like Croatia and Serbia, Slovenia once formed part of the former country known as Yugoslavia, before gaining their independence in 1991.
With a population of around 2 million people, Slovenia is one of the smallest countries in Europe.
In recent years Slovenia has gained increasing popularity with tourists and adventure seekers from all corners of the globe and is regularly voted as one of the top countries to visit in Europe.
It’s unsurprising to hear this when you realise the sheer diversity in landscapes across the country; from cities steeped in history, beautiful blue lakes and impressive mountain ranges.
One of the most popular trips to do when visiting Slovenia is from Ljubljana (the capital) to Lake Bled (unarguably one of the most beautiful lakes in Europe).
So if you want to see how to go about this popular trip across Slovenia, then read on for my itinerary.
When is the best time to visit Slovenia?
Like a lot of places in Europe, Slovenia is the kind of place you can visit all year round depending on what you are after. There is something for everyone no matter what season you visit.
If you are after a Christmassy or winter wonderland style holiday, then Slovenia sees decent snow fall through December to March. If you want to see wildflowers bloom across the Slovenian valleys, then head here between March-June. If you want to enjoy some heat and drink wine by the Adriatic Sea then be sure to come here during the summer months. Or finally if you prefer the crisp autumn air and the enjoy the colours and the crunch of the autumn leaves then a great time to visit is September-November.
I personally visited Slovenia in early October and we couldn’t have picked a better time. The tourist season had died down so things weren’t too busy and the weather was still fairly warm with early autumn sunshine for the whole duration of our stay.
What is the best way to get to Slovenia?
You can fly into Ljubljana Jože Pučnik Airport from most London Airports for as little as £60. The Airport is located just a 25 minute car journey from central Ljubljana and will cost you roughly €30 euros.
What is the best way travel around Slovenia?
Rent a car
Renting a car in Slovenia is pretty cheap, coming out at roughly €25 a day. This is also the fastest and most convenient option. Not only is the drive to Lake Bled just 45 minutes from Ljubljana, but having your own car also means you will be able to explore the surrounding areas of Lake Bled on your own schedule.
If you want to get a Taxi from Ljubljana to Lake Bled it will cost you approximately €50-€60. There are also a few taxi services in Lake Bled itself if you want to visit spots outside of the main town.
You can get the train from Ljubljana to Bled Jezero station for around €5. The journey to Lake Bled is between 40-60 minutes, depending on the train you get. Bled Jezero station is a 6 minute drive or 26 minute walk from the centre of Lake Bled.
You can book a coach from Ljubljana to Lake Bled here. The bus journey is approximately 1.5 hours and will cost you €6. In the summer months the buses run between 5am-10pm, departing every 30-60 minutes.
There are 2 bus stations on Lake Bled; ‘Bled Union’ and ‘Bled’. I would recommend getting off at ‘Bled’ in order to be dropped off in the centre of town.
Where to stay in Slovenia?
As the title of this posts suggests we stayed in both Ljubljana and Lake Bled. With Ljubljana being only 1.25 hours’ drive from Lake Bled there is no need for a stopover or to stay anywhere in between (unless you want to of course).
If you are short on time I would recommend just one night in Ljubljana and the rest of your stay in Lake Bled. Ljubljana is one of those cities where you can see a lot of its best bits in just one day. And, if like me, you are a nature lover, then you are going to want to spend the majority of your trip discovering Lake Bled and it’s surrounding areas of natural beauty.
Accommodation in Ljubljana
For our stay in Ljubljana we stayed in the Emonec Hotel. We managed to get 6 of us into one room for just £20 each for the night.
Accommodation in Lake Bled
For our stay in Lake Bled we rented out an amazing Villa via AirBnb just slightly out of the main town, This looked out over Lake Bled and was in the perfect position to watch the sunrise over the lake.
Not only that, but the villa also came with a sauna/steam room. Just make sure that if you do use the sauna, you are fully hydrated, you don’t want to end up ill with severe dehydration like one of my pals but that’s a story for another time lol.
If you want something in the centre of Bled town then Vila Cvetka is a good option to choose.
Budgeting for Slovenia
Most travellers report spending between €75-100 a day and I would say that is completely accurate, obviously very dependant on the activities you do and how much alcohol you drink.
Unfortunately, our flight to Slovenia was in the afternoon so we didn’t arrive here until around 9/10pm. We dropped our bags off at the hotel, freshened up and headed straight to Captains Cabin, a pub that had been recommended to me by a friend who had been here before. If you’re heading to Ljubljana, I would definitely recommend visiting this pub; it has a pirate theme, the atmosphere is lively and to top it off you can grab 241 cocktails pretty much all night.
