A Guide to Slovenia: Roadtrips, Mountains & Airbnbs

So this summer we went to Slovenia and now I want to move there. For real. It’s incredible. I am going to admit, I based my decision of going to Slovenia off purely seeing photos on Instagram of Lake Bled and needing to see it in person. Because Instagram photos definitely inspire me to visit places, don’t pretend like they don’t inspire you. We all have travel envy after scrolling through it.

After deciding it was a must, I started doing my research, and realized quickly there was way more to Slovenia than Lake Bled. So I made our stop in Slovenia almost 2 weeks long, because I needed to see more of the country. Naturally, I did what I do best and got on Airbnb (Want to save money on your first booking? Yes!) and found some unique and amazing places to stay. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t base some of our stops off finding Airbnb’s I wanted to stay at. But it worked out to my benefit, as they lead us to amazing little towns that we enjoyed exploring.

First we took the train into Ljubljana from Budapest, we explored the city before picking up our rental car from Sixt Slovenia and headed to Radovljica, Kranjska Gora, Bled, Boršt and Piran. I will give a little info on each place; where we stayed, where we ate, what exciting things we did.

Ljubljana

Let me start off by saying I loved Ljubljana, but there was definitely a different vibe to the city than I have ever felt previously. It wasn’t too busy, which was nice. I would love to recommend the Open Kitchen they do every Friday in the summer, but unfortunately it was pouring rain so we missed out on that entirely. But here is a brief overview of our stop.

How We Got There

Depends where you are coming from, obviously. But we took the train from Budapest. It left from the Deli train station in Budapest, and was about an 8 hour journey. It wasn’t as pretty a route as I had expected for most of it. But it was a good journey nonetheless. The train station in Ljubljana was basically right in town, so we walked to our Airbnb from there. It was only like a 15-20 minute walk and we got to get a feel for the city during it. Most people would certainly take a cab or something, though we try to walk when possible.

Where We Stayed

There are a ton of places to stay on Airbnb but I was thrilled when I saw this quaint little apartment available for our visit. I am not even a big wine drinker but the fact that it was wine themed was just so cool to me. If you follow me, you know I love my unique Airbnb spots and this place definitely fit the bill. It was a small place, but equipped with everything we could need; bed, kitchen, bathroom. Even had wifi. What more do you really need in a place, when ideally you’ll be spending most your time outside exploring anyway? Highlight for me: the bad-ass bed. On Airbnb, it’s called Wine Cellar Fabric City centre. Cosy and unique, just the way I like them.

Where We Ate

I always like to at least try a few restaurants in my travels, though getting Airbnb’s has always been ideal for not having to eat every meal at a restaurant. Our first night it was pouring rain and we were planning to go to Open Kitchen (outdoor market of food) but a not so quick stop to the hospital (UTIs while traveling, it’s a thing) and the rain cancelled our plans. So I found an Indian food place just down the street from our Airbnb, called Taj Mahal. I always tend to find Indian food spots in my travels, it’s like a comfort food thing I think. I always know that they will be different from each other, but tends to always satisfy me.

Another spot we found, and thoroughly enjoyed was Pop’s Place. I am not one for going to burger places. I am pretty particular with them, growing up with a mother who had a gourmet burger restaurant when I was young and always eating those. I tend to be picky. But this restaurant did not disappoint. Delicious! Even my boyfriend was quite content with my choice in restaurants. Definitely a great burger joint if you are in the mood for a burger. Plus it has tables outside, even with view of the river, so naturally great for people watching.

What We Did

We mostly just wandered around the city to be honest. I was keen on making it over to Metelkova, a self proclaimed ‘autonomous culture zone’ with some unique street art, in a former military barrack. Apparently it’s got a good night scene, which is not my thing, but if it is your thing, that’s the place. Some major highlights for me during our wander around the city were the Dragon Bridge and Franciscan Church of the Annunciation.

Aside from random wandering, we also took a walk up to Ljubljana Castle. Personally, it was not much of a walk, though uphill. And we enjoy walking. There is also an option to take the ‘funicular railway’ up. We found the entrance to the walk no problem from the city centre. In fact we went back up again for sunset, because who doesn’t want sunset views. The castle itself was nice. Nothing overly amazing, after seeing many in Lisbon and other areas before. There is an art gallery which was amazing, as it was showcasing some incredible portraits at the time. We also checked out the puppet museum which was something unique and interesting. Not something I would’ve done separately but since we were there, we figured why not. Worth the visit if you are in Ljubljana and looking for something to do.

