“One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.”
– Henry Miller –
PRINT & GO
Before your departure, do not forget to check/bring with you:
– Hotel reservation and boarding pass
– Ljubljana city map (please note that each hotel and info kiosk has a more detailed map, it will be give to you on site for free)
DAY 1: VISIT BLED
Your trip to Slovenia can change according to the means of transportation you are using. The country doesn’t have a great transportation network: there are trains and buses going everywhere, but they don’t run so often (especially in low season time), so you can expect long waiting times, whereas you shouldn’t have problems by car (streets are in good conditions and there is not a lot of traffic). On the other side, it is true that as solo traveler it’s not so convenient (price-wise) to rent a car and you might lose the opportunity to get in contact with locals, therefore in this section I will describe a visit plan by public transportation and make a plan suggestion by car at the end.
The first day in Slovenia can be dedicated to Bled, a very nice town located 1h away from Ljubljana and that is famous for its fantastic lake. From Ljubljana, you can reach Bled in two ways:
– By bus. Buses leave from Ljubljana bus station (located just outside the railway station) hourly on the hour and return to Ljubljana hourly on the half an hour. The bus stops in Bled bus station, at 2mins walking from the lake. The journey takes 75mins and costs 7€.
– By train. Trains leave from Ljubljana railway station (located at 10mins walking from the city center) to Lesce Bled (4kms from the town of Bled) every hour at different times and it takes 40mins. Some departure times that could help: 9:12, 9:45, 11:28, 12:50; and some return times: 14:35, 15:52, 16:24. From Lesce Bled to Bled bus station there is a shuttle running every 30mins and costs 1,20€ one way.
Once you will get there, you will be under the charm of this small and romantic town. It features indeed a wonderful emerald green 2000m wide mountain lake with a little white church on an island in the center and a castle perched high above. You can hire a boat over there and have a nice tour of the lake or enjoy a healthy walking in the park all along the lake. For the sporty and adventurous ones, there is also possibility to do some rafting, climbing, cycling and many other outdoor activities.
DAY 2: VISIT POSTOJNA CAVES AND PREDJAMA CASTLE
The second day in Slovenia will take you to two other national jewels: Postojna caves and Predjama castle.
Postojna Caves is a must, you cannot miss this wonder of nature! From Ljubljana, you can reach the destination by train: there are trains at 9:40 and 13:20 (there are more trains during May-September) and return at 13:48, 16:07 and 18:20 (there are more trains during May-September), the journey lasts 1h and costs around 10,80€ (return ticket).
Once you arrive in Postojna train station, you can reach the caves on foot: you need to walk till the main square (where the info tourist center is) and then take the street at its back, it will take you around 20mins. Otherwise, in summertime you have a regular shuttle running from the two places.
The visits of the caves start at 9:00, 12:00 and 15:00 in low season time and every hour from May to September. The access fee is quite expensive, but it is worth! The ticket to the caves only is 22,90€ and if you combine it with the Predjama castle tour it will cost you 27,90€ (if you buy the combo ticket you save 2€, since the ticket to the castle only is 7€).
Postojna Caves are the greatest tourist attractions in Slovenia and are one of the biggest caves in the world. The first part will be visited via a nice electrical train, whereas the last part (1,5kms) will be done on foot. The journey will last 1h30mins and will be accompanied by a guide. During this unforgettable tour, you will be able to admire stunning stalactites, stalagmites, calcite and other incredible geological formations, as well as some wildlife. The caves host indeed the olm, a salamander-like animal that lives only there. There are also different kinds of insects and other amphibians that live uniquely there (you can also have the chance to visit the vivarium over there with 5€ additional). The caves feature also an incredible concert hall, famous for its unique acoustical values (6secs of echo!). The hall can host 10000 people and has often some symphony orchestras.
Once you finish the tour of the caves, you can also visit the Predjama castle. This castle is located at 9kms from the caves and unfortunately there are no public transportation available, hence you need to take a taxi. It is opened from 10:00 to 15:00 during low season (October – April) and from 9:00 to 17:00 in high season (May-September).
The Predjama Castle is an amazing building built in the rocks. It has fifteen rooms including a chaplain’s room from which you could watch prisoners being tortured in the dungeon below. At the very top of the castle is a drawbridge which takes to a natural passage built into the rock.
DAY 3: VISIT LJUBLJANA
Your last day in Slovenia can be more relaxing and dedicated to the exploration of the capital, Ljubljana. Ljubljana is a very charming city located in the middle of the country. The entire city is crossed by a river, that creates very special and romantic views. The city center is very small and can be visited in few hours time on foot.
