Slovenia in A Weekend
Slovenia probably isn’t top of mind for your European travel (I know it wasn’t for me, since I hadn’t heard of anyone going there!) but if you’re traveling to Croatia or Italy, Slovenia makes an excellent addition. The country is beautiful! It felt super relaxing and cooling in the alps – I visited in the summer after a trip to Croatia and whew, was the weather a relief from the hot sun at Dubrovnik.
Most people probably won’t have the time for an extended stay in Slovenia (although you can check out my complete travel guide here if you do!). I visited Slovenia for 3 days after my trip to Croatia, as it’s relatively close to Croatia’s Plitvice Lakes and I went northward to Slovenia after Croatia and then on to Venice. This is the day by day route I took and an ideal itinerary for anyone looking for a condensed, fun long weekend in Slovenia!
Click the toggles below to expand each day’s itinerary!
DAY 1: The Postojna Caves
I came from Croatia’s Adriatic coastline and journeyed north into Slovenia. My first pit stop was the karst caves at Postojna, Slovenia’s biggest underground attraction and the largest underground caves in Europe. Postojna has a seemingly endless network of passages, galleries and chambers all featuring various crystals – from chandeliers to spaghetti formations, paper thin sheets to massive, thick columned stalagmites.
I chose to take the underground, specially designed cave train with electric lighting to fully see the geological caves. You can also walk it, but the underground system is far, far bigger than what the entrance would leave you to believe. For more photos of the cave stalagmites, check out my complete post on the Postojna Caves here. After the day trip, I headed onward to Ljubljana and Lake Bled.
DAY 2: Ljubljana
Slovenia’s capital is known for its university population and green spaces. The winding Ljubljanica River flows throughout the city’s heart and as car traffic is restricted to the city center, pedestrians and cyclists roam freely throughout the city. I love being able to walk around without the fear of being run over and Ljubljana has such a great vibe, especially in the summer months, when cafes set up terrace seating all along the river.
I was also pleasantly surprised by how beautiful Ljubljana was. A lot of the city’s architecture has pastel hues and there are lots of open air fruit markets with flowers, cured meats and treats for sale, beautiful scroll worked bridges and large public parks for reading.
Things to do in Ljubljana:
a) Spend a leisurely afternoon at a café, try some delectable pastries and people watch over the open squares
b) Take the funicular up to Ljubljana Castle for an impressive view over the city
c) Explore the Old Town, check out some of the city’s excellent museums and galleries and stroll or cycle through Park Tivoli
d) A large, active student population lends the city an active night life. Don’t forget to check out the bars and clubs!
You can also skip the caves and fly into Ljubljana directly – check the latest flight prices here. However, there are no regularly scheduled passenger flights within Slovenia so your best bet is to rent a car, use the bus system or take a train. Postojna is about 1 hour south and served by daily buses while Bled is another hour north with hourly bus service. You can pay as your board, just be aware that long distance trips on Fridays or before public holidays and school breaks can be risky.
All of the big international car rental companies have offices in Ljubljana. While you can rent locally on the spot, you’ll get a much better deal renting in advance on the company website.
DAY 3-4: Lake Bled
Lake Bled was my favorite part of Slovenia and it’s no wonder that it’s the country’s most iconic tourist draw. Alpine peaks in the backdrop, a crystal clear blue lake, a tiny island and an impossibly cute church with a fairytale past – it doesn’t get any more dramatic than this!
24 Hours in Bled:
a) The walk around the lake is approx. 6km and takes about 1.5 – 2 hours walking leisurely. It’s a great exercise to do, offers multiple vantage points of the island and tons of photo opportunities.
b) If you prefer, a family friendly tourist train wraps around the lake making daily 45 trips and takes about 45 minutes. Or you can splurge on a romantic horse drawn carriage ride around the lake and up to the castle.
c) From June – August, the lake is warmed by mild thermal springs and you can go swimming, rent boats or just cool off on the banks and relax!
d) Bled Castle: this medieval fortress is a real delight, as its perched high on top of a steep cliff 100m above the lake. There are towers, ramparts, moats and a large terrace granting magnificent views. Don’t miss!
e) Bled Island: a tiny tear shaped island in the middle of the lake, reachable only by row boat or gondola. Make sure you check out the church and walk up on the south side of the staircase – you’ll know it by the crazy number of steps!
f) Church of the Assumption: a beautiful baroque church with a mysterious folk lore past. Check out more photos and learn about the story in my post here
g) Provost’s House Museum: there’s also a small museum on the island displaying traditional costumes and some history of the area
There are plenty of restaurants in Lake Bled so it makes for a great home base. If you want the best view of the island, stay at Hotel Jelovica where you’ll get a pristine view direct from your hotel bed. I stayed for two nights on Lake Bled, hiking and walking the trails around the lake, rowing on the lake and seeing the church and castle.