Best things to do in Ljubljana

Ljubljana is the capital of Slovenia and the largest city in the country.

Legend says that Ljubljana was founded by Jason, the hero of Greek mythology, and the Argonauts. Jason stole the golden fleece from King Aeetes and fled back home to the Adriatic coast. On their way Jason encountered a dragon, which he defeated and killed.

Dragon symbols have been present in Ljubljana since then. In ancient times, the dragon was present on medieval coat of arms as decoration, but later it assumed a more central position. Nowadays, the dragon is the symbol of the city. From its initial portrayal as a monster, it gradually transformed into a protector full of courage and wisdom. You will see dragons everywhere around the city.

This unique fairy tale look alike city is worth a visit. It is colorful, lively, small and stunning. You can just stroll and explore it without planning everything in advance. However, I highly recommend you to take part in a free tour. They will explain you more about the history of the city and the country, and you will see amazing spots.

But, how can such a small city have amazing spots?

Well, let me tell you that the vibrant old town is full of ancient buildings, pedestrian-only streets and lot of history. In this post, I want to share with you some of my favorite places in Ljubljana. Ready?

The City Center

Get lost in the old town of Ljublana. Stroll along the pedestrian-only street that lines the river, enter the central marke to try some local products, go for a drink or a coffe to Cankarjevo Nabrezje or have a walk in Park Zvezda.

Visit the central square in Ljubljana, Preseren Square, and the pink colored Franciscan Church of the Annunciation. You can go inside and have a look at the frescoes. During summer time, most of the free tours start from this point.

By the way, if you are interested trying traditional Slovenia food and local beer, I highly recommend you to stop by Gostilna Sokol. An ancient restaurant where you can taste regional food.

Ljubljana’s Bridges

As I previously said, dragons are present all around the city, but mostly in Ljubljana’s ancient bridges.

Triple Bridge (Tromostovje)

Although it can sound kind of weird to have three bridges sitting side by side, there is a logical explanation for this.

Around 1840 the central bridge was created to replace the original, ancient medieval one, which was made of wood. This central bridge was opened to motorized traffic back then. Therefore, some years later, two pedestrian bridges where built on either side of the central one. And so, the Tripel Bridge was formed.

It was not until the year 2011 when motorized traffic was banned to drive the central bridge, making all three bridges pedestrians only.

The Dragon Bridge (Zmajski Most)

The Dragon Bridge replaced an old wooden bridge from 1819 and it is a unique creation considered a special piece of technical heritage. It is adorned with statues of fierce dragons and its uniqueness makes this place one of the most photographed spots in the city.

Butcher’s Bridge

The Butcher’s Bridge, built in 2010, is Ljubljana’s love bridge. Countless lovers symbolically padlock their love and drop the keys into the river as a symbol of eternal love.

All around the bridge you will see unique large statues and small sculptures created by Jakov Brdar.

Tivoli Park

A green oasis some minutes away from the old town. Tivoli park is the largest green area in Ljubljana. Stroll around its botanical gardens, enjoy the view of the lake and have some rest surrounded by nature.

Cathedral of St. Nicholas

Inside the cathedral you can see unique frescoes decorating the ancient building. Outside, the cathedral is full of bronze sculptured doors with reliefs illustrating scenes from Slovenia history.

If you decide to take a free tour, you will learn some interesting facts about the doors and the different illustrations.

Ljubljana Castle

On the green hill in the middle of the city, behind the ancient walls, you can see Ljubljana Castle. Over the centuries, the castle has played an important role and remained a city symbol.

Built in the middle of the 15th century, the castle has become a popular tourist destination. In fact, it offers an outstanding view over the city. My recommendation? Visit it in the evening and enjoy a magical sunset from the top of the tower.

Although surprising, you don’t have to pay anything to enter the castle courtyard. Opened from 10.00 am to 18.00 pm, it is easy to reach walking up the hill or by taking the funicular. Both options are amazing. I took the funicular to go up, and I walked down the hill to go back to the old town.

Other interesting spots

Neboticnok Skyscraper

Outside the old town you can find Neboticnik. It is a skyscraper with a rooftop terrace from where you can enjoy stunning views of the entire city. To come up there you do not need to pay anything, just if you order something in the bar.