- Start the visit by Republic Square, the place where crowds gathered as Slovenia announced its independence from the Yugoslav Federation in 1991. The square has a big importance in the Slovenian history, since it was the place for gatherings and demonstrations in the past. Across the road is the Slovenian Parliament, whose facade is decorated with artistic nude statues of Slovenians at work. The square hosts also the International Business Center.
- From Republic Square, you will arrive in Congress Square (Kongresni Trg). Basically created in Baroque style, this big square is dominated in the southern part by the building of the University of Ljubljana and by the Slovene Philharmonic building. The northern side is dominated by the Kazina, a beautiful example of classical architecture. In the park, called Zvezda (Star), among the walls of the old Emona, stands a copy of the gilded statue of the Emona citizen.
- From Kongresni Tgr, take the riverside and you will arrive in Preseren square. This is the central location of downtown hosting the statue of the Slovenian greatest poet France Preseren and the Franciscan Church of the Annunciation. From Preseren Square, you can take a walk along Miklosiceva street, famous for its several Art Nouveau buildings. Preseren Square is linked to the old town via the famous Triple Bridge, three separate pictoresque bridges located next to each other.
- Cross the Triple Bridge and you will be directly in the middle of the Old Town. Located between the castle hill and Ljubljana river, the old town is built around two main squares: City Square (Mestni trg), with the Robba Fountain and the Town Hall, and Upper Square (Gornji trg). Well preserved, colorful and elegant medieval buildings host now local designer shops, cafés and restaurants. The Old Town includes also St Nicholas Cathedral, an exemplary building of the mature Romanesque Baroque in Slovenia.
- Following St Nicholas Cathedral is Pogacarjev trg, whre Ljubljana Central Market is located. This is the city’s main place of commerce, where you will fine natural and local food products, as well as arts and handicrafts, souvenirs and flowers.
- The Central Market is linked to the other side of the city via two fascinating bridges: the Butchers’ Bridge and the Dragon’s Bridge. The Butchers’ Bridge (Mesarski Most), built in 2010, is decorated with statues by the Slovenian sculptor Jakov Brdar. Since the bridge occupies the site in between the Central Market’s former butchers’ stalls, the sculptures tell a story about the area’s past. The large statue represents Prometheus and the miniature statues allude to the activity going on at the market stalls. The bridge recently became also the bridge of lovers who want to express their promise of eternal love by putting a locker on the bridge side. The Dragon’s Bridge (Zmajski Most) was designed in 1901 and is guarded by four detailed dragon statues from the city coat-of-arms.
- Upon the hill of the Old Town is the Lujbljana Castle. The tower of this ancient castle has a great view all over the city (apparently when it’s very sunny you can even be able to admire 1/3 of the entire country!). You can access there via a nice path in the forest or you can take the funicular from Krekov tgr (just behind the central market, the ticket costs 2,20€/way). You can see the tower and the external part for free, but if you want to get inside the castle the access fee will be of 5€.
- And last thing to do (but you absolutely have to do it!) is have a walk along the river and in the narrow streets of the old town! The view of the elegant and ancient buildings and the several colors that the rivers make with the reflection of the trees (and in the night you will have also some artificial colorful lights on the river and bridges) is simply stunning!
SLOVENIA BY CAR
As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, visiting Slovenia by public transportation can be relaxing but might also take you long time, especially during the low season you might expect long waiting hours in stations. So if you are more than one person, I would recommend to rent a car for the first two days. You can rent it at the airport or at the train station, there are several available companies. The price is not so high and driving in Slovenia is very easy: the roads are in good conditions and the traffic is not so high…and Slovenians drive quite well!
If you want to explore the country by car, I would suggest the following itinerary:
- Day 1. Visit Bled lake and Postojna Caves. You can have a tour in Bled in the morning and be in time for the visit of the caves at 15:00. If you leave Bled earlier you can also visit Predjama castle before and afterwards go to Postojna.
- Day 2. On the second day, you can explore the great Slovenian coast. You can admire fantastic landscapes, numerous natural caves, the blue of the Adriatic sea, the green of the trees and the golden sands. Many historical towns lie there, such as Koper (a wonderful town located on the rocks with plenty of historical sites), Izola (a picturesque town with a strong food and wine traditions and with its fantastic port) or Piran (a very ancient and historical city, with narrow medieval streets, old churches and Venetian-style buildings). All cities are close to each other and at around 1h by car from Ljubljana.
If the weather is not so favorable to explore the coast, you can spend the 2nd day in Maribor, the 2nd biggest city after Ljubljana. Located at 1h30mins by car from the capital, the landscape of Maribor is marked by the river, the hills with vineyards and a set of ancient and narrow streets in the center. A visit there can become a pleasant cultural, natural and gastronomic experience!
- Day 3. On the third day, you can leave your car at the parking and visit Ljubljana. The city is very small and everything is next to each other, therefore you can visit it on foot.