If the prices of the alpine regions of Italy or Switzerland seem out of reach...can we suggest Slovenia? If the big capitals of the alpine European countries are budget busters, the capital of Slovenia, Ljubljana is a beautiful, and affordable substitute!
We arrived in Slovenia on a cruise ship, in the Roman era port city of Kopor. The country is small which allowed us to travel from the small coastal area to the alpine region in little more than an hour. We hired a guide from Roundabout Travel, and customized our itinerary via email with the very helpful staff. But with just a day to visit, we needed to prioritize our choices of what to see. Below is a partial list of things to see and do in Slovenia
Some Major Sites to see in Slovenia
-Medieval port city of Kopor
-Capital city ofLjubljana
-Caves created from the unique "karst" limestone geology in Slovenia (Postojna and Skocjan) -Beaches in the Portoroz beach resort
-Lipinazzer Horses in Lipica
-Hike the mountains or visit a natural gorge, such as the Vintgar Gorge
-The Predjama Castle built into a natural cave
-The Alpine town of Bled with it's lake and castle -Triglav National Parks -Soca River Valley
Clearly, there is enough to do to fill a weeks vacation, but we only had a day! Our Roundabout guide, Sanjin, arrived promptly at 8AM and we started our tour with a trip up a very modern highway to the Lake Bled resort area, which was very quiet during our early October visit, being past the summer tourism season.
Lake Bled Resort Area and Bled Castle
Imagine a time when landowners had small villages of people working for them, they built huge walled palaces to protect their property and often hid inside the walls when marauders came through. This is the history of the Bled Castle. Over the years, many wealthy people including communist leader, Tito, built villas along the shores of Lake Bled. Today Slovenia is a democratic republic, and while the rich families still own the villas, you could also stay in one of many that have been converted to inns and most of Lake Bled is lined with public recreational parks. The castle is a now a an interesting museum with spectacular views. Click here for info on Bled Castle
Vintgar Gorge Hike
Our Guide Sanjin, having seen us successfully navigate the stairs at the Bled Castle, suggested we might enjoy seeing the natural beauty of Slovenia and took us to the Vintgar Gorge (also known as the Bled Gorge for it's proximity to Bled) for a hike. Ordinarily, an out and back route, Sanjin dropped us at the entrance and met us at the other end, so we didn't have to retrace our steps. The hike is not for the faint of heart with narrow bridges and some damp, steep slopes along the way, but the views were well worth the effort!
This time lapse video captures the terrain during the hike.
Ljubljana is one of Europe's most atmospheric capital cities. It's small size makes it almost entirely walk-able, and the original baroque architecture is visible everywhere. There are also churches that date to Roman times. Settled along both sides of the Ljubljanica River. Along the right bank is the Stari Grad (or old town) while the more modern part of Ljubljana and the Tivoli Park are along the left bank.
After exploring the city on foot, Sanjin took us to one his favorite quick cafes for a traditional "fast food" lunch in Slovenia. We enjoyed two local soups based on barley and sour kraut and some traditional sausages. We had also bought a piece of famous Bled sweet cake at Bled castle to enjoy for dessert. Because Slovenia is also know for it's honey, you can find honey and treats made from it at the local market nearby. (click on any photo below to expand)
Post and Video K Klofft
Photos J Klofft