A small country located in central Europe, Slovenia borders Italy to the west, Austria to the north, Croatia to the south and Hungary to the northeast. With a population of only 2 million, Slovenia is sometimes easily forgotten by it’s European neighbours. However, it is a beautiful and clean country and it is becoming a more popular tourist destination each year.
Ljubljana is the capital city of Slovenia with a population of 275,000 people. It is located in the centre of the country and nearly every transport connection runs through this city. Only a few days are needed to explore this small capital, but feel free to take your time to enjoy the laid-back, relaxed vibe.
* a view of the Ljubljanica river that runs through the centre of the city.
* the dragon bridge.
* some views from the top, and climbing down the Ljubljana Castle.
Bled, the most popular tourist destination in Slovenia, is an hour and a half bus ride north of Ljubljana. With only 6,000 residents, Bled is extremely small and only takes a day to explore. The main attractions centre around Lake Bled and it is nice to peacefully walk around the lake, taking in its beauty. The Bled Castle overlooks the lake and there is a tiny island with a church that you will see in most postcards involving Bled. Here are a few pictures from the top of the Bled Castle. (entrance is 9 euros)
Bohinj is a small region that is a two hour bus north of Ljubljana and a quick 30 minute ride from Bled. While Bled is the main tourist area in Slovenia, Bohinj is relatively untouched in comparison. There are about 5,000 permanent residents in the entire region and the majority of these people are descendants of the native people of Bohinj.
Until recently, very few tourists visited Bohinj but you can see this pendulum starting to shift. It is an absolutely beautiful area that is perfect if you are into canoeing, kayaking and a variety of other water and adventure sports. Bohinj also offers many incredible hiking trails that can be both challenging and/or relaxing. The walk around Lake Bohinj is 12km but the terrain is flat and it is not difficult at all. If you have 2 and a half hours, I’d recommend using your time in this way. Overall, Bohinj was one of the highlights so far on my trip and I would advise on visiting Bohinj over Bled if large numbers of tourists aren’t your thing!
* the main bridge connecting both sides of Lake Bohinj.
* the terrain while hiking up Vogar mountain. A pretty grueling climb.
* views from the top of the Vogar mountion, overlooking Lake Bohinj.
The Škocjanske caves are located in the south-west portion of Slovenia, near the small town of Divaĉa. Named to the UNESCO world heritage site in 1986, this cave system is the second largest in Slovenia behind the more popular Postonja caves. However, after getting advice from a number of Slovenians, it seemed clear to me that the Skocjan caves were the better option to check out.
After spending a few hours exploring the caves and the surrounding area outside, I can undoubtedly say that the Skocjan caves are one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen throughout my travels. Try to picture the impressiveness of the Grand Canyon, yet having it all underground. Although not nearly as large as the Grand Canyon, the Skocjan caves are an incredible 60 meters wide and 140 meters deep. The caves have 250,000 year old limestone icicles and they are full of little crevices and tiny pathways. I kept expecting to see Gollum as I went around each bend…
In total, to see the first set of caves, it took about an hour and a half and it cost 16 euros. It’s an absolute must see if you’re in Slovenia! The only negative thing is that there are no pictures allowed in the caves.
*here is a picture of a waterfall at the mouth of the cave.
* since no pictures were allowed, I had to steal this one from google. Pretty cool eh!
A few additional points on Slovenia:
– 71% of Slovenians are able to speak at least 3 languages.
– Slovenians are really good at basketball. Lead by the brothers Goran and Zoran Dragiĉ, who are currently playing in Miami, Slovenia has produced 9 NBA players in its history. A pretty impressive feat for such a small country that only became independent in 1991.
– There are 11,400 caves in Slovenia, and only 25 are open to the public.
– Slovenians are insanely nice and helpful.
Well, that’s all for now. I’m leaving beautiful Slovenia behind and entering the Balkans, starting in Croatia!