Europe is always a good idea in the summer…and Eastern Europe is an even better one! I visited the lovely country of Slovenia in August 2017 with one of my friends and I guarantee you that by the end of this post, you’ll be ready to book your flights!
We flew with EasyJet from London Gatwick in just over 2 hours. That day was the first time in my life that I had almost missed a flight. We had arrived at the airport early so after security, sat down for a long lunch and drinks.
When we finally checked the board, it said that our gate had already closed! We ran to the gate (a long 15 mins away), no passengers were waiting and they wouldn’t let us on. There was no way that I was going back home so we just stood in an awkward silent protest! BY SOME MIRACLE, this woman walks back through asking to be let out as she didn’t mean to board this flight…the staff are on their phones trying to sort out a recount so this was our opportunity and we successfully boarded! Thank you confused woman, wherever you are today!!
We stayed in a cute Airbnb – 1 bedroom flat with everything you could need including old school CDs for a karaoke night if you wish! It was slightly away from the centre though so we used the bus 6 to get around (it was 24 hour service). Our host had a friend meet us to let us in and orientate us as she was on holiday but she was easy to contact during our stay.
Things we saw and did:
Prešeren Square – this is a good starting point to explore Ljubljana. There are many shops, restaurants and sights surrounding it. From here we wandered a short distance to Butcher’s Bridge where we started our tour. We joined a boat ride – €8 for a 45 minute round trip along the river Ljubljanica. We passed underneath Tromostovje and on the way back underneath Dragon Bridge. In the August heat, this was a great way to start sightseeing without breaking a sweat!
As you can see, all the bridges are tiny! Ljubilana is a small city so a lot can be done by foot!
Central Market: This is located just off Butcher Bridge. It is a beautiful, vibrant market selling fresh fruit, veg, clothes and more!
Churches and castles: because a Europe tour is nothing without this! I will go into more detail on the impressive ones we visited further on.
Ljubljana Grad – which is Ljubljana Castle. It is sat at the top of the hill so is quite a hike to get to (once back down, we discovered that you can get a lift up!) It costs €7.50 entry for adults which was a bargain for everything that we saw inside. The castle is a complex of different buildings and sights (it reminded me of Prague castle which I had visited a couple of years before). You can look over Ljubljana from the viewing tower, visit the history museum, the art floor, chapel and my personal favourite, the puppet museum. We had so much fun creating our own shows!
Museum of modern art – €5 entry. All the art was very subjective, some politically charged and others just having a good time.
Contemporary history museum – which can be found within Tivoli Park. It offers a detailed look at Slovenia’s history and features a lot on the World Wars too. I always enjoy a couple of museums during a holiday a) catch a break from the heat/cold but also b) to try and understand what the country is about and how their history has shaped their current situation.
Tivoli Park – this huge park is perfect for relaxing during a summer day with an icecream in one hand (exactly what we did!). Also for cycling, skating, picnics plus it has a few museums and other activities for all ages.
Alpine Fairytale Tour – we booked this via Roundabaout Tour at the tourist office next to Central Market. If you live in the centre, any tour will pick you up from your hotel but for us, we had to meet outside the tour office. Our first stop was vintgar gorge where we had a 1 mile walk through the most zen place!
Next we came to the real jewel of Slovenia – Bled. Firstly we looked around Bled Castle which had the most incredible view over Lake Bled. Within the castle, there were various museums and different parts to explore. They had an old school printing shop where they demonstrated how printing used to be done and then you got to have a go…it was harder than it looked!
Lake Bled was our next stop and it was every bit as magical as I had expected. Some of our tour went on the boat to the small church which sits on the island and the rest of us chilled by the riverbank. This is one of my favourite views of all time!
A short drive away and almost as impressive was Lake Bohinj. It was easier go for a swim here as it was less busy and the mountains in the distance made it picture perfect.
Final stop was to the quaint town of Škofja Loka nearby.
I highly recommend the Alpine Fairytale Tour if you get the chance!
Postonja caves – the most cost efficient way is to get a local bus to the caves yourself for €6 one way (once you’re in the town, the walking directions are very easy) and then buy entrance tickets when you arrive. There are guided tours for the caves in multiple languages included in your ticket so you just queue for the next train to take you down. It gets so cold down there so we had to layer up! The tour takes about an hour in total.
Once you’re back up, you can take a free shuttle to Predjamski grad (castle) to explore its castle in a cave! Each visitor is given a headset so you have your own guided tour. It was huge inside and just so interesting…I had never seen anything like it before!
Urbano Dejanje Festival – runs for a week in early to mid August. During the day, they had various arts, music and cultural activities going on.
Food and drink As we were in an Airbnb, we had almost half our meals at home (bought from the local supermarket Mercator). But when we did eat it out, it never disappointed!
Hiša pod gradom – this restaurant was making serious dollar being just at the foot of the hill from Ljubliana castle. I had the famous Slovenian sausage and cabbage (I normally hate cabbage but this was really good).
Cream cake from Bled Castle…apparently it’s famous too (I hadn’t heard of this one before) but it was very tasty.
Rainbow trout at Lake Bohinj….mouthwatering.
Open kitchen – happens every Friday with food stalls from around the world. I had a Persian meal here for the first time. And for dessert, ice cream rolls..check out the video below!
Chinese food at Zhoung hua – as I continue my accidental Chinese food tradition around the world.
Spanish food from Joe Peñas – this restaurant had the coolest interior and the friendliest waiters!
Sushi and bubble tea from Tloft
And back to more classically Slovenian food at Sarajevo 84
Night time: For a small city, it had quite a lot going on at night. The best way to start your summer evening is by having drinks at any of the restaurants or bars along the river. Other ways we spent our evenings included:
Jazz cafe – we came here for a chilled early evening treat. It’s an outdoor place which has live jazz. Their jazzy drink is glorified water – perfect for Instagram but not so much for taste!
Urbano dejanje festival – at night they had live bands playing with a different genre being represented each night. You can sit on the park just outside to listen in for free.
Top 6 – we found this club by following a group of dressed up people to the entrance (a few Brits I spoke to inside had done the same)! The entrance is in an alleyway which takes to you the lift to go up to the 6th floor. It was free entry for ladies and drinks prices were standard. That Friday was reggaeton night which was SO good.
And finally, our day trip to Croatia!
I’m a big fan of trying to maximise your time away and if I can fit in multiple places into 1 journey then I will. Croatia is close to Slovenia and I discovered that it was only a €33 return train to Zagreb so we booked and went!
We arrived at 11am in time for a free walking tour via Free Spirit Walking Tour. Our incredible guide Luca managed to keep all 40 of us going in the blistering heat. It was a good way to see the main sights of Zagreb in 2 hours, learn about its history and also for recommendations of where to eat and drink.
The strangest place that we visited was the Museum of Broken Relationships which was filled with objects that normal people had sent in attached with a story of heartbreak. Some were funny, others sad and a few just petty!
We had lunch of meat sandwiches at Kitchen and grill plac and then spent some time in the market. There was a huge storm in the late afternoon which meant we had to take shelter for the rest of the day. So we had a lasagne style food called strukli which can either be sweet or savoury followed by drinks on Bar Street until our train was due.
I have to give a shout out to my fave travel app Triposo for always helping me navigate foreign streets via their offline map. I’ll have no monetary gains from this but I just love them!
So have I successfully convinced you to visit Slovenia? Let me know if you do go!