Despite being such a small country, Slovenia has an incredibly diverse landscape and is home to some of the friendliest people we have ever met in our travels. Slovenia borders the northeast corner of Italy and is about 90 miles from Venice. A lot is packed into this country, which contains everything from snow-capped mountains suitable for skiing, beaches on the Gulf of Trieste, and acres of hills and plains blanketed with grapevines. It has some of the cleanest water in the world due to its many lakes and springs, has half of its total area covered in forest, and is abundant with various types of wildlife. We had so much fun exploring Slovenia!
We flew into Venice, rented a car, and drove about two hours to the capital, Ljubljana. This small city has plenty of museums, universities, greenery, and a castle overlooking the city on its highest peak. We walked into the old town and through Presernov Trg (Preseren Sqaure). This is where the life of the city is! There is a river running through it with quite a few small walking bridges crossing the water. Many restaurants and cafes line the riverbank. Even though it was about 25 degrees there were a lot of people sitting outside, sipping their coffees with friends.
We took the funicular up and made our way to Ljubljana Castle. From below, the castle looks extensive and is the city’s focal point, but while we were up there it seemed surprisingly small. We went across a small courtyard to the watchtower and climbed the stairs. We saw wonderful views of the city here!
Our ticket also included entrance to the Slovenian History Exhibition. It led us through the country’s past exhibiting significant objects and video explanations.
After taking the funicular down we walked through the central market area, which has an outdoor and indoor market selling everything from meats, cheeses, vegetables, and honey, to items like magnets, paintings, and wooden kitchen accessories. We walked through the market along the river and crossed the Dragon Bridge. It is “guarded” by four sculptures of dragons, which are now the city’s mascots.
After our time in Ljubljana, we drove 40 minutes to the town of Bled. Bled is situated right on Lake Bled, a picturesque, emerald-green lake that has the scenery of a postcard. The lake has some of Slovenia’s highest mountain peaks as a backdrop, a medieval castle on a small cliff, and a church sitting on a tiny island in the middle of it all. In the summer Bled gets incredibly busy, as there are many rowing, swimming, and boating competitions, while in the winter – though not empty – one can walk around the lake without the chaos and noise of tourists.
We walked the four miles around the lake, capturing pictures, petting dogs on walks, and admiring the natural beauty. Seeing the snow-covered Julian Alps in the distance was stunning and the entire landscape was just breathtaking.
About 40 minutes from Bled is the more well-known ski resort of Kranjska Gora. This resort has been used for the European Winter Championships and open air events. Not ony can you downhill ski, you can also toboggan, snowshoe, and cross-country ski.
We arrived to a huge parking problem at the resort! There was only one big parking lot and it had already filled up, with people double and triple parking cars into makeshift spots. All that was left was street parking in town, which we drove aimlessly around looking for. We got pretty lucky after we squeezed into a spot right in front of a ski rental place, which ended up being closer than the main parking lot. Win!
Kranjska Gora was more akin to east coast skiing in the USA than the west coast or the Alps. There weren’t too many runs, it was very icy in parts, and it was more crowded with people, especially beginners. Despite that, we enjoyed skiing here very much.
In Postojna there is a large cave network under the surface, consisting of 21 kilometers of fantastic tunnels, halls, and passages. It’s very similar to Lurray Caverns in Virginia. Remnants of rivers and pools of water can be seen from the indentation in the rocks. There are big rock chambers filled with stalactites and stalagmites of many sizes and shapes, some of which have taken tens of thousands of years to form. The caves were enchanting! Each area that we saw offered a different view into this remarkable underground world. We felt like we took a journey to the center of the earth, where time is counted by the drops of water and the art of mother nature is on display.
We started with a ride in a miniature train for two kilometers through small archways, large halls, and tiny passageways. Afterward, we were led through different areas of the caves, each with their own unique name. The Hall of Tubes (aka Spaghetti Hall) was so named because of the white, needle-thin tubes hanging from the ceiling. The Concert Hall holds events and concerts a few times a year and can accommodate several thousand people. The White Hall is named because all the stalactites are extremely white from pure limestone. The whole experience was magnificent and it gave us a magical view of the underground world of the Postojna Caves.
We’re so glad that we visited this lovely country. The charm of Lake Bled, the relaxed atmosphere of the capital city of Ljubljana, and the various types of terrain and natural beauty, make exploring Slovenia a wonderful experience. It truly is a terrific place to visit and unwind!