Europe's Hidden Gem - Slovenia

Do's:

  • Camp alongside the beautiful blue Soča River. The water is drinkable!
  • Take a morning hike to Slap Kozjak (waterfall).
  • Wander around the Tolmin Gorge.
  • Make a pit stop in the quaint town of Kanal.
  • Enjoy the crystal clear water of Lake Bohinj.
  • Hike up to Bled Castle for an amazing view of Lake Bled.
  • Get to Vintgar Gorge before all of the tourists do (Go at 8/9am).
  • Enjoy a traditional Slovenian dessert in Ljubljana.

Don't:

  • Go to Vintgar Gorge from 10am-5pm. Masses of people occupy the small pathways, spoiling this beautiful sight. Plus there's a waterfall at the end that you'll want all to yourself.
  • Drive like a crazy person on the mountain roads. The roads are narrow with lots of blind spots.
  • Litter. Please. This country is beautiful and so clean, don't ruin it.  
Photo Aug 22, 14 03 49.jpg

Living in Europe really gives you the freedom to go anywhere. Drive 5 hours in any direction and you can end up in a completely different region, culture and setting. However, when I told people I was taking a road trip down to Slovenia from Berlin I got a lot of 'what?' 'that's random...' 

I guess it's random, but I have no idea why people pass up the opportunity to visit this little country on Eurotrips! In my opinion, this place is a must see and a Mecca for hikers, campers, and all around nature lovers.

Take a look:

Lake Jasna was our first sight/stop in Slovenia just after the Slovenian/Austrian border. 

Lake Jasna was our first sight/stop in Slovenia just after the Slovenian/Austrian border. 

There are heaps of places to pull over for view points when driving through the Julian Alps, but we wanted to get situated before nightfall. So we drove through the town of Bovec in an attempt to find a camping spot along the majestic Soča River. We decided to turn left on a random dirt road, finding the perfect spot to stay. The best part: We were the only ones there! 

After some breakfast the next day and a quick session of morning yoga, we drove towards Slap Kozjak. To get to the waterfall it's an easy 25 minute hike that I would recommend to everyone! We arrived pretty early (around 8am) so we only saw two other people on the trail, giving us time to admire the waterfall for as long as we wanted. 

The Tolmin Gorge was our next stop. Called Tolminska Korita in Slovenian, this was definitely worth the trip. Admission is 4€.

After a walk through the narrow mossy canyons, we made our way to the town of Kanal.  It's a bit out of the way, but only by 20 minutes or so. In my opinion, it's definitely worth seeing. Not only is there a beautiful view of the town and river from the opposite side, but it's off the beaten path and a cool traditional Slovenian town to check out. It felt like it had some Italian influence as well. 

The typical Kanal photo

The typical Kanal photo

About 1.5hr from Kanal is Lake Bohinj, a serene lake with crystal clear waters and an amazing landscape. A lot of the recognition goes to Lake Bled for being the lake to see in Slovenia, but I actually preferred Lake Bohinj as it was less touristy and more relaxed. I also thought the surrounding area was more impressive.

After spending a few hours bronzing, we finally made it to Lake Bled! 

Originally, the plan was to spend most of our time at Lake Bled, since that was our #1 draw to Slovenia. Even though you should definitely take some time to see this beautiful lake, we were pretty bummed out by how busy it was. Especially coming from two days of having entire rivers, lakes and mountains all to ourselves. Lake Bled just seemed a bit overrated, but nonetheless it's still pretty cool. 

We walked the entire lake in about an hour and decided to drive towards Vintgar Gorge where the parking lot becomes a camping ground after 6pm and allows you to be the very first visitor to the gorge the next day (or you can sneak in after hours). I may have walked through the gorge in my PJ's...

Before heading to Ljubljana, we made one more stop in Lake Bled to rent a boat and take in some sun. Paddle out to the Monastery in the middle of the lake or if it's warm enough, swim to it! Unfortunately, when we arrived the lake mayor just banned paddle boards and kayaks on the lake, so get your rowing skills on. 

In Ljubljana, we had no idea what to expect. But of course I ended up wishing we had more time here! It's an aaaaamazing capital city with so many outdoor cafes/restaurants and beautiful architecture.

and weird sculptures...I don't understand them but I can't look away...

Grab a drink at the rooftop bar at the 'skyscraper' where you'll have a fantastic view overlooking the old town. It's a way better view than from the castle. 

Have dinner at the 'oldest building in Ljubljana' and don't leave until you try Gibanica! For you vegans/dairy free/gluten free/egg free peeps, there's a brilliant company that makes raw Gibanica and a few other desserts as well. It's absolutely delicious!

Another huge commodity here apparently is horse meat. I didn't try it, but don't be surprised by the horse signs on butcher windows. 

Somehow we managed to see all of this in 3 days time. I definitely recommend sparing a few extra days in Slovenia, but since the country is pretty tiny and driving times are short (plus there's excellent signage for all attractions), you can manage to squeeze in a lot. For you peeps without cars, there are several bus tours that will take you to all the hot spots. That being said, I definitely plan on going back to Slovenia sometime in the near future!