Tucked in between Austria to the East, Germany to the North and Italy to the south lies Slovenia – one of my absolutely favourite places in Europe, and it should be yours too.
Just over 2 hours from London, this small country of just is a nature-lover’s dream: snow-capped mountains, lush forests with emerald-lakes and turquoise rivers it barely looks real. And we haven’t even started talking about Lake Bled, with its fairytale church island. It’s all postcard-perfect, including its capital, the very quaint Ljubljana.
You can spend the perfect long weekend in Slovenia, and include a city-break with great food, one or two hikes as you go chasing waterfalls, and a boat paddle over to Bled’s church.
Keep reading for inspiration of places to see in Slovenia, where to stay and where to eat.
Saturday in Ljubljana
One of Ljubljana’s charms is its size – perfectly formed, ideal for wandering around its beautifully maintained historical streets, lanes and famous bridges while stopping once in a while for a delicious bite of cake and coffee.
If you’re not having breakfast at your hotel, or fancy a café we recommend Le Petit Café (a deliciously French little cafe where we had some nice coffee, a croque monsieur, croissants and eggs), or get your caffeine fix from the huge coffee menu at Cafe Cokl – in case you’re wondering, I opted for a smooth Turkish coffee.
After breakfast head directly to Ljubljana’s Castle, a beautiful 16th century castle offering the best views in town, a fantastic ‘Time Machine’ tour and a very pleasant courtyard with a cafe. After visiting the Castle itself, we spotted a sign that led to the castle’s vineyard – tickled with curiosity we followed it… the vineyards weren’t very impressive, but the walk was absolutely wonderful and led us to a very quiet way back down, through winding small streets steep with character.
You can take the funicular as it’s on a very steep hill, but if you’re feeling up for it, it’s definitely worth the climb!
Afternoon in Ljubljana
You can easily spend an afternoon strolling the streets of the Medieval historical centre, gazing at the magnificent architecture, taking in the vibrant vibes of the buzzing restaurants and cafes, or if you’re as lucky as us catch the wine festival! If you’d like to tick those to-do boxes though, here’s what you should be looking out for:
Grab lunch at the central market, or pick up a few souvenirs to take back home; get snappy at the three bridges as you look over the Ljubljanica river, and see the cathedral at Prešeren Square, where you can grab a mulled wine to keep you warm. Spend the rest of your afternoon wandering around, walk into galleries you stumble upon, watch the locals in the many squares and parks and just take it all in.
Day trip to Lake Bled & Bojihn from Ljubljana
Now you’ve covered the basics in Ljubljana it’s time you hit the road and visit Slovenia’s breathtaking countryside and mountains. We had a bit more time, so we actually ended up staying in Bled overnight, but you could easily do it in one day.
We rented a car from the centre of Ljubljana, the city’s quiet streets a joy to maneuver and the minute we made it to the motorway, it was all very easy to navigate. Soon enough we were looking out to the lush, picturesque countryside before arriving in Bled.
Bled itself is a bit strange. The lake is overwhelmingly pretty, the town feels a bit like an out-of-date resort and should be visited quickly (I wouldn’t stay overnight again if I had the choice). It was rather miserable when we visited this time around, so we didn’t boat over to the island, but I have done it before and it’s really enjoyable. Of course we made the most of the cold weather by tucking into a Bled cream cake and a piping hot latte!
From Bled to Bohinj it’s just under 30 minutes, but we got caught in a snow storm so took our time, both for safety reasons and for capturing winter scenes like this…
Where to stay
We stayed at the modern and conveniently located Hotel Lev, near Ljubljana’s Tivoli Park. This four star review was perfect to enjoy this very walkable city, whilst still enjoying the best of a luxury, modern hotel. The breakfast was one of the best I’ve ever tried and the service impeccable.
Antiq Palace Hotel And Spa
On our return from Bled, we also squeezed in a couple more nights in the city, this time staying at the fabulous Antiq Palace Hotel and Spa, which is located in the heart of the city, a stone’s throw away from the river. We hit the jackpot as when we checked in they gave us the suite, which was unbelievable. Steep in character, history and cool little details, this boutique hotel gave us a great window to day-to-day Ljubljana life. We loved it!
Find out more here.