Radovljica

How We Got Here

As I mentioned, we rented a car from Sixt. It made travel around Slovenia a lot easier. If you plan to go to more than one spot from Ljubljana than I suggest taking a car. Radovljica was halfway between Ljubljana and Bled, and right off the highway so it was super easy to find. As usual, I have SIM card, and download the offline google maps for each country I go to, so it makes GPS-ing our way to places like this super easy.

Where We Stayed

I wish we had chosen to spend more time in Radovljica! Tomas has built some incredible cabins, bungalow, treehouse and even a tepee on his property. We stayed in a ‘wooden glamp cabin‘ for only a night, as I was looking for something to fill the gap between our stay in Kranjska Gora and Ljubljana, that was also on the way. The drive from those two places isn’t far, so staying the night wasn’t necessary, it just worked out that way due to me wanting to stay in the Airbnbs that we did. I am glad it worked out that way because I absolutely loved our one night at Tomas’s cabin. It was the only place we stayed that didn’t have a kitchen, but we were fine with that, as the walk to town wasn’t far up the hill (though some might choose to drive up). The cabins were situated right by the river, and on a lovely patch of land. It was so peaceful and definitely a nice retreat from the city. Oh and did I mention he had a beautiful miniature pony (I think? I am bad with animal types), and a pig, sheep, goat, chickens, cats… so cute.

Where We Ate

We only really ate at one restaurant, for dinner, since we were only there for one night. But we did grab some snacks at the grocery store in town. We quite enjoyed the one restaurant we did go to, called Gostilna Avgustin. Thoroughly enjoyed the wine and pasta. And can we talk about this view? They have this one little extra part of their patio to seat two people with an incredible view… obviously I made sure we sat there.

What We Did

Because of our lack of time, we honestly just wandered around the area. It was such a beautiful spot. I would’ve loved to have booked some active adventures like white water rafting (which we did later, keep reading…), but not there was not enough time. Honestly, just wandering around the quaint city was good enough for us. Peaceful and restful place to stop before moving onto more active parts of the trip.

Kranjska Gora

By far my favourite stop in Slovenia…

How We Got Here

Our rental car… and google maps… again. Same same.

Where We Stayed

I cannot recommend our Airbnb we stayed in enough. When you pick a place called ‘Million Dollar View‘ how can you really go wrong? Matija was one of the best hosts we have had at an Airbnb. Since we arrived a little earlier than check-in time, we met Matija at the apartment and he took us for a drive into town for coffee and to show us around, while his lovely girlfriend Tanya finished getting the apartment ready. We spent awhile just sitting on a patio, in town, drinking coffee with him and discussing everything under the sun. We enjoyed it so much that we have stayed friends with him (Hi Matija!). My two favourite kinds of places to stay are unique properties or ones with killer views, this place definitely had a killer view. And only a short walk to town, and even shorter walk to Lake Jasna and some incredible hikes.

Where We Ate

To be honest, we tend to get Airbnbs so that we can eat fairly healthy and not spend a fortune on eating at restaurants constantly. We grocery shopped at the Mercator, living off greek yogurt and granola for breakfasts. We did however go to a great pizza place that Matija recommended to us, it was the Pizzeria attached to  Hotel, Restaurant and Pizzeria Kotnik. We also ate a restaurant, Koča v Krnici, you have to hike to. The start of the hike was just past Lake Jasna, and starts of the road. It even has a photo of the restaurant to show you that’s where it starts. It’s also the same way to get to Russian Chapel, but the path splits off.

What We Did

There were so many hikes to choose from while we were in Kranjska Gora. Literally maps of them. We did one hike I spoke of, to the restaurant and back. But we also drove out to Ratece, to hike the Tromeja. What is this you ask? Well just a hike where at the top, you are in Slovenia, Italy and Australia all at once. There are two ways up, one easier than the other. One is along a street the entire way and the other is in the trees. We took the one through the trees, which is a zigzag hike up the hill. With each turn giving you a number with how many turns you have left. It was amazing. Do note, there are ‘wild’ horses at the top.. and they will go after you for food. It was a hilarious and terrifying experience when one grabbed my plastic bag of food out of my hand.

