|Day 1 (Friday)||Venice- Ljubljana Castle – Oprta Kuhna|
|Day 2||Postojna Cave – Predjama castle|
|Day 3||Bled- Vintgar Gorge/Lake Bohinj|
|Day 4 (optional)||LOCAL LUBLJANA (METALKOVA, THE DRAGON BRIDGE, boat trip ETC) or LAKE BOHINJ|
Day 1 Reaching Ljubljana and Ljubljana castle
We travelled to Ljubljana from Venice which was our last stop in our Italian tour where we visited Amalfi Coast then headed to Rome, visited Northern Italy and then visited Slovenia. We travelled from Venice to Ljubljana via Flix Bus which is the route with the least changes. Our first experience then. The bus arrives at the bus station which is a short walk from the centre of the city.
We chose City hotel for our stay. It is right next to the Old City which has the castle and the sites.
Tip: We had an early morning flight from Ljubljana to Mumbai via Istanbul which meant that we chose to stay in a full service hotel, wanting early morning check out and taxi service etc. Always choose a hotel depending on your next destination and travel to the main sights. We actually use google maps to check out the travel route and time to the hotel to avoid unpleasant situations.
Day 1: Ljubljana Castle
Ljubljana has an amazing vibe about it. It’s young, hep and almost everyone speaks English so communication is not an issue. The first and most visible place to visit here is the Ljubljana castle.
The entry + funicular ticket costs 13€ and 10€ without the funicular. As we are funicular and ropeway fanatics we took the combined ticket and it was worth it as you can see all of Ljubljana from above.
The castle isnt one of those typical European castles . What it is is a set of museums which take you through the history of Slovenia, especially Ljubljana. The puppet museum is especially interesting. What you do get here is amazing views of the city
Tip: Carry your headphones with you as the Castle has the facility of a free online guided tour which is easier to experience with headphones. In fact always carrying your headphones is a good idea for travelling. Preferably also one set with the traditional stereo plug as many of the audio guides might have a slot for your headphones.
Ljubljana – The foodies paradise
Ljubljana is a foodie’s paradise. You have the most amazing selection of food which is amazingly delicious coupled with river side cafes and yes our favourite drink of all, the Union Radler!
Sorry for digressing, but the Union Radler made us weak in the knees!! A shanty which is a mix of refreshing grapefruit/lemon and beer, we loved. Our usual palette of alcohol is Proseccos, port wines. liquers so again this one is barely alcohol, but so delicious.
Odprta Kuhna – Friday open food market
If you are visiting Ljubljana, make sure you stay back on Friday night. The Odprta Kuhna is food lover’s paradise which is hosted every Friday at the Pogačarjev trg square. Since we landed on a Friday we were treated to some of the best food and the most vibrant atmosphere. The people here are friendly, happy and the food super tasty. We even had some great Vegan food as one of us is Vegan. It also allows you to have smaller portions and taste a lot more food.
Day 2: Postojna Cave – Predjama castle
There is a regular bus from Ljubljana to Postojna, Many tourists do hire cars here which is also a good option as the roads seem easy to drive on. We actually landed up on the Easter weekend which meant the bus schedules were awry. Worse still the car rental agency closed before we could enquire about it.
Tip: We land up at the bus station a day before the planned travel especially when schedule changes are possible. In case this is not possible, do check with your hotel staff or some local travel agency close to your house. Planning a trip and finding that the transport is unavailable can be a bother.
In any case since we had planned out the next few days basis weather and schedules, we reached early in the morning for a bus to Postojna. There is a bit of a distance to walk to the caves and the castle so plan accordingly. The Caves have scheduled tours in the language of your choice. We bought a combined Postojna Cave + Predjama Castle ticket which cost us 35.70€. This goes up to 38.5€ in peak season. there are long lines, so suggest you pick up the tickets online .
We have visited our fair share of caves and Cenotes by now. The Mexico Rio Secreto experience was amazing, so were the caves in Vietnam. But Postojna is something else. It is one huge trip. A guide who is usually a qualified scientist takes you through the caves created by erosion of rocks over hundreds of years.
The caves are 24 km in length, so you can imagine how huge they are. The train ride into the cave, then the walk in an amazingly huge cavern where concerts can be held. If you are lucky you can also view the Salamander, which unfortunately cannot be photographed in the dark caverns as light can hurt them.
The caves can be a humbling experience when you realise that some of the pillars you see today were formed before humans walked on earth. A must visit.
We landed up on a weekend when the shuttle bus between the two Postojna attractions was not working. This meant an impossible walk. But we figured out a local cab guy called Peter who was sweet enough to take us there and back and wait a bit. Taxis are expensive so a vehicle would have made much more sense. But travelling by bus is not impossible.
