Come summer my social media newsfeed will be overwhelmed with images of Lake Bled.
Beautiful photos of it’s gothic island church and the rolling backdrop of Julian Alps (along with a few rowboat selfies, I expect).
There is no denying that Lake Bled is beautiful but like many beautiful places, it has become very popular. So popular in fact that my laptop has a picture of Lake Bled as the standard factory background. So after spending a day on the lake why not take in the other wonderful sights Slovenia has to offer?
Here are four I have visited:
OK, so I know you do have to go via Ljubljana to reach Lake Bled. But it’s worth taking a day or two to explore Slovenia’s fairy-tale capital properly. Ljubljana dates back five thousand years and was once the Roman city of Emona. Today it is a enchanting little city with baroque facades, pretty bridges and uneven rooftops. To add to it’s charm there is also a Medieval Castle, sitting high up on the hill like a cherry on top of a cake.
Despite it’s extensive history, Ljubjana has a young and bohemian vibe. This may have something to do with 30 being the average age of it’s residence. It is packed with bars, restaurants, street art and escape rooms. The perfect destination for the time-poor traveller. I recommend you:
EAT at “Das Ist Valter”. A quirky and fun restaurant that describes it’s cuisine as Yugo-nostalgic.
DRINK at Meltelkova. Once a millitary barracks, now an alternative art space and music venue. A laid-back and ram-shackle autonomous zone similar to Christiania in Copenhagen
DO an escape room with your artistic new hostel friends, as we did. Or if you are looking for something more in line with the fairytale theme then try the “Time Machine” tour of Ljubljana Castle . A fun and informative tour lead by a group of amateur actors.
STAY at Hostel Celica once a prison, how a fantastic art hostel with a great bar and friendly staff.
Pedjama Castle’s Gothic facade peaks curiously out of the cliff face. It has been hiding up on it’s natural stone perch since the 13th Century and is nothing like anything I have seen before. And apparently this unique castle has had a colourful history.
It was once home of the notorious Knight Erazem. A Robinhood-esque Robber Baron who stole from the rich and gave to the poor. He is said to have managed to resist siege in the Castle for over a year with the aid of some secret underground caves. That is until was betrayed by a servant. Today the castle and it’s underlying caves are open to visitors. There is also an occasional knight tournaments, so BYO jousting sticks.
When my Brother told me he wanted to visit a cave, I was skeptical. I had seen a brochure for the nearby Postojna Caves which look to me like a strange subterranean theme-park, my idea of hell. But after much convincing we went to check them out, an they were incredible. Skocjan Caves are a spectacular, like a natural underground museum of caverns, rivers and rock formation. They are so significant that they have been on the UNESCO list of natural and cultural world heritage sites since 1986. These cave are exceptional and can only be visited only during guided tours, so check out their website.
Piran is the pièce de résistance. An seaside oasis on the Adriatic Sea. Just and hour and a half drive Ljubjana, Piran has the charm and feel of a mini Venice without the canals. It has winding lanes, airy piazzas, pretty red-tiled roofs and quaintly-compact houses. I recommend walking to the top hill to enjoy the view then ordering a glass wine in the piazza to congratulate yourself on discovering such a beautiful town.
Slovenia has a great network of coaches but the easiest way is to hire a car for the day and get out of the city and away from the beautiful Lake Bled.