We also booked an incredible adventure with 3glav Adventures… we skydived! We had a car so we drove from Kranjska Gora to Bovec for it. It was a nice drive, as we were able to drive through a part of Italy to get there. We could’ve stopped in so many cute spots along the way, but drove the entire way without stopping. Skydiving for the first time was incredible. You can read more about it here.

Bled

Finally, the initial reason I booked a trip to Slovenia… Bled. Now Bled was only 30 minutes-ish from Kranjska Gora. If you don’t have time to stay in both, you can stay in one and visit the other easily. Especially if you have a rental car (which is what I had, so I can’t advice you on public transport).

Where We Stayed

Of course, I wanted to find the best spot in Bled on Airbnb. There wasn’t any truly unique places available (for cheap enough anyways), so I went for the view. And boy what a view. Sunrises over Lake Bled from our balcony was amazing. We had our own cottage up the hill with a view over Lake Bled. It was two floors, had everything we could need. Only issue was the stairs were small, winding and Nick fell down them on his way to the bathroom in the middle of the night. Check out VIKSI Bled.

What We Ate

BLED CAKE! Okay it’s not the best thing I have ever had in my life. But it was pretty damn good. I definitely had it a few times… when in Rome right? Aside from that, we had some delicious food over at Okarina. It was quiet and central. Easy to get to when wandering around the area. I really enjoyed the baked peppers with garlic bread, and the Balkan Grill… if you like meat, it’s a good time.

What We Did

Bled is an amazing spot for all kinds of active adventures. If you know me, you know I own a stand-up paddle board. Something that’s been in storage for the past year. I love it. So when I found out you could stand-up paddle board on Lake Bled, I knew I had to. Bananaway offers SUP tours on Lake Bled, and a plus, their tour guides are amazing. Spela was the perfect tour guide. A mix of fun and adventure, with fun stories about the area. I couldn’t have asked for a better way to see the lake. The thing I loved most, Bananaway is a local run company, which is always the way to go when booking tours.

Another incredible experience was with 3glav Adventures. Their original Emerald River Adventure was such a great way to see a lot in one day. I am not much of a tour person, as I prefer to wander on my own, find hikes and such to do. But I loved all the adventures 3glav had to offer (as you will see from the fact that I did the skydiving with them, and even the Hot Air Balloon, which I will talk about next). Our tour guide Klavdij was so much fun. Nick and I sat up front with him and he was just such an interesting person to talk to. Granted he also took us to some beautiful spots, but I think tour guides can make or break your tour and he definitely made it. He was knowledgable, and interesting. The tour was good for anyone really. Lots of short hikes with lots of natural beauty, and the added bonus of paying extra to white water raft. We had never tried it before so we figured why not? Did not disappoint. And it was crazy enough that it felt like an adventure, but not too crazy for our first time.

Hot air balloon over Lake Bled; can you think of anything better? I have seen hot air balloons in many places, such as when we were in Kenya at the Masai Mara. I have always wanted to do one, but I wasn’t sure they were worth the price (some are more pricey than others).  But boy was I wrong! Such an incredible experience. Just after sunrise, you take off and soar over top Lake Bled for the ultimate view of the lake. I was so happy to drift across the sky. Who needs a drone when you can ride in a hot air balloon?

And really, other than that we wandered around Bled. It’s a nice walk to do the whole lake. We enjoyed it, stopping halfway for dinner at Okarina. We also stopped at Vintgar Gorge and personally was not my idea of a good time. We got there early but it was still overcrowded, and since the walkway is fairly narrow, you basically walk in an assembly line. And to make matters worse, you couldn’t hear the sounds of nature, not only cause of the mass amounts of people but there was a man blasting music from his phone at one point while walking along. The only serene and peaceful part was the waterfall at the one end that most people did climb down to get to. But eventually some people came and ruined that too. I get beautiful things attract tourists but this ones beauty didn’t surpass the annoyance of being herded along.

