Slovenia, a small country nestled in the heart of Europe, is a hidden gem that’s waiting to be explored. From the bustling streets of its capital city, Ljubljana, to the serene beauty of Lake Bled, Slovenia offers a unique blend of nature and culture that’s sure to captivate every traveler. We arrived via Flixbus from Zagreb on a journey which took just under 3 hours from Trieste and cost 15 euros each. The bus arrived into Metelkova Mesto, the central station. We had 2 nights here but were excited to see what the area has to offer. Slovenia became the 38th European country we had visited when we went there in January 2020.
The reason for the timing of this trip was to explore somewhere we had never been to before, to celebrate Carol’s birthday. A Facebook group called Ljubljana had helped me prior to our visit with recommendations as to where to have a celebratory meal. They also pointed me in the right direction as to where I could find birthday cards for sale. We travel every year on Carol’s birthday, and I always buy a card from the place we’re visiting and that is always a trickier task than most would imagine. Many European cities simply don’t have UK style card shops, but with a little effort they can normally be found in book shops or occasionally in florists.
Carol had, as usual, meticulously searched the city’s available accommodation and made a real find with MyPlace which was situated within walking distance of the bus station. We never met the host, with key collection being a slightly unusual trip to a bar across the road to pick up keys and get directions, but we found the host to be very helpful anyway, she even left us a card of Slovene phrases for us to learn and use during our time in the city. The apartment was clean, airy, modern and well kept and it was a comfortable stay.
The river Ljubljanica runs through the capital, Ljubljana, and the beautiful and architecturally interesting bridges that span the river make for some spectacular, picture postcard scenes. A riverside walk started to reveal the beauty of this lovely capital.
Due to the time of year we visited just after New Year the Christmas markets were still around and stalls offering hot wine, local cuisine and various local arts and crafts for sale.
We made a stop at the Ljubljana Cathedral in Preseren Square, originally a Gothic church but was replaced in the 18th Century by a more baroque style of building.
Wandering through its old town is a humbling experience; a maze of cobblestone streets and beautiful baroque buildings, which are perfectly preserved and house museums, galleries and restaurants. In the distance we could see Ljubljana Castle perched up high overlooking the city. The castle dates back to medieval times and if we had more time we may have planned a trip there.
One of the must-visit places in Ljubljana is the Triple Bridge, a stunning architectural feat that spans the Ljubljanica River. The three bridges, with their simple but elegant design, are a symbol of the city and provide a breathtaking view of the surrounding landscape. The Triple Bridge connects Ljubljana’s historical, medieval, town on one bank, and the modern city of Ljubljana, on the other. As day turned into night the capital became more magical.
Spending a birthday at Lake Bled
Ljubljana also serves as a great base for exploring more rural parts of Slovenia, and a bus ride which only cost a few Euros took us to the beautiful Lake Bled. There are not many nicer places to spend a birthday after all! Here we spent a very pleasant day, we walked the few miles around the entire lake, all the while just marvelling at the scenery. Lake Bled is a true natural wonder. Its crystal-clear waters and stunning alpine backdrop make it one of the most picturesque spots in Slovenia.
As night began to fall and the temperature dropped we headed for a warming hot chocolate and mulled wine at the still going Christmassy Markets, even though it was now early January. The various different displays and photo opportunities began to light up and we had fun at the christmas market taking selfies and being childish! We both agreed we had the best hot chocolate we had ever tasted there.
Continuing the Birthday Celebrations!
Heading back to Ljubljana the night was still young and the restaurant we chose was Gostilina AS and although we are definitely not ‘foodies’ we knew this was a place for the connoisseur, with excellent service and food presentation. It was so posh, they even provided a stool for Carol to place her bag on, rather than put it on the floor! It was a lovely meal, but pricey even by Slovenian standards; it was worth it though, even if Carol’s beef still looked alive! She enjoyed it that was the main thing.
Our short time in Slovenia had come to an end and tomorrow was time to move on; however we loved our time here. It will definitely deserve its place in the Top 5 of European countries we have visited.
Slovenia is a country that offers something for everyone, from adventure seekers to those seeking peace and solitude. Ljubljana, Lake Bled, and the Three Bridges are just a few of the many treasures that await you in this magnificent country. So pack your bags, grab your camera, and get ready for an unforgettable journey through Slovenia.
Carol & Nigel xx