Four Days In Magical Slovenia

I recently spent four days in magical Slovenia, a little country packed full of fairy tale sights. Obviously more time would be ideal but you can do quite a bit in a few days as I’m about to show you.

Four Days in Magical Slovenia
I just love a castle on the hill.

Day 1 Ljubliana

I arrived in Ljubljana via flight from Sarajevo.  I usually attempt to purchase a SIM card and find an ATM in the airport when I arrive anywhere. Those of us with typical US mobile carriers  find ourselves out hundreds of dollars if we attempt to use our own service for data or texting. You can get a SIM for data only at the little coffee shop in the arrivals lobby. Outside the airport there is a vending machine with the SIM cards for data, text and calling. There is an ATM right next to this machine. They use Euros here by the way. Just a little tip I thought I’d add since I sometimes struggle trying to locate these things.

A taxi is about 30 Euros to the city. There is a shuttle for 7 Euros. It was kind of random…a nice old man with a car that fit four passengers. Hey, whatever works! He dropped me off at the Hotel Park which was well located just a few minutes walk into the old city.

Four Days in Magical Slovenia

The first thing I saw upon entering the old city was this striking dragon bridge, the Zmajski Most. According to local legend, the tails will wag if a virgin crosses the bridge. Apparently there were no virgins in Ljubljana when I was there!

I happen to be obsessed with dragons so I was pretty excited about this bridge.

Four Magical Days in Slovenia

This was later in the day as the sun was setting. The light was gorgeous and once nighttime creeped in, the city was truly magical all aglow with the beautiful lighting.

four days in magical slovenia

Can we just talk about Ljubljana?

This city is so often called a hidden gem that I don’t know how it is still hidden.  It is a very small city. You can see the entire thing from the castle or from Tivoli Park. All the buildings are Easter egg colors as if a seven-year-old girl chose them. There are dragons. The castle on the hill. It is what fairy tales are made of. I’m a bit smitten if you can’t tell.

Day 2 Ljubliana

I rose early to hike up to the castle. In the summer it opens at 0900. There is a funicular that goes straight to the top and the entrance to this is just after the dragon bridge. I opted to walk up and get some exercise. There are a couple of places to start your walk but I started just to the right of where the funicular is. There is a sign for Ljubljana Grad (Castle) that directs you up a pedestrian walkway. At some point there is a fork in the road (with a sign that I failed to interpret without help from a local)  and if you go straight it is steeper and more direct, left is less steep and winding. I chose the left path since I was a bit winded by that point (#embarrassing). The whole walk took about 15 minutes and wasn’t too bad. It was worth going early because I had the castle all to myself!

Four Magical Days in Slovenia

The views from the lookout tower were incredible.

Four Days in Magical Slovenia

Four Days in Magical Slovenia

I spent an hour at the castle. They have a museum of puppetry, a chapel and an old prison in which they have creepy sounds playing as you walk in. It’s both disturbing and amusing at the same time.

I headed back down the hill, which of course was easier than going up, and on my way to the 11:00 AM free city tour stopped to try some traditional local yumminess at Klobasarna. I had Carnolian sausage and struklji which is a steamed cottage cheese roll. It comes in different flavors, one with nuts, one with apple but I chose the savory one with tarragon. It had a sweet crumbly topping on it and was fabulous.

The free tour is a wonderful thing.  You just show up at 11:00 AM at the Franciscan Church (The pink one) and look for the guys in yellow.

Four Days in Magical Slovenia

This may be the most beautiful city in the world. The architecture is stunning. The pink Franciscan church is in Preseren Square next to the triple pedestrian bridge which is a striking work of architecture by  Joze Plecnic who happens to have designed tons of amazing structures in Ljubljana.

Four Days in Magical SloveniaEverywhere you turn in this city it is a treat for the eyes with beautiful Baroque and Art Nouveau buildings.

Four Days in Magical Slovenia

After the tour I sat and drank delicious Slovenian wine and had some snacks at Robba, a lovely cafe on the main street, Mestni Trg.

Another fun thing to do is check out Metelkova. This is a small autonomous community of artists. It is in a former military barracks that was the Slovenian center of the Yugoslav Army, back in the day. The award-winning Hostel Celica is in a former prison and each room is a converted cell designed by an artist. It is extremely cool and they host fun events and tours.