Boršt

Where We Stayed

Now how on earth did we end up in this small town called Boršt? I had not heard anything about it, but I saw someone I follow on Instagram had stayed at an amazing looking Airbnb and thought why not? It was on the way during our drive from Bled to Piran, so we made the stop. One night at the cutest apartment Istria Divina. It was technically the upper floor to a couple’s beautiful home, but it was basically it’s own apartment, with an amazing patio. We loved everything about it, even the buzzing bees sound as the buzzed around outside, and didn’t bother us. The only downside is driving your car on the street of the apartment. Tiniest ‘road’ ever. And we definitely dinged a big rock on our way back up and thought we punctured something. Thankfully the car was okay (until we got it stuck later in Koper when trying to return it to Sixt). Not a whole lot to do but relax, mostly cause it was on a Sunday we were there but we liked it that.

What We Ate

No restaurants were open in town, nor markets, as it was a Sunday evening when we arrived. So we drove a bit to go into Koper, but ended up finding a restaurant fairly close by called Gostilna Nimis, where we indulged in a meat platter. Now we didn’t know what we were getting ourselves into. We figured it was only like 30 euros, how much meat could it be. Well a lot. There were 4 small sausage links, 2 beef patty type things, 4 chicken breasts, and more. It was amazingly delicious but so much food. Thankfully we brought it back and had leftovers for the next day.

We didn’t do much but relax, so not much to report on what there is to do in town. On our way to Boršt from Bled we stopped at Postojna Caves, but after we got out of the car and went to the entrance where there were a million tourists, and more information. Honestly it felt like we were about to go to an amusement park so we decided to leave. If you do want to go, book a time beforehand, when we did go up to buy tickets you had to book a time, and we would’ve had to wait awhile. Wasn’t worth it to us.

Piran

 

Piran was definitely a highlight for our trip. Most people fly into Ljubljana and just go to Bled and that’s it. They are missing out. Piran is a charming little coastal town with such great vibes.

How We Got There

Okay again, by rental car. Which we dropped off in Koper (and google maps made it a disaster of a drop off!) and parked at the lot just outside of old town, while we stayed there. Local traffic only within old town, so you have to park your car at the lot just outside of town and take the shuttle in. We took the shuttle into town and got to our Airbnb quite easily… we also decided to forgo the shuttle and walk back to our car with the luggage at the end of it all. Not that bad a walk, if I didn’t have a suitcase to drag along… okay Nick took both suitcases cause I am a baby.

Where We Stayed

We originally booked a cute colourful place in Piran, but I had to cancel and change due to some days switching around. But I am glad we did. I found the most perfect property I could have asked for when I rebooked. Entitled ‘A Veranda of Light Entering the Sea‘, this Airbnb was not only the most elegant place we stayed, but had such a killer patio. Located at almost the tip of the town, it overlooked the water and you could also people watch down below. We spent our time in Piran relaxing on that patio a lot, mainly in the morning with our coffees.

Where We Ate

There were many seaside restaurants to choose from, but we ended up at the one right below our apartment for our one night we decided to eat out. So many pizza places, so naturally we tried the pizza. I mean we were close to Italy and all. Riva Pizzeria did not disappoint. But I mean, how often does pizza really disappoint you? Even the worst pizza I have had was still eaten, you know what I’m saying. Anyways, delicious. Always down for pizza.

What We Did

We spent a lot of time in Slovenia being active, so it was nice to have a few more chilled out days in Piran. We wandered around the small town a lot, walked the town walls and went up to the fortress to look down upon the town. There isn’t a shit ton to do in the town, but it was such a chill coastal vibe, we loved it. Watching sunsets from the seaside, and going swimming in the Adriatic. Couldn’t have asked for a more peaceful way to end our time in Slovenia.

 

Disclaimer: I was offered a complimentary tours with Bananaway (SUP tour of Lake Bled) and 3glav (Emerald River Adventure), however all opinions are my own, as always you can expect complete honesty from me.

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18 thoughts on “A Guide to Slovenia: Roadtrips, Mountains & Airbnbs

  1. You guys are quite adventures! The skydive photos came out so rad haha mine look so dorky from when I went in Dallas. The rafting and hot air ballon looks amazing! How long did you guys get to go up for? That’s on my bucket list.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love traveling off the beaten tracks and I am pretty sure Slovenia is an amazing country. Thank you for sharing your road trip. I am going to keep it in my as I would love to explore East Europe really badly.

    Liked by 1 person

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