GORGEOUS SLOVENIA: TOP 5 PLACES TO SEE
Image: Lake Bled, Slovenia
Source: He Needs Food
Nestled between Italy, Austria and Croatia, Slovenia is surely one of Europe’s best-kept secrets. It is a small country, but one that boasts incredibly diverse and breathtaking geography, such as high Alpine peaks, emerald lakes and vast underground caverns. In fact, nearly 60 percent of Slovenia is covered in lush forests, and its more than 40 parks and reserves are home to an astounding array of plants and animals.
It also offers travellers some wonderful and utterly unique places to visit. Think tranquil Alpine villages Gothic cliffside castles, fields of white horses and even amazing ski resorts – that is Slovenia.
Slovenia might be a small, relatively unknown country, but it’s one that threatens to surpass even its sublime neighbours who are no slouches in the beauty department themselves. And as National Geographic Traveler Magazine has named it ‘the world’s most sustainable country’, with its quaint capital of Ljubljana anointed as ‘Europe’s Greenest Capital 2016’ by the European Union, this is one country you can feel good about visiting.
It’s time to pack your bags! To help you on your way, here are our top five places to see in stunning Slovenia.
Image: Piran, Slovenia
Source: Financial Times
It is likely that you’ll start your visit in Slovenia’s lovely capital of Ljubljana, and it would be amiss of us not to suggest you spend some time exploring that wonderful city. But once you’ve done that, be sure to head over to our top ‘city’ choice – Piran.
A fishing village located on the Adriatic coast, Piran is ringed by turquoise seas and boasts incredible Venetian-style architecture. It is easy to see why Piran is one of Slovenia’s most beautiful cities. Aside from the architecture, the pedestrian-only Old Town is reminiscent of Venice in many other ways, including its narrow alleyways that hide secret alfresco wine bars awaiting discovery.
And don’t just stop with the wine. Piran is a foodie’s dream, and is famous for its la fleur de sel salt, white truffles and fresh briny seafood. While you’re there, book a sailboat to take you out on to the calm waters of the Gulf of Piran, and grab a spectacular, one-of-a-kind view of the Church of St. George from the sea. Back on land, hike to the top of the bell tower for a breathtaking panorama of Piran, its old city walls and the luminescent coastline beyond.
Image: Picture Perfect Lake Bled in Slovenia
Source: Sunday Post
If you’ve seen photographs of Lake Bled, you should know, it is every bit as lovely in real life. Starting with the mirror-like emerald waters of the lake, to the fairy-tale church that appears to float magically above, moving to the looming Julien Alps, and finally to the medieval castle that clings perilously to a rocky cliffside, there is a good reason it is the most popular tourist destination in Slovenia.
Besides the gorgeous walks alongside the lake itself, you can also take a swim in its crystalline waters, cycle around town or hike in stunning surrounding countryside.
Don’t miss a visit to Bled Castle either. The oldest castle in Slovenia is comprised of Romanesque walls, which rub up against its Renaissance-era buildings. You can also indulge in traditional Slovene dishes such as celery and trout soup, fuzi and truffles and custard cream cake at the Bled Castle Restaurant.
Lake Bled Castle
Hours: Jan – Dec, 8am to 6pm; Apr – Oct, 8am to 8pm; Jul – Aug, 8am to 9pm
Price: adult/child €11,00/5,00
Image: Magical Vintgar Gorge in Slovenia
Source: Lonely Planet
While it’s a truly magical experience to see the views of Vintgar Gorge from across the beautiful Lake Bled, it is better to sneak in a visit to this incredible site if you can. Only two miles north of Lake Bled and part of Triglav National Park, Vintgar Gorge is a splendidly wild, natural gorge that boasts 1,500 metres of wooden walkways. These wind through the narrow canyon guiding you over tumbling rapids, eddying pools and misty cascades before reaching the beautiful Šum Waterfall.
The gorge has been carved by the crystal-clear Radovna River that varies from emerald green to aqua as it bubbles along the mossy rock walls. Start your walk early before the mist burns off and the crowds arrive for a truly enchanting experience. Be sure to make time to build a cairn to add to the myriad of others lining the shores towards the end of the walk. It’s a beautiful and eco-friendly way to leave your personal touch on this wild landscape.
Hours: Re-opening May 2019
Price: adult/child €9/3
Image: Predjama Castle in Slovenia
Source: Predjama Castle
Built directly into the mouth of a cave on the side of a 123-metre cliff, Gothic Predjama Castle is one of the world’s most dramatic and awe-inspiring fortifications. Construction began in 1202, but the majority of the castle works that are visible now are from the sixteenth-century. The unique juxtaposition of man-made architecture and natural structures combine to make Predjama Castle one of the most interesting edifices in all of Europe.
The castle hides a secret as well. Behind its walls lies a 14-kilometre network of cave passages known as the Predjama cave system. These concealed tunnels have their own unique history – as a hideout for brigands, and as the place from which the knight Erazem Jamski (the fifteenth-century local Robin Hood) would set out on plundering exhibitions.
In modern times it remains the home of another type of secretive creature – bats – fourteen different bat species in fact. So, though you can tour the cave system for most of the year, it is closed during the months of May to September so as not to disturb the hibernating residents.
Predjama Castle and Cave Tour
Contact: https://www.postojnska-jama.eu/en/ or 05-700 01 00
Hours: 9am – 7pm Jul & Aug; 9am – 6pm May to Sept; 10am – 5pm Apr & Oct; 10am – 4pm Nov to Mar
Price: Adult/child €13.80/8.30; with cave tour, adults/child €35.70/21.40
Image: Škocjan Caves in Slovenia
Source: Kompas Online
A UNESCO World Heritage site located in the Karst limestone region, the Škocjan Caves are a huge, subterranean system of caverns carved out by the Reka River. They are one of the finest examples of karst topography – where the landscape is shaped by the dissolving action of water – in the world. And with over six kilometres of dank underground passages, swift waterfalls and boiling rapids, it is a must-do while in Slovenia.
On a guided tour you can see Paradise, filled with staggeringly beautiful stalagmites, stalactites and flowstones and the Great Hall, a treasure trove of exotic looking dripstone deposits. You’ll be able to cross the hair-raising Cerkevnik Bridge, which lies suspended nearly 50 metres above the riverbed and, of course, visit the enormous Martel Chamber. At 308 metres long, 89 metres wide and 106 metres high, it is one of the largest underground chambers in the world.
Škocjan Caves are open every day of the year, so whenever you decide to visit, this is one place you really must experience while in Slovenia.
Contact: https://www.park-skocjanske-jame.si/ or 05-708 21 00
Hours: Tours hourly 10am-5pm Jun to Sep; 10am, noon, 1pm & 3.30pm Apr to Oct; 10am & 1pm Mon-Sat, 10am, 1pm & 3pm Sun Nov to Mar
Price: Jul & Aug adult/child €20/10; Mar-Jun, Sep & Oct €18/9, Nov-Feb €16/7.50