Four Days in Magical Slovenia

The graffiti and wall art is amazing.

Four Days in Magical Slovenia

Let’s talk about food again! Once again back on the main street of Mestni Trg, at Gostilna Sokol. A Gostilna is usually a place to get traditional food. Sokol has waiters in traditional costume kind of like Disney and is a great restaurant. I had the mushroom soup served in a bread bowl. They are big on mushrooms here an that’s all right with me. I also had venison with sour cherry sauce and the traditional cottage cheese dumplings, “struklji”. Still thinking about that food.

Day 3 Lake Bled

I took a half-day tour to see Lake Bled with Roundabout Tours. The tour was decent but I was bummed not to have more time to wander around the lake which is truly a marvelous thing to behold.  The bus to Bled is 6 Euros and one hour. Looking back I wish I had done this instead.  I found the tour a bit restrictive.

However…just look at this!

Four Magical Days in SloveniaThis lake is absolutely magnificent. The phrase jaw-dropping was pertinent here. I couldn’t close my mouth. Just…wow.

This picture is from a traditional Pletna boat. These flat bottom wooden row boats with colorful awnings have been used since 1590. To be a Pletna oarsmen is a privilege only a few have and is passed from generation to generation. I was transported to the little island in the middle of the lake which holds a church.

four days in magical slovenia

Four Days in Magical Slovenia

There is a great view of Bled castle in the distance from the little island

Four Days in Magical SloveniaI highly suggest trying the local speciality, the Lake Bled cream cake. It is light as air and divine. I had this at the fabulous Hotel Villa Bled, a former residence of Tito, the former leader of Yugoslavia. He had good taste!

After this sinful breakfast, we visited the castle. It is a ten minute walk up the hill if you are reasonably fit or wait for the little shuttle bus. There happened to be a medieval festival going on complete with fighting knights and other amusing characters so it was a bit crazy.

Four Days in Magical Slovenia
The views from the castle!

You would think this was enough gorgeous-ness for one day but next we were taken to see the Vintgar Gorge and it was Gorge-ess! (Do you see what I did there?)

Four Days in Magical Slovenia

Four Magical Days in Slovenia

It takes about 45 minutes to walk through the gorge, depending on how often you stop and gawk at how clear and beautiful the water is.

Four Days in Magical Slovenia

There is a striking waterfall at one end. There is an easy path from the parking area to get here but I mistakenly took the long challenging steep muddy path through the woods.

Four Days in Magical Slovenia

Oh well. Hopefully you can’t see the mud on my leg. At least I got some exercise because…Slovenian food.

This evening I  had an incredible dinner at Juljia. They have many traditional Slovenian and Mediterranean dishes, seafood, homemade Istrian pasta, and lots of mushroom and truffle-y dishes.  That last part was really all I needed to hear.

Four Days in Magical Slovenia
Mestni Trg, a main street just parallel to the river, where many restaurants are located including all the ones where I ate

Day 4 Karst and Piran

I did another day tour with Roundabout Tours to visit the Karst and the Coast. The Karst refers to the region of Slovenia that is a limestone plateau extending across southwestern Slovenia and northeastern Italy. Due to this geological phenomena, there is a plethora of caves, about 10,000 caves to be exact. I saw one of these, the Skocjan Cave which is a UNESCO heritage site. It is massive! The light from cameras literally causes life threatening algae to grow so photography is forbidden in the caves. Just know that the caves are FREEZING, all year round. Bring a sweater and good walking shoes because there are tons of steps and lots of drippy water, so it is wet and slippery! The tour is 1.5 hours.

Also on this tour is a stop at Predjama Castle. This amazing Renaissance Castle is built into a cave. As if that alone weren’t cool enough, there is a great story about the most famous resident of this castle.

Four Days in Magical Slovenia

Wanna hear the story? Ok great.

