Travel in Slovenia: Ljubljana and Lake Bled

‘Dober dan’ and greetings from Slovenia! 😄 🇸🇮

DSC_2893Haven’t heard of Slovenia before? Don’t worry…you’re not alone.🤔

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courtesy of Google (the swirl bread is a popular Slovenian nut roll called Potica)

Slovenia is a teeny tiny little country nestled next to Austria and Italy. If Venice is a fish, Slovenia is apparently a chicken.🐔😂

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courtesy of Google

The country of Slovenia has a population of only 2 million people. I guess, quality over quantity! 😉 😂

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Why hello there! 😍

Slovenia has been nicknamed the ‘Switzerland of the Balkans’ for both its wealthy economy and wealth of natural beauty.🌳💰

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Lake Bled in the Julian Alps of Slovenia
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Swiss-style architecture in Slovenia

Money doesn’t grow on trees though, and the Slovenian people are a testament to this proverb. They are known for being hospitable, honest and hardworking. According to the OECD, they work an average of 200 hours more annually than the Japanese whom are notorious for their work ethic. 🐶

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workin’ hard (courtesy of Google)

Slovenians also value their land, and nothing embodies this more than their “I Feel Slovenia” campaign. This green logo represents a lifestyle balance between pursuing your own personal interests and preserving the environment around you.

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Slovenians are green and keen to keep their country clean

Over 60% of Slovenia is protected forest, and The Legatum Institute ranked Slovenia as the #1 country in the world for its high-quality ecosystem and its preservation efforts. 🌻

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eco-friendly everywhere

Don’t worry though, Slovenians really DO get to enjoy themselves after all their hard work! They love the outdoors! 🚴🏻‍♀️🌲

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Tarzan-like guy swinging into the lake 😂

According to the “I Feel Slovenia” tourism board, “A holiday in Slovenia will bring back balance in your life, because in Slovenia you are always in touch with something elementary – whether that is water, the fragrance of the forests or the authentic flavors of the food.” ⛰️DSC_3096Now, with only four days in Slovenia, I was able to visit two places: Ljubljana and Lake Bled.

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viewpoint of Lake Bled

Ljubljana

Ljubljana, pronounced Lyoo-BLYAH-nah, is the capital of the country and aptly means, ‘the beloved’. 💓

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outside the office of tourism

I mean, how could you not fall in love with a place such as this? The town is like something out of a fairy tale, with cobblestone streets, Baroque architecture, and picturesque bridges set alongside the Sava River, nestled within the Slovenian mountains, and beneath a towering medieval fortress. 🏰

DSC_2854DSC_2890DSC_2941To visit the medieval castle, you can either walk or take a funicular tram.

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Even if you don’t want to go inside the castle, there are lots of other things to do around it. Heck, I even found some people just sunbathing next to the watch tower. 😂

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For starters, you can dine at Strelec Restaurant, in the courtyard of this 15th century castle.


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Just be careful with how many glasses of wine you have, since the courtyard is also where they have the old open-air prison pits. 🍷😮

Jeca-na-prostem-Miha-MallyIn the souvenir shop, you can learn about Friderick, the castle’s resident rat, and you can buy all sorts of rat swag, like scarves, shirts, and socks. 🐀

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Like I said, even if you don’t want to enter the castle, the views from the top are spectacular! Just check out that mountain range! 😍

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Fun fact: they say this mountainous terrain historically hindered communication between the regions, and to this day, there are almost 50 different varieties of Slovenian being spoken!

Anyway, with two days in Ljubljana, I was able to take a free walking tour, enjoy local music at the Central Market, and try a bit of the local cuisine.

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Central Market

Balkan coffee is like Red Bull…it gives you wings. ☕ 😂

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They also had an antique flea market in the historic city center on the weekend that I visited.

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beautiful and bright lemon dish set

And this precious library under the treetops!📚🌲

IMG-9356DSC_2853DSC_2852I also absolutely adore the cafe culture here. 💙DSC_2913My recommendations would be Le Petit Cafe and Figovec.

IMG-9402IMG_9609They were both charming and offered local dishes at reasonable prices.

IMG-9344One thing I enjoy about the service industry in Europe is that there is no tipping culture. Wait staff are in no rush to turnover your table, and you could easily spend 3-4 hours in a cafe without being hassled. So relaxing! ☕

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blogging and sipping coffee at Le Petit Cafe

One typical Slovenian dish I tried is Štruklji, a baked dough that can be filled with a wide range of ingredients.

IMG-9404I tried a savory version at Figovec stuffed with cottage cheese and topped with a green garlic sauce.

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They also serve this traditional drink in Slovenia called Cockta.

