This is part five of a six part trip report from my travels to Slovenia and Serbia. As I mentioned in my last report, everyone we met in Slovenia was so warm and friendly and the only thing better than the people was the incredible scenery. I present the highly underrated Slovenia…a picture tour.
- SWISS Business JFK-Zurich(ZRH) & ZRH-JFK A330, SWISS Lounge JFK
- SWISS Zurich Lounges – SWISS Arrival Lounge, Swiss Business Lounge, & Panorama Lounge Zurich
- Adria Airways Zurich(ZRH) – Ljubljana (LJU), Slovenia / LJU-ZRH & Ljubljana Business Lounge
- Hotel Cubo, Ljubljana, Slovenia – The W of Slovenia
- Highly Underrated Slovenia – An Amazing and Friendly Country with Great Scenery
- Jat Airways Economy Belgrade (BEG) – Ljubljana (LJU) & Zira Hotel, Belgrade, Serbia
First some background from Wikitravel – Slovenia lies in the eastern Alps at the northern end of the Adriatic Sea, with Austria to the north, Italy to the southwest, Hungary to the northeast and Croatia to the south. Despite its small size, Slovenia has a surprising variety of terrain, ranging from the beaches of the Mediterranean to the peaks of the Julian Alps, to the rolling hills of the south. Contrary to the popular misconception, Slovenia was not a part of the Eastern bloc (not after the Yugoslavian notorious split with the Soviet Union in 1948). Slovenia is also home to some of the finest scenery in the “New Europe”.
- Julian Alps (Bled, Triglav National Park) – The mountainous northwest with hiking, rafting, postcard pretty lakes and Mt Triglav, the symbolic heart of Slovenia
- Central Slovenia (Ljubljana, Kamnik) – The urban part with the capital Ljubljana and surrounding region
- Nova Gorica – The city literally on the border with Italy
- Piran/Pirano – Gorgeous Venetian port
- Skocjan Caves — UNESCO World Heritage Site
- So?a Valley — So?a Emerald River
I really didn’t expect much from Slovenia and I can’t tell you how pleasantly surprised I was. The amazing views start right upon landing at the airport…
Ljubljana is small but picturesque with a great medieval castle and city, beautiful canals, great cafes and bars, and some of the friendliest residents in the world. Visiting in January, I was expecting a tundra, but the average temperature was around 45 degrees and you’d think it was spring or summer time based on the amount of people enjoying outdoor cafes, restaurants, and bars.
Our first trip out of town was to Lake Bled, a short 45 minute ride. Lake Bled is an alpine resort with a mountain lake, island, and castle. The vibe on a Sunday in Lake Bled was just incredible, people out having fun and enjoying themselves on a cool winter day. It’s also a quick ride to Pokljuka mountain for skiing and hiking in the Julian alps (there are tons of gear shops in town).
Next up was a drive to So?a river, one of the few rivers in the world to retain their emerald green color throughout its entire history. The river was truly stunning (and emerald) and the drive to reach it was just as gorgeous. Once at the river, we were at times completely on our own without anyone in sight, another benefit of visiting Slovenia in the winter. The same was actually true walking through the medieval streets of Ljubljana at times.
After some time at the lake we continued on to the Trenta valley, through which the So?a river flows before crossing into Italy. After a brief stop in Italy and some great pizza, we continued on to a local ski resort before finally heading through Triglav National Park and back to Ljubljana later that night. Nothing was too far and driving is easy within Slovenia with well maintained and uncrowded country roads and highways.
Views of Ljubljana and the Alps up from the castle…
Again, I wasn’t expecting much but I’m so glad I visited. I plan to go back in summer to experience the Mediterranean section of the country and revisit the valleys for summer sports and hiking. Adria flys to LJU from several major European cities, including three flights per day from Zurich while Air France flies once per day from Paris.
PS – I also highly recommend the Ljubljana Free Tour, it’s completely free besides the tip and the tour guides definitely deserve a generous one…ours was led by a university professor.