I like to think of Slovenia as a snow globe. A tiny, magical bubble where you can experience towering mountains, picturesque valleys and pristine lakes, and also feel fully immersed in the best of east-meets-west European culture in the bustling, metropolitan capital city. A new adventure is never more than a shake away.
All the wonders that this country has to offer are in such a close proximity that you can take a whistle stop tour in just three days. I strongly recommend that you boycott the Bachelor parties of Prague or the pickpockets of Barcelona for your next weekend break and visit the beautiful and unspoilt splendour of Slovenia.
Here’s why; picture the Scene:
The morning consists of your arrival into Ljubljana Airport. Upon exit from the airport, you jump on to the train, head to the dining car and wistfully watch the River Sava and its rolling valleys float past the window as you sip mud-thick coffee and sample Žlikrofi (small boiled dumplings filled with potatoes, onions, and smoked bacon).
The train pulls in to your first stop; the beautiful lakeside town of Bled. You check in to your first nights accommodation; the stunning, hillside Hotel Triglav. After depositing your bags and battling the temptation not to spend the entire day staring at the view from your balcony, you head out for a stroll around the lake. This stroll is best enjoyed at a leisurely pace as you take in the beauty of the snow-capped peaks that form a striking back-drop to the lake and marvel at the other worldly castles and churches rising from the lakes shores and islands.
You ascend up to the castle to admire the breathtaking views of the lake, mountains and cobbled lakeside town that is offered from the castle walls. After descending your way back down the hill, you continue your leisurely amble around the lake itself. Upon reaching its northern shore, you take a traditional wooden boat across to The Church of the Assumption, that is set upon the lake’s Island. Enjoy the romantic feeling that you have taken a step back in time, admiring the cobbled streets and immaculately preserved church that retains its natural charm. All of this entirely surrounded by the majestic beauty of the “Jewel of Europe”.
Back on the mainland, and with the sun now on its way down over the mountains, you take a well deserved stop for sunset drinks at the lakeside bar. The sun recedes over the best view of the lake, while you sip local beers at extremely friendly prices. The beauty and variety of this awe-inspiring country begins to sink in.
In the evening, you head for a stylish meal at Restaurant 1906 (within Hotel Triglav), and enjoy some of the finest traditional dishes from their A La Carte Menu. This is finished up with the sumptuously rich and nationally reclaimed Bled Cheesecake before retiring to your room to rest up for the following day.
You wake up ready to see what else this country has to offer, and jump into a taxi or shuttle bus heading north to the adventure sport hub of Bohinj. You get dropped off in the centre of this charming mountain town and take the opportunity to rent bikes from one of the many outlets in the town (Camping Danica, 2 mins walk from the centre is a great option).
You follow the well signposted cycle path that aligns the course of the Sava through pastoral valleys and river gullies up to Lake Bohinj. You adopt a leisurely pace, absorbing the beauty of your surroundings and the gentle rays of the sun in equal measures.
When you arrive at the north end of the lake, you take time to admire the view and catch your breath, before heading for the base of the cable car station. You lock up your bike and ascend on the cable car, taking in the pristine panorama as it gently unfolds beneath you. At the top, you simultaneously enjoy a delicious lunch and the impressive backdrop view from Viharnik Cafe.
After descending and collecting the bikes, you set off back to Bohinj, taking a few stops along the way to admire the natural beauty that surrounds you.
With the bikes returned, you begin your journey to the capital city, ready to swap the majesty and beauty of the outdoors for the culture and cuisine of the vibrant capital.
From the Central Station you head down Slovenska Street, upon which you will find the chic, luxurious and well priced hotel Cubo. After checking in, you continue on down the street, eventually turning left onto Copova Street, into the old town and towards the river. When you hit the river (be sure to spend a good few minutes snapping selfies in front of Dragon Bridge and admiring the old town’s winding street views up to the castle) carry on southwards around its curve, perhaps stopping to snap an etched padlock on one of the rivers charming bridges.
After a five minute walk, you will hit Zidovska Steza, and find Bi-Ko-Fe, an establishment that is vibrantly complimented by kitschy recycled interior design. It is well worth your time to stick around for the live music and artsy vibe. After knocking back a few local beers, you head up the rivers edge to enjoy contemporary Slovene cuisine at Manna, a well acclaimed restaurant set in a colourful house on one of Ljubljana’s most overlooked streets – Eipprova.
You finish up by winding the night down at “Chill Out” to sample Slovenia’s best mojito and chat to some friendly locals, before retiring to your hotel for some much needed rest.
You commence your final day with a wander up to the castle; here you enjoy the spectacular, panoramic views over the city before embarking on a fascinating tour of the castle and historic district.
Follow this with a fascinating visit to MetelKova – the old army barracks now turned into a kitschy and vibrant commune. Hundreds of people have forsaken the rat race in lieu of community values and free living and you will find this a uniquely interesting place to experience.
You spend your last remaining hours sampling as much fine cuisine as you possibly can, wandering the cobbled streets of the Old Town taking in the magnificent architecture and relaxing in riverside bars, reflecting on the blissful three days you have enjoyed in this unique nation.