Zitni Most Bridge

This part of the city is really beautiful if you want to discover a less touristic area. In fact, I had a great time here since it was a lively area but more quiet than the old town. Locals were chilling around and I enjoyed a tasty brunch at Ek Bistro.

Traditional Slovenia Food

Another great place I found to try traditional Slovenian dishes is Slovenska Hisa – Figovec, a restaurant not far away from Neboticnok tower where I tasted delicious traditional dishes and desserts. Highly recommended!

 

Your turn

Have you ever been to Ljubljana? What did you like the most? Is there any other recommendation you would like to do?

In case you want to share your experience, feel free to leave a comment below or to contact me via social networks. I am always thrilled to read your adventures!

 

 

 

*Please, note that I am not an English native speaker. Therefore, you may find some spelling mistakes in this post. Feel free to let me know it and help me improve my English skills.

6 Best Things to do in Lake Bled

Lake Bled is one of the most known places in Slovenia and one of the most visited ones. This magical, magnificent lake has one lone island where a charming church is located. There is no doubt that this is a Slovenia must-see. I had the chance to spend one day around and this is a once-in-a-life experience.

What to do in Lake Bled?

Ring the Wishing Bell

There is a legend dated from more that 500 years ago, that says that whoever rings the bell will have their wish come true.

To spend some time in the church there are two options:

  • To rent a boat and paddle around the lake – You do not need prior experience to do this but be ready to feel a bit unstable at the beginning. The drive takes around 10-15 minutes and it costs €20 per hour.
  • To rent a Pletna boat – This is a traditional wooden boat. You just need to sit down and enjoy the ride. It costs around €15 per person.

Traditionally visitors should walk the 99 steps leading to the Assumption of Mary Church, where you can ring the Wishing Bell.

Visit Lake Bled Castle

To enjoy one of the best views of Lake Bled you should visit this 1000 years old castle.

This is the oldest castle in Slovenia, dating to the year 1011. On a visit there, sept onto the lake-facing terraces and enjoy the spectacular view. The castle includes a museum detailing the history of Bled, and a restaurant with a wine cellar.

Bled Castle Opening Hours:

08:00 – 18:00: From January to March + November and December

08:00 – 20:00: From April to June + September & October

08:00 – 21:00: July & August

Take a Stroll around Lake Bled

Ready for a walk around a magical lake? In this case Lake Bled is the perfect place. It takes around 1 hour to walk the 6km distance, depending on how many times you stop to take pictures, and the views are stunning.

Personal tip: Do it at sunset… 😊

Hike to Mala Osojnica

If you are a hiking person, the walk to Mala Osojnica is the perfect plan for you. It is a quick hike, a little bit tough sometimes but the reward is a unique view of Lake Bled.

During the climb you will spend most of the time under the cover of trees. You know you are getting close to the top when you see the metal staircase. The main viewpoint – Mala Osojnica – is five minutes away from the stairs.

The entire hike takes one hour and you do not need hiking shoes, although I would recommend you to use them. Some running shoes could also be a good option in this case.

Visit Vintgar Gorge

Nearby you can visit Vintgar Gorge, one of the most amazing nature spot in the country. To access the gorge just walk the wooden boardwalk that follows the river to a waterfall.

Try Bled Cream Cake

Although every café in Slovenia serves it, the original source of Bled Cream Cake is Park Hotel.

This delicious dessert is one of the most popular ones in the country. It is said that the hotel is serving up Bled Cream Cake since 1953, shortly after the arrival of pastry chef Ištvan Lukačević following the Second World War. Hope you like it!! 😊

 

Your turn

Have you ever been to Lake Bled? What did you like the most? Is there any other recommendation you would like to do?

In case you want to share your experience, feel free to leave a comment below or to contact me via social networks. I am always thrilled to read your adventures!

 

 

 

*Please, note that I am not an English native speaker. Therefore, you may find some spelling mistakes in this post. Feel free to let me know it and help me improve my English skills.

Predjama Castle and The Caves

In one day, you can easily visit three of Slovenia’s most stunning destinations: the Postojna Cave, Predjama Castle and Škocjan Caves.

Postojna Cave is a 24 kilometers long cave system, made up of four caves interconnected through an underground river. This cave is the longest one in Slovenia and one of the longest in all Europe. As interesting fact, German forces used the cave to store 1,000 barrels of aircraft fuel during World War II.