After prying our slightly sore heads from our pillows we set off to explore Ljubljana. Here’s my recommended list of things to see:
Located in downtown Ljubljana, Ljubljana castle is a great place to start to not only experience some of Slovenia’s history (the castle dates back to the 14th century) but to also get an amazing panoramic view of the city. If you want to take a look in and around the castle, tickets will cost you approximately €9. If like us you just want to head up there to experience the view, then that is completely free.
The Ljubljana Funicular railways links Ljubljana Castle with the old town. This is a fun way to head down to the old town from the castle and again to experience great views. Tickets for adults cost €4 and the trains run every 10 minutes between approximately 9am-10pm. Click here to find out more.
Ljubljana Old town
Ljubljana old town is small but fascinating; think cobbled streets, multicoloured buildings and rustique style lamp posts. When walking through the old town you will notice a lively and buzzing atmosphere with streets lined with vibrant bars and restaurants. Even if you don’t sit down to eat or drink, its definitely worth walking through here to admire the architecture.
Ljubljana Central Market
The central market is one of Ljubljana’s most popular spots. Not only is it a place for locals to pick up fresh produce but its also the place where hungry tourists and locals come to pick up a spot of lunch. There is a plethora of food and drink to choose from, with lots of hearty & traditional Slovenian dishes on the menu.
As you might have guessed from the name, Triple Bridge is a group of 3 bridges arched over the Ljubljana River. The first of the bridges was formed in 1842 and the other two joined along between 1929-1932. Understandably, this unique formation has become quite iconic in Ljubljana and is a popular tourist attraction. In my personal opinion, the most important thing to note about this bridge is that it connects you to the Ljubljana Central Market and ergo, food.
Fun fact about Preseren Square is that it’s actually an oval. It is located in the heart of Ljubljana Old Town and is an epi-centre of good views. From here you can witness the famous pink Franciscan Church of Annunciation as well as Triple Bridge (discussed above), the canal and many other historic buildings and delightful architecture.
Mesarski Bridge (also known as Butchers Bridge) is Slovenia’s answer to Paris’ love lock bridge. So, go on, have a nose at the padlocks there or maybe even attach one of your own.
Mestni Trg, is Ljubljana’s main town square. Here you will be able to lay your eyes upon the Ljubljana Cathedral, Ljubljana town hall and also throw a coin in the Robba fountain.
After our full day of exploring we headed to the car rental store and hired out a people carrier for the next two days of the trip. We then drove down to Lake Bled. As our accommodation was slightly out of town and we all wanted to enjoy a drink we decided not to eat out, but to pick up some bits from a local supermarket instead and cook up a feast in our fancy Airbnb.
Waking up on day 3 of our trip was something quite special as we got to witness the most magical sunrise over lake bled, and enjoy the autumn sunshine with a cup of hot coffee on the balcony.
After we gulped down our coffees we got ready and headed out for a day of adventuring Lake Bled.
Here’s what we did:
Walk around the lake
This might sound like an obvious one, but it definitely needs to be done. Each side of the Lake provides a different, but equally as stunning view.
Row to Bled Island
Rent out a rowboat and row yourself to Bled Island. You can get a larger boat to take you out there, meaning you can skip the upper body workout, but that’s far less fun and far less dangerous. I spent the duration of my journeys to and from Bled Island convinced that we were about to fall in.
Once you get on to Bled island you can explore the Church of the Assumption, as well as grab some coffee and ice cream at the onsite cafe
Triglav National Park
This was my ultimate favorite part of our trip to Slovenia. Triglav National park is 880 km² in size and can be found on the outskirts of Lake Bled and beyond. We visited Vintgar Gorge which is just a 10 minute drive from Lake Bled and it did not disappoint. Here you can take a nice leisurely walk along and through the gorge. Along the way you will witness plenty of breathtaking views with emerald green rivers and gushing waterfalls.
If you happen to have more time I would highly recommend exploring more of Triglav National Park. Unfortunately we didn’t and I am very keen to get back!
This is probably this most famous viewpoint in Lake Bled and undoubtably the best. Not only do you get an epic view of the Lake itself but also the surrounding Julian Alps too. We got extremely lost trying to find this viewpoint but luckily for you, the writers at ‘Our taste for life’ have given a very helpful guide on how to find and hike Ojstrica which you can find here.
Perched on a cliff top 130m above Lake Bled is Bled Castle. The Castle dates back to Medieval times and is the oldest castle in Slovenia. If you want to take a look around the castle tickets are €11. As well as soaking up some Slovenian history, this is also another fantastic view point.
Our flight was in the afternoon so we had a few hours left to kill in Lake Bled. We decided to spend this time at a local cafe overlooking the lake and try out the famous Bled delicasy; the Bled cream cake. If you love pastries with creamy, custardy goodness then this is a cake for you!
Looking for more long weekend inspirations? Then check out my Norway itinerary here.