I had high expectations for Slovenia, and somehow it still surpassed them! I spent a magical couple days in Ljubljana and Bled. I had started my Europe trip in Zagreb and it was such an easy train ride up into Ljubljana. It took about two hours, and for most of it, the train was along a river. As we got farther into Slovenia, the terrain got more mountainous. We also had to go through passport control on the train – for this two day jaunt, I got four passport stamps! Exit from Croatia, entry into Slovenia, exit from Slovenia, and entry into Croatia. In a world where most European travel doesn’t even get stamps, it was wild how many I accumulated on this trip.
Ljubljana is a tiny and walkable city. The center is closed off to cars, and there’s a path along the river that has loads of cafés and restaurants with outdoor seating and cool bridges, including my favorite, the Dragon Bridge. Dragons are a national symbol for Slovenia, which is exactly as cool as it sounds.
My first order of business was a boat tour along the river, which is always one of my favorite ways to see a city. It gave me a much better sense of where I was and was a great way to spend an hour. I had a quick lunch and then headed back to the transportation center – it was time to get on a bus to Bled!
I spent the night in Bled and had about 24 hours there, which was a great amount of time to see everything I wanted. To be frank, I would have loved to spend more time in Slovenia, and would have been happy to extend my time in Bled, but I had a lot of other places I was going on this trip and this was only the first stop! The bus dropped me off a few minutes walk from the lake, and the water is truly as blue as it looks in the pictures. I still had a few hours before my hotel would let me check in, so I started by heading out to the island in the middle of the lake. You can rent your own rowboat or go in one of the traditional-style boats where someone rows for you – I picked the latter.
It’s about 30 minutes to get to the island and then they give you free time to explore before they row you back. It’s not a huge place, but you can pay to go into the church if you want or even go swimming. I wandered around for a while, got some ice cream, and dipped my feet in the lake. By the time we got back to shore, I could go check in and drop off the bag I’d brought for the overnight portion. I didn’t want to carry it for the rest of the day – the next thing I wanted to do was walk all the way along the lake! It was about a 3.5 mile walk and took me a little over an hour, according to my fitness tracker. It was a gorgeous walk. I would highly recommend it if you want to explore the Bled area.
By the time I got back, I was starving, so I headed to one of the restaurants along the lakeshore. I knew I wanted to try the famous Bled cream cake while I was there, and it was definitely worth it! Very rich, but the custard was melt-in-your-mouth smooth. The perfect end to the day for sure.
The next morning, I wandered around Bled for a bit longer and then caught my bus back to Ljubljana. The weather had gotten a lot warmer, so this time I took a lot more breaks for cool drinks! I also explored a bit more away from the river. The most interesting place I found was Republic Square, which has both the Slovenian parliament and a few monuments. The buildings in this area looked a bit more Soviet. Nowadays, it’s easy to forget that Slovenia was part of Yugoslavia – they look sort of like a hybrid Italy and Switzerland architecturally and their infrastructure is great. But if you wander out of the center of the city, you can still see the vestiges of their past. I also went up the funicular to the Ljubljana Castle. The castle itself wasn’t that exciting, relative to some of the other castles I’ve visited in Europe, but there were some nice views from the top!
All in all, I would definitely recommend a visit to Slovenia. Of the countries I’ve been to in Europe, it’s one of the most underrated, and I would love to go back and explore the country further!