Predjama Castle is one of Europe’s most dramatic castles. This Renaissance castle,  was built in the mouth of a cave halfway up 123-meter cliff around year 1200, but most of what we can see today is from the 16th century.

Škocjan Caves are a unique natural phenomenon included in the UNESCO list in 1986. These caves, one of the largest underground canyons in the world, are truly amazing. They have beautiful stalactites, stalagmites and other rocks formations, but what makes this place so unique is the underground river (Reka River) which disappears into the underground beneath a rock wall.

Postojna Cave and Predjama Castle are near to each other (like 5-10 minutes’ walk), however, from the castle to Škocjan Caves you have around 30 minutes’ drive. To reach them I highly recommend you to rent a car and drive there. It is a one hour drive from Ljubljana and around a 45 minutes drive from the coastal towns.

Postojna Cave

Some important information

To visit the cave you need to book a tour. The price per adult varies from €25,80 to €27,90, depending on the season of the year you visit the cave.

Before the tour starts, a guide will group you according to the language you chose. Guides speak many languages; Italian, English, German… If you speak different languages I highly recommend you to avoid the English group because it is usually the most crowded one.

Inside the cave

Inside the cave there is a constant temperature of 10 degrees. It is damp and chilly, so I suggest you to wear pants and to bring a jacket to avoid cold. If you get cold easily, you may also want to bring gloves and a hat.

The tour of Postojna Cave starts off with a train ride. The journey is around 4km long and it last less than 15 minutes.

The yellow train drives you through a hall with Murano-glass chandeliers. I couldn’t stop taking pictures since I was amazed at what I was seeing. However, I didn’t know that this was not even the best of what the cave had to offer.

After stepping off the train a guide will lead you through the cave, sharing interesting scientific and historical information. You will follow a well lit path and you will see enormous stalactites and stalagmites, the oldest one – open to the public – is 150,000 years old.

I have read many blogs where people say that taking photographs is not allowed. Well, we could take photos (no flash of course) during the whole tour, so I assume it depends on the guide. Therefore, if you want to take photos of this amazing place, ask your guide before starting the tour.

Predjama Castle

Some information

Less than 10 minutes’ walk from Postojna Cave you will find Predjama Castle.

The entrance fee for adults is €11,90 and the opening hours vary depending on the season of the year. If you plan to visit the castle between May and October, the first tour starts at 9:00 am, otherwise you have to wait until 10:00am to enter the place.

If you are planning to visit both the castle and Postoja Cave you can purchase a joint ticket for €31,90.

Inside the castle

The entrance fee includes an informative audio guide with 29 points of interest throughout the castle detailing its history.

During the visit you will find many original items, as well as replicas in the rooms and halls. Thanks to the audio guide you will learn several interesting facts as you walk among them.

The castle itself is easy to visit, although some areas are very narrow and cobbled, so I recommend you to wear compact trainers.

The audio guide tour lasts around one hour. You can also walk through the castle without the audio guide, in this case inform yourself about its history before visiting it, otherwise you will wander through the rooms without knowing what you are seeing.

Once you finish the visit it can be a good idea to drive 30 minutes to Škocjan Caves

Škocjan Caves

Some important information

To visit the caves, you will need to book a tour. There are three different tours:

Through the underground canyon: The first tour takes places at 10:00am every day of the year. The price per adult varies from €16 to €20 depending on the season of the year you visit the cave.

Following the Reka River underground: This route is only available from April to October. The timetable varies depending on the season of the year but the price per adult  remains constant to €12,50. A combined ticket of both tours (1 + 2) costs €24.

Along the Škocjan Education Trails: This tour allows the visitor to learn more about the geology, relief forms and hydrological characteristics of the area. This is also a guided tour and costs €6 every day of the year.

Before the tour starts, a guide will group you according to the language you chose. Guides speak many languages; English, German, Chinese…

In a group of maximum 25 people, you will enter the Škocjan Caves.

Inside the caves

Inside the cave there is a constant temperature of 12 degrees, so it is advisable to bring a jacket and hiking boots or compact trainers to avoid cold and to prevent yourself from the slippery floor.

