Slovenia Travel Guide: Ljubljana + Lake Bled

I’ve visited some seriously beautiful places in this world – Cinque Terre, Athens, Bruges – and each time I thought, “This is the most beautiful place ever.” And then I went to Slovenia. After visiting only 2 cities, I’m convinced the entire country is straight out of a fairytale.

My mom came out to Budapest, and we knew we wanted to plan a few trips outside of Hungary as well. Honestly, Slovenia kinda came out of left field. I think I saw a post on a travel Instagram account with a pretty picture, did a little research, and before I knew it, the trip was booked. The plan: visit Ljubljana and Lake Bled. Here’s our 4 day itinerary:

DAY 1

We took the most eventful train ride ever from Budapest to Ljubljana. (Long story short, it took 1 wrong tram, a taxi, a bus, and 2 trains to get there.) The train from Budapest to Ljubljana takes about 8 hours. It’s a great budget friendly option if you aren’t in a huge rush. Just don’t forget to pack a lunch and plenty of water wine.

We arrived in Ljubljana in the late afternoon, so the plan was to spend the evening wandering around the charming little town. The downtown pedestrian area isn’t very big, so we were able to check out some of the main sights.

We started out at Prešeren Square (the main square) where we saw the pink facade of the Franciscan Church of the Annunciation as well as the the Triple Bridge (Tromostovje).

From there, we headed to the Ljubljana Cathedral (there was a beautiful choir practicing inside when we got there). Then we visited the Nebotičnik Skyscraper for views over the city before grabbing dinner at one of the many restaurants along the Ljubljanica River.

DAY 2

On our second day, we woke up early and walked up the hill to the Ljubljana Castle. We spent some time exploring the castle grounds and climbed the tower. The leaves were all changing colors which made for a great view.

In the afternoon, we picked up our rental car and drove to Lake Bled, which was only about 45 minutes from Ljubljana. (And for those of you who are nervous about driving, I promise it was SO easy!)

Once we arrived, we dropped off our bags at our Airbnb and headed straight to the lake to rent a row boat. It took a bit to get the hang of the rowing technique, but it was so much fun. If I had to recommend ONE thing you MUST do, this would be it!

We rowed out to the church on the island in the middle of the lake, climbed the tower, and rang the bell inside the church (it’s good luck). Plus we got some great views of the Bled Castle.

We ended the day with a walk around the lake. It’s about 6k, but the views are so lovely (and during our visit in October, the weather was perfect!). We stopped midway to watch the sunset before we grabbed dinner at Sova.

DAY 3

Another early day, but was SO worth it! We had a full day of hiking planned.

First stop: Vintgar Gorge in Triglav National Park. It was a 10-15 minute drive from Lake Bled, and the trail was absolutely stunning. The water was so clear, and the turquoise coloring looked unreal, not to mention the several waterfalls along the way. If you visit, expect to spend at least 2-3 hours here.

Hike #2 (and 3): Ojstrica. This was probably one of the best viewpoints of Lake Bled. We could see the island, the castle, and even the Alps in the distance. While it’s only about a 20-30 minute hike, it was VERY steep.

On our way up we somehow missed the sign for Ojstrica and hiked all the way up to another viewpoint: Mala Osojnica. It was incredibly steep and rocky, but the view was worth it. We caught Ojstrica on our way back down.

After a full day of hiking, we decided to relax with a Bled Cream Cake (so GOOD) at Park Restaurant and Cafe.

DAY 4

For our last morning at Lake Bled, we hiked up to Bled Castle for one last view of the lake. Then it was back to Ljubljana to relax for one more night. We walked along the river, checked out the Dragon Bridge, and took a boat ride down the Ljubljanica River.

There really is no other way to describe both Ljubljana and Lake Bled other than magical. And while there were a few tourists, it seems like this is a hidden gem in Europe (although I’m predicting this will change very soon!). Slovenia was never on my radar of places to visit, but I’m SO glad my mom and I decided to go! Has Slovenia found its way onto your travel bucket list?

– Courtney


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