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looks strangely similar to the Coca-Cola ads

Its main ingredient is dog rose hip, among many other herbs and citrus fruits.🌹

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As for cheap eats, one of the highlights for me was this Balkan fusion found at Burek Olimpija. Because they are neighbors with Italy, the Slovenians have taken the traditional burek pastry and stuffed it with PIZZA ingredients- mozzarella and marinara. Genius! 🍕

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A common fascination of mine as I travel is also unique architecture and in Ljubljana, it maintains a lovely aesthetic all its own.
IMG_9602DSC_2908IMG_9605DSC_2909DSC_2905DSC_2859DSC_2858This is thanks to famed architect and legend, Jože Plečnik. He combines ancient and modern influences, and is responsible for constructing many of the buildings and bridges in Slovenia during the early 20th century. You can even tour his home in Ljubljana.
DSC_2855DSC_2889There are a few other artsy attractions here, like Metelkova, a street art center, and bizarre bronze statues by Jakov Brdar on Butcher’s Bridge.
DSC_2849DSC_2845DSC_2843DSC_2903DSC_2902In general, I just loved how safe this city felt and how friendly everyone was that I encountered. According to International SOS, Slovenia is one of top ten safest countries in the world! 🧡

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creepin’ on this cute couple 😂

Lake Bled

As for my time in Lake Bled, I can only describe it as a incredibly scenic and relaxing. DSC_3040I swear, I took at least 50 pictures of the same lake. 😂 It was just so pretty from every angle and at all times of day! 📷

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Slavic architecture in Bled

Bled was the residence for much of the aristocracy during the 18th century, and the homes around the lake still conjure up visions of elegance and prestige.

DSC_3102DSC_3100DSC_3054The pictures simply cannot do it justice!

DSC_2974DSC_2971As I walked around Lake Bled, I marveled at the snow-capped peaks above me, and the crystal-clear lake below me, as the water slowly turned various hues of blue throughout the day.

IMG-9490DSC_3047Birds were chirping and the aroma of fresh flowers lingered in the air. 💮

DSC_3106Alongside the lake is the oldest castle in Slovenia. 🏰

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DSC_2964Of course, I couldn’t get that Ed Sheeran song out of my head.

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In case you haven’t heard it yet. 🎵

At the center of the lake is an island with a picturesque church.⛪

DSC_3056Visitors can even row their boat or swim to the island to visit. 🏊‍♂️

DSC_3033Fun fact: Slovenia has more churches than any other European country!

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Better behave, they’ve got their eyes on you! 👀 (religious sculptures outside the church in Ljubljana)

Anyway, there are many activities to take part in at Lake Bled, including paddle boarding, kayaking, biking, hiking, and there’s also a mini water park for the kids.

DSC_3002DSC_3095DSC_3000DSC_3098Heck, even the animals looked like they were enjoying themselves! 🐕

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pooch checkin’ out the ducks and the fish

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I chose to swim and relax at the beach with this girl from France and another from Moldova. 😎IMG-9494Both are solo travelers, and one just finished up this incredible backpacking trip through Western Africa. Just wow!

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Later I hiked up to the viewpoint, Mala Osojnica. 👟

DSC_3059Wearing sandals as always! So dirty! 👡🙈

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But totally worth the climb! 😍

DSC_3085Lake Bled is also famous for its culinary delight, a cream cake made with sugar, eggs, and lemon. I sat with this lovely Aussie couple from my hostel whom are on a long-term trip for the next 6 months. 🍰

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On my second day in Lake Bled, there were major thunderstorms, so I decided to stay around my hostel in Lesce, a traditional mountain town where I saw women carrying wooden baskets to the grocery store. DSC_2947DSC_3125DSC_3130DSC_2949IMG-9563IMG-9446

I loved how the church next to my hostel chimed every 15 minutes, and the smell of manure seemed to waft from the farm fields into the town. 🐄

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In the morning, before the rains came, I also went to the local grocery store for some snacks, and the nearby campground for a stroll. Local ingredients here include hazelnuts, truffles, and honey.

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At the campground, if you hadn’t heard the foreign languages being spoken, one could even think you were in northern Wisconsin.

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Speaking of the good ‘ol’ USA, fourth of July is right around the corner, and I’ll be celebrating in Croatia. Stay tuned to hear all about it! Until then! 🇺🇸

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camper in Slovenia with some American pride

Accommodation: 

I stayed at Aladdin Hostel in Ljubljana and 1A Adventure Hostel in Lake Bled, which had a lovely atmosphere in the evenings.🕯️

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courtesy of Google

It also had a complimentary shuttle twice daily from Lesce to Bled. The driver was the sweetest and I loved his little rescue dog who always rode shotgun.

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Slovenia apparently loves dinosaurs! 🦕

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That being said, the hostels were not centrally located, so take that into consideration when booking. Things could always be worse though! I mean, there’s this hostel in Ljubljana where you can stay in an old prison cell. 😱

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Hostel Ceclia, courtesy of Google

Transportation:

I took FlixBus, which I highly recommend. It’s such an organized company, and they have an app, so you can book online and conveniently store all your bookings in one place, plus you can track your bus as it’s on the way to pick you up! They also have WiFi and charging ports.

Close up Woman hand Using a Smart Phone at cafe coffee shop.
FlixBus app courtesy of Google

To get to Bled, I took a local bus for 13 Euros round-trip. Departures occur every 30 minutes, so pre-booking doesn’t seem necessary.IMG-9441
Next Time Around: 

As always, there are so many places here that I didn’t discover. Slovenia also has a stunning Mediterranean coastline, the largest number of caves in the world, and although I enjoyed their incredible coffee, Slovenia also has a rich wine-growing region with almost 30,000 wineries- that’s one winery for every 70 people! For next time, sign me up!

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trying not to pick favorites 😂

Overall, my final thoughts on Slovenia can be summarized on this post card I found.💙
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11 thoughts on “Travel in Slovenia: Ljubljana and Lake Bled

  1. Great post! Slovenia is so close to Pula in Croatia where I’m living! I highly recommend a visit if you haven’t already been! Premantura is also so full of natural beauty as well and it’s right outside of Pula! Let me know if you make it here!

    Liked by 1 person

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