How do I begin to describe Slovenia? Sitting down to write this piece I find myself at a loss for words. Without sounding too cheesy, the easiest way to describe it would be magical–as if travelling through a storybook.
The train from Vienna, the capital of Austria to Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia, was breathtaking. With rolling hills of green, small towns nestled in between, and clouds that seemed to dance along the tops of the mountains, it was hard not to fall in love with the countryside scenery.
More than just stunningly beautiful, Slovenia is one of the most sustainable countries in the world–named the United Nations and National Geographic’s Most Sustainable Country in 2017.
Upon arrival in the city via train, I immediately hopped on a bus to Lake Bled. The ride took about an hour and a half, but immediately after stepping off the bus, I was captivated by the tiny town.
Lake Bled embodies the very definition of a fairytale kingdom. With a castle perched on a hill, a small floating island with an assortment of old buildings, and a beautiful white church on the mainland, it’s a place fit for a Disney Princess.
Every few minutes or so, the sound of bells chiming through the crisp air ring from the island’s church and echo throughout. To add to the charm, the picturesque place is surrounded by lush forestry and the snowy alps.
Sitting down for lunch at Caffé Peglez’n, tiny birds chirp as they bounce along the porch’s railing. With blues and greens painting the backdrop, squirrels hopping through the treetops, and the tranquil sound of nature undisturbed, Lake Bled is dreamlike.
If Bled isn’t on your bucket list, it should be.
What to do:
Feel like you’re in your own fairytale and wander up to the medieval Bled Castle. Grab a slice of Bled Cake and an iced coffee while enjoying the view overlooking Bled and the surrounding forest. In the castle’s wine cellar, you have the opportunity to bottle your own red or white Slovenian wine and take it home as a souvenir. The wine is delicious and it’s definitely a noteworthy experience.
Take one of the boats over to Bled Island and grab a gelato as you explore. The most peaceful thing about Bled is that there are no loud motor boats gunning through the small lake. Ducks and swans paddle alongside the flat bottomed boat, known as a plenta, as you are rowed to the island. If you really want to be a tourist, when you arrive head to the church to ring the bell.
Do the cellar wine tasting! Slovenian wine is absolutely delicious and this offers the perfect taste of it. You’ll try one of the oldest wines in the world, do a blindfolded tasting, pair the wines with some tasty snacks, and enjoy the stories of Slovenia told by Boris, a sommelier.
Bled is extremely relaxing and peaceful, but there are plenty of ways to get out and get adventurous too.
Hike up to Mala Osojnica and Ojstrica viewpoints. Use Google Maps to direct you as the path isn’t entirely clearly marked. Although it’s not the most difficult hike, it certainly is a trek for those who are not accustomed to hiking. Aim to leave earlier in the morning to beat the tourist rush. Make sure to watch your step and pack water for your journey!
Looking for more adventure: go zip lining through the vast forest and mountains, kayak through the Vintgar Gorge, or go white water rafting.
After spending two nights in Bled, it was back to Ljubljana, the largest city in Slovenia and also one of the greenest cities in the world. Abundant with sustainable initiatives, hotels, restaurants, and attractions seek to be as eco-friendly as possible.
What to do:
Ljubljanica River divides the city’s old town from the new town. In the old town you’ll find the Central Market, which hosts Open Kitchen every Friday. Open Kitchen gathers top chefs from all around Ljubljana, each setting up street stalls offering their favourite dishes and allowing the locals and tourists to enjoy the diverse food options that the city offers.
If Lake Bled is out of a Disney movie, perhaps Ljubljana is out of one of the Game of Thrones novels. Channeling a Khaleesi vibe, dragons are everywhere and have been a symbol of Ljubljana since ancient times. Largely remarked by the locals as the city’s protector, they proudly reign in the coat of arms and are represented in sculptures around the city–there’s even a Dragon Bridge.
For a remarkable view of the city, make your way to Ljubljana Castle. Reachable by foot or by funicular railway, there’s plenty at the castle for you to do. Whether you’re going just for the spectacular view or to visit the two museums, eat at one of the two restaurants, sip on a coffee from the café, or party at the nightclub, it’s definitely a must-see tourist attraction.
From the beautiful medieval architecture and stunning green landscape, to the polite, charming people and leading sustainability initiatives around the country, there’s so many positive things to say about Slovenia. To add to it all, it is also regarded as the safest place to visit in Eastern Europe.
It’s time to book your ticket! Trust me.