Erazam Lueger was the lord of the castle in the 15th century and a renowned robber baron.  According to legend, Erazem came into conflict with the Hapsburgs and fled to his family fortress of Predjama. While here his enemies made repeated attempts to kill him and basically waited outside the castle for him to leave for supplies. He was besieged in this fortress for over a year. He taunted the attacking soldiers by pelting them with cherries. Erazem knew of a secret tunnel leading from the castle, which allowed him to travel to the nearby village of Vipava and collect supplies, including hoards of fresh cherries. Supposedly he threw all kinds of things at the soldiers, including a sheep at one time! He was eventually killed when a servant sold out and revealed his location and he died while in the privy (toilet) by a well-aimed cannonball. You can’t make this up!

We saw the famous Lipica horses, which were beautiful and regal. Four Days in Magical Slovenia

Finally we visited the coastal town of Piran, close to the Italian border.

Four Days in Magical Slovenia

Isn’t she pretty?

Four Days in Magical Slovenia

A pretty pastel little jewel of a town, largely influenced by the Venetians. This is Tartini Square, named after a famous composer .

Four Days in Magical Slovenia

I hope you enjoyed discovering  Slovenia. Compared to many countries in Europe, Slovenia is rather untouristy and more affordable. This country has it all, mountains, pristine Alpine lakes, colorful coastal towns and beautiful cities with castles, pink churches and dragons. I felt like I was living in a fairy tale and being Princess Cherene for a few days was pretty great!

four days in magical slovenia

 

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About The Author

csaradar

15 COMMENTS

  1. Bojan | 10th Jun 17

    Bled lake and also Bohinj lake ,- both are VERY GOOD for swimming.

    • csaradar | 10th Jun 17

      I want to go back and see Bohinj!

  2. Bojan | 10th Jun 17

    WOW, you are also beautiful like my sLOVEnia.

  3. Ten Best Travel Moments of 2016 - WanderingRedHead | 30th Dec 16

    […] more could a princess ask for? Oh yes….don’t forget the nice people and delicious food. Ljubljana still seems like a […]

  4. Jacqui | 17th Oct 16

    I ended up in Slovenia sort of accidentally and LOVED it. I also loved reading about everything you did in 4 days. So helpful if I end up back there,

    • csaradar | 17th Oct 16

      What a lucky accident! It is such a gem! I hope to go back soon. Hope you do as well:)

  5. Why Bosnia is Europe's Best Kept Secret - WanderingRedHead | 17th Jul 16

    […] From Sarajevo I took a short flight to Ljubljana where my journey in the Balkans continues. Read about Slovenia here. […]

  6. Lauren | 30th Jun 16

    The mushroom soup is amazing! Got pics of Sokol here: http://thelaurenabroadblog.blogspot.com/2015/05/day-8-our-last-hurrah.html

    • csaradar | 4th Jul 16

      I still think about that mushroom soup! Love your pics!

  7. K. | 30th Jun 16

    I just wanted to chime in and let you know I enjoyed reading about your Slovenian adventure. I’m looking forward to traveling there myself in the fall. 🙂
    Happy travels!

    • csaradar | 4th Jul 16

      Thank you so much and I’m excited for you that you’re going in the fall! Let me know how you liked it! I bet it is stunning in the fall!

  8. Lauren | 16th Jun 16

    Wow, I’m absolutely stunned by both the architecture and natural landscapes… Could you access the water in the gorge to swim in or is that not advisable?

    Love your photos!

    • csaradar | 17th Jun 16

      Thank you Lauren! I was stunned too! As for swimming in the gorge, it was probably dangerous because there were little rapids. I didn’t see any swimming near the waterfall. The water was ice cold! I think you can swim in Lake Bled however.

  9. Moani Hood | 15th Jun 16

    Okay, so…the most important question: how was the Slovenian wine? 🙂 So glad to read this. I’ve been researching Central European and Eastern European countries to piggyback on another trip to Italy in April and I was thinking of Austria, Slovenia or Croatia. I can’t do them all though! But the dragons may sway us to Slovenia…I’ll save this post so I can review it later too. Good tips on the SIM card! I love the useful things.

    • csaradar | 17th Jun 16

      The wine was fantastic!! Slovenia is a very easy add on to trips to Italy and Croatia. Slovenia so small andaypack easy to get around. I did a lot in 4 days! Go see the dragons!!

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