Slovenia has been high on my list for years. YEARS. Everyone who’s been there raves about it, the photos look amazingly beautiful. And we were supposed to go a few years ago, before I got really sick and had to cancel the trip. So when we finally got the chance to reschedule and meet up with my friend Gigi, as we were originally supposed to do, I was so excited. Here’s how we spent one week in Slovenia visiting Ljubljana and Lake Bled.
Ljubljana old town
Ljubljana has a really cute old town. It’s not very big, but the buildings are colorful, and the river running through the center adds to the charm. We wandered around the first day to get a feel for the city, and even though there are plenty of things to do in Ljubljana, often we were happy just going for a walk or sitting on a bench and soaking up the atmosphere.
Ljubljana food tour
Since food tours are one of our favorite ways to explore a new city, we booked a tour with Ljubljananjam. We had heard great things about the company, and the owner was really helpful about adjusting some of the items on the tour for me to fit with my dietary restrictions.
The tour had several stops, including a walk through a local indoor market and an outdoor one. We tried soups, local sausages and cheeses, meats, spreads, wine, and so much more. Some of my favorites were sausage with horseradish, a salad with beef, and the ice cream we had towards the end of the tour.
This was a really fun experience, and an interesting way to learn about traditional Slovenian food and newer food trends in Ljubljana. Some of the stops were really unique, and we definitely would not have found them on our own. I loved knowing a few quality restaurants to go back to during our remaining time in the city. So if you’re planning a trip to Ljubljana, don’t miss it!
We paid 55 euros each for the food tour, though it looks like they have raised their prices a little and it’s now 65 euros. Totally worth it, and still one of the cheaper food tours I’ve taken.
We’re suckers for castles. Andy also likes funiculars, so he was pretty excited to find out there was a funicular to get up to Ljubljana’s castle. The castle wasn’t the best one we’ve ever seen – it was a little too polished up and modernized – but it was still fun to see. And being up that high meant getting some nice views of Ljubljana from above.
Where to eat in Ljubljana
Food is always a tough thing for me. I have so many dietary restrictions, and it’s hard to avoid all the things I shouldn’t eat, especially when we travel and eat out all the time. But we found a few wonderful places during our time in Ljubljana.
Pop’s Place Burger Bar: Gigi actually introduced us to this place, and it was so good, we ate there a few times. They had an option for gluten free buns, which I wasn’t so crazy about, but it was a nice option to have. (To be honest, I don’t think I’ve ever had gluten free bread I liked.) Andy liked their wide selection of beers. I also had a chicken caesar salad and wings on a couple of our visit.
Fetiche Patisserie: Again, I have to thank Gigi for this one. It’s a bakery/pastry shop, which we didn’t even go into, but they were selling ice cream from a stand out front. They had the BEST non-dairy chocolate ice cream I’ve ever had. It was heaven. I had to go over there every day, and I want to return to Ljubljana just for that ice cream. Usually I can tell non-dairy ice cream is, well, non-dairy, even if it’s still good. This stuff tasted like the real deal, but you know, didn’t make me sick.
Gelateria Romantika: This was the ice cream place from the food tour. Their non-dairy ice cream was good, and Andy loved their normal flavors. There were lots of other fantastic restaurants from the food tour, but I don’t want to give away all their secrets!
Solist: Andy and I stopped at this place for a few cocktails one night. It’s along the river and possibly a little touristy, but we enjoyed the view, and they had lots of interesting drinks. Andy’s favorite was a gin tonic with a branch of rosemary in it.
Where to stay in Ljubljana
Ljubljana is a very walkable city. It took us about 10 minutes to walk from the train/bus station to the old town, and everything you want to see in the old town is within a few minutes of the next thing. We chose to stay just on the edge of the old town for this reason.
We stayed at City Hotel Ljubljana, which had comfortable beds and a nice shower. The breakfast buffet was incredible – just about anything you could imagine wanting to eat for breakfast was there, and labeled to let you know if it had gluten, dairy, or other ingredients you might be allergic to. The staff were also helpful and friendly. We liked this hotel so much, we ended up booking one more night at the end of our trip as we were heading back to Berlin.
Views of Lake Bled
Ah, Lake Bled… Probably one of the most beautiful parts of Slovenia. We arrived mid afternoon and spent our first few hours just walking around and admiring the gorgeous scenery. I tried to get the perfect picture of that cute little island out in the middle of the lake, but I think I was out there at the wrong time of the day.
The castle loomed above, perched on a cliff. We climbed up the steep, steep hill the next morning to reach it. It was hot, and my legs were burning before we even made it all the way up, but it was worth it. The views of the lake from up there were fantastic. (Note: You can take a bus if you don’t want the work out.)
Lake Bled’s castle
The castle wasn’t actually that impressive, but as I mentioned, it’s worth going just for the views of the lake from above. Some parts of the castle had a very classic castle feel too them, and it was fun to walk around for a little while, but I spent most of my time taking pictures of the lake and the landscapes from different angles.
As if the strenuous hike up to the castle wasn’t enough, after lunch we hopped on a bus (1 euro round trip) to Vintgar Gorge, just outside of town. It’s a one-mile gorge with a path (sometimes rocky, sometimes wooden) alongside the water and through the woods with some gorgeous scenery. It wasn’t nearly as vertical as the hike to the castle, but still a lot of walking. Especially since we had to walk back to the beginning to get the bus back, making it at least 2 miles round trip. But again, totally worth it.
By the end of the day, we were exhausted, but in a good way. Our hotel room had a little balcony, and we sat out there with a couple of well-deserved drinks after dinner. I think I’d go hiking more in Berlin if there were nearby trails like Vintgar Gorge.
Where to stay in Lake Bled
We stayed at Kompas Hotel, which was in the main town on the lake. It wasn’t anything special, and in fact I thought it was quite dated and shabby around the edges. The bathroom was in desperate need of an update. Their breakfast buffet was decent. There was a pool, which we used once. We really liked that our room had its own balcony. So while I can’t full-on recommend this place, it was decent for a couple of nights, and hopefully it gives you a starting point for your hotel search.
We had a hard time finding hotels in our price range that weren’t completely booked up and that were close to restaurants. It’s not a heavily populated area. If you’re more outdoorsy than we are, you might enjoy staying in another part of the lake and either self-catering or making your way over to town for meals.
Andy and I spent about one week in Slovenia – 4 days in Ljubljana and 2 days in Lake Bled. I think this was a good amount of time to see the country’s most popular towns, though you probably don’t need quite that much time in Ljubljana if you’re a little tight on time. And if you’re more into outdoor activities, you could certainly spend more time in the Lake Bled area. There are also lots of other things to do in Slovenia aside from these two gems, but Ljubljana and Lake Bled are great places to start.
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