Tip: Come early to buy tickets for the buses to and fro as tickets are limited and cabs are exorbitant
This one surprised us as probably one of the most unique places we’ve visited. Created in a cave in the mountain, it reminded me of Tiger’s Nest in Bhutan but more accessible.
Tip: Download the Predjama castle app to get a complete tour which is quite interesting
This cave as you can see was almost inconquerable. There is the story of how it was finally captured by an enemy as the privy/loo/wash coset of the castle was in one of the exposed walls. An enemy paid a servant to signal when the king was doing his business and the poor king was brought down by Canon ball mid potty. A sad end, one that hopefully happened on an empty stomach for the guy.
The visit to both these places needs 2 – 3 hours each which can take most of your day plus travel of 2 hours more. We headed back to Ljubljana, checked on the schedule for Easter Sunday when we were planning to visit Lake Bled and Bohinj. Lake Bohinj and Vintgar Gorge are both shut during the winter.We lucked out as they both opened on that weekend
Day 3: Lake Bled and Vintgar Gorge (Optional Lake Bohinj)
If you ask my wife she would say visit all three sites on the same day. But as we were coming to the end of the trip, we decided we would take a decision on the way. Lake Bled is actually a stop on the way to Lake Bohinj, so it is technically possible. However you then may not have enough time and energy for Vintgar Gorge
Lake Bled is beautiful and how. The best place to get a picture of the lake is Castle Bled which is situated on a weird mountain like one of those found in a Meteora in Turkey. The view from the castle is special.
The walk up to Castle Bled is a tad steep and not designed for the faint hearted. Excited people that we are, we climbed up. Entry into the castle which can be seen on the mountain was 11€ and there is nothing in the castle worth it. What you get is a great location for pictures like the one below
Once you come down there are two more things you must try. The first is the boat ride to the island. You travel on wooden boats called the Pletna. These boats need some muscle power to work and the experience is quite interesting
The island itself has a little church which is pretty and some brilliant Gelato which must be had at the Poticnica. The Potica a traditional Slovenian cake with filling is also a must have. We honestly didn’t really like the taste as it wasn’t sweet enough an a little coarse for us but worth a try. Do keep a little space in your tummy though because after you head back to the shore find your way to Sava hotel for the Bled Cream cake
Bled Cream cake
I must apologise for the low quality image but we were too much in a hurry to eat the cake to capture it :). It can be best described as a custard cake though Sava hotel will describe it as much more. totally worth the climb up to the castle
Vintgar Gorge is a personal choice thing. It’s a 2 km walk next to some very beautiful scenery, There are streams and rock formations and it is a fun hike. But then doing this means you can’t visit Bohinj. Here too we suggest buying a ticket about 3 € for a return ticket to the Vintgar Gorge. Entry tickets cost 10 € each and parking costs 5 €. So plan accordingly.
Since it had been quite a long, delicious and interesting day, we decided to head back home.
Lake Bohinj vs Lake Bled
Lake Bohinj is supposed to be a less touristy version of Lake Bled which is further away from Lubljana. Technically Bled plus Bohinj on a day is possible but you may be stretching it. Bohinj has it’s own Gondola ride to a mountain from where you can see the lake which is far more pristine. We chose Bled because we couldn’t have done both in a day. Bled also has the cake, the boat ride and Vintgar Gorge. Choose as per what interest you more.
Day 4: Local Lubljana (Metalkova, the dragin bridge etc) /Lake Bohinj
This was the last day of our long trip and also our honeymoon, so we found one of the Ljubljana walking tours and walked around the city.
Ljubljana while it seems a little far from Western Europe actually is the place Jason (of argonauts fame) defeated a dragon to save the people here. The very same dragon now sits atop the castle and protects the city.
This means Ljubljana is the real home of the dragons who existed here before George R R Martin (aka man who’s left us all hanging) thought of including them in his Game of Thrones. The dragon bridge not only has the huge dragons guarding the bridge, it also has these cute baby dragons on the lamp posts
Ljubljana is young and restless. Nowhere is this more obvious than Metelkova this funky locality in the middle of the university area
Most itineraries we found online completely missed Metelkova and we were surprised. The vibrance and beauty of this place needs to be experienced. It’s young, vibrant and completely Ljubljana
If you do visit Lubljana, make a point to visit restaurant Sokol. You will find unusually long lines outside but the food is worth the wait
Tip: Most people are waiting to eat in the outdoor cafe. Sokol in fact has a beautiful antique sitting area inside which usually has no wait time. Walk in and ask for space there.
We spent our evening by the river Ljubljanica with its beautiful bridges (it even has a lock bridge for the lovey – dovey types) and reminisced about a wonderful holiday we had travelling across Italy and Slovenia.
We started our travel in the hustle and bustle of South Italy and the beauty of Amalfi, then headed to the historical wonders of Rome, then visited indulgent North Italy before travelling to young and vibrant Slovenia. Do drop in a comment if you need any advice or help in travelling.