Like a Fairytale: A Beginner’s Guide to Slovenia

Travel

I am not a hiker. I enjoy strolls through the woods and scenic views like the next guy, but anything more extensive and I get grumpy. Slovenia was my exception to that rule.

Once you learn to pronounce and type the name, Ljubljana is absolutely lovely. We stayed at Zeppelin Hostel, which was maybe a ten minute walk from the cute old parts of the city. The atmosphere was great and it was a lovely place to stay (with the exception of the Australian who snored so incredibly loudly the whole night…).

31351492_10214113025993535_8208109010088361984_nWe were only there for a night, but Ljubljana is a great spot to use as a starting point to daily excursions or as a relaxing small town for a weekend away.

The canal that runs through the town is lined with cafés, restaurants, and bars, some of which can get pricey, but the view is worth it. (They also have heaters and blankets so you don’t freeze while you eat.) The old town is lined with cute streets and great opportunities for window shopping.

Looking down on the old town is Ljubljana Castle.

We hiked up the hill to the castle, but there is a funicular and a parking lot. Warning, though, the hike is steep at times, so skip the flip flops. As a non-hiker, I made it up with just a little bit of huffing and puffing. My legs did shake going back down. There’s also plenty of different paths up with different levels of exertion and different starting points. The views on the hike were stunning, as they looked down on the town and out towards the mountains.

31290665_10214113040233891_3199215718818119680_nYou can walk right in to the castle courtyard and wander about. To go up onto the walls or up the tower, you’ll need a ticket. The ticket gets you in to an exhibit on Slovenian History, and the slightly terrifying Museum of Puppetry. There’s also a café if you’re interested in a bit to eat and the castle regularly hosts events and jazz nights.

From Ljubljana, we hopped a bus to Bled.

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Bled is a postcard from every angle. The mountains in the background and the pristine blue water of the lake. Staying in a hostel resulted in some very helpful tips that solidified our time in Slovenia. (We avoided the “downtown” area in favor of exploring the outdoors, so I can’t provide much advice there.) Our first attempt to walk around Lake Bled was delayed by a huge storm that threatened to pour on us.

 

Hiking was going to happen, the question was where to. Thanks to a recommendation, we ended up heading outside of Bled to Lake Bohinj. The lake is part of Triglav National Park and was a easy bus ride from Bled. We made a pit stop at the ski resort to caffeinate and pee, before we began our hike to Savica Waterfall.

There was a small entrance fee to hike up to Savica, but it was worth it. It had been cloudy and chilly all morning and the sun came out just as we reached the waterfall. The water comes from caves and flows down into the river that runs along next to the hiking trail.

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From the waterfall, we made our way back to the ski resort. Vogel Ski Centre was packed with locals when we arrived in the morning, but by the time we finished our hike, most were leaving. We took the funicular up the mountain and, with the same ticket, we were able to get a generous lunch of stew and a strudel! The ski resort has a patio that you can drink and eat on, giving you a stunning view of the mountains and entertaining you with skiers and snowboarders.31395217_10214113106875557_3691682982579404800_n (1)

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To end the day, we decided to walk the lake. Lake Bohinj is massive. Because of time constraints, we only walked one half of the lake, but it was a lovely stroll. My type of hike! There were some disruptions to the path due to logging, but we were able to get through with few problems. After all that walking, some brave souls stuck their feet in the ice cold water, while others (like myself) chose to stay dry and enjoy the beautiful views.

We wandered past the Church of St. John the Baptist to the bus stop and caught the hourly bus back to Bled.

Our last morning in Bled (and Slovenia) was spent walking the lake. Our hostel was a five minute walk from the water, so we strolled down and took the path that circles the lake. Because it was a sunny, warm, weekend day, it was pretty busy with puppies and babies running amok. The lake hosts the Slovenian Olympic Rowing Team so there were always a few boats out on the water. We found a path off the lake that heads up to thequintessential Insta shot. It’s a thirty minute trek up the hill to the first lookout (there’s another higher viewpoint but I was in a dress and we were short on time).31297534_10214113109515623_3060608216414027776_n

It was worth it. Even the worst photographer couldn’t mess up a shot of the island with the church on it, the castle on the hill, the snow capped mountains off in the distance, and the perfect puffy clouds. It was stunning.

On our way back around the lake (we didn’t do the full lap and avoided the city centre as a result), we climbed up to the castle to see it up close. Right now, there is a crane and quite a bit of construction going on, so it is not as picture perfect. We opted against paying for tickets to go inside and went back to the hostel to grab a bite to eat before catching our bus.

All in all, our brief introduction to Slovenia was filled with picture perfect moments, lovely, kind people, and so much hiking. Our only regret? We didn’t get a chance to go caving while in Slovenia. We’ll just have to make a return trip!