For an hour and a half, a guide will lead you through the caves, sharing interesting historical and scientific information. You will see enormous stalactites and stalagmites, you will walk across a bridge that sits 50 meters over the river, you will see the largest underground canyon in Europe and you will enjoy a unique uphill, downhill walk.

The tour ends at the natural opening of the cave.

 

Your turn

Have you ever been to Predjama Castle and the caves? What did you like the most? Is there any other recommendation you would like to do?

In case you want to share your experience, feel free to leave a comment below or to contact me via social networks. I am always thrilled to read your adventures!

 

 

 

*Please, note that I am not an English native speaker. Therefore, you may find some spelling mistakes in this post. Feel free to let me know it and help me improve my English skills.

Visit Slovenia: Piran & Izola

Slovenia is mostly landlocked, with the exception of a small part of land that stretches out the Adratic Sea. In this part of the country there are three small coastal towns: Koper, Izola and Piran, which are worth a visit.

Since I was not really sure what to do, my Slovenian colleagues recommended me to visit Izola and Piran, two beautiful towns with incredible views and great seafood restaurants.

Let’s start our visit to the coast of Slovenia in Piran!

Some information about Piran

The colourful town of Piran was part of the Republic of Venice until 1797, then it bounced between Austria, France and Italy until 1991, when it became part of Slovenia (What a mix of cultures! 😊).

Much of the food and architecture in Piran have Italian influences, since this village is located not far away from Trieste. In fact, until the middle of the 20th century, Italian was the official language.

Best things to do in Piran

Tartini Square

Until the end of the 19th century Tartini Square, named after the violinist Giuseppe Tartini, was filled with water. It was not until 1895 when some platforms were added and buildings were constructed forming the square we can see today.

Medieval Walls of Piran

You can walk the medieval walls of Piran to get a unique view over the city.

These walls were built during the times when the village was part of the Republic of Venice to protect it from Turkish invasions.

The Church of St.George

To get another spectacular view of Piran and the coast, climb up the hill to visit the Church of St.George. From the yard, in a sunny day, you can even see the Italian and Croatian coastlines.

The Old Town

The old town is a stunning mix of cobblestone streets and colorful houses.

Wander through the old town, eat some seafood in a restaurant in front of the sea and take a walk until the beach.

Some information about Izola

Izola is a hidden gem located between Piran and Koper. I did not know anything about this town before I visited it. In fact, I planned to visit Koper until my Slovenian colleagues stopped me and recommended me to visit Izola. And thanks God!

The town of Izola was established on a small island by refugees from Aquileia in the 7th century. Its name originates from the Italian word “Isola”, which means Island. It became part of the Republic of Venice in 1267. It was in 1954, when it was first incorporated into Slovenia.

Izola still preserves the fisherman’s traditions. The small harbor is the belly of the town and there you can find nice bars and restaurants. The point where all streets meet is consider the center of the town.

Best things to do in Izola

Church of Mary of Haljaetum

The Church of Mary of Haljaetum dates from the 11th century and it is considered the oldest building in Izola, consecrated to protect fishermen.

This ancient building is generally open during daylight hours.

Church of St. Maurus and The Bell Tower

At the top of Izola stands the Church of St. Maurus, patron saint of the town.

The legend says that when praying to the patron to save Izola people from the Genoese navy, a white dove appeared and drew the nave away from the town.

The church was originally built in 1356 and reconstructed several times in the past centuries, but the original Renaissance design and later Baroque modifications were preserved.

You will find a Gothic bell tower standing beside the church. This bell was built in 1585 and is more than 30 meters high. You can visit and climb the almost 100 steps leading to the top of it.

The Besenghi Degli Ughi Palace

This palace, built in 1781, is one of the most well-preserved Late Baroque monuments in Slovenia.

Nowadays, the palace hosts the Izola Music School and it is used as a venue for wedding ceremonies.

Parenzana bike trail

Enjoy some biking in Parenzana Bike Trail. A trail that connects the three countries of Italy, Croatia and Slovenia.

Your turn

Have you ever been to Slovenia? Is there any hidden gem that I forgot to mention?

In case you want to share your experience, feel free to leave a comment below or to contact me via social networks. I am always thrilled to read your adventures!

 

 

 

 

*Please, note that I am not an English native speaker. Therefore, you may find some spelling mistakes in this post. Feel free to let me know it and help me improve my English skills.