Slovenia: From the capital to the countryside
Ljubljana is the capital of Slovenia and is a truly quaint city. With distant mountains framing the traditional orange architecture, it's a beautiful city that allows for some fantastic photograph opportunities. The cobbled streets, winding alleyways and will continue to surprise you around every corner.
Ljubljana is the perfect city for all travellers. With a varied range of accommodation from backpacker hostels to cosy bed and breakfast places and swish hotels, you will find something to fit your budget. I stayed at Hostel Tresor. A former bank that has been converted into dormitories. A quirky and extremely well-priced place given the central location.
You can walk around the city very easily in just one day, if you are pushed for time. Of course, if you find you have extra time then there are plenty of museums, galleries and walking tours to keep you entertained. The castle is a must-visit when you are in town. It is possible to access the castle by following several paths up to the top of the hill. Each route takes about ten minutes on foot.
Alternatively, you can take the funicular which runs every ten minutes during busy periods. Tickets cost 10 Euros for adults for a return trip. Entry to the castle is 7.50 Euros but there are combination tickets available at a discounted price. It is definitely worth visiting the castle as the vantage points of the city provide some spectacular views. More information can be found here.
If you're looking for something outside of the city then the famous lakes are the place for you. Scroll down to find out more.
If you are looking to escape to the countryside and take in all of Slovenia's beautiful scenery then either Lake Bled or Lake Bohinj are the places to go. Bled is more popular with tourists due to the church on the island. Behind seemed to be more popular with locals looking to escape the tourist crowds. Both are set in the mountains and offer some fantastic nature hikes nearby which provide amazing views of the lakes. The buses depart hourly and the journey takes just under two hours. They run on time and there is storage onboard for big rucksacks which is perfect for any backpacker or if you're travelling with suitcases. Tickets are 7 Euros one way and discounted if your by a return ticket. Open returns are available and you do not need to book on to the bus, just show up at the station in Bled when you're ready to head back to the city.
From the bus station in Bled, you can book various activities such as bike hire, kayaking, paragliding etc. I booked all of my adventures with Mamut Adventures. The prices were extremely reasonable and the selection of day trips and activities they offered were fantastic. They have wristbands which, when worn, entitle you to discounts on food at various restaurants in Bled town.
Lake Bled is a stunning place and you can easily spend a day walking around the perimeter taking in the views. Rowing boats can be hired so you can get yourself to the little island and visit the church. Entry is extra once you arrive on the island. There are a number of walking trails off the main path, some which lead to high vantage points and offer breathtaking views of the lake, island and town below. I recommend wearing sturdy footwear. I did the hike in flip-flops and it was a little more challenging that it needed to be!
From Bled, you can take a local bus or arrange a day trip to Lake Bohinj. The weather was in my favour whilst I was there in July so I manage to paraglide from the top of one of the nearby mountains down to the base of the lake. If you like the outdoors, you will enjoy the hike to the take-off spot and the views are unparalleled on the way down. The team of instructors were very professional and there was even time for an ice-cream on the lake shores after we had landed.
Accommodation in Bled is fairly expensive but if you do not mind walking there are plenty of cheaper spots on the outskirts. Saving money on accommodation will allow you to take part in evening activities such as the Pub Crawl. Though not for everyone, I did enjoy meeting new people and getting to visit some hole-in-the-wall bars which I may have otherwise missed. The wristband entitles you to a free shot at each of the destinations and discounted drinks. Interested? Meet the gang at Red n' Black bar near the bus station at 21:30 daily. It's 10 Euros and payable with cash only to join the tour.
With friendly people, excellent public transport and very well-priced beers, Slovenia is a beautiful country with so much to offer. I would definitely consider arranging a return visit.