Four day Slovenian itinerary
I visited Slovenia back in 2015 for a long weekend and was blown away by how beautiful it was and how much there was to see. I only really scratched the surface and would love to go back to explore more, but for a short stay this is a good itinerary for seeing some of the top spots.
I flew into Ljubljana airport, rented a car and headed straight to Bled for two nights. Then it was a night in Ljubljana and off to visit some castles and caves on a southerly drive towards Trieste for the flight home.
Why go to Slovenia?
I had never given Slovenia much thought and it was a friend who suggested a long weekend there. It turned out to be an exceptionally beautiful country with loads to see and do. Best of all, it’s fairly compact and easy to drive around, so you can see a lot in a short visit.
There’s also a diverse range of landscapes and climates, from Lake Bled where you can sunbathe and swim, to the Julian Alps where you can ski in winter. There’s everything to see from castles to caves. You can get some pretty good pizza too
How much will a trip to Slovenia cost?
Not as cheap as some of its easterly neighbours and near-neighbours but still reasonably priced, food more so than accommodation. A decent, large hotel will be in the £100 – £150 per night region, but you can eat pretty cheaply and there’s plenty of outdoor activities and sightseeing to do for free.
Budget carriers Wizz and Easyjet fly from London to Slovenia and other to neighbouring countries from which you can easily access Slovenia (Trieste airport is close if you choose to do Slovenia ‘backwards’). But not all carriers fly all year round. Flights are generally cheap and you could pay as little as £50 return.
When should you visit Slovenia?
It depends what you want to do! Slovenia has skiing in winter so if you fancy hitting some lesser known ski slopes then Slovenia could be an option.
The country is split between a Continental and a Mediterranean climate meaning the whole of Slovenia benefits from warm summers, and that tends to be when the crowds are at their peak and accommodation becomes more expensive.
Where should you go in Slovenia?
Slovenia really does seem like it has something for everyone. With skiing and hiking, lakeside lounging in the sun and beautiful cities to explore, there’s plenty of different things to do. My trip and this itinerary is confined to the central and western side of the country where I visited, but with more time to play with you could extend your trip eastwards to Maribor.
What to see in Lake Bled
Lake Bled at the foot of Julian Alps is very simply stunning. You could easily make a week of a ‘beach’ holiday here, swimming, stand up paddle boarding and hiking around the nearby countryside.
But if you’ve only got a day or two to play with then make sure you don’t miss:
A walk around the lake.
It’s a 6km walk but there are cafes to stop at and lots of beautiful scenery to take in so make sure you take a camera.
Get a boat out to Bled Island
Ride a traditional Pletna boat across the lake to explore Bled island for an hour or two. The history of the boats goes right back to the 16th century and uses a special technique for rowing. Once you get to the island you can visit the pilgrimage church of the Assumption of Mary. The current church dates from the 17th century but also includes older fabric including frescoes from the second half of the 15th century. Ascend the church’s 50m high tower for views out across the lake.
Eat some pizza
Italian cuisine is omnipresent in Slovenia and you can get great pizza all over. Find a nice spot overlooking the lake for a pizza lunch, followed by…
Eat Bled cream cake
No trip to Bled would be complete without Kremšnita, the local cream cake. It’s a delicious dessert of chantilly and custard cream and is served in massive doorstop wedges all around the lake. Stop for a cake to break up your walk around the lake.
Go swimming and stand up paddle boarding
There’s only one dedicated swimming area at Bled but it’s cheap to enter and provides changing areas, toilets and lockers. There are plenty of more active ways to enjoy the lake, with stand up paddle board rental and tours offered by a number of operators such as Bananaway.
Visit Bled Castle
Hike up the steep hill to Bled’s medieval castle perched high above the lake. The castle dates at least as far back as the 11th century, making it Slovenia’s oldest castle. The castle is always open from 8am to 6pm, with longer hours in the summer months and costs EUR 10 per adult.
Drink some Union lager
One of my favourite things about Slovenia is delicious Union lager. It’s served everywhere but I’ve struggled to find it anywhere but Slovenia, so make sure you get your fill!
What to see in Ljubljana
The main attraction atop Castle Hill, which panoramic views of the city, is Ljubljana Castle. Reached on foot or by a small funicular, the original medieval fortress was rebuilt and added to over the years, with much of the existing fabric dating from the 16th and 17th centuries. It’s quite a big site to explore and also a wonderfully sunny spot in summer to sit out with an ice cream or a beer in the courtyard. On summer evenings they also show open air films.
Ljubljana is a fairly compact city so you don’t need to wander far for some greenery. On the western outskirts of the city is Ljubljana’s largest park, Tivoli. Neat and manicured, it provides a scenic place to walk and relax.
Learn about Slovenia at the ethnographic museum
For a change of pace, head to the ethnographic museum to learn more about Slovenia’s history and culture.
The ‘triple bridge’ refers to Ljubljana’s three bridges spanning the Ljubljanica River, connecting the medieval town with the modern city. They’re a Ljubjana must see, especially in the evening when you can walk up down the river bar hopping before settling in for dinner.
Soak up Ljubljana’s beautiful architecture
Ljubljana is full of beautiful buildings and small cobbled streets, so spend some time getting lost around the city discovering new cafes and bars and enjoying how picturesque it is.
Re-visit the castle for dinner
Ljubljana Castle also houses Strelec Restaurant with tables inside the castle and out on the castle walls. It’s popular so make sure you get a reservation then sit back and enjoy some great food, local wine and watch the sun set over the city.
Where else to visit in Slovenia
Predjama Castle looks like it should be straight out of a Hollywood blockbuster, but it’s real: a 16th century castle in the Renaissance style built 100m above the ground into a cave. A castle has been built in this cave since at least the 13th century but was rebuilt several times having first been destroyed in a siege and then in an earthquake. The castle has a fascinating history which is displayed throughout when you visit and there are beautiful views out across the Slovenia countryside. It costs EUR 14 for adults and you can find more information here.
Less than 10km from Predjama Castle are the Postojna caves. I always love visiting caves, there’s something slightly magical and otherworldly about them. The Postojna caves are huge (the second largest in the country), 24km long and reached by a little train that takes you inside. The tour takes an hour and half and leaves every hour in high season and three to four times daily in low season. Tickets are EUR 26 for just the cave- more information can be found on the website.
Skocjan Park and Caves
The Skocjan caves vast and cavernous rather than colourful like Postojna, giving you a real Lord of the Rings experience and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Reka river runs underground through the caves, forming one of the longest karst underground wetlands in Europe. Tours through the caves start from EUR 16 for adults but you can also enjoy the surrounding area for free by following the walking trail along the Reka